The Crush Letter No 154: Gisele Is Dating, Politics & Friendship, A F*ck Song, Spring Skincare!

. 15 min read

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Hello Crush,

Hello New Crush Readers! Welcome. And to my tried-and-true Crush Readers, thank you. I love you all. Thank you for spending your Saturday mornings with me, with us.

I don’t know to what extent the ‘open rates’ (i.e., the percentage of subscribers who actually open (and appear, thus, to have read)) The CRUSH Letter are reliable, but last week’s Letter had a 73% open rate. That is as high as I’ve ever gotten. And it’s super high by industry standards, where an average open rate is about 50%. Typically, the open rate for The CRUSH Letter hovers between 66% and 72%.

I am incredibly honored and appreciative that you read me. This little project represents a considerable amount of time and effort — and for sure, it has iterated since its beginning 154 Letters ago. But every ‘open’ always feels like a thank you from you to me, and I am so touched.

I got a lot of good and interesting feedback on last week’s story about Henry and Hogan, including this choice quote from CRUSH Reader Samuel:

“One of my favorite lines by men who marry widows: ’No one's perfect....except my wife's first husband’. Hysterical.”

Read all of them, and my responses, below. Thanks for the love letters, CRUSHes.

In This Letter. +Dish's Hot Thots Friendship is such a wonderful way for a romance to begin because, in my experience, they feel calmer, safer and have less volatility. +Friendship Files: The Way We Were by A.K.A. Darla This time around, I will make my best effort to be more level-headed. +The Latest Books From ’A Good Men’s Book Club’ By Dish Stanley I reached out to my friend in that ‘good men’s book group’ to get an update on what books they’ve loved. +Dear Dish ... Best ever. Hogan story was beautiful...even if it did give me the terrors! +Spring Awakening Pt 1: Update Your Skincare. By Lauren D Weinstein Our skin is also emerging from a cocoon of Canadian goose down parkas, occlusive moisturizers and one too many swipes of Chapstick. +Songs That Make You Wanna F*ck. A Compendium from the Readers of The Crush Letter. Submitted from CRUSH Reader Tabitha* +Social Media I Loved This Week. +Our Song of the Week When I get my hands on you

Dish's Hot Thots.

Political Love Realities.

My parents have had a successful, loving marriage for over 60 years. My Mother is die-hard liberal across-the-board and my Father has a fierce independent streak politically that ranges from moderate-right to more-right (depending on the issue). They respect each other’s values and intellect and neither has ever (near as I can tell) attempted to “correct” the other person’s view. Though they debate with vigor.

With their longstanding marriage as a backdrop, most of my dating life I have largely approached political views the same way I have approached religious views: as long as the intended romantic partner is not extreme, respects my considered views and doesn’t need or expect me to “convert” me then I am agnostic on their politics, or religion. I like to discuss the “big, philosophical” questions, and I love to discuss government (particularly foreign) policy, and I have never felt the need to convert anyone, or be in agreement on everything in order to have a wonderful relationship. Over the years I kind of perfected an approach or response to a view I don’t share from a person I respect, along the lines of “Yeah, I respect that thinking [or conclusion or goal or value — whichever specific thing in their position I did actually respect], but the rub for me on that is this [specific point].” And then I’m genuinely, intellectually interested to hear their reaction to my stated “rub,” and so on.

Over dinner with a friend this week, we all but admitted that it is just getting tougher and tougher to date people whose political views don’t represent a large overlap on a Venn diagram with each of our respective views. Part of that I believe is that whichever political views we have are being represented by actual people we elect (thus have a stake in) and those political leaders aren’t in discussion. And then, of course, each side ultimately finds so little to respect in whichever presidential candidate(s) they aren’t supporting.

I don’t have any answers, but I feel like getting it off my chest that I find it disconcerting and ultimately, frightening, this breakdown. Not just for dating and friendship, but also for our society. So I guess this is my little lament.

In this week’s Friendship Files story from Lisa Ellex, she laments on this dynamic between friends, and it is completely on point.


Gisele Is Dating.

