Love In The Time Of Retirement
Support for this NPR podcast and the following message. Come from the UPS store, offering services from shredding to printing to mailbox ING and instead of closing this holiday. The UPS store is doing another ING altogether. Opening the UPS store every ING for small business. And of course shipping. This is one A. I'm Todd's willington can Washington sitting in for Joshua Johnson. There are more Americans than ever who are single later in life. And that's why today on this Valentine's Day, we decided to talk about dating while gray or grayish ages fifty and beyond it just so happens that this Sunday's modern love column in the New York Times covered the exact same topic writer. Sophie, Burnham agreed to report of her essay for us. It's called at what age is love and throwing eighty to a young man, I know came knocking on the door. We sat on the deck behind my house to talk about what I expected would be the death of his father or the girlfriend. He had broken up with recently. I'm accustomed to being kind of mother figure the wise older woman who provides empathy an advice instead this man, thirty years younger than I screwed up his courage to blurt out. That he felt attracted to me. He left me. Shaken I have no desire to take him up on his sweet confession. But he has made me stop and think about myself about age about life. Okay. I admitted I suffered from ageism. I find myself buying into our cultural concept of age, which says, I'm ugly. Now ahead. What is it that attracts? That's eighty two year old writer, Sophie Burnham, reading from her modern love column that was published in Sunday's New York times. Let's listen to more life brings unexpected changes marriages end, and I have found that love later in life has been every bit as enthralling as when I was young. As we age, we can gain a comfort level with ourselves. Let's pursue whatever we wish without shame. Even my mother's were proving voice died down long ago. Mostly, and I have felt myself free to choose whom I wanted or not and to act for my core. I like man I'd like to look at men I like their company unjustice, I find a youthful girl's body lovely look at. I find is also tracking fit male jogger on the street shirtless. His body glistening. So what is it to be a woman and eighty two what does femininity mean at this age or beauty sensuality? I should say that I have never been happier than in these later years never more filled with wonder and delight I think sometimes I am back to being a nine year old only with a creaky or body filled with joy at being alive. And with none of the damage that the raging rivers of hormones later inflict. So what do I want to tell women of tomorrow about the brilliant decades? Lie ahead. I want to tell them about how good it can be. I want to tell them about joy that was so fee Burnham reading her essay at what age is loving throwing eighty two. It was published in the modern love column in the sun in the Sunday New York Times today, we're talking about what it means to be single and dating in the second half of your life. Joining me for this conversation today from our NPR studios in New York is Eric Klein Enberg he's a sociology professor at New York University and author of going solo the extraordinary rise and surprising appeal of living alone. His most recent book is called palaces for the people Eric thanks for being here. It's great to be here. Thank you. Also with this from KYW in Seattle is pepper Schwartz. She's sexologist professor of sociology at the university of Washington and author of prime adventures and advice on. Sex love and the sensual years and also dating after fifty for dummies pepper. Hi, hi, great. Great to have you with with me here in the studio in Washington is Laura Stasi, she's hosted the podcast dating wall gray, which was produced as part of the pod shop it w AMU pepper. Let me start with you. We mentioned at the outset of the show more Americans than ever are single. And in the second half of their lives. Just how big of a group. Are we talking about here on this Valentine's Day? Well, in some ways, it has yet to be seen because we're getting such extensions of the life course, that you have enormous growth and people over fifty over sixty over seventy over eighty and over ninety so the Enda of what this incredible burst of response to better medicine better healthcare is going to be is not as important as recognizing. I think that people are looking at a very long life. Indeed, better medicine better healthcare. Longer lives for sure, but also lots of divorce which means lots of people fifty five fifty eight who are single again. That's very true. And particularly true for the baby boom generation, they actually have a higher divorce rate, then people before them in seemingly after them. So there may be something special about this group. But the fact is if you have a high divorce rate you find yourself alone fifty or sixty you don't just decide to be somebody's grandmother grandfather. You see I want love Laura. The pilot of your podcast dating dating while gray. You're inspired to start that podcast because you felt like there wasn't enough information out there for the so called grey daters. And I want to say, by the way at the outset of this show. You might be fifty one and not consent to consider yourself