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AGE IS NOT A BARRIER

Although unlikely, if there are any readers not yet eligible for membership in AARP who find the idea of intimacy between two consenting septuagenarians or octogenarians offensive, they might want to skip this blog. I would not wish to destroy any preconceived notions about what love looks like in the fourth quarter of life.


I have seen the sweet, chaste photos of elderly couples holding hands on a park bench or exchanging occasional pecks on the cheek while watching Wheel of Fortune. I have also seen the commercial representations of older couples as being purged of the most basic human instinct.


"Look at those sweet little old folks holding hands as they shuffle along, mindlessly slowing down foot traffic. Isn't it cute how they take care of each other? He just gave her a chaste peck on the cheek; adorable!"


Those stereotypes are examples of intimacy and are extremely important in maintaining a meaningful relationship. It is not my goal to poke fun at whatever companionship two people find satisfying and sufficient. Nor am I implying that those who choose a more solitary life are impaired.


Get ready. I am planning to discuss things a refined or respectable old lady is not encouraged or expected to say.


I want to share the joy we have found in a more intimate connection. If we had accepted the stereotypical image of two elderly folks hanging out, we would have missed the possibilities that became realities for us. Here is what we have learned by being unafraid to explore. You might wish to ask your partner to read this chapter along with you.


In fact, there are at least five types of intimacy in a relationship. Physical intimacy is the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear the word intimacy. I will talk more about that in a few minutes, but first a look at some other types.


Emotional intimacy happens when two people discuss their deepest feelings and feel confident that their partner or friend hears and understands. That type of intimacy creates a feeling of safety. It is a true blessing to open up to someone who will not judge you or embarrass you.


Intellectual intimacy brings two people closer together, knowing that each can freely express their opinions. Discussing topics of interest, reading together, debating opposite sides of arguments, all help grow that type of closeness.


Experiential intimacy develops when two people share an experience or work as a team on a project. Traveling together, attending live performances, or sharing special events create a shared base of experiences. Private memories of those experiences lead to inside jokes and sometimes a shared language that enriches the connection.


Spiritual intimacy can strengthen closeness through a shared appreciation of those ideas and concepts that transcend logic and conscious thought. Those moments that leave you in awe of something bigger than yourself or your small world can, when shared, help cement a relationship.


Humans have a basic psychological need for intimacy. Any lasting relationship depends on a form of intimacy, not just romance. Sharing one type of intimacy with another person can be sufficient to create a long-lasting bond. If you hit the jackpot and share all types, you may find yourself among a much smaller group. Rick and I hit the jackpot.


Physical intimacy, including sex, is one of the most robust human drives. It is, of course, necessary for the perpetuation of our species. Surprise, it does not have to end with the childbearing years. That fire in the loins is still smoldering and waiting only to be ignited by the right fuel.


To our joint surprise, we won the online dating lottery, and it rekindled the fire. When you discover a deep connection that some would call a soulmate, you yearn for all there can be. You want to be as close as possible and to share all that life offers.


Yes, physical limitations may be part of living so long. Yes, your partner may not look like a matinee idol or seductress. Just because you cannot chase each other around the bedroom does not negate using that bed for something better than chasing.


As I told a family member when she asked if we would like to have an electric blanket, “Thanks, but I think there is more than enough heat under the sheets.”


If you are fortunate to find someone you love who respects and loves you for who you are, don’t waste time. That advice applies at any adult age. At Rick and my age, I offer an adage. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”


Rick has helped me overcome most of my inhibitions. Even as a young woman, I was always self-conscious of various aspects of my body. I criticized all my facial features and feared exposing any portion of skin that was not perfect. Few of us can measure up to the commercial images surrounding us at every turn. Realizing that he loves me with sagging breasts, round tummy, and crepey skin is a release from the prison of self-doubt. I remind myself often, this is the oldest I have ever been, but also the youngest I will ever be.


When the years have had adverse effects on your range of motion, agility, and stamina, you may have to accept certain facts and plan accordingly. Here are a few hints we have discovered through our own laboratory experiments. We are fans of the scientific method; therefore, we test and retest to verify our theories through repeated results.


Don’t even attempt to imitate the positions shown in the Kama Sutra. Personally, I believe that is a case of someone showing off or hallucinating.


Don’t wait until you are falling asleep to become romantic. You will never make it to the end. Give early mornings a try.


Don’t be afraid to try new things. We have found it’s always good for a laugh even when it fails.


Take your time. You are not in a competition.


Relax. Remember, you have minimal outside influences controlling your daily schedule.


Talk to each other. Yes, it is O.K. to use racy language. No one is listening unless it is Alexa.


Humor is not off limits in the bedroom. In fact, it is helpful.


You can never overdo kissing and touching. Go for it.


Always begin and end each day with kisses and reminders that you love each other


Enjoy just being close, feeling the warmth of each other’s body.


Give absolutely no concern to what someone else may think about two old lovers. They may just be jealous.


My last suggestion is an expansion of a bit of wisdom handed down to me by a Great Aunt.


"The way to find happiness is to work at making someone else happy." This is a practical application of the Golden Rule, or the second of Christ's commandments.


Although I can only speak with any authority about my personal experience with how this strategy works, I feel somewhat confident that it is universal.


In my situation, Rick tells me almost every day that I am beautiful and sexy. That my mirror does not confirm his opinion does not affect my confidence.


As Rick is fond of saying, "Self-Confidence comes in handy." So instead of being shy about my body, I have freedom to express myself without concealing my extra love handles, spider veins, or arthritic fingers. I can tell you in all candor that self-confidence pays off.


If you have the good fortune of being with someone who loves you as you are, don't waste time. Maximize the pleasure for both of you. Accept positive comments and return the same as often as possible. Help each other make the most of your last journey. Recognize your complementary abilities and that, together, you are exceptional.



From my book, SPRING FLOWERS IN THE SNOW


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