Gisele confirmed in a New York Times story that she is dating someone (and it’s new and she’s protective). But she had this to say: “This is the first time I am seeing someone that was a friend of mine first,” she said. “It’s very different. It is very honest, and it’s very transparent.”

Just when I was feeling like I was going crazy, CRUSHes. Or at least feeling very out-of-step with today’s pace of instant intimacy. In last week’s Ask Dish piece I had written this in response to a Reader’s question on (broadly speaking) being friends with people you initially met in a romantic context:

“No, most friendships do not turn sexual and I do not expect these (or any of my friendships) will. That’s not the point or reason for the friendships. They sit in a different place, and there are all types of wonderful relationships and friendships … But I will say that in my life, yes, I have had romances start from friendships. And friendship is such a wonderful way for a romance to begin because, in my experience, they feel calmer, safer and have less volatility - you’re not falling in love with your fantasy vision of somebody (which is all you have, really, if you just met somebody, since regardless of how you feel, you don’t really know them yet). So the friendship-to-romance relationships don’t start with a fantasy that then gets dashed. They’re more honest and real from the jump. You actually know the person and get their context, constructs (and limitations!) and how yours mash up with theirs. You know if they’re interesting enough to talk with over and over again. You know if they’re considerate. You know if they’re kind. You know if they’re self-aware and whether they honestly try to be a good partner. Trust has developed, so the sex, from the start, is more real and caring and fun and less performative. Just as the whole romantic relationship is from the start. You are much more willing to make yourself vulnerable, and instead of wondering whether you are emotionally safe (and searching for red or yellow flags, perhaps misreading some signals, about whether you are, in fact, safe) you can focus all that energy instead on the thrill that is diving deeper into getting to know somebody physically and emotionally. The framework of the friendship feels peaceful, calm and sturdy, allowing you to feel more carefree and to fall more freely in love.” Or at least that is how it has worked for me.

Going in deep with somebody you don’t know is thrilling. Part of the thrill of going in deep with somebody new for some people, I believe, is that they want the fantasy. They are actually in love with fantasy. They don’t want to accept that relationships are work, everybody (including themselves) is flawed and damaged and in order for the relationship to work we have to accept and learn to work around these things.

Part of the thrill, I believe, in going in deep with somebody new is also the great risk you are taking on leaping in on a hope and a prayer. I applaud the bravery! I’d like to learn to be braver.

In the meantime, it’s strange, but somehow I feel validated by, and happy for, Gisele. (And I wish her the utmost good luck.)

Friendship Files: The Way We Were by A.K.A. Darla

As we gear up for another presidential campaign, one PrimeCrush writer visits the ghosts of election years past, with hope for a peaceful future.

And just like that, another election season is upon us. Time sure flies when you’ve been emotionally navigating a global pandemic, a gruesome insurrection, two presidential impeachments, devastating wildfires, and the death of Logan Roy.  Reviewing the list of 2024 presidential hopefuls, it’s officially time to prepare ourselves for a barrage of TV, radio, internet, and social media campaign ads that will seemingly come more often than Stormy Daniels. 

If you’re like me, you’re still in the throes of a PTSD that is attributed to rabid family members who spent all of 2020 berating our political choices and telling us what bad people we are. Fortunately, we are highly adaptable humans whose resilience has, somehow, enabled us to survive the wrath of our kin. Our resentment, however, lingers on.

This time around, I will make my best effort to be more level-headed. I will arrive at family functions armed with alcohol and my best coping skills, and I will vow to ignore the political baiting long enough to make it through coffee and dessert. I have fully accepted the fact that I did not choose my bloodline, and I have made peace with the reality that I have been removed from the Christmas card lists of Florida relatives.

Family will always disappoint.  I have come to expect it.  But one particular disappointment that is especially hurtful is the disappointment that some of my close,  lifelong friends do not share my political views. This was totally unexpected. I mean, it truly knocked me on my ass. If it is true that we forge friendships with like-minded people, how is it that we are so different when it comes to politics?  After all, it was not by blood that we became sisters, but by choice.  