gray. Don't tweet us about that. Totally get it. You're you're not gray. Eventually, we all are, right. This is the cutoff we chose some of you are greyish some of you are. Future. Grace, some of you are truly great. But this is where you decided to start right? And based on my own story. I was married for almost thirty years before I got a great divorce, and it's called grey divorce, the sociologists or researchers have named it that. So that's why I called it dating while gray. And yes, the divorce rate has gone up for this age group fifty and older. But so has the remarriage rate it's higher than other age groups. So I wanted to explore what it means to couple up at the stage of life. First of all, how are people finding partners because I had no idea how to date after not dating the last time. I was single no no answering machines, no online dating. So I also wanted to find out how to find a partner. But then once you do find a partner, what are some of the issues involved with recoupling. So somebody said to you. I'm sure when you thought about dating oh just get on. Match get on Tinder you went what? Or did you? Well. So I have never been on Tinder going online. Online dating seems to be a great way for people to get a lot of dates. However, it's not necessarily the best way to find a long term partner. So I have explored online dating. But I've also talked to a lot of people who are finding partners through friends of friends finding through matchmakers just serendipitous Lee meeting. So you know, there's there are plenty of ways. No, Eric Klein in Burke for your book going solo you analyzed a different booming population of older, Americans, many of whom but not necessarily all of them are single one of the great daters Laura interviewed for her podcast is interrelationship but chooses to live alone. So listen, I'm very involved in Washington DC, I sit on boards there and Jerry's life is interested with his running buddies. When the day comes at one of us should not live alone. Then we'll consider living together. Gather in five I shouldn't say this. But I will at eighty five and going eighty we still have a wonderful act of sex life. We're not dead. Just sold Eric. This sounds familiar to me. I have a family member very close to me who is in a second marriage later in life lived separately. From her husband for twenty five years. Couldn't have been happier. In fact, it wouldn't have worked out any other way. I bet we all have people in our lives who have had that experience. Partly just because there's so many people who are living alone and enjoying being single throughout the life. Course, the really striking thing to me from the conversations I had with older single people and women in particular, the number of people who said, you know, at this point in my life. I'd rather have someone to go out with than someone to come home to. It's not that people don't want to be social or sexual on out there in the world. It's that people like to control their own domestic space and live the way that they want, and that's a massive change in the way that we have organized our lives. One of the things I served is there because there's so many older people who. Are single now. It's possible to be single at that stage of life and experience, very little stigma and also have a booming social life. Right. So I think fifty years ago, it would have been very strange to go to a restaurant in the United States and see a group of women there together at night. Now, it's completely conventional that that that part of the culture is has just transformed. And the other thing is that so many women I interviewed had had the experience of having taken care of a spouse who got sick and really struggled. And that responsibility was very hard for them to care wanted. Again. Eric hold the rest of that thought because we're gonna take a quick break. And we're gonna talk about why there are so many more retired age single women than men were going to get answers from our experts your calls and tweets two. You're listening to one A. I'm todd. This message comes from NPR sponsor Rossi's Rossi's is the everyday flat for life on the go. The comes in four fashionable styles for women the flat the point the loafer and the sneaker fund designs and patterns while still looking polished and professional with new colors launched every few weeks. Best of all Rossi's are made from recycled plastic water bottles and completely machine washable. So you can feel good about wearing them. Go to Rossi's dot com and enter code one a to get your flats and free shipping. Castle mountain high is different from a lot of other high schools this student. He got shot four times stay outside like Henkel bullets to my head. I'm Sam Sanders. One year after parkland, we've talked to kids who face gun violence every single day. Listen on it's been a minute from NPR. This is one A. I'm Todd's will like infra Joshua Johnson. We're exploring the dating scene on this Valentine's Day for people. Over fifty with sociologist. Eric Klein Enberg sexologist pepper Schwartz and the host of the podcast dating while gray here in her Valentine read in the studio, Laura dossey, will we have a couple of more stories of finding love later in life that you left in our inbox. This is Dave from Gainesville Florida. I myself divorced at in my