I just read an intriguing article in The Washington Post. It’s entitled, “The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high”. (First of all, interesting capitalization choices, but I already digress.)
The article came to several conclusions as to why we seem to be moving away from horizontal activities. The most obvious conclusion is an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people. Americans, in general, seem to be partnering up later in life. It also says that the employment rate among young people has declined, and the number of them living in their parent’s houses has increased. That has got to hurt your ability to get busy, as the saying goes. We are also spending a lot more time in cyberspace.
But I can think of several more reasons for this decrease in sexual activity.
A friend of mine said that he thinks the depressing state of the world and our politics is influencing this. That dreary mood could indeed, have something to do with why we as a nation are not in the mood.
Unfortunately, too, more and more of us feel the need for antidepressants, and they’re more readily available, and most have the side effect of decreasing one’s sex drive.
But I also hope it has to do with the younger generation becoming more aware of sexually transmitted diseases. I know for a fact that this had an impact on me. I was looking forward to going to college and really letting loose. But I arrived on that scene just as AIDS started to rear its ugly head. Noooooooooo! Life is so unfair!
Also, I believe that today’s women are starting to realize they have more to offer the world, and are less apt to view themselves as some kind of sexual commodity. At least I hope so.
We’re also even more busy and distracted. We have a lot more options to occupy our minds and fill our lives.
I think we don’t feel the need to procreate as much, or marry as much, in order to feel successful and/or to survive.
And yeah, we’re an aging demographic, and becoming more obese as a species. Declining health and less energy equals fewer shenanigans.
But I tend to look at these polls with a jaundiced eye. (Look how inaccurate they were during the last election.) How much of the population was sampled? How do you know they answered honestly?
Plus, nobody asked ME. No one ever asks me. Why is that?
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I’m getting married for the first time at age 53, so I’m hardly an expert on the subject. But I’d like to think that my age is a plus. I’m not impulsive. I believe in doing my homework. I am all about looking before I leap.
Lord knows I’ve seen enough marriages fail to get a strong sense of what kills them off. It’s really important to have all the hard conversations beforehand so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. It also helps to know the other person’s hopes, dreams, and expectations in advance, and decide whether you’d be willing to help them achieve them.
Here are a few things you may wish to consider talking about ahead of your big day:
Money. This one is huge. Is one partner bringing a mountain of debt into the union? It’s only fair to bring this out in the open. How will you handle finances? How much credit card debt can you tolerate? What level of discretionary spending are you comfortable with? What are your plans, if any, for retirement? What are your expenses? How will you cope with financial emergencies? What are your long term financial goals, and how do you plan to reach them?
Children. Do you both want them? How many? Do you already have some? Who has custody? What is your philosophy regarding discipline, and child-rearing in general?
What goals do you have for your future? Do they align? If you want to travel and your partner simply wants to retire and watch Jerry Springer all day long, that’s a problem. What do you consider to be a successful life? What is most important to you in terms of a future? Where do you want to live? What kind of home do you want to have? What types of vacations do you like to take? What are your priorities? What are your expectations?
Sex, Intimacy and Fidelity. It’s okay to be who you are. But it’s only fair that you spell it out. If one person is asexual, and the other expects a high degree of intimacy, that’s a problem waiting to happen. If your philosophies regarding fidelity don’t align, it’s a recipe for disaster. If one person hates public displays of affection, and the other feels rejected if her partner won’t hold her hand, this is the tip of a much larger iceberg. Is pornography a big part of your life or do you have any sexual habits that your partner might find unusual? Discuss what you need to feel loved and sexually satisfied now, or your marital ship will sink like a stone.
Individuality. You don’t have to be joined at the hip. You don’t always have to like all the same things that your partner likes. You don’t even have to have all of the same friends. Becoming a football widow isn’t a big deal if you have interests of your own. Are you both comfortable doing things alone? If you have different expectations in terms of togetherness and attention, it’s best to work that out now.
Vices. If you smoke and your partner does not, you should find out if that will become a deal-breaker. If you have a drug addiction, your partner has a right to know. How much do you drink alcohol? How much is too much? You should even put your quirky habits out there. One person’s quirk might be another person’s intolerable oddity.
Health. Does your partner take health as seriously as you do? Are there any ticking time bombs with regard to family health history that you need to be aware of? How will you cope with a medical catastrophe?
Religion. What are your spiritual philosophies? Atheists and Fundamentalists can marry, of course, but they’d have to be extremely tolerant of their differences. If one is expecting the other to make a dramatic, very basic shift, and the other person isn’t willing to do so, then that will be a problem. Also, what holidays are important to you, and how do you celebrate them?
