The Crush Letter No 120

. 14 min read

I'm Dish Stanley and I write The Crush Letter, a free weekly newsletter that gives an honest, joyful look at life, love and culture for those over 50. Because it's a lot hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

I've been spending the last 13 summers in a simple, cramped, charming island cottage.  These summers, as social as they seem to be for the world at large, have been periods marked by solitude and contemplation for me. Also of loneliness, but a loneliness I chose. Embraced, even while I resented it.

I get occasional visitors on my pull-out couch but it's not comfortable enough for them to stay long. I've been in relationships, had lovers, but the bed is small (and I have a large dog) and the cottage feels too tight for them to settle in.

Returning to the cottage this week for the summer it struck me that this prolonged state of separateness was no doubt on purpose, if not consciously so. The small, restricted vessel that is this cottage – not quite large enough for anyone I love to stay for long – has been an extended metaphor for the state of my heart.

I remembered the first summer I decided to rent it. I was dating someone with two boys in high school, the oldest heading to NYU in September. His week ends were primarily spent doing things the three of them had spent a lifetime doing together, in anticipation of one of them heading off into adulthood. There was no place for me during these week ends, which was his only free time. It was a few years after the death of my husband then and, in my mid-40's, all my friends' lives were taken up with children, careers, husbands. It was a strong defensive move, this cottage. To take myself out of the pain of competing for attention from people I loved and needed, knowing I would lose. A sunny little spot near a tennis club. New place, new sport, compelling distractions.

The cottage served me well during a phase of life that has been tumultuous. Stormy. It's been a lot of trying and failing and getting back up. At love, and other things. A lot of considered emotional work trying to understand why this, and why not that. Perhaps I've actually learned something. Not all of it, I know, was through concerted effort. Some of the greatest lessons came to me disguised as loss.

I feel stronger now. More sure, more grounded, more complete. God knows it took too fucking long, but I feel like I'm coming into dry land. Finally.

My heart feels capacious. Bold, even. Open. Too big to be contained in this little cottage any longer. After this summer I must move on.

As Liza Lentini notes below in our republication of her review of the 1988 film The Unbearable Lightness of Being, you must live not knowing the ending. You must consider the lightness of being.

Off I go.

Good bye, little cottage.


We have a wonderful Letter for you today, including another true story of long-term love from Lisa Ellex's Extended Encounters series. And given the news this week of the death of Czech writer Milan Kundera, we are re-running Liza Lentini's exquisite take on re-watching the 1988 film The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I think I'll wind that up myself this week end. But we'll start today with the most wonderful Dear Dish I received this week.


If you like The Crush Letter please consider sharing it with a friend! We have to grow to survive, and I would really love it if we did.

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter. +Dear Dish. I recently had a man over for my first sleepover since getting divorced. He was in awe when I pulled out the box of sex toys and products you sent for me to test ...  +EXTENDED ENCOUNTERS: "Leo and Loretta" By Lisa Ellex  In this ongoing series of true stories about love that lasts, Leo and Loretta share how their long-term friendship turned into 40 years of marriage.    +PrimeCrush & Chill: Rewatching The Unbearable Lightness of Being By Liza Lentini Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin, Juliette Binoche. These are three of the finest actors to ever grace a silver screen.   +AMPLIFY! Sex With Emily Podcast: {No. 12 of 12} Best Of Adventurous Sex  I have picked the 12 invaluable episodes that CRUSH Readers who want to be good in bed really.can't.miss. This is the 12th out of 12 in our series.  +Social Media I Loved This Week     +Our Song of the Week And I’m highly suspicious that everyone who sees you wants you

Dear Dish...

" Hi Dish!

Just wanted to let you know that your newsletter continues to be my spirit guide for dating, aging, and sex.

I loved your article about why can’t women be hot after 50. I’ve always known I was one of those women who would get better looking as I get older (vs those who peak in high school or college). As I crossed into my 50s and have begun to date, I feel more attractive, confident, and sexy than ever.


[S]urely there are those who have arrived in middle age as grown ass men, and they are excited and ready for us who feel and look better than we did at 25.

Side note: I recently had such a man over for my first sleepover since getting divorced. He was in awe when I pulled out the box of sex toys and products you sent for me to test. Thanks for helping me set the tone without having to say a word. 😊

I appreciate the work you do so much.