fifties. And kinda made a pact with myself never to remarry. I mean Marceline I'm calling from Salt Lake City Utah. I was on a vacation by myself in my early fifties. Doing great when I received a message from this boy, Sean on Facebook that I hadn't seen since our twenties. And I met a young lady ten years, my junior. Fortunately within walking distance from our homes, and we together for over two years. We had decided that we are not gonna get married who knows what the future holds whether we'll ever live together. But with our houses being so close we have a good thing going. We got together we had a drink. I found he'd had a crush on me for all those years. And we are now engaged and getting ready to be married, and we're very happy. Well, men and women's studies find date very differently. And that difference is amplified among older daters. We touched on it briefly. Let's listen to a clip from your podcast lower you interviewed a psychotherapist name, Maryland Nieve, probably heard the phrase women mourn in men replace. Oh, no. Or the most part a lot of women. I know, and I would include myself in that are looking for the man and men are looking for a woman a pepper Schwartz in Seattle. These are generalizations from one person does does the research back it up. Not really I think there's it's a lot more complex than that. I actually don't think men are looking for a woman. I think they do need a partner more than women need partner. Partly because men don't have that rich network of friends that women do women. Do have intimacy men rarely do once they lose a partner. So they're more driven more motivated, and perhaps that means they have a wider scope, but they don't say okay of got one. They think I've got the one, and they may over romanticize her because the need is greater, but I think that's the biggest difference. What about the dating pool? It's changed so much. We mentioned the statistics far more available women as you get older than there are available men. What does that do to people's incentives when they look at what they want out of dating how motivated they are. And how motivated they might be to take dating to the next. Level of commitment and maybe permanent commitment. Well, that is a demographic fact women take better care of themselves and they live longer. So they are bigger pool of eligible in the later ages. And I do think it changes motivation. I think there's the old show about women that the good man is a man who can still drive at night, and for men, I think they have, you know, more women to pick from. But what I would say is that while people do complain about women do clink complain about men not looking for commitment, which I think that's not true. But on the other hand, there's probably a bigger number of men who feel that they have many more choices and take advantage of that. Now, Lisa in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been holding on the line was the first to call in. And I get the sense of very interested to chime in Lisa. Go ahead. So I'm fifty seven and I was divorced at thirty seven. So it's been. Twenty years. I live on my own. I had lived with my kids until they grew up and then moved out. I love living on my own. It's like the best way to go. And I can't really understand. Why everybody feels like I'm supposed to have some romantic relationship. I bought a dog. So pretty much fulfills anything I need as far as like social time. Plus, I have a lot of love in my life. Not going to have kids and financially stable. So it just never really made sense to me. Once I got divorced and my kids were grown to even bother. No point to me. Lisa. I'm glad you got a dog and and to each their own in. I'm happy that you're happy the way you are. I'm a little I think you're saying that we men are are useless or we only use those after fifty. Well, I you know, I mean. What guess like if I need repairs done on my house? It's a far cheaper to hire handyman. The deal with the emotional toll that you get out of a bad relationship. Right. Second of all. What do I need them for? I mean, maybe you useless after fifty gosh. Maybe that's why most men after I want to date twenty year olds. All right, Lisa. Let me ask lower about this. You're cringing a little bit. But I want to I want to get down to one thing that I got from Lisa the older, we get the better. We know ourselves. Right. When you're twenty two liking anything. You don't have the experience to know what you want out of a relationship fifty seven and divorced yet. Men are useless is is a bit of a shocker, but here's someone who's in her mid to late fifties. Who knows what she wants to from relationships? And that's a very useful thing when you're thinking about whom today or whether today at all, I agree. And I think it's much better to be on your own than to be in a bad relationship any day of the week. No matter how old you are. So if she has decided that she does not want to pursue a romantic relationship. Then that's that's fine. But I don't like generalizations. I I don't think any of us should be emotionally dependent on finding somebody are it. Let's go to Allan who's been waiting on the line for four from Fort Myers, Florida. Alan your sixty five years old you've been married for thirty years. Now, what do you want to add? Well, I was married for thirty years. I've