Continue reading here

The Latest Books From ’A Good Men’s Book Club’ By Dish Stanley

In The Crush Letter Number 132, I told you about How One Group of Men Does A Good Book Club. And the Books They’ve Liked Best. You liked that story so much that I reached out to the friend in that book group to get an update. Here are the books that they added to their list in the last few months that they liked best.

The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Catastrophe - Mitchell, Josh
Book link here

The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became A National Catastropher by Josh MitchellAn entirely compelling read, all the more surprising because its subject matter sounds dullish. Interesting to learn what a significant and duplicitous role universities take in this tragedy, which is weighing down a whole generation.

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (Reissue) - Isaacson, Walter
Book link here

The Wise Men: Six Friends And The World They Made by Walter Isaacson & Evan ThomasWhat can I say: this is a subject this group loves to read about and debate. It’s about ‘the action a group of U.S. federal government officials and the East Coast foreign policy establishment take in the immediate post-WWII period to develop a containment policy, craft NATO, the World Bank and the Marshall Plan.”

The Best and the Brightest - Halberstam, David
Book link here

The Best and the Brightest by Halberstam by David HalberstamNot everybody had read this 1972 masterpiece on the origins of the Vietnam War, and the foreign policy crafted by JFK’s academics and intellectuals, known as Kennedy’s ‘whiz kids’. Those of us who had read it found it a worthwhile re-read, given that our broader perspectives from the passage of time.

Head’s up, CRUSH Readers: My friend also reported that they read Working by Robert Caro and found it “a total yawn.”

Dear Dish ...

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

"Dish -

Best ever. Hogan story was beautiful...even if it did give me the terrors! Really wonderful.

One of my favorite lines by men who marry widows: "No one's perfect....except my wife's first husband". Hysterical.


Thank you Samuel! Hysterical! Although, as a widow, I find as much terror in your quote as you did in Hogan’s passing. I believe that in all relationships, romantic and friendship alike, we are competing - with ex-lovers, other ‘soul mates‘ (past and current), ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ thinking, as well as the fantasies and ideals that our loved ones have (which can be far more trenchant than any living person is or was). I personally find it absolutely terrifying when any guy I am keen on has an ex floating around his firmament. Those motherfuckers can actually physically reappear, with real live sparks and seductions, offers for a reunion, etc. That shit is real. How is that not more of a threat than someone who is dead? X-Oh!-X, Dish

"Dear Dish:

Have you thought about writing a book for your next act?  Your piece about Henry+Hogan was beautiful.


Thank you, Nina. I have! A series of short stories is more likely, at least next, but thank you, thank you, thank you! X-Oh!-X, Dish

Continue reading more Dear Dish’s about last week’s Letter here.

Songs That Make You Wanna F*ck. A Compendium from the Readers of The Crush Letter.

An occasional pop-up where we share the songs that make the readers of The Crush Letter want to bang. Got one you want to share?

Submitted by Crush Reader Tabitha* (pseudonym! It’s tasty, right?)

When I Get My Hands On You By The New Basement Tapes with Lyrics by Bob Dylan & Lead Vocals by Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons).

First off, you do you but I don’t like the loud thumping songs for fucking. Don’t you want to hear all your partner’s sighs and moans? I do. Every. Single. One. So it has to be soft. It has to be ambient. We have to be able to hear each other if we’re whispering dirty things. And I want us to be whispering dirty things. So all of you with the tunes that culminate in the loud climax, not to be judgy, but what’s going on with that?

What about this song musically does it for you?

It is the right mix of lyrics that express wanting, longing with a quiet, rhythmic beat to make love to. The music reminds me of a metronome that you can thrust (or suck, or what have you) rhythmically to.

When I get my hands on you
Gonna make you carry me”

Is there a memory you attach to this song?

Not yet. Hopefully soon.

Who/what are you thinking of when you listen to this song?

Being undressed.

Anything else…?

Thanks, Dish!

Songs We Love: The New Basement Tapes, 'When I Get My Hands On You' : NPR

And we’d looooooove to know your f*ck song!

Spring Awakening Pt 1: Update Your Skincare. By Lauren D Weinstein

A short series on Spring renewal for our bodies and souls.

