|Brian Rea for The New York Times|
“How we write about love depends on how old we are,” observes Daniel Jones in his Modern Love column in The New York Times, Feb. 5, 2015. He explains:
The young overwhelmingly write with a mixture of anxiety and hope. Their stories ask: What is it going to be for me?
Those in midlife are more often driven to their keyboards by feelings of malaise and disillusionment. Their stories ask: Is this really what it is for me?
And older people almost always write from a place of appreciation, regardless of how difficult things may be. Their message: All things considered, I feel pretty lucky.
This last point hit home with me. As a sex educator, I hear people’s problems all the time. But I also hear the good parts — the humor and joy and sweetness of what happens when we love at our age. Those of us who are lucky enough to have found love at this time of our lives are radiant with joy telling our love stories — even if that joy is tempered with the sadness of loss.
I know I feel that way. On this Valentine’s Day, I’m remembering how my dear Robert made Feb. 14 a true celebration of love for seven years with gifts, cards, whispered endearments, languid lovemaking, and lots of laughter.
As sad as I am that I will never hold Robert again on Valentine’s Day or any other day, that feeling has nowhere near the power of the joy I feel that this love was in my life. It feels like a miracle that we ever found each at all, let alone so late in life.
|Joan and Robert 2001|
What if he had never wandered into my line dance class that eventful night? We might never have met, never have crossed paths.
What if I hadn’t been assertive (aggressive?) about making the first moves? He was content to see me as his dance teacher (which in itself is bizarre, since he had formal training as a dancer since the age of two, and I had no formal training at all), and he thought that was an uncrossable boundary.
What if I hadn’t dared to proposition him? (You didn’t know that part of our story? Read it in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty!)
What if we had never realized one of the most important themes of our love story: that the ways we were the most different were the ways we most wanted to grow.
You see, at first, we saw our personality clashes and independence as proof that we were too different to ever come together as a couple — it would be too much work, too many compromises, and besides, we were satisfied with the way we were, thank you very much.
|Robert and Joan 2006|
But over the few years we had together, this attitude changed. The closer we got, the more we came to respect our differences — even laugh about them — and the less we felt we needed to resist change. In fact, we discovered that compromise led to change in directions we each wanted to grow.
Once we saw our differences as an opportunity to grow in ways that would be as good for us individually as they were good for us as a couple, we stopped resisting, reframed what we were willing to do for each other, and we blossomed together and apart.
What did you learn about love and about yourself in later life? I hope you’ll share your experiences.
For super-intense clitoral stimulation and an inevitable happy ending (not always assured at our age, you know) the Hitachi Magic Wand is, well, magic! It is heavy and loud and has to be plugged in, but so what? It ranks right up there with the automobile and the iPod as one of technology’s greatest inventions. Read my review here.
Since I started this blog in November 2005, I’ve written 350 blog posts, including 43 book reviews, and 20 vibrator reviews. Valentine’s Day is coming in a week — which, in my view, is for celebrating our capacity for love and passion, whether we’re partnered right now or not.
In this post are a few of my favorites among the books I’ve reviewed, with links to my original review. Some of these books are spicy and explicit, others are subtle enough to leave on view if you’re expecting company, and some are so informative that you’ll want to talk about them at the water cooler.
Tomorrow I’ll post some favorite sex toys!
Spicy and/or informative books:
Autumn Romance: Stories and Portraits of Love after 50 by Carol Denker: A beautiful coffee-table book with stories and photos of later-life romances.
X: The Erotic Treasury: 40 Sexy Stories ed.Susie Bright. Explicit, edgy, hardcore, and beautifully bound.
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. Entertaining and informative, filled with the weirdness of both the procedures and findings of sex research.
Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You’ve Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted by Judith Sills. The subtitle says it all!
Rescue Me, He’s Wearing a Moose Hat: And 40 Other Dates After 50 by Sherry Halperin. Come on, we have to keep a sense of humor about this dating stuff — and Halperin does.
Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, my own book of my love story with Robert, celebrating the joys and addressing the challenges of senior sexuality.
Read more of my book reviews here.