The Crush Letter No 142: Stories You Loved the Most

. 13 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+. Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Happy New Year, CRUSHes!

I got the loveliest note from Natalie, an ardent CRUSH fan, just as 2023 drew to a close.

Dear Dish...

A place for our "letters to the editor."

Dear Dish:

As previously and often mentioned widely to many, I have been so enjoying CRUSH - what a wonderful project, and your voice is pitch-perfect. I love it … Wishing you the most cheerful next few weeks.


Thank you, Natalie! And thank you to all of you for the gift of being part of The CRUSH Letter.

We’re sharing the stories and columns you loved the most in 2023.


The Stories & Columns You Loved the Most in 2023

PrimeCrush Hotflash: The 5 Things You Need to Know About Menopause By Dish Stanley

From The New Pause Symposium co-hosted by The Swell & Stripe

Along with all the insight on menopause, and frankly, not at all inconsistent with it, were hundreds of women literally rebranding what it means to be us. They were smart, informed, hip, sexy women.

Last week I attended The New Pause Symposium in NYC co-hosted by The Swell and Naomi Watts’ new menopause wellness company, Stripes. It was a day of insights about menopause, with panels on everything from the status of research (critically overlooked and underfunded) to the medical establishment’s current understanding (continuing to emerge, at best) of how menopause impacts our bodies and lives, to sex after menopause (more intimate than ever, if that’s what you’re into, which readers of The Crush Letter know I am - more on that, including my one-on-one conversation with Emily Morse of Sex With Emily below).

A lot of camaraderie, optimism and laughter were dished out alongside the wisdom from leaders in the menopause field, but the alarming message, reiterated throughout the day, was that most women (and there are an estimated 64 million of us over 50)  are not getting the best advice out there on menopause from our medical practitioners. Worse than that, many of us are getting the worst advice, that is, advice in direct opposition with the latest studies and reports published by The Menopause Society, the leading resource on menopause for medical clinicians in the U.S. It was only formed by the way, in 1989. (Evidently women didn’t go through menopause before then.)

One of the things that prompted me to attend the symposium was this quote I had recently read about treating menopause from Philip M. Sarrel, professor emeritus of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services, and of psychiatry, at the Yale School of Medicine:

Doctors are not helpful. They haven’t had training, and they’re not up to date.”

WTF? Scary.

Continue reading here

TOPIX - A Series: Exile In Normalville.

Let’s Admit There’s No “Normal” to Relationships After We Hit 50 & Start Talking About What We’re Really Doing

Midlife has always been that point when we begin to realize that life is getting short. Too short to worry about what other people think. A turning point where people begin to craft the kind of friendships and romantic relationships that actually work for them, inside the lines (or out). TOPIX is our way of getting opinionated, courageous conversations started on what living and loving really looks like in midlife now.

My Marital Arrangement By “Mike Johnson”

My wife of almost 40 years stopped having sex with me over 20 years ago. She had left her career to be the primary caretaker of our three daughters, while also taking on significant volunteer work. At the time I was traveling the globe relentlessly for work.

We went to marital therapy. I wanted to stay married and keep our family together, and at the same time, I needed what I’ll refer to as a fully intimate, loving relationship. In other words, sex. With her. Preferably with her. That’s what I wanted. She wanted to stay married and keep our family together, and did not need, affirmatively did not want, sex to be part of it. She said we had “lost each other” in some irreconcilable way that was integral to her wanting sex with me. That wouldn’t change even if I made changes to be a better husband to her, she said. She wanted to stay married to me, just without the sex.

I asked, but never got a response to, the question of whether, in her conception of our marriage, she thought I should just be okay with an entirely sexless life (as it relates to other human beings). I am using sex as a shorthand for physical intimacy here (it encompasses affection, cuddling and the whole rangethough), but I think we can all acknowledge at this point that sex is the one critical thing that many men need to feel loved. Like if you talk about the “five love languages,” sex is a man’s number one love language. Or at least me and every man I personally know. But sure, I don’t know every man alive.

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QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. By Lisa Ellex

Who made YOU Quiver? PrimeCrush columnist Lisa Ellex wants to know. Just whisper it in her ear and your “first-time” story could be the inspiration for her next Quiver column. Anonymity a concern? She'll change your name, location, and any other piece of identifying info, just like they do in the witness protection program. Except you don't have to move. So if you want to Quiver with us, contact


My Brooklyn neighborhood of the 1960s and 70s produced a tight-knit group of kids. We were a gang of miniatures who walked to school and church together, did homework together, played street games and, when the street lights came on in the evening, we’d walk each other home.  As romances sprung up during adolescence, we paired off with our crushes. Some of us even paired off for life.  Such was the plan for me and Joe. 

