The Crush Letter No 143: 2024 Flexing, Kissing & Bedtime Rituals for Couples

. 15 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,

Dear Dish...

A place for all of our "letters to the editor"

"Lovely Dish,

Happy New Year !

I love CRUSH and look forward to it every week !

Wishing you so much love and joy and beauty and magic in the New Year !

with love,

xx Annie"


Well I got the above love letter from CRUSH Reader Annie to start the year off. Soooo nice! Thanks Annie! It was such a good thing, not only because love letters are so wonderful to receive, but also because I had visions of starting off the New Year something like this:

Instead, I spent New Year’s lying on the couch in my softest vuori sweatpants wiped out, still recovering from a virulent flu I picked up from my niece Kate on Christmas. At around 7pm, when I was about to gather my energy to move to bed with a book (and my dog Ricky, of course), I got a ping through my favorite online real-time backgammon program BGNJ HD. It was my good friend Nina, inviting me to play a game or three with her (and chat, as we do).

And there it was, certainly not the first time, and (god help me) hopefully not the last, that an evening (a big one, even) looking like it might verge into solitude (and perhaps melancholy) was saved - out of the blue and unexpectedly - by a close friend. Never don’t reach out to a good friend with an invitation (or hello), say I. Even when you might risk looking desperate, or without a plan because it’s Saturday (or a big holiday) and you’re almost certain that they’d be busy. You’re not desperate, you’re just looking to hang with a friend (and anyway, aren’t we past caring?). And, you might be saving a friend from melancholy. Like Nina did for me New Year’s Eve.


It was somehow fitting though, that I ended the year wiped out. As I wrote below in Hit List … for 2024 “Last year was a seeeeriously hard-working year for me on the personal front. I dug out of two large homes in Boston and Jackson Hole, and out of a relationship that was fun & loving but nonetheless a dead-end (the hardest kind to leave, really). And then there was all the excavation I did in serious therapy. Diving into a deeper understanding of how I operate with friends, family and romantic partners — valuable for sure, but all so exhausting.”

I am still excavating, for sure. But I did some things better this year, most obviously when it came to dating. Which brings me to this week’s Song of the Week (doesn’t something always?). It is off the debut album from boygenius, this year’s biggest critic darling. The song is Cool About It, and it’s about unrequited love. The pain, the longing, the faking your feelings as if it’s okay. The song is a curious exploration for me because unrequited love is not something I have much experience with. Sure, I’ve crushed on people who didn’t crush back on me, but the kind of sitting in it and putting yourself in proximity with continual, repeated misery, while convincing yourself (and event them) that you’re okay? That I know very little about personally.

But not, as I learned in therapy, for the right reasons. Mostly out of a combination of emotional laziness and over-protectiveness, I have tended to sit back, passively, for too long. My romantic feelings have historically gotten activated only after the other person has already taken the risk of expressing their feelings for me. I understand why now, and while I am certainly not going to sign up for Cool About It style unrequited love any time soon, there were some things about how I typically handle the initial, risky, fragile and uncertain stages of romantic love that I didn’t like.

So I made a conscious effort around a guy I liked early this summer to lean in, show more enthusiasm, be encouraging. I even - for the first time ever (in my life, and I’m almost 60!) declared my love first. “I don’t want to go another day without you as my lover,” I wrote to him.

(I had just re-watched Pride and Prejudice and felt inspired by the scene where Darcy says something like this to Elizabeth Bennett. (Too much? Is anything involving romantic love too much though, really? If you genuinely feel it? Also, I may never see him again after this, I was actually thinking, so may as well be bold and fully extend this, my first time out.))

Unlike the scene in the movie, my Mr. Darcy declined, politely. Sure it smacked, but it was also a huge victory for me. I learned that it felt powerful to express myself. Very powerful to take on the role of choosing. I learned that I’m good at choosing who would be good for me (rather than waiting to be chosen by somebody else). I also learned that it wasn’t that awful being rejected. I got over it. I kicked my passivity to the curb, and moved on to spend the summer dating men who were into me romantically, which is (for sure) a lot more fun. I was more in charge of myself, happier, much more fun to date, and more certain and decisive. I also just honestly cared less about whether any given date liked me. I cared a lot more about whether I liked them, whether they looked like somebody I had a shot at building something healthy with. And whether they were interesting and fun. Oddly, after being rejected, I ended up feeling more confident, and more desirable.