Dearest Anne:

My heart literally jumped in my sternum when I read it. My eyes got misty (I’m a softie) and my dog ran to my side to see what I was getting all emotional about. That’s how powerful your note was. Thanks so much for sending it.

And, of course, thanks for being a PrimeCrush Sex Toy Tester from the very start of our testing project. The “hard" work that you do helps all of us immensely. Sex toys are for everybody who wants to try them! But they are so often marketed exclusively to milennials. We need to know what we might want to try, which is why you’re so valuable.

x-oh, x-oh!


P.S. I’m pretty impressed with your boldness in pulling out the box of toys and products. Honestly, I’ve never had the guts to do that myself. (Why? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother topic to explore.) And also, he’s game! Hope you two had fun.


"Leo and Loretta"

Our author's one-night stand lasted three-decades-long  – 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

Having just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, Leo, a copywriter, and Loretta, a retired physical therapist, share the story of their lifelong friendship and the near fatal accident that helped to sow their seeds of love.

“There’s someone for everyone,” Loretta tells me. “That’s what my grandmother would always say.  But who would have guessed that my someone was living just down the hall from me?”

With a beaming smile and twinkling eyes, Leo chimes in from his wheelchair. He is not one to succumb to adversity. "We lived in the same apartment building from birth. We attended the same grammar school, shared the same friends, went to the same church, played on the same streets, went to the same community center.  Even our parents and grandparents were friends. It was a close knit neighborhood. It was a perfect little world.”

Loretta offers, “Leo doesn’t like to dwell on the negative aspects of the accident– or the negative aspects of anything, for that matter.”

Leo shares the details of that fateful morning. “Our neighborhood pool always opened the day after school closed. That was a big deal for us city kids. But it was an extra special day because it kicked off the summer before 8th grade, and from that day on we’d be the big kids in school. Loretta and the other kids in our building and I walked to the community center together like we always did. As crazy as it sounds, what sticks out in my mind is what a gorgeous day it was. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I still remember walking to the pool and thinking that the light was a certain way I had never seen before. It was as if my senses were heightened.”

“It started out as the perfect day,” Loretta adds.

Leo continues, “Once we got to the pool, the custom was to line up at the diving board for the first running dive of the season. We’d be so excited that we’d race to form a line. We just couldn’t wait to hit the water.”

Loretta adds, “The girls would all sit on the side of the pool and watch the boys. Some would dive straight in, some would try to be fancy or silly.”

Leo explains, “I had made that dive hundreds of times over the last few years so what happened really made no sense. The last thing I remember is thinking how high up the board sent me before hitting the water.”

Loretta recalls, “I remember the unusually loud sound the board made when it sprang down and back up. Then Leo disappeared into the pool and didn’t come up.  It was chaos. Lifeguards, ambulances, police, everything. I ran back to our building in my bathing suit to get his parents. We took a cab to the hospital. Leo was there a week before we all fully understood what had happened to him.”

Continue reading here

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Prime Video

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Leno Olin, Juliette Binoche

Released: February 5, 1988

Basic Plot: Adapted from the 1984 novel by Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being tells the story of Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), a surgeon, who falls for a beautiful, young photographer named Tereza (played by then 20-uyear-old Juliette Binoche). After bringing Tereza back to Prague with him, she realizes he’s already deeply involved with the sultry Sabina (played by the stunning Lena Olin). After the Soviets enter Prague, the threesome leaves for Switzerland, bringing all their issues with them. Only after Tomas and Tereza finally confront the hurt within their relationship can they achieve true love and happiness, but not before they die together in a car accident.

Why Re-watch: You might think, given the tragic ending of The Unbearable Lightness of Being that it somehow takes away from the romance of the story, and nothing could be farther from the truth. These are three of the finest actors to ever grace a silver screen and they do Kundera's critically-acclaimed story proud. This story reminds us of the heaviness and “lightness” of life and, in a somewhat cliché way, that you really can’t have one without the other. The theory, philosophy and meaning are far more involved than that, though the story is reflective of the dichotomies of human existence: Tomas is a successful surgeon, but a screw up in love; Sabina could have anything and anyone she wants, but she values her freedom most of all; Tereza believes in a traditional relationship, but can’t help being deeply in love with Tomas.