Politics. I’ve seen couples thrive in spite of political differences, but if politics is a huge part of your life, it rapidly becomes a definer of the content of one’s character. And in this current atmosphere of division, it’s not like you can ignore the elephant (or donkey) in the room. Will you be willing to agree to disagree on the issues? It’s never a good idea to go into a relationship with expectations that your partner will change and come to his or her senses.
Family. Unfortunately (or luckily, as the case may be), when you marry someone, you marry that person’s family, too. Everyone has a few nuts in the family tree. Having insane in-laws is not necessarily a problem unless you discover, to your horror, that your spouse expects said crazy relative to live with you in his or her dotage. Will you be okay with that? What does family obligation mean to you? Best to figure that out in advance.
Communication and Conflict Resolution. How do your resolve disagreements? If one is a shouter and the other tends to withdraw, you’ll never be able to meet in the middle. It’s all about respect. Talk about issues before they get out of control. Listen to what your partner is saying. Nip things in the bud as often as you can. Don’t stuff things. Don’t get hostile. Don’t just hope things will go away on their own. Take the initiative. How do you plan to talk things out?
Cleanliness. Can you tolerate your partner’s level of clutter? Can your partner stand your obsessive compulsive need for a spotless home? And how will the cleaning tasks be divided? This is 2018. You can’t assume that both of you are on the same page regarding basic chores. Talk about it.
Communication about all of the above is key. It’s important to know as much as possible about the foundation on which you are building your relationship. A solid foundation leads to a long-lasting home.
Are there any other topics that I’ve overlooked? Please share them in the comments below!
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It happened again the other day. I was listening to NPR on my commute to work, and I heard something that almost made me swerve off the road. When am I ever going to learn?
I can’t even tell you what the story was about, such was my level of outrage afterward. All I know is it was some official or other asking people to come forward if they had any information about some crime or other. Here’s what got me: The official said, “You never know. Maybe he heard something at the bar, or maybe she heard some pillow talk…”
Perhaps I’m a little too raw in this, the #MeToo era. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive. Maybe most people didn’t hear that comment the way I did. But I want to know why SHE has to hear something through pillow talk, and HE gets to go to the bar.
Pillow talk? Seriously? Yes, we women are wily. We’re so sexually liberated that we lure people into our beds and get them to confess to all manner of shenanigans. Because when you put women and pillows together, my, my… nothing good can come from that.
Whereas men can only talk to each other when they’re wasted. Actually, both genders should be insulted by this bozo. The assumptions he makes about the way we all live our lives… it’s condescending. It’s disgusting.
He probably calls women “gals” too. Or “little ladies”. And he probably doesn’t even realize what he’s doing.
But you know what really, really gets my knickers in a twist? It’s that a huge number of the people reading this are probably saying, “What’s the big deal?”
The big deal is that it’s 20 freakin’ 18, and you still can’t see why stupid freakin’ micro-aggressions like this are a big deal. That’s what the big deal is.
End of rant.
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The other day a friend was lamenting that instead of his usual solitary work environment, he was soon to be sharing an office with a coworker. “I’d like to be able to fart in peace without having to look over my shoulder,” he groused. That made me laugh. And it also got me thinking.
Why are we so programmed in this country to be ashamed of normal bodily functions? In some cultures, it’s polite to burp. Here, I’ve actually seen people blush when they sneeze or cough. I’ve even known people who have to turn on the sink faucet to block out the sound before they’ll urinate in a public bathroom.
We also have placed a heavy moral burden upon consensual sex, and how much we weigh or do not weigh. Heaven forbid someone be too tall or too short. Aging seems to be a source of shame. We’re supposed to keep all our body hair under strict control. And don’t even get me started about the stigmas attached to physical or mental disabilities.
Are you sensing a theme here? All of these things are biological. They are a natural part of being human. Everything from sweating to vomiting is a necessary physical process. We have limited control over our bodies.
I must admit I’m an extremely gassy person. When I went back to college in my late 40’s, I was often surrounded by young people who still cared what others thought. My occasional unintended farts would shock them. So one day I said, “Look. I’m old, I’m fat, I fart. I burp, I sneeze, I cough, and I puke. You’re just going to have to get over it.”
Seriously, though, I’ll tell you what: I’ll try not to fart during the National Anthem if you try not to act as though you’ve never farted in your life. The age of the Puritans is long past. We have so many other things to worry about. Let’s move on, shall we?
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Jeez, Hef is barely cold, and he’s already being immortalized. I just heard something on NPR, for chrissake, that said that his magazine sparked the sexual revolution. I almost choked on my M&Ms.
