The Crush Letter No 126: Affection! And more Toys.

. 14 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,

I feel like summer has perfected the art of the Irish goodbye. Sort of like my friend Sarah. One moment you're deeply engrossed in her hold, the next you can't track her down anywhere.

I hope that your summer was full of love, fun and a really good gazpacho. Mine did its thing in entirely unexpected ways, but that's life. A good summer is less about what happened and much more more about what you thought about what happened, anyway. I started this summer on an upward tilt and because I was feeling good and was ready for something good, the summer only got better.

My summer was full of love. I can't remember a three-month period where I have spent this much quality time with as many people I adore. Not just dinners and walks, but I was a houseguest, and had houseguests, and there was a family wedding and trips with close friends.

The best decision I made this summer though was to commit to myself: eating well, drinking little and going to the gym every day. In May, one of the afore-mentioned people I adore, with whom I was getting together regularly to cook healthy dinners, gave me Peter Attia's OUTLIVE: The Science & Art of Longevity. Yeowza. He was ahead of me in embedding Attia's recommendations in his life, and we shared notes on my various discoveries as I assiduously worked my way through the book over June. It made things fun and exciting, and of course that makes things stick.

He certainly got me rolling, and it continued from there. This summer has been transformative for me. I may have more wrinkles than ever (and certainly a crap knee), but I realized the other day that I haven't felt this good physically - or about myself - for a while. Today, I slipped into a fitted dress that I hadn't gotten into since before COVID and I thought, "Wow. Gosh, I might actually look hot." The opposite of invisible. It's been a while.

It also made me wonder about the extent to which I have relied on external validation – in my case, a romantic partner - to make me feel that way. Today, after a summer dedicated to my health, it was just me in front of a mirror, feeling like I might actually be sexy. There was no fascinating somebody sitting across the table looking into my eyes while he accidentally-not-so-accidentally brushes his hand across mine as we both reach for the salt.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that.

We are re-sharing the results of two of the favorite sex toys from our PrimeCrush Toy Testers, since we have gotten a lot of new readers after these were originally published.  The Tenga Smart Vibe Cock Ring, which gives simultaneous (immense, based on their reviews) pleasure to both partners (in a hetero coupling), and the highly recommended book 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do below.

Another touching graphic from Joce Cova

“I wanted more affection than my partner. It’s one of the reasons we separated ..." Those are the words of a CRUSH Reader who took our poll on affection, which we are also resharing below. This topic is close to my heart because I loved somebody for many years who was on-again, off-again very ill. Our sex life was significantly impacted by how he reacted to whatever the then-current course of drugs was. Dealing with that was tough at first, but learning to handle it openly and honestly and tenderly and generously (and with a great deal of trust) is something we got better at over time. It was a grand lesson for me in more fully understanding the nature of sex in a relationship, as well as valuable insight for this journey of physical intimacy we are on as our bodies age. But perhaps the most important thing I came to understand is that affection is the through-line to loving when sex itself becomes a less straightforward proposition (for whatever reason).

I can't let you go without showing you this. It thrills me. Him: perched, barefoot, reading aloud to her. Her: head resting, luxuriating in a foamed bath, leaning toward him in order to better hear every word ... Such a romantic, sweet, unrushed, timeless moment.

"Sexy, dreamy." Photograph credit: Kim Myers Robertson

From @fignyc

"I've got such a lot of love. I'm gonna give it to you." I found a terrific live version of Van Morrison singing Hungry for Your Love from 1978 (audio only). Enjoy our song of the week below.

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. +We Asked You How Important Affection Is To You. You Purred Like A Cat. By Dish Stanley    +{Re-Share}: We Tried the Tenga Smart Vibe Cock Ring (for couples). And Wow. This cock ring is the gift that keeps on giving (to me!). It might be my favorite toy. THANK YOU, Dish!    +{Re-Share}: 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do  "The book is brilliant. There isn’t a person on the planet who shouldn’t read it!"   +Social Media I Loved This Week    +Our Song of the Week I've got such a lot of love

We Asked You How Important Affection Is To You. You Purred Like A Cat. By Dish Stanley

In The Crush Letter No 76 we asked you about affection. Not affection as foreplay, but for its own sake. The poll results suggest that affection is under-utilized as a mode of quick and quiet, reassuring communication between partners. Unsurprisingly, it’s a barometer of how emotionally connected you and your partner are feeling.

In short, affection speaks volumes. This quote from a CRUSH Reader captures it:

“I love those little moments of intimacy. It’s a way to stay connected to each other, and when I stop doing them, it’s a sign that something is amiss in the relationship.”

How important is affection to you? (We’re not talking about touching as foreplay, but affection for its own sake). Let’s assume for this that it is coming from someone you love.

