TOPIC 67. DISTORTION How is your love life? Finding the right mate, staying connected forever to that mate remains one of life’s more difficult journeys.
I know deep in my heart that had we money or no children Cranky Old Man and I would probably not be together today. Had we split he would have had an easier time finding a new mate and would probably end up with a much younger one. That reality haunts many single woman as they age. Thinking younger is better distorts what really matters.
The post below, by one of the bloggers I read regularly, prompted my musings on this subject. By the way, the desire of aging men for younger woman is one of the themes discussed in my forthcoming novel–Meredyth and Merlin. Here is the blog.
A note about using the Mrs. Robinson picture. I wanted to find a Lolita picture, but that search took me to semi-porno sites. Guess what will be showing up on my ads for a while. Then I tried May-December romances and Dirty Old Men before I remembered the film “The Graduate” and thought why am I being so sexist. Actually, one fact of human sexuality is that young men and older women often have similar sex drives and often compatible in terms of how much sex each desires.
Here is another fact that is rarely discussed: the need for men to be aroused to have sex. For men to have an orgasm, they must have an erection. Complicates their lives and the lives of women. Viagra and its like have helped, but the negative feelings attached to problems of getting and maintaining an erection are universal and deep-seated.
How does that apply to the search for younger mates? Take a moment to remember the very first sexual encounter with another that made you shiver and shake. Confessions. I was about twelve, a group of friends and I had gone to one of those circuses that visit small towns. An older man started flirting with me. Maybe he was in his mid-twenties. When the circus was over, he joined our group, had ice cream with us, walked me with my friends in tow to my front door.
There he kissed me good night. Didn’t need anything more than that kiss to understand what Hemmingway meant when he said the earth moved. The child molester as he would be deemed by most and the circus left town that night; but the memory of that kiss can rock me still. He wore Old Spice and that scent also rockd me.
Men who talk freely and openly about first encounters have told me of similar rocking memories. And yes, just like the smell of Old Spice can turn me on, so can a younger woman turn an older man more easily than his current mate. Now this is not so for all. Some men want sex with near age mates. Drawing on my experience, the aging Paul Newman and Sean Connery fill my fantasies today; in my youth it was Elvis. And while I can see the attractiveness of some of today’s young male stars, they don’t turn me on
All this to say, I wasn’t surprised when I read Jackie’s blog. I was saddened, however, for men on that path and for the women left behind.
STAYING STRONG TIP: A hard one. Some things in life demand what Marsha Linehan calls Radical Acceptance. “Radical acceptance” is the tolerant embracing of how and who one is, of who others are, and of what your reality is. Tolerant means not judging, not saying this is good or bad, but this is what is. By definition, wanting to change something or someone implies rejection not acceptance.
Radical Acceptance comes into play when one feels trapped in hell. According to Linehan, it is the only way out of hell. How does that apply to the topic. Many think hell lies in the following realities. We cannot stop aging. Woman cannot make themselves younger. Men cannot regain the prowess of youth.
Change of such brute facts is impossible. Yes, women try to change their physical appearance; men change partners or try Viagra, but life goes on, we continue to age, So if you accept as a single woman in your forties that you are not likely to marry and have children, then what. Or if you accept as a man that you cannot regain the prowess of youth, particularly by changing partners. Then what?
Then, energy is left for three things.
- Improving the moment
- Going on
In my book Parents Are People Too, I recall Linehan’s story of a mother and child trapped in their basement after an earthquake. It was dark, they could hear, but not see each other,. For a time, both pleaded and preached and yell at each other to do something. Mom wanted the child to come to her; the child pleaded for Mom to come to him. Finally, the mother realized neither of them could get to the other. She accepted that reality and shifted her efforts to improving the moment. She stopped pleading and yelling. I imagine her doing any number of things to help her son. Maybe she sang, maybe she played twenty questions, maybe she talked about all the goof things she wanted to do life returned to normal, maybe she talked about past memories. Maybe she gave her child permission to be frightened, even to cry. When help came the relationship would only have grown stronger.
It is doubtful men are going to suddenly prefer older woman. Of course, in China where there is a scarcity of single women that will not hold. But for an American woman moving inot middle age, even the new middle age, the statistics are against her.
Nor is the shame attached to failing sexual prowess inflicted on men, likely to die soon. And, of course, any man with problems of impotency should seek professional help. That demands accepting there is a problem. If viagra helps hooray. If not time, for radical acceptance.
So what can one do to improve the moment, if aging is bring on these personal versions of hell? I decided at one point in my life, marriage wasn’t in the hand life dealt me. It was a “my hell” of that moment. But accepthing that I was going to be a spinster did free me. I pursued pleasures I had neglected, I deepened friendships. I wanted to marry to have children. I shifted my job so I could work with children. I grew. The measure of a woman should not be dependent on a man.
Sex is major in all our lives. I do not want to deny that to a man struggling with impotency. But as the movie Coming Home with Jane Fonda and Jon Voight alluded to in the famous sex scene, there is more to making love than penetration. The measure of a man should not be dependent upon the performance of his penis.
The measure of love and relationships should not be dependent upon sexual allure or sexual performance. Or so I beiieve.
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