(And as it turned out, I did see my Mr. Darcy again, months later. And I wasn’t even embarrassed. Thank god I had gotten some solid coaching and encouragement from my friend Steve in advance. ”WTF, Dish,” he said. “Playing it safe is so beneath you. So you fell flat, you got back up, you laughed, you learned, you move on. Embrace it. There is no other way to play the game.”)

So that was that. But in Cool About It, all that extended, unanswered longing is captured so beautifully. So evocatively. So tenderly. I almost feel like I must be missing out?


Lots of good stuff for you to start the year. Enjoy!


In This Letter. +HIT LIST: My Top Five Priorities for 2024. Let’s share. What are yours? +What I Added to Up Next: What’s on Dish’s Nightstand in the PrimeCrush Bookshop. I am a sucker for true stories that stretch from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one. +Lamentations on the Lost Art of Kissing. By Elisabeth C. Lamotte I rose to embrace him while we kissed in the middle of the restaurant. I could have cared less who was watching because his kisses made everyone and everything else disappear. +Bedtime Rituals for Couples. By Lauren D. Weinstein A new year is the perfect time to consider how to unwind and indulge your partner by introducing simple rituals that can have an impact on intimacy — and encourage a blissful night’s sleep. +dishing. +Social Media I Loved This Week +Our Song of the Week telling you it’s nice to see how good you’re doin’

HIT LIST: My Top Five Priorities for 2024

Here’s what I’m digging into this new year. What about you?

The People I Love

My raison d’etre. Plus, it worked out well as a conscious priority for me in 2023.

Reading

Still rebounding from Covid, travel was big for me last year. I am being pulled to nest now. Staying in & reading more (with my dog Ricky in my lap) sounds like heaven now.

The Crush Letter

Obvious?

Strength Training

Go get it, girl.

Goofing off

Last year was a seeeeriously hard-working year for me on the personal front. I dug out of two large homes and a relationship that was fun & loving but nonetheless a dead-end (the hardest kind to leave, really). And then there was all the excavation I did in serious therapy. Diving into a deeper understanding of how I operate with friends, family and romantic partners. Valuable, but difficult. And all so exhausting. This year I’m consolidating wins — and taking fun, games & fucking off so fucking seriously.

What I Added to Up Next: What’s on Dish’s Nightstand in the PrimeCrush Bookshop.

Based on a combination of recommendations over the holidays from friends and family who are “great readers,” as well as reviewers I admire, I’ve added these books to my reading stack, as well as some others. (And *you* (yes you!) can support PrimeCrush by buying these through our bookshop using the links below. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

A Hitch in Time by Christopher Hitchens I am as excited to dive into this new collection of previously published essays by Christopher Hitchens as I am for any single thing that awaits me this year. Here he covers politics (Thatcher, Clinton, Nixon, Kennedy) as well as culture (Tom Wolfe, the Academy Awards, P.G. Wodehouse), and all in his distinctive, thrashing style. (Which calls to mind the restauranteur Keith McNally’s recollections on his last dinner with Hitchens prior to his death: “[K]nowing he had a deadline for a Vanity Fair article the next morning, I imagined our dinner would be brief. It lasted five hours. He drank Johnny Walker scotch and red wine non-stop … enough to inebriate a basketball team … Next morning I called Christopher at 9am to remind him of his deadline. He’d written the article an hour earlier.”

A Hitch in Time: Reflections Ready for Reconsideration - Hitchens, Christopher

The Fraud By Zadie By Zadie Smith Historical fiction on the top of a lot of “best of 2023” lists, this is a Dickensian novel that involves a novelist, a long-lost heir, a trial and (evidently) much more.