  • 12/20 poll takers said: “It’s like the air that I breathe - eg, critical”
  • 5/20 poll takers said: “It's an important staple, like pizza”

If you currently have a partner, would you say that you would like them to be more (or less) affectionate with you, or are they “just right?”

  • 4/20 poll takers said: “They’re perfectly affectionate”
  • 9/20 poll takers said: “I’d like it if we were more affectionate with each other”

Anything else you’d like to tell us on the affection front? (Or about anything else?) Thanks for being a CRUSH Reader.

"Affection has at critical times been a lifeline in my marriage, and we're going on 25 years so we've been through a lot. One thing I realized about a decade into our marriage was how significant it is to show demonstrative affection particularly when we were otherwise not feeling emotionally or physically close. If you continue with the casual touching - on the arm, on the leg, on the back - it keeps a light on. Easier to then find your way back to each other."

“My last long term partner was affectionate when it was just the two of us, and it never felt like enough. Now I am with someone who puts his hand on my leg under the table at dinner or holds my hand walking to the car. He finds this perfect balance between avoiding inappropriate PDA and making me feel desired and adored. It’s something I’ll never go without again!”

“More everyday common-place affection would be nice - a touch on the back, a kiss hello when I/he comes in, that kind of thing.

“Not just touching. Affectionate words and looks and actions matter just as much."

“To me sex and affection are entirely different things. I have had great lovers who were not affectionate at all, and the overall relationship suffered. I have had lovers who were great at affection and the affection carried us very far as a couple even though it took us a while to get a groove sexually. I guess what I’m saying is — now that you ask - I realize great affection can carry a relationship a very long way.”

“I love those little moments of intimacy. It’s a way to stay connected to each other, and when I stop doing them, it’s a sign that something is amiss in the relationship.”

“Affection is vital! :)”

“I wanted more affection than my partner. It’s one of the reasons we separated. I want to be touched, stroked, loved, and adored. Affection is an important aspect of that, as our words of appreciation, which is my love language!”

“I think more foreplay affection and tenderness feels like an affirmation of love for my soul and a broader desire to spend time with me.”

“We all need to minimize the planning and scripting of affection. Less is more with greater spontaneity.”

Want to add your thoughts to our affection poll? Take it here:

PrimeCrush Toy Testers Report: Part 2 of 2

We're back today with more PrimeCrush Toy Tester reviews – sharing our readers' reviews of the Tenga Solo Premium Cup (for men), as well as re-sharing a couple of previously published pieces.

{If you're new to the PrimeCrush Toy Testers project and would like to know why we got started reviewing sex toys, it was because of this article I wrote after meeting a midlife woman from the Midwest who had organized a weekend with a sex therapist and invited four married couples to join. (This was not a polyamorous outing, but rather four long-term married couples who each wanted to spend a weekend committed to their marriage.) She characterized the 10 people who attended as people who were all into personal growth, emotional health, and strong relationships. None of them were people who thought they would find themselves going to a sex therapist, but once she suggested it they thought, why not? Field Trip: What Five Married Couples Learn on One Powerful Weekend Away With A Renowned Sex Therapist. I got so much reaction to that piece, including a lot of "Okay, Dish, but how do we get started with sex toys? Any recommendations?" I myself was not an expert on the full range of toys (not to burst any bubbles, here), but I thought we could all figure it out together (through a lot of hard (ahem) work).}

{Re-Share}: We Tried the Tenga Smart Vibe Cock Ring. And Wow.

We could not have been more thrilled with the reviews of Tenga Smart Vibe Ring. It is a soft-on-the-outside silicone cock ring that has a vibrating upright clitoral stimulator. It can be used and enjoyed alone, but its “secret sauce” is that it offers for something for a female partner too. He slips it on (it stretches), and then one of you adjusts the vibrations. With five speeds and two vibration patterns, there’s plenty to try out. We were especially excited about this cock ring because of the well-designed clitoral vibration–and wow–everyone who tested it was delighted.

You can pick up a vibrating cock ring at the drugstore for less, but trust us, this one is worth the investment. Not only does the Tenga SVR look and feel like a luxury item, but with cheaper, poorly designed drugstore versions, getting the vibrating pulse to line up to the clit can be like searching for a quarter on the floor of your car while zipping through the toll booth. Frustrating, if not impossible. Not so with the Tenga SVR.

On the practical side, it is conveniently USB rechargeable and small enough to pop into the little travel bag they provide, so you can easily transport it in a backpack, purse or pocket.

Here’s what the PrimeCrush Toy Testers had to say:

Would you recommend the Tenga Smart Vibe Ring to other CRUSH Readers?”

5 out of 5 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on the Tenga SVR:

Tell us whether you enjoyed your Tenga Smart Vibe Ring.