Okay, I’ll concede this much: His magazine made sex an open topic for discussion. His magazine normalized nudity. And sometimes, at its pinnacle, before it became the joke that it now is, it really did have good articles. Really.
But this spin that he liberated women? Omigod. Where to begin.
Playboy bunnies are seen as great successes by those who are into that stuff, but not for their brains, honey. Not for their achievements or their societal contributions. Not for any other reason than making the decision to shuck off their clothes in their early 20’s, as if the choices one makes at that age are consistently rational. Gimme a break. If anything, that liberated them to become objects.
You never hear anyone talk about the fact that his magazine helped perpetuate the body shaming that still exists to this day. Very few of us can live up to the standards that his Barbie dolls set. Even fewer of us are in our early 20’s. I actually had to give up on internet dating sites because the men my age are looking for skinny young women. You might be an old sleaze, but that doesn’t make you Hugh Hefner, buddy. Get real.
And by the way, who owned the damned mansion? Not the women whose flesh gave Hugh Hefner so much profit. He might have let some of them live there, and gave them allowances in exchange for unprotected sex, but the fortune and the control was all his. Don’t you think otherwise for a second. And by the way, if they didn’t give him or his friends sex, they didn’t get that “allowance.” That’s not prostitution… how?
The fact that so many women were willing to sleep with this creepy, dried-up 91 year old weasel in exchange for his handouts does not elevate them in anyone’s eyes. That they’d humiliate themselves by dressing up like rabbits (the ultimate breeding machines, lest we forget), does not make them pillars of the community. The fact that they were expected to entertain a revolving door of sleazy celebrities like Bill Cosby and Charlie Sheen should not, I hope, make them the subject of envy. I strongly suspect that none of them have won the Nobel Prize.
I’ve got to admit though, the dude was rife for parody. A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Hugh Hefner died. I guess he’ll Miss October.” That did make me laugh.
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First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.
But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?
Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.
- Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
- Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
- Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
- Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
- Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
- Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
- Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
- Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
- Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
- Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
- Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
- Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
- Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
- Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.
Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.
The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.
I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.
Happy Women’s Day, indeed.
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Now that I’ve reluctantly dipped my toe into the internet dating pool, my biggest frustration is that I don’t get to see the profiles of other women. I can’t assess my “competition”. Why am I being passed over? Does my profile stand out too much? Not enough?
And should you be highly specific in your profile, therefore weeding out a lot of people that would be a bad match and thus not wasting your time, or should you be more general, thus drawing in more people, and having to weed them out yourself on the first date, but allowing for a lot more benefit of the doubt? I can see arguments for and against both sides, but I’ve chosen to be specific in my profile.
What I have had the opportunity to do is view about a thousand profiles for men, so I think I can speak with a little authority about them. So what follows are things that have become obvious to me in a short period of time.
Profile do’s and don’ts
- Don’t lie. If you’re using a photo that was taken 20 years ago, or have gained 200 pounds, or are bragging about a Mercedes that you don’t own, or say you don’t smoke when you do, or say that your kids are grown and out of the house when actually you have a set of 8 year old twins who still live with you, the truth is going to come out when you meet. Where does that get you?
- Proofread your profile. You could be the smartest man in the world, but if your profile is full of spelling errors or grammar issues, you’re going to look like a dummy. If writing isn’t your strong suit, have a friend proofread it for you.
- DON’T USE SHOUTY CAPITALS!!!
- Choose your profile name carefully. If you call yourself something like “TurboStud4you” many women, who would like to be thought of as more than a sex toy, will pass you by.
- The majority of women on these sites are looking for more than sex. They’re looking for companionship. So talk about what you like to do for fun. If all you talk about is sex, many of us will pass you by, assuming you’re only interested in that one act. If your profile indicates that you’re not really interested in getting to know us as people, we’ll look for someone who is. If that really is your only interest, save us all a lot of time and just go straight to a prostitute.
- Include a picture. Many of us won’t even look at profiles without pictures. If you can’t tell if there’s potential for chemistry, you’ll move on to a profile that does provide that information, and there are plenty of those out there, believe me.
- Don’t leave huge sections of your profile blank. For example, if you leave the “What I’m looking for in a woman” section blank, then I won’t respond to you, because I have no idea if I would be what you’re looking for. There are plenty of other profiles out there that will give me this information. Don’t make me guess.
- Don’t make demands. State preferences. No one likes to be bossed around.
- Be original. Many of these dating sites will provide you with profile examples. They’re not meant to be cut and pasted into your profile. I’m amazed at how many profiles are identical, word for word. I skip those. I want some sign that you’ve given this process some thought.