The Fraud - Smith, Zadie

Kissinger By Walter Isaacson His recent death sent me to pick back up this sweeping 1992 biography of Kissinger’s personal and professional life.

Kissinger: A Biography (Reissue) - Isaacson, Walter

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World By Barry Gewen More a book in defense of Kissinger’s realpolitik approach to international relations than a biography, it’s a study on his belief that “the well-being of the state justified whatever means.”

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World - Gewen, Barry

The Secret Hours By Mick Herron. Based in Cold War Berlin (sold!), this is a standalone spy thriller from author of the Slough House series.

The Secret Hours - Herron, Mick

Excellent Advice for Living By Kevin Kelly. One of the ”favorite books of 2023” from The Marginalia‘s Maria Popova, who does a lot of wisdom-pondering. She shared this quote from Excellent Advice: “Listening well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them ‘Is there more?’ until there is no more.”

Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier - Kelly, Kevin

The Wager By David Grant. A good friend called this account of mutiny in the 1700’s on a British shipping vessel “riveting.” And it was also on so many “best books of the year” lists I had to take note.

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder - Grann, David


This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage By Ann Patchett. CRUSH Reader Natalie sent me this recommendation, a collection of essays from Patchett, a favorite writer. I am a sucker for true stories that stretch from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage: A Reese's Book Club Pick - Patchett, Ann

A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan “Gripping,” was the word I read most often in reviews of this book.

A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan's Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them - Egan, Timothy

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson There is not much I like understanding better than how we got to where we’re at here, in America.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration - Wilkerson, Isabel

Lamentations on the Lost Art of Kissing. By Elisabeth C. Lamotte

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One writer contemplates the potential for the perfect kiss, recalling her past and contemplating the future.

“I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” Crash Davis, Bull Durham

A Catholic child of the suburbs, I was a virgin until my mid-twenties when I encountered a Manhattan-born and bred man educated by Catholic Jesuits, but with plenty of life experience on the city streets. Appearing suddenly before me at a party, I was intrigued by the look in his dark eyes, his dark, curly hair, five o’clock shadow, and slow smile. During our first epic night together, we were kissing when he softly smiled and chuckled. “You know, Honey, you’re not drilling for oil”, was his gentle comment. I returned his smile, understanding how to correct the problem and immediately did so. While other issues muddied the waters, our kisses could definitely last three days.

The other finest kisser I have ever enjoyed was yet again, NYC born and bred. Our beginning was a similar scenario; a totally unexpected meeting at a party. Hazel eyes instead of brown, but another head of dark curly hair with a five o’clock shadow and a smile I wanted to see again. When we said goodbye at the party that night and he leaned down for a soft, close-mouthed kiss on the lips, I knew it would not be our last. Our first French kiss was preceded by him gradually finding my hand across the restaurant table and slowly stroking my pinky finger with his. After softly caressing all the fingers of my right hand, his mouth found mine. Suddenly, he was standing beside my chair and I rose to embrace him while we kissed in the middle of the restaurant. I could have cared less who was watching because his kisses made everyone and everything else disappear.

Each of these relationships ended badly but somehow wound up with a reprise several years later. While each second go-round was also a failure, the kisses and caresses remained exquisitely memorable. That part we always got right.

Continue reading here

Bedtime Rituals for Couples. By Lauren D. Weinstein

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Spice up your bedtime routine with simple rituals for relaxing, bonding, and igniting a spark.

Bedtime rituals that couples often do together can become mundane. (Think brushing your teeth and spitting a mouthful of Colgate down the drain together.) The same old grind can lose its flavor like a stale, day-old Pop-Tart--and in dire need of resuscitation. The daily predictable patterns can inadvertently steal the joy out of a relationship and become at risk for complacency which leads to deadly indifference. But have no fear! Incorporating the right rituals can ignite powerful bonds, connections, and harmony. Sharing things with your significant other, whether it’s a bucket of popcorn while watching Netflix, taking turns giving each other a back rub, or leaving each other a loving/silly/sexy Post-It note in a totally unexpected place can foster positive feelings that last well after the day is over. Rituals don’t have to be expensive, elaborate, or time-consuming but an opportunity to reinforce that your relationship is a priority.