been divorced for two and a half years now and initially before the divorce was final I that I would be seeking a long term relationship with another woman right from the start, and I didn't wait until the divorce was final. I was listening to NPR program and the dating apps, and I had never even heard of tender or bumble or anything like that. So I signed up the next morning, and I was surprised how many mature women there are that are very actively seeking relationships on those sites. So I thought wow. This is going to be pretty easy as soon as the divorce is final. I'm I'm gonna move right on well between the literally thousands of women that matched and just the free sites alone. And then I retired the same month that my divorce was final and I've been spending nine months year in Florida beach towns, and there are so many single people so many over fifty single people still working or retired that the my attitude is completely changed as far as seeking out that long-term relationship with on person because the loneliness never did picking because a meeting literally dozens of single women per we because I'm living in different Florida beach towns, and then moving around, and there are way more women that are looking for relationships later in life. All right, and Matt great Alan, let me stop you there because you said. A couple of very interesting things that I want pepper to respond to pepper. Allen's had a lot of luck in the dating pool numbers are on his side geographies on his side. I think his attitude is on his side as well at sixty five in recently divorced of at pepper. One thing jumped out to me he mentioned using online dating apps bumble, Tinder match dot com. You name it. There was a study released last year that found on dating apps men's desireability peaks at fifty while women's is highest at eighteen and twenty ten dating site. Okay. Cupid reported that his men get older they searched for relatively younger women while the upper acceptable age stays near their own now a data collection. These sites are revealing not only a lot about whom we look for. But who were desirable to well? You know, first of all there's a lot of ageism we could do a whole program on that. But I'll just put it out there and a lot of men, and well, I would say I actually did the algorithm. For a dating site that got bought and I think merged into match dot com. Call perfect match dot com, and we would find that a lot of people all believed that they are a good deal younger than they are. Everybody says, well, I'm whatever age they say, I don't care whatever it is men and women, but I looked so much younger as if that's the best thing in the world. We admire us even when we are not young in. So the reach down isn't a sense confirmation of how young we really are. So there is a topic. But the fact is that the age the age pairs are on unmatched in terms of what people's ideals are. But also people have to figure out what else do they own now? Sometimes people in the past think that an older man is better off, and that's tractive. But of course, the economic. Demographic is changing women now are also becoming secure lot of infect very secure women are very afraid to date because they assume that it's going to be the economic well being that they have that's going to be attractive than anything else. I think better study would be who does like their own mate their own age, and who doesn't and I think you might find some educational and other aspects to that that would mean that those people who like somebody more in the same age group, they are are different from the ones that don't pepper what about sex. Let's talk about sex for a moment. You could do a whole show on it as well. But let's do just a couple minutes and a little bit more time. There is a long history of a myth in American society that as you get gray. You're no longer interested in sex. You're not down. You're not sexy. We know that's not true are more as changing though as people get older and continue dating. Yes. I think remember the baby boom did. In fact, usher in a new way to think about sexuality outside of marriage. And I think as they've watched the side he change along their life span. Yeah. They are thinking that you know, I should continue to be sexual. I mean, they're in the gyms. Why wouldn't they be wanting to use those better bodies for something? And I think that that the myth that they don't want sex or needs sex or aspire to an intimate connection sexually is just that. Now that said those bodies don't do the tricks they content. They always did you know when they were a lot younger. So for some people they get side, they could block with the fact that they're not a sexual athlete anymore, particularly men, but I think a lot of people have used their communication skills to figure out how to have a good sex life as they age, and there's been a lot of men. Medical changes that have changed the P that have changed that landscape. You know, it's been said that you know, it's Viagra at cetera. Actually, a lot fewer people use those drugs than you might think. But the fact is that they do have a market because people really do want to be sexually active. We got this tweet from Richard in Orlando, actually, an Email said, I'm a gay man who responds to young guys who are searching online for boyfriends who are over fifty. I'm now seventy three but in the last few years I've had several days with guys in their twenties and thirties dating while gray. But also gay we're gonna talk about the LGBTQ dating scene for those fifty plus stay with us. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from legalzoom if you want to make twenty nineteen the year, you finally start a business or secure your family's future. Legalzoom can help with their network of independent attorneys. Licensed in all fifty states legalzoom can help you navigate your legal needs from wills and trusts to LLC's trademarks contract, reviews and more. And the best part is legalzoom is not a law firm. So they don't charge by the hour. More at legalzoom dot com slash NPR. Hey, it's Peter sago from wait. Wait, don't tell me if you're a normal. Wait, wait listener, you shout out the answers to all the questions, and then you get frustrated that no one can tell how smart you are. Here's the solution. The wait wait quiz available now on your smart speaker, just ask your smart speaker to open the wait, wait quiz. Finally, your genius shall be recognized. Welcome back to one A on this Valentine's Day. It's Todd's will like and we're talking about love in the second half of life. Here's a message. That one of you left in our inbox. I fell in love when I was sixty one actually I fell in love when I was fifty nine and got married when I was sixty one and it's been wonderful. We preferred to ourselves as seen agers senior citizen teenagers. We've been hearing from you over Twitter and Email as well. Let's go to Judy who's in Saint Paul Minnesota. With a nice story. Judy your sixty eight there in snowy, Saint Paul what do you have to say on this Valentine's Day? Well, actually right now, I'm seventy seven but don't gate. After two very contentious divorce when I was younger and a brief stint match, I thought oh, no more of this. I'm just going to enjoy my life do things I've always wanted to do. And I joined the senior rock and roll singing group that performs over the twin cities alive and kicking. And at one of our first gig. I saw a man in the front role looked so joyful and happy to be watching other people have fun that I went up to meet him afterwards. Long story short we've been together since their dancing. Singing acting. I think the most wonderful thing about getting older. Well, there's two things one. You know, you know, who you want you know, what you don't want. You know, what you'll stand for what you won't you accept people for who they are and mostly that is in the reverse too. And it's just a much better place to be I've. Never been happier. Never felt more loved understood and supportive, and we're having the time of our lives while he's on titan. Stay honey. I love you. Have you been ties day to YouTube as well, Judy? It's a wonderful Valentine's story. But look not everybody is interested. It's just as simple as that. That's totally. Okay. And we've been hearing from a lot of them as we plan this show. We've got a lot of listeners pepper commenting that they're single and loving it. Mary wrote on Facebook page at sixty five with too bad. Marriages in the far distant past and single for twenty years. I am comfortable in my own skin. I don't feel a need for anyone to share my life. I'm whole I myself Chris wrote on Facebook. No, thanks love being single. Nobody to answer to accept the pets. I think he feels like Lisa in Pittsburgh club right pepper. It's we don't want to have the attitude that you must have a life full of romance and love and and sex. That's great when you're seventy five or seventy six some people don't choose it. And they give Ellen tines day cards to tad. Let me just say. This. I believe that we grow best with intimate relationships that we can protect ourselves. If in fact, we've had terrible marriages awful divorces bruised and beaten by the kinds of experience, we've had we're naturally going to take, you know, a hand off of a of a hot plate because it hurts. I think sometimes people put together their defenses and the make a choice not to go through that again. They may not feel they pick well enough it cetera. I think there are many good reasons to be single, and I see very successful single lives. But I'm a romance person. I believe that life is lived well with with shoot, certainly family and friends, but also a lover somebody you really care about someone who has your back. Someone understands you in a way that has a romantic or sexual aspect to it. It's not necessary for everyone wouldn't want to give up on it. Just because you know, the. Has been bad, and I will say one more thing because I really wanna contradict the idea of just go along with your life. If I stayed in my house and waited for someone to knock on the door to offer me a job. I'm not going to get employed. I think you have to be active in search of someone if you really want them, and that means shaking up your life because if your everyday life was bringing it to you you would have have someone to be with our people, happy alone. Yes. Do I think that having someone you love add something to your life? I sure do and Eric Kleinberg. Some people are happy alone. Many many people are not. But the simple fact is there are just way. More people living alone now than there used to be age demographics part of it. But