FAQs for Lynn Garson about Sex and Love After 50

Does age matter in relationships?

Age matters to me only in the sense that I want to be with someone who can relate to the host of references that I, like all of us, make all the time that only someone near enough to my age would understand. For example, if I say “Neil Young,” I don’t want to hear “Neil who?” in response.

Your age or your divorce? Which has a bigger influence on how you make relationship decisions?

Not my divorce as much as my post-divorce experiences influence how I make relationship decisions now. I have learned a whole lot about what’s important to me through trial and A LOT of error. My age only matters insofar as I have gotten old enough to actually learn a thing or two.

His age or his divorce? Which has a bigger influence on how you make relationship decisions?

It could be either, neither, or both. All that matters to me is whether a man has gained some insight into himself and others by whatever means–divorce, age, difficult experiences–and is willing to put them to use in a relationship with me.

What is the key to finding yourself after divorce?

For me, the key was waiting out all of the difficult emotions–the panic, fear, loneliness, and anger–until I had regained enough balance to get to know the new me and my new reality. I had a cousin who told me at the beginning that it would take me five years to recover from my divorce and I thought she was exaggerating by a mile. Turns out she was wrong only in that it took me longer. (In some things I am a slow learner.)

What are the odds of finding [true] love after divorce?

The most recent statistics by Pew show that among previously married men, 64% remarried, compared with 52% of previously married women. That sounds like pretty good odds, but the majority of second and third marriages end in divorce, 73% for the third according to some sources. Those stats don’t sound great, but as the eternal romantic, I think it’s not only possible but something that we should all shoot for. (Hey, I believe it helps to put out into the universe the things you want!)

What are 3 online dating mistakes that women over 50 make?
  1. Here’s a big one that I haven’t made but have heard a lot. Do not even think of putting up a photo from when you were eight years younger/twenty pounds thinner/blonde instead of brunette. You do not want to greet your date and be met by a look of shell shock and disappointment. Better to get someone to take a great shot of what you look like now and post that.
  2. On the flip side, a mistake that I personally made in the early days was to be naive enough to believe everything the men said in their profiles. Will it surprise you to know that there are married men trolling the online sites? It sure surprised me. Now I’m a little more cautious and street smart.
  3. Another one was to give my home address out too soon. I am too trusting by nature, and while luckily nothing bad ever happened, I learned to withhold that information until it was reasonable to give it out.
Do you think it’s OK to date someone going through a divorce?

I think it’s OK, but I don’t think it’s smart. Very few people going through a divorce have their heads screwed on straight. It is not a time to be dating, although for me, it was a time when I desperately wanted to date because I was so afraid of being on my own. The fear and disruption of divorce plays out differently for different people. Some people, for example, just want to sleep around. Some people rebound into a second marriage. Regardless, anything done out of pain and fear versus stability is not a good bet for long-term success.

What do you think men should know about how to date older women?

We’ve been around the block (in a good way) and a little respect for our accumulated knowledge and experience goes a long way. Also, men should be open and willing to learn about their dates. I have noticed that during a first date, a lot of men don’t ask me anything about myself, but talk at length about themselves. That is not an endearing quality. Everyone wants to be seen and heard, and when I am totally ignored like that I lose interest in the other person very quickly.

Why would anyone other than a divorced woman over 50 read this book?

I’ve been happily surprised to hear positive feedback from a broad spectrum of people. Men uniformly find the book hysterically funny, and one woman (age 30) told me she was interested, and thought her peers would be as well because they are curious about what dating is like for their mothers and grandmothers(!)

Do you have dating advice for women over 50 whom, like you, see themselves as part-feminist, part-throwback to the 1950s?

The only dating advice I have for anybody is be true to yourself. If you want respect for your mind and still want to be coddled from time to time, ask for it. If you believe that a couple should share expenses but want your man to open the car door for you, ask for it. Communication is a wonderful thing.

Do you believe that people can have great sex after 50?

Yes! I am living proof. I tell you, there is nothing like a woman who has a lot of pent up sexual energy. I think that might be what the whole cougar thing is about–the younger guys discovered our little secret. On a more serious note, if two people over 50 are attracted to each other and open to being sexual, there is no reason why the sex can’t be great. Especially because in the case of over-50 singles, you still have the excitement of uncharted territory with a new partner.

STDs are older adults is on the rise. What do you advise?

This is one place I put my inner romantic on hold. Use protection until you reach the point in the relationship where you have truly established trust, and before you ditch the condoms, both get tested and show each other the results. According to the CDC Condom Fact Sheet, laboratory studies have shown that latex condoms provide an effective barrier against even the smallest STD pathogens. So while getting pregnant is thankfully no longer an issue for older couples, there is still a reason for caution.

Should a woman loan a man she is dating money?

That would be no as in NO, really, never loan money to a man you are dating. It skews the relationship and in my opinion (NOT based on personal experience) rarely ends well. Didn’t you ever hear “don’t be a nurse or a purse?” It’s good advice. That is not to say that I’m opposed to buying gifts for a guy I’m dating or sharing expenses. I know many women who wouldn’t even do that, but I drank the Kool-Aid in the early 1970’s and have no problem with fiscal equality. Once it turns into a committed relationship, it’s more nuanced and my opinion would probably change depending on the facts.

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