Bedtime can be the perfect time to unwind and indulge your partner by introducing simple rituals that can have an impact on intimacy and encourage a blissful night’s sleep. Here’s how you can incorporate or tweak the ones you already have:

First, set the mood: Dim the lights, and turn off the technology! Do you really need to text your co-worker, now, in bed?

And here are my suggestions for taking it all one step further...

Hit the Shower: I remember my ex used to say that a shower washed off the day. He was 100% right. Take turns giving your love a scrub down. The power of touch builds intimacy and makes every inch of you feel pampered.

Try: Goop G. Tox 5 Salt Detox Body Scrub. It exfoliates, softens, hydrates, and detoxifies with 5 mineral-rich salts

I also like Pacifica’s Lavender Moon Body Scrub

Continue reading here

Things I thought you might want to know about, and some you probably don’t.

I love this quick televised interview with the great French actor Alain Delon. And not just because when asked (at the end) what animal he’d like to be reincarnated as he responds, immediately, with “a malinois. It’s a Belgian Shepherd.” (And that’s what my dog is.) I love that he does not come across as studied or overly pondering - he responds naturally and with ease. For instance, his response to one of the first questions he is asked “Favorite drug?” Is “L’amour.” (Love.) So French. And so true. It’s a drug, for sure.

Wondering how polyamory became so popular? I wasn’t, but how could you not notice it? I started seeing it ever since I saw Tim Ferriss’s 2015 twitter post asking: “If you’ve had a winning “polyamorous” relationship, how the fuck did you make it work?”  A year after that I was at a (professional!) cocktail party in Silicon Valley when not one, but three, tech executives “let it drop” that they were polyamorous (followed by a lengthy pause, apparently giving me an opportunity to respond). Anyway, if you were wondering about why, Jennifer Wilson reviews American Poly, a new book by Christopher M. Gleason, for the New Yorker. Along the way, Wilson does a scan of recent pop culture for all the loaded references to this lifestyle choice increasingly popular with those from Park Slope to San Francisco.

Rich Dudes Driving in Circles is an excellent podcast episode to listen to if you (like, ahem, some of us) were thrown off by the whole F1 thing. In it host Anne Helen Peterson of Culture Study talks with Nicole Washington about what’s behind the rich dude F1 craze that started for a lot of people with Netflix’s Drive to Survive over the pandemic. (You can listen to it with a free 7-day trial.)

People have gone crazy for Saltburn (Prime Video), the ultra stylish, sinister British class film by Emerald Fennell, even (uncomprehendingly) comparing it favorably to one of the best movies of the nineties The Talented Mr. Ripley. It‘s too long by at least a half hour, but what’s worse is that the last half of it collapses into something resembling more of the 1976 Carrie horror film. The best scenes start (and end) with Rosamund Pike’s off-hand upper-crust cruelty about 40 minutes through. My suggestion is to take it from there and fast-forward all the way through to the end, when Barry Keoghan (as the newly triumphant Oliver Quick) closes the movie with a hypnotic, sexy, nude dance scene (and what a body).

Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage and Reckoning (Max) is a documentary produced and directed by Jason Hehir (of The Last Dance) that wrestles with the well-deserved reputation Boston has long had as one of the country’s most racist cities. It examines the city’s systemic racism through the lense of Carol Stuart’s murder by her husband, which was falsely pinned by him (and then the police, media and politicians) on “a black man in a track suit.” I just moved out of Boston after twenty years, and I remember reading the Pulitzer winning Common Ground about Boston’s turbulent busing decade when I arrived in 2001 and thinking the same thing then I felt after finishing Murder in Boston: “holy shit, can this city still really be that tribal?” 

Continue reading here

Social Media I Loved This Week

@drelizabethfedrick


@jmstormquotes


@stayclosetoyourself_


@yung_pueblo


@thesinglewoman


@goodwilllibrarian

Song of the Week

Cool About It by boygenius

2023 Live Performance on the Late Show

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

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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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