Coming Of Age

Jan 28 22:00 2002 Dr. Dorree Lynn Print This Article

A ... For ... All Those Who Will Someday Be Over Fifty At age 49, I was walking with the man I was dating, ambling along a lovely rural road. In the distance we saw a couple perhaps in

A Valentine For Grown-Ups

And All Those Who Will Someday Be Over Fifty

At age 49,Guest Posting I was walking with the man I was dating, ambling along a lovely rural road. In the distance we saw a couple perhaps in their nineties walking slowly, holding hands. Studying them on the quiet country road, he turned to me and said, "if we are fortunate, that will be us — in bed as well as walking”. I knew I wanted to age with wisdom, and companionship, love and sex. A good man was getting harder to find. A hard man, for whom both love and sex mattered, was getting even harder to find. I married him.

I grew up in a society that stubbornly clung to negative images about elders loving and having sex. The thought of older people making love still tends to stir reactions ranging from amusement to disgust. The idea of couples in their 80’s or 90’s having intercourse remains unfathomable to the younger set. Unfortunately, it remains unspeakable to most of those having it as well. Love is an experience that can be quiet or loud, but not carnal. And, if it is physical at all, it is best kept under the covers and out of conversation.

I had a paucity of role models for what I wanted. And, I knew from my friends, I was not alone. Since our parents’ generation didn’t have our freedom or our views, they couldn’t model our needs. They didn’t discuss love, relationships or sex. Tripping and falling, my friends and I finally forged our own confusing paths defining love and sexuality for grownups. We found that love didn’t always include marriage but sex and love were a dynamite combination.

Every six seconds, an American man or woman enters the love and sexual wilderness of life after 50. There are close to 60 million of us in our mid-50s to over 100. We are boomers, seniors, wise and sexy elders. We crisscross and belong to all walks-of-life. At no point in the course of history have we lived so long and expected so much of human relationships. Yet when it comes to love and sex, we remain somewhere between the gray and dark ages.

Many of us are lost souls, aging in a society that still worships the Pepsi generation bombarded by images of 20-something, wafer-thin beauties and studs with pecs that we can no longer match. Young people remind us in their dances that sex is "dirty"— torrid and grinding. We may have our moments, but surely there must be a more gentle, affectionate, caring loving sexuality appropriate to our age. Viagra cannot be the only answer. We are not aging as our parents did, and many of us are unwilling to simply get old, to become useless, and to be put out to pasture until we die.

The truth is slowly and subtly dawning on our society that life today includes a new age. Love can be better after time has worked its magic and worn sharp edges smooth, or even as the song says, a second or even third time round. A half-century is no longer very old. As hard pulsing sexuality wanes, we have the opportunity to savor sensuality’s gains. Instead of thinking retirement, let us learn refirement. Let us live as we are coming to be: loving, sexy, sexual sages. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you who have reached a half-century plus, and to all of you who will be lucky to eventually get there.

Life is too hard to do alone,

Dr. D.

Dorree Lynn, PH.D.

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Dr. Dorree Lynn
Dr. Dorree Lynn

Dr. Dorree Lynn is co-founder of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Psychotherapy and a practicing clinician in New York and Washington, DC. Dr. Lynn served on the executive board of the American Academy of Psychotherapists and she is on the editorial board of their publication, Voices. She is also a regular columnist for the Washington, DC newspaper, The Georgetowner. Dr. Lynn is a noted speaker and well known on the lecture circuit.

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