Two years my senior, Joe was handsome, funny, gentle, and kind. From a young age, Joe could fix anything; a talent I witnessed first hand when I took a tumble from my bike one Saturday morning after my bicycle chain had snapped. Sitting on the ground examining a bruised and bloody knee, I felt someone lifting me up from behind. It was Joe.  He dusted me off, picked up my bike, and propped it up with the kickstand. After giving it a serious examination, he walked to his own bicycle and, from a small leather pouch attached to the back of his seat, produced a small tool kit. In less than 15 minutes, Joe repaired my chain and sent me on my way.  After that day, I paid close attention to the 12-year-old Mr. Fix-It and held every boy in the neighborhood to a high standard. Joe was, by far, the front-runner.  

When Joe was a high school sophomore, his woodshop teacher noticed his skills and arranged for him to join the co-op program at a neighborhood trade school. This was a type of internship that enabled high school students to get career training with pay. When my parents decided to renovate our cramped kitchen during the stifling summer before I entered high school, they hired Joe to do the cabinet and carpentry work.  With no air conditioning in the kitchen, Joe would sweat through his tee shirt by 11am.  From the front row seat of our kitchen table, I would suffer the heat and linger over my breakfast while pretending to be doing my summer reading, all the while studying the various muscles of Joe’s back as they rippled and flexed with each swing of the hammer.  When my mother caught on to what I was doing, I was banished to breakfasts on the front stoop for the remainder of the renovation.

Continue reading here

An Enlarged Prostate Is Common for Men Over 50. So Why Was It So Frightening & Difficult to Figure Out the Right Solution? A CRUSH Reader Streams Forth.

More than 1 in 3 men over 50 have symptoms related to an enlarged prostate.* CRUSH Reader “Kraig“ wrote to me volunteering to share his experience with his prostate enlargement diagnosis and treatment. After trial and error — and leaning on a wide circle of informed friends and top doctors in Boston (a city renowned for its leading medical institutions) — he shares how he finally found the best solution for him.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Kraig.

I’m not a doctor, but I’m hoping that the perspective of being just a normal dude dealing with something that can be very stressful and disruptive could be helpful. God knows I did a LOT of research on the ways to address prostate enlargement that would minimize potential sexual side effects. I am 57 and not ready to lose any sexual functioning. (Spoiler alert: I’m happy to say that the modality I chose worked perfectly in that regard (confirmed post-surgery last week).)

Addressing this, from start (first urologist visit) to finish (post-surgery) has been a three-month haul. 

When and how did you recognize that there was an issue?

I was urinating 4-5 times a night, clearly not emptying my bladder.  And obviously not getting good sleep.

I visited my PCP and he suggested I see a urologist.  

Walk us through the visit with the urologist.

The first step with a urologist is a test to determine how much urine is being retailed. This is done with a simple ultrasound over the bladder.  You then urinate and repeat the ultrasound. After that, she looked at me and delivered the news, "you have a liter of urine in your bladder after urinating.”

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The Friend Edit: You Need Good Friends. But Who Is Good? By Dish Stanley

Having close friends is a necessity, but determining who stays and who goes requires some conscious consideration.  Dish shares what has become the most important barometer for her, something she only picked up as a conscious practice recently, and as a result of staying on top of top dating advice.

You need friends. I wrote about how critical they are to our lives and happiness in Six Ways to Find the Friends Who Count and Why You Need Them in Letter No.  7. In that article, I cited Eric Barker and the shocking stats he published from an epidemiologic study of 300,000 people to determine fatality correlations. Based on the study, only two things will make a huge difference in your longevity: the frequency of  your social support and how integrated you are within a community.

So, you need friends. But you don’t need to be everybody’s close friend. If the pandemic was good for anything at all, it was the opportunity it created to loosen up some bonds. If you weren‘t in the headspace then, now is the time. Typical transitions at this stage of life - a move, becoming an empty nester, retiring, trauma - can and should cause shifts in your friendship circle.

Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck wrote about what he calls the five levels of friendship. “Because few stop to think about the quality of their friendships and whether or not they’re surrounded by assholes.” His levels go from “Hey, It’s That Guy” to “We’re Practically Family”.  His piece is here.

I tend to think in concentric circles myself, with the innermost circle representing those whose heart I carry with me in my heart (to steal from the great poet e.e. cummings).  This is the model my Mother taught me in my teens after a round with Cindy, who was super fun but often proved self-absorbed. My characteristically matter-of-fact Mother suggested “I think you want to keep her in your life, but knock her back a ring or three. She’s so self-involved, she might not even notice.”