  • This toy is fantastic. Not intimidating or obtrusive to the flow of our sex. I'm always hesitant to wrap my cock in anything that resembles a tourniquet, but the ring is very flexible yet tight enough to hold in place. We used it during sex and it aligned perfectly with her clit while I was inside. She loved it! It's also quite useful for finger play. The different vibrations make it fun to mix it up. Love this toy.
    - “CJ”
  • My (female) partner and I both love this one. Mutual simultaneous awesomeness! Great design really adds to the fun without ever being awkward or getting in a weird place.
    - “Harry”
  • This is a product I can get behind, or um, on top of. My partner and I had fun trying this vibrating cock ring. He preferred not to wear it, which made it easier for me to maneuver to just the right spot. He enjoyed the vibrations, but perhaps I got the better result from this toy. I also like the discreet storage case--perfect for travel.
    - “Dixie”
  • Oh, my!!!! My boyfriend always enjoys a cock ring. I suspect most men do. And this cock ring is the gift that keeps on giving (to me!). It might be my favorite toy. THANK YOU, Dish!
    - “Dina”
  • Holy shit is this great! My partner and I both absolutely loved it. Perfect in every way. This is why we love being Toy Testers! My partner had tried cock rings (and liked them). But a vibrating one? Wow. And I had no experience with a cock ring, but this was not at all intimidating and so easy to try. “Ring my bell, ring my bell …”
    - “Kay”

{Re-Share}: Book Review: 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do. By Kate Sloan

Would you recommend the 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do Book to other CRUSH Readers?

6 out of 7 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do:

  • The book is brilliant. There isn’t a person on the planet who shouldn’t read it! Every newly married couple should read it and every already married couple. (Maybe especially every already married couple!) And every person with or without a partner should read it. Am I clear?
    - “Dina”
  • I read through it and then gave it to my partner, who I live with. He is much more sexually experienced than I am because my late husband was (frankly) not sexually explorative. First off, I learned so much about my partner flipping through the pages. It created a very stimulating and lengthy conversation between us, that continued and continues. We liked talking through it and there were many suggestions that have led to exploration.
    - “Dede”
  • I liked the chapters on moderate bdsm — as in how to slap, a little bit of hair pulling and tying up. I liked the role play material. I liked the “Try this” sections at the end of most topics. I flipped through 101 Kinky Things the day I got my box and marked pages. The next night I brought it with me to my boyfriend’s house and we went through my marked pages! Neither of us are hard-core kink (to say the least). We are fun, but lean toward plain vanilla, I’d say. But I’m a PrimeCrush Reader, so it has encouraged me to branch out. Anyway, I had wanted to bring some things up with him but didn’t know exactly how — it was great to use the book for that. I left the book at his place and now he is going to read through it and tell me things he’d like to do! There’s nothing in the book that you can’t see or do or learn about online BUT having the physical book in my hands as I went through it with my partner was EVERYTHING!
    - “Linda”
  • I read it all. Honestly, I spent many years in Asia in my younger years for work and they were very promiscuous years. I learned a lot. I experienced a lot. I came back here and got married. Honestly, I wish my late wife (and every girlfriend for that matter) would read this. We are so traditional and repressed. Just reading this has been so much fun — remembering things I’ve tried, things I am doing but a tip to improve it (maybe), things I want to try. I have a very serious girlfriend now. She’s 70, I’m 75. We flipped through this together! We loved it. It was the basis for a great conversation. That is the best thing about this book. It is not any one tip or piece of advice, it is that it is a tool that you can use to spark creativity, give you ideas and most importantly - to start and continue communicating with your partner.
    - “Liam”
  • It was helpful that the author Kate Sloan made even the kinkiest of the kinks seem approachable. Sloan includes a Try This section with tips and ideas. Even though many of the kinky things were not acts that my partner and I are planning to do, it was intriguing and sexy to read about them.
    - “Dixie”
  • I wouldn’t recommend it. I knew much of it, and what I didn’t know I wasn’t interested in.
    - “Andrea”
  • Glad to have this book! Thumbs up! Fun and exciting to learn new things as well thoughtful explanations of kink I was already familiar with. Descriptions are all balanced and include important safety information. Also like that each kink includes suggestions to get things rolling. A great resource even if only a handful of suggestions appeal. Also, the emphasis on the importance of aftercare is key and I like that it’s  shared early in the book. A well considered source for adventurous couples.
    - “Kate”

Social Media I Loved This Week



@januaryjones: "I never expected my midlife crisis to say 'take all fashion cues from teenage boys' yet here I am." JJ





Robert Redford in New York City in 1969

Song Of The Week

Hungry For Your Love by Van Morrison

1978 Live Performance - Listen Here

Enjoy your three-day week end, Crushes.

Dish Stanley XO,

The Crush Letter No 125: Toy Tester Report - Part 1 of 2
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, How are you doing with the approaching end of the
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