- Don’t say you’re a nice guy. Every profile says that. Instead, give examples. “I volunteer at the local animal shelter” makes ME conclude that you’re a nice guy, and that seems more genuine.
- Also include candid shots of you out and about, doing what you like to do. It’s nice to provide context. Try to avoid including photos of you looking like a serial killer, and don’t include pictures of you intoxicated unless that’s your usual state. Ask a friend for photo feedback if necessary.
- I understand the instinct to lead with a photo of you in a suit and tie or a tuxedo, but if you wouldn’t mind a woman who prefers to be more casual, that could put her off. On the other hand, if your lead picture is you in a wife-beater, that will put off women who may occasionally like to dress up. (Which of course is fine if you aren’t interested in that type, but otherwise…)
- Tread lightly when discussing fitness. I appreciate that I’ve yet to see the word “fat” in a profile, but many men say they want a woman who is fit. That’s fine. It’s honest. But you have to realize that many women have warped body images, so you may think a woman is fit, but she may not, and will therefore not respond to you, so you’ll have missed out on an opportunity to meet someone wonderful. Perhaps a better way of saying it would be, “I would like someone who would enjoy riding a bike 4 times a week,” or something to that effect.
- And if you are yourself fit but would be willing to date someone who is slightly less fit, don’t emphasize your fitness so much. I, for one, skip the fitness talkers, for fear of rejection. Just show your fitness in your photo and leave it at that, unless you really do want to eliminate certain body types.
- If you’re into sports (for example) but would be okay with someone who isn’t, then don’t make sports the primary focus of your profile.
- Don’t make your profile only about what you want. You’ll look selfish. Also make it about who you are and what you have to offer.
If you haven’t figured this out already, you will in short order: There are a lot of crazies and bottom feeders and scammers on these sites. You will hopefully be contacted by a lot of people, and make contact with a lot. There is a way to navigate past the crazies. Here’s a little contact etiquette.
- If someone takes the time to send you a personalized message which shows they’ve obviously read your profile and have specific questions or comments, give them a courtesy of a response, even if it’s only, “Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately I don’t think we’d be a good match, but good luck on your search!”
- If someone sends you a generalized flirt, respond or don’t, it’s up to you. They’re testing the waters.
- If someone contacts you from out of state, they’re most likely a scammer, or using the shotgun method. (If they contact a hundred men, one is bound to respond.) I strongly encourage you to blow these off.
- If someone sends you a very generic message in chat, such as, “Hey, cutie! How are you doing today?” they are DEFINITELY using the shotgun method. Block them.
- For the love of God, DO NOT send unsolicited photos of your body parts. (If you need to be told that, you probably need more help than this blogger can give you.)
- If you read a profile and think you want to meet that person, don’t send a message right off the bat that says let’s meet. Talk for a while back and forth on the message forum before suggesting a meeting. That way you can get some sense of each other first, and the woman will not feel like you’re desperate or simply playing a serial dater numbers game.
- If you read a profile, are interested, but don’t make contact, don’t be surprised if the woman doesn’t contact you. She’ll assume you’re just a “looky-loo” and have decided you’re not interested. Go ahead, reach out!
- Do NOT put anything in your profile that even hints at your work or home location, your full name, where you can be found at any specific time, or outside contact info. Don’t even provide this in messages. Not unless you want to risk coming home to find a rabbit boiling in a pot on your stove.
- Always meet in a neutral public place at first, like a coffee shop. Don’t reveal your address.
- Tell someone where you’re going, how long you plan to be gone, and who you’re meeting.
- Encourage the woman to follow these safety guidelines as well. She’ll appreciate your concern.
We’re living in a cyber world. Internet dating has become ubiquitous. Many people have success stories. But as with anything, you’ll get as much out of the experience as you put into it. Good luck!
A friend of mine, in her late 70’s, said that to me the other day. My first inward reaction was shock. I mean… she’s old. She shouldn’t be thinking like that!
But the older I get, the more I realize what a crazy notion that is. Why do we think that age turns one into some sort of sexually sterile creature? Even if we become isolated and untouched, that does not negate the fact that, simply by dint of life experience, we have been around the block a time or two. We have memories. We have triumphs and regrets. We are still biological beings.
I strongly suspect that the things I will find most frustrating about aging won’t be the aches and pains, but will be the fact that I’ll most likely be taken less and less seriously, to the point of becoming nearly invisible to most people. That’s a shame, because I’d like to think that I’m rather fun to be around. The slower you walk, the more life seems to pass you by, if you let it.
But don’t forget that for every year someone lives, they’ve accumulated more history. Of course they’ll have stories to tell. And some of them might just be bawdy. I certainly hope so.
[Image credit: twtrland.com]