more younger people are living alone as well. That's right. There's a whole new stage of life where young people who might have gotten buried in another generation realize that the way to become an adult. These days is to get a place of your own. And so there are all these young people now who are having. Five ten fifteen years of being single and developing a set of skills for staying socially active for building relationships in the context of a very different kind of domestic arrangement. And I think this is going to change the way that younger generations old age and experience relationships as well. We got this tweet from Comilla. She said we live longer outlive. Marriages women have careers own money after fifty no need for men after thirty eight years with the husband. I got a girlfriend we enjoy the same things and the sex is far better pepper. Let's talk about dating while grayer over fifty in the LGBTQ community. We had one tweet of from a listener before who said he gets interest from younger guys, maybe who are looking for an older guy to just play around with. That's what it sounded. Like, you know, older men have a lot to offer him in both gay and heterosexual worlds. And so they're not trivial. I could name you a. Bunch. I know and as far as women women's sexualities, I think much more flexible and women fall in love with somebody who is a wonderful human being and sometimes gender doesn't matter. So I think a lot of older women kind of open up their hearts, and if they meet somebody who's terrific, you know, that conceptualize the relationship because often intimacy is the root for women in that what sparks the, you know, the sexual feelings in them. So, you know, we're a lot more fluid than perhaps, we're comfortable with we think of the world in terms of gay and straight. But the the spectrum is a lot more complex than that worst cigarette yet talking about a fluidity and also how you reorganize your life. I heard a story a beautiful story two men who had been married for a long time. Both realized they were gay and in love, they did not want a divorce their respective wives. Because they were business owners and wanted to make sure that their wives were well taken care of and. Could be still have health insurance. So they permanently separated with their wives. You know, knowledge and everybody was happy about it. And the two men were together but still legally married to the respective wives. I think I've seen sitcoms with this three. I think you just by lily Tomlin show, right? Here's another area where the cultural change was really powerful. And the fact that we live in a world where we are more, tolerant and open and understanding and different kinds of relationships and sexuality are less. Stigmatized means that future generations will have more capacity to enter into meaningful relationships at work for them. And they and they won't have to worry about a lot of the things. I think have had limited us we got this tweet from Sebnem. I'm fifty two and happily and amicably, divorced. I'm an avowed cougar and enjoying the freedom to date and explore without looking for anything specific. I'll know that when I find it till then I'm confident in the power dynamic of dating younger men and William sent this tweet. I'm married just over three years ago for the first time at fifty and I've never been happier. I've had always been very shy around women do two years of rejection in part due to my own autism. Fortunately, I met my wife who also has autism on a cruise while celebrating my fiftieth birthday or. What a nice Valentine's note beatiful, and I actually got an Email after I was on in December from a sixty three year old man and saying that he was autistic and had never been able to find someone, and I think that is kind of an issue as we get older our health our and just having to navigate relationships of it. We just need more cruises for. Could probably take all of our? Well, that's that's all get out there. Valentine's Day advice for older, folks. I don't know if anybody really likes cruises. You have to deal with the seasickness as well. There are lots and lots of ways to meet people. If you choose that you want to and that's another thing that we've established that a lot of people wanna meet they wanna mingle some know how some don't some of that had good luck. And not everybody does. But it has been a wonderful Valentine's Day conversation. I want to thank all of my guests for being here. Eric Klein in sociology, professor at New York University, author of going solo the extraordinary rise and surprising appeal of living alone. Pepper Schwartz is a sexologist and professor of sociology at the university of Washington. Also, an expert on the TV show married at first sight pepper. Thank you so much and Loris dossey host of the podcast dating wall. Gray produced as part of the pod shop at WMU here in the studio in her Valentine's red, the show was produced by Avery climbing and edited by Miranda full more to learn more about them and the rest of the team. Visit the one eight. Dot org slash staff. This program comes to you from W AMU part of American University in Washington, it's distributed by NPR. I'm Todd Swalec sitting in for Joshua Johnson. Thank you so much for being with us. This is one A. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.