It’s worth noting that Czechia-born Kundera had lived in exile in France since 1975, and, though he finished it in 1982, at the time this book was published in 1984 it was banned by Communists of Czechoslovakia until the regime dissolved in 1989. No doubt he understood—or, at least had questions about—the “lightness of being”.  Any story that references Nietzsche, as this one does, is dealing with some very heavy issues.

I first read this book in 1984, the year it came out. I focused on the ending, and it had me wondering, for years and years, what the whole point was if we were going to die, especially Tomas and Tereza’s final happy scene that ends in tragedy. Whether you choose the book or the movie to revisit, it will likely blow your mind how it reflects on your own ability to observe your younger self discovering this story for the first time. You must go through life not knowing the ending. Kundera asks us to consider the lightness of life.

AMPLIFY! The 12 Sex With Emily Podcast Episodes CRUSH Readers Should Get On Top Of. By Dish Stanley

This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Sex With Emily hosted by Sex Expert Dr. Emily Morse.  Every one is worth a serious listen, but I have picked out the 12 invaluable episodes that CRUSH Readers who want to be good in bed really.can't.miss.

AMPLIFY! Sex With Emily Podcast: {No. 12 of 12} Best Of Adventurous Sex

Episode Date: November 25, 2016 (51 Minutes)

Relationships are only new for a little while, so couples that are going the distance must adapt. Even if you don’t think you’re the adventurous type, adding a little adventure can make your sex life feel shiny and new again.

Adventures in the Bedroom

Some people think that having adventurous sex sounds like a lot of work. Who has the time to think up something new to do every time you have sex? But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Emily compares sex to yoga: you can make minor modifications that change the entire posture. If you always have sex in the bedroom, try a new location like the kitchen or a hotel. Watch porn together. These conversations may seem intimidating, but she has tips for bringing them up casually.

If you’ve never considered getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with your partner in a way that feels a bit daring, now is your chance.

Best lines:

19:57 “56% who have done it admit that sexting has improved their relationships…I think you people in your committed relationships here probably need to sext more than others…like I always say, foreplay starts after the last orgasm.”

24:31 “There’s something about being removed from your partner. And the reason why I think couples say [phone sex] improves their sex life is because you can say those things that you can’t say to your partner, like, ‘I see you right now all tied up with a ball-gag in your mouth.’”

30:30 “What I’m saying is, when it comes to monogamous sex, it’s like having the same meal every day for the rest of your life. So, no matter how great the sex is, it can feel like a routine.”

39:55 “Sit down with your partner, and you make a sexy bucket list. So, you write down new things you want to try. You each could write down five and exchange it… like ‘I wish we had rougher sex,’ or ‘I wish we made out more.’”

Listen to this episode if: You need some ideas to jumpstart your sexual creativity.

Listen Here

Read more on our other favorite Sex With Emily Episodes here

Social Media I Loved This Week








Song Of The Week

Lover By Taylor Swift

I have friends headed to Taylor Swift's concerts at the Mile High Stadium in Denver this week end. One of them, 17-year old Olivia, spent the week making hundreds of friendship bracelets to give out to other Swifties. Hope you feel surrounded by love and friendship, Olivia. Tonight and every day for the rest of your life.

Lover is a sappy, romantic romp and my favorite Taylor Swift song. I guess we know what that makes me.

Listen Here

It's the final week end at Wimbledon, so that's what I'm doing. Hope yours is fun.

If you like The Crush Letter please consider passing it on to a friend.

Dish Stanley XO,

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Extended Encounters: A Series on Long-Term Love. By Lisa Ellex
Columnist Lisa Ellex launches a new series on long-term relationships by looking inward at her own need for connection…
AMPLIFY! The 12 Sex With Emily Podcast Episodes CRUSH Readers Should Get On Top Of. By Dish Stanley
This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Sex With Emily hosted by Sex Expert Dr. Emily Morse. We’ve listened to her exciting repertoire and have picked out the episodes we think CRUSH Readers shouldn’t miss.
Meeting Across The River: Springsteen and Me By Lisa Ellex
“I turned a corner to see a form walking directly toward me. Looking as lost as I was, an extremely fit man dressed in jeans and a skin-tight T-shirt drew closer. Call me crazy, but there was an aura around him …” I am not one who is easily impressed by
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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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