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Extended Encounters: A Series on Long-Term Love. By Lisa Ellex

Her one-night stand lasted three-decades-long story – but we want to hear YOURS. In her column, Extended Encounters, Lisa Ellex talks to couples who have been together for upwards of thirty years. If you and your partner are among the fortunate few whose relationship has been witness to seven presidential elections, 19 wars, a global pandemic, and Keith Richards falling out of a coconut tree then Lisa would love to hear from you

EXTENDED ENCOUNTERS: "Sal and Ken" By Lisa Ellex

Sal, a civil engineer, and Ken, a hairstylist, have been together 28 years, married for 10. Their unconventional meeting has led to a life that is the perfect design of work, play, and community service.

The gift of gab is just one of many gifts possessed by Sal, who represents one half of the couple I am meeting with today. Lively and sometimes brash, Sal speaks with rapid-fire delivery and initiates our conversation. “Since I was born first, I’ll start.  Age before beauty, right?  First things first.  If you plan on writing about our ‘May-December Romance,’ let me set the record straight. It’s a ‘Gay December Romance.’ See, we met on a bitter cold December afternoon in the middle of the blizzard of 1995 when I popped into a gay bookstore to (indicating with finger quotes) ‘warm up’ after spending the afternoon Christmas shopping for my wife and kids.  Little did I know I’d meet Kenichi, the love of my life, that day.”

I interrupt Sal. “Kenichi?”  

Ken answers. “That’s my given name. My Japanese mother chose it. Kids in school made fun of my name so I always went by “Ken.”  Sal is the only one who calls me “Kenichi.”

Sal adds, “And your parents.  Your parents call you by your proper name. It’s a beautiful name.  It means “wise one.”  And that he is.  Kenichi never speaks without thinking. He’s the opposite of me, in every way.  I just say what’s on my mind.  Take it or leave it. Or as Doris Day sang in the movie of the same name (singing), “Love Me Or Leave Me.”

Kinichi laughs, “Don’t tempt me.”

Continue reading here

Re-Reading Erotic Lit Classics: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Reviewed By Christian Pan

In this series Christian Pan re-discovers classic erotic literature from a current perspective.

Fear of Flying: 50th Anniversary Edition
Book Link Here

What is freedom? Not just in terms of determining what sorts of intimate and sexual relationships one wishes to enjoy, but how can we meaningfully articulate a vision for living a thriving, full, contented life, in all of its complexity and with all of our foibles? How does one balance personal pursuits with spending time with one's lover? How can we successfully negotiate the time and energy necessary to nurture a marriage while simultaneously building a career (particularly if one is an artist)? How do the answers to these timeless and universal questions change when asked by a woman? 

Upon its release in 1973, Erica Jong´s debut novel Fear of Flying garnered praise from respected literary figures John Updike and Henry Miller as well as became a popular bestseller in the culture. Many readers identified with the book´s semi-autobiographical heroine, a 29-year-old woman possessing intellect, wit, and an indefatigable passion to understand the nature of her desires. Isadora Wing is married, a Jewish New Yorker, a writer–but which of these is the most important? How do women balance them all together, and how can one wrest satisfaction from both one´s career and one´s relationships? 

The book begins in Vienna. Isadora is attending a conference on psychoanalysis with her husband Bennet, ostensibly to write an article for a media outlet in New York. The choice of setting combined with her spouse´s profession is intentional by Jong, as Isadora´s narration will jump back and forth through time, and some chapters will be so confessional that they will almost feel like we are her therapist, listening to her on the couch. Shortly after her arrival to the event, Isadora meets Adrian, a British analyst who is the opposite in temperament to her husband: where Bennet is meek or submissive, this new man is confident, direct in articulating what he wants, an existentialist who invites Isadora to run away with him for a temporary affair. She joins him in the hopes of having a highly-charged sexual adventure, an act of rebellion which will shock her into realizing what is most important to her, what role her husband plays in her life, and more. But instead, Isadora finds that she and Adrian are simply driving around France and Germany, and that their lovemaking is infrequent or brief, if at all (Adrian is frequently impotent). When the Brit announces that he is going to return to his wife and children in England, Isadora storms off to a ramshackle room in a fleabag hotel in Paris, where she finally begins to fall in love with the one person she has been seeking all along: herself. 

Continue reading here

Thank you for spending your Saturday mornings with me this year. I love you. I do! Happy 2024.

Dish Stanley XO,

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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