Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Senior Sex: More than Erections

Here's something you don't know from the inner workings of this blog: Advertisers and promoters of erectile drugs and alternatives are always trying to promote their products via comments (usually totally off-topic) on my posts. I reject them so you never have to wonder if they're the answer to your prayers -- they're not. They want your business, pure and simple, and if they really wanted to help a man with ED, they'd talk him into going to his doctor and dianosing the cause of his erectile problems, rather than trying to sell him a product over the Internet.

I love your comments -- they're immensely valuable for my readers -- and I encourage you to post them (if you're not sure how that works, click here for easy, step-by-step directions. Just don't advertise THE solution for ED -- that's between you (or your partner) and your doctor.

Here's an excerpt from the chapter "When You or Your Partner Can't" from Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty on this subject:

According to the spam I receive in my e-mailbox daily, ED is the major concern of men, and an advertiser's dream. I am reminded of this guy joke that a male friend used to tell me:

Q: "What's the difference between fear and panic?"
A: "Fear is the first time you can't get it up twice. Panic is the second time you can't get it up once."

According to a 1994 study, sixty-seven percent of the men surveyed at age seventy experienced mild-to-severe ED. A partner's ED is an important challenge for some of women I interviewed, and I am grateful for their candor about sharing this intimate part of their lives. Many have found that sex can be satisfying when both partners communicate and seek creative and loving solutions, whatever the penis is or is not able to do...

Erectile dysfunction, not to minimize its importance, is only part of the picture. The sexual challenges of aging bodies go beyond penis problems.

The fact is that both partners may have health problems to deal with that affect sex. Arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer--all of these impact our sex lives as well as our daily living. These and many other health problems require relationship adjustments including an extra dose of understanding from our partners. While health problems are certainly not the exclusive domain of genarians in the upper ranges, they occur with more frequency in older adults.

It's ironic, isn't it? We're at the prime time of life to enjoy sex. We know ourselves and our partners, the kids are long gone, we have more leisure time, we're less driven, our partners have learned how to satisfy us. What a cruel twist of fate that this is the time our bodies start acting up -- or down....

In the new book I'm working on -- I'm still welcoming your stories -- I'll have specific tips from medical experts and sex therapists about enjoying a satisfying sex life while living with ED (and other health challenges).*

*As you know if you've been following this blog, I put this book (and everything else) on hold while dealing with Robert's illness and death. I'll return to it soon -- it's my work and it was important to Robert as well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Senior celebrities talk about sex... sort of

I was surprised to see two celebrities of our generation talking about sex (in a roundabout way) in Parade (Dec. 21, 2008).

Dustin Hoffman, age 71, was interviewed by Jeanne Wolf, who writes,

In his latest film, the romance Last Chance Harvey, Hoffman plays a lonely guy who finds late-in-life love with Emma Thompson. And proving he still likes to be a bit inappropriate, he looks at me and says, “Don’t worry, there’s no big bedroom scene. We didn’t have enough money for the special effects to make me look great naked.”

Objection, Dustin! We'd love to see you in a big bedroom scene about "late-in-life love"! Who decides what looking great naked means at our age -- not the youth stereotype, please. Anyone who wants to judge for yourself whether Dustin Hoffman looks great naked at 71, raise your hand....

In an article by James Brady in the same issue, Angela Lansbury, 83, says, “I don’t want to get married again. But I’d love to have a guy around.” I wish I could ask her how she means that!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Love Junkie: hot sex and ruinous relationships

Love Junkie by Rachel Resnick is a brave, compelling memoir/confessional of the author's decades of seeking love and finding chaos and hot sex with damaged men within destructive, degrading, dangerous relationships. I couldn't put this book down.

I've had my wild times in the past and made some bad choices, but I always loved my men caring and my sex gentle. Resnick made me hold my breath as she pummeled me verbally and emotionally with graphic tales of rough sex with damaged, controlling men -- men who filled her vagina without ever filling her desperate need to be loved and valued.

Rachel Resnick grew up with a mother who was a drunk and picked up strangers in bars, her 11-year-old daughter drawing on paper placemats until mom was ready to go home, the man-of-the-night following in his own vehicle so he could make a quick escape the next morning. Her father had left when she was four.

As a child, she admitted her crush on a boy who responded by punching her in the stomach and hissing, "Don't you ever come near me again, ever." She took that painful contact as proof that he was destined to love her, and pursued him. So went the story of her adult dating life, too.

Resnick's needy yearning ("a shadowy choke hold") drove her life and relationships from one wrong man to another. She would do anything to please a man and make him love her -- which of course drove him away or brought out the worst in him. She obsessively sent e-mail after e-mail to the man she craved: "If it took fifty e-mails of justifications and explanations, late-night drive-overs and I'm-sorry blow jobs, sign me up," she writes about one such obsession.

Other reviewers have described Love Junkie as a train wreck -- you know you should avert your eyes and keep going, but you can't help staring at every bloody detail. I never felt like a voyeur reading it -- I felt involved, a part of the story, wishing I could pull my friend Rachel away from her own need and the men who degraded her. I wanted to talk some sense into her, help her turn her life around, let her know that love is possible, but first she has to look inside and get help to repair the damage.

I'm relieved that she comes to this understanding herself, committing to a 12-step program for people who are out of control around sex and love. Love Junkie is riveting reading, highly recommended.

(photo of Rachel Resnick)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ashes to the Wind

Yesterday would have been Robert's 72nd birthday.

A year ago, we spent his birthday hiking the craggy Northern California coast which he loved, watching the waves crash over the rocks, holding each other as if we might never have this experience again.

Yesterday Robert's family and I retraced those steps. The day was blustery and cold, the ocean silver green under grey skies instead of the sunlit blue it had been a year ago.

I sprinkled some of Robert's ashes, and the wild wind sucked the ashes into the air in a dancing cloud. I did it over and over, my tears turning to laughter as each time the ashes took flight, like a magic trick, then disappeared into air.

(photo by Mitch Rice, Robert's son)