Spring is a season of renewal; birds are chirping, flowers are slowly beginning to bud and blades of grass are miraculously pushing through the hardened earth. Our skin is also emerging from a cocoon of Canadian goose down parkas, occlusive moisturizers and one too many swipes of Chapstick.

As I observe my bathroom vanity, that is loaded with copious amounts of products and potions that have helped me through the dry and mercurial winter season in New Mexico, I instantly know that with Spring being within arm’s reach, my skin saving, and makeup winter regimen will have to be updated to accommodate the change in temperature and reflect Spring’s sense of rebirth and vibrancy.

I look forward to vetting products that will no longer serve me in the coming months; It’s like shedding a bulky, wool jacket for the less cumbersome comforts of a cozy, cashmere cardigan. I am curious and welcome, trying  lighter textures and brighter colors without sacrificing efficacy, luxury, or breaking the bank in the process.

Even though some products shift seamlessly, no matter the season, I like to add a few items to uplift my mood and update my look. Who doesn’t want to feel renewed and revitalized? Heck, even Mother Nature changes 4x a year.

May I suggest:

  1. Whether you are in Miami or Montana, exfoliating your skin is always a good idea. Skin cells regenerate on their own but slow down as we age and may build up on the surface, causing dullness and uneven texture. TRY: ELEMIS PAPAYA ENZYME PEEL. For all skin types. Packed with papaya enzymes, pineapple, and bladderwrack. Refines, revitalizes, smoothes.
  2. Switch to a lighter moisturizer to keep skin healthy and hydrated without weighing it down. Use a light, breathable, fast absorbing and non-greasy option. Personally, I like to use one that has SPF protection. My choice: DERMALOGICA DYNAMIC SKIN RECOVERY, SPF 50. Rich in antioxidants, prevents photoaging.
  3. Spring may bring fragrant flowers, but for some, seasonal allergies with red, puffy and swollen eyes. To combat, TRY: EPILYNX by DR. LIIA, ANTI -WRINKLE EYE CREAM for sensitive eyes. Contains Centella Asiatica and Chamomile. It’s gluten free, vegan, hypoallergenic AND has a unique electric massage applicator!
  4. Another option, which feels amazing when refrigerated, TRY: REFINEE ANTI- PUFF BRIGHTENING EYE GEL. It promotes elasticity and firmness with rice peptides.
  5. Treat yourself to a spa worthy, moisturizing, organic, botanical sheet mask to instantly plump and smooth your skin. TRY: CINQ MONDES PARIS, EXPRESS RECOVERY BIOCELLULOSE MASK. Contains skin quenching hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

We will be publishing Part 2 of this series on Spring make-up in next week’s Letter!

Social Media I Loved This Week




Song of the Week

When I Get My Hands On You by Bob Dylan & Vocals by Marcus Mumford

Tabitha’s Song That Makes Her Wanna F*ck!

2016 Live Performance - Listen Here

Have an absolutely wonderful week, CRUSHes. I love you!

Dish Stanley XO,

Three Things I’m Crushing On
In this series, readers like you share recommendations for the things they love the most, right at this moment. SHARE THE 3 THINGS YOU’RE CRUSHING ON HERE For Spring! Three Things I’m Crushing On: From CRUSH Reader Lydia* Downy Wrinkle Releaser Spray. This is a miracle product. Don’t question
My Friend Henry Lost His Dog. Will He Ever Love Again? By Dish Stanley
My friend Henry’s dog Hogan died. It happened last week, the day after I returned from New Zealand. When I left, Henry had told me that Hogan wasn’t doing well so I sent him a text the day I got back. ”Hi, how’s Hogan? (I’m back
Songs That Make You Wanna F*ck.
An occasional pop-up where we share the songs that make you want to bang. Got one? Send it to me at
How One Group of Men Does A Good Book Club. And the Books They’ve Liked Best. By Dish Stanley
There’s been a lot of attention the last few years on men, loneliness and suicide rates, particularly for those in midlife and beyond. In one of our first Crush Letters I wrote about that in Don’t Touch My Hat: Men, Friendship & Loneliness. When I spend time with male

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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