The Crush Letter No 162: Best Date Moves, Summer Bookstack, How I Made New Friends In Midlife+, Kitchen Crushes

. 14 min read

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Hello Crush,

Happy Saturday morning, CRUSHes. I’m so glad that you’re here.

Next Saturday’s CRUSH Letter will be one of our DEVOUR issues (where we recommend things to watch, read & listen to) so if you have a recommendation for the CRUSH community, please give the tab below a slap (or tickle or gentle stroke—you know, whatever turns you on) and light us all up. Thank you! Your reader recommendations have become one of the most delectable bites to devour.

In This Letter. +Hot Thots — Follow Up On Separate Bedrooms By Dish Stanley I’d love to shove him out and then sext him back. +Summer Bookstack By Dish Stanley Here are my recent favorites and a few I just picked up and will be reading this summer. +Things I Did In My 50’s To Meet New Friends That Worked By Dish Stanley There’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of effort felt entirely wasted. But here’s what actually worked for me. +Truly Great Date Moves. Shared by Dish Stanley It shows that the initiator is in it to please. +Three Food-Related Things I'm Crushing On: From CRUSH Reader Gail +Social Media I Loved This Week. +Our Song of the Week I commit myself to sabotage

Hot Thots — Follow-up On Separate Bedrooms

Based on the many notes I got from CRUSH Readers on my recent TOPIX: On Separate Bedrooms, you had strong feelings about separate bedrooms for romantic partners/spouses. Note that our poll of CRUSH Readers (below) was purposely worded to ask not whether you currently slept in separate bedrooms, but whether you were “separate bedroom curious.” Almost 70% of you are.

We asked: “Would you ever consider separate bedrooms with a spouse/romantic partner?”

CRUSH Readers’ Results:

Yes! 69.6%

Never 30.4%

Beyond taking the poll, a number of you wrote in—all the notes I received were from women, I observed—and many of the writers indicated that while she (the writer) would love to have the option of getting a solid night sleep at least a few nights a week, she knew that her partner/husband absolutely would not buy in to separate bedrooms.

CRUSH Reader Di beautifully captured the sentiment shared by many:

🤣 After two blissful nights alone in East Hampton, I was lying in bed last night @3 am contemplating a sleep divorce à la WSJ. I would have given anything to be starfishing over my entire California queen and rotating every six minutes or so like a rotisserie chicken (my preferred sleep posture). Instead I quietly finished the Covenant of Water on my Kindle like a Franciscan monk so as not to wake my beloved. I hadn’t really processed the fringe benefits of scarcity in a two bedroom union until reading The Crush Letter this morning. There is definitely a mundanity that comes from sleeping naked next to the same person for 30+ years. I’d love to shove him out and then sext him back. If I didn’t think proposing the whole idea would lead to an actual divorce.

In my own limited experience of having separate bedrooms with a romantic partner, as described in my TOPIX, the success of the arrangement likely hinged on a few key factors. The bedrooms were literally next door to each other, which meant that both emotionally and physically, we didn’t feel very far away. The proximity encouraged a pattern where we fell asleep together in the same bed almost every night after fooling around, reading or watching tv and then one of us silently tip toed next door at the first toss-and-turn (usually me) to conclude the night restfully. It was the best of both worlds, to my mind. Another key factor is that the two bedrooms comprised our own private floor—meaning nobody else knew. (It was nobody’s business! But still, it was nice to not field unwanted inquiries.) And then there was the reality that our wildly divergent work schedules gave us a very real reason to point to, unrelated to the temperature of our relationship at any given moment, to give it a try.

On the very same day that my separate bedroom TOPIX was published I came across the “Dear Fiona” column in the April issue of House & Garden UK. “I think I want separate bedrooms, but does this mean that my marriage is over?” wrote “A Very Light Sleeper.” H&G is a design/decor magazine, so the question seemed a bit far afield for Fiona, but she gamely took it on. Beyond a critical lack of sleep, “A Very Light Sleeper” also shared that she was worried of others’ (including her parents) judgment about the set-up. Fiona has a separate bedroom arrangement with her husband, as it turns out, and went to its defense (in addition to providing a lengthy history of separate bedrooms as well as some design suggestions).

More interesting than the piece was the instagram comment section, though. It was a full-out combat zone in the immediate hours after the story’s post went up. While many commenters (mostly British, so presumably aware of the Royal family’s history of sleeping separately) were avowed “separatists,” others were “separate curious.“ There was a small and quite vociferous contingent that warned the ”separatists” that it would ruin their marriages. One wrote that sleeping apart would be “the death nell for a relationship.” Some commenters really went after each other. It got ugly.

One commenter wrote that studies show that co-sleeping arrangements are detrimental to women‘s sleep, while beneficial to men. Curious, I asked for a citation and then tracked down the study. Sex Differences in the Reactions to Sleeping in Pairs Versus Sleeping Alone in Humans was published in Sleep and Biological Rhythms in 2007. “Couples sleeping in pairs is a modern phenomenon with potential side-effects on sleep structure and circadian rhythms,” according to the study’s authors, who monitored the sleep of 10 happy heterosexual couples for 20 nights. “Sharing a sleeping space with a partner had negative effects on sleep in women … but the sleep efficiency in men was not reduced,” the authors concluded. Evidently, while they measured sleep efficiency they did not draw conclusions about the divergent results between men and women. For instance, are women generally lighter sleepers? If so, I could see an evolutionary basis for that given that they breast feed and have historically been the primary nurturers of infants who do not sleep through the night.

Personally, I’ve had partners who I’ve slept perfectly well with and others where because of schedules, snoring or tossing and turning, the quality of the sleep was low. It is hard to be in a good mood, let alone productive, when in a sustained state of sleep deprivation. There is presumably a certain turning point where the benefits of sleeping together are outweighed by the potential resentment (however irrational it might be) that could build toward the other (your “torturer,”) from sleep deprivation. As with so much of being in an intimate relationship, we are continually balancing one thing with another.

What I fail to understand is the judginess. Why anybody outside of the relationship is entitled to a view at all on any other couple’s sleep arrangements mystifies me. And if they do have a view—which clearly, some do—why we should care about it. One of the best gifts of maturity, it seems to me, is not giving two fucks about a lot of things we at one point gave too many fucks about. Chief among them is whether others sleep together or apart, or what others think about whether we do or don’t.

Summer Bookstack By Dish Stanley

Laura Gassner Otting, author of Wonderhell: Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should … and What to Do about It, sends a weekly newsletter that I’ve mentioned a few times. I read it because it’s a valuable prompt for me to take action from time to time on things I should / need to take action on, like my goals or taking care of myself. It’s a motivator. You can subscribe here. In this week’s newsletter she sent out a request to readers asking them to share what’s in their book stacks. So, for Laura and for you, CRUSH Readers, here are my recent favorites and a few I just picked up and will be reading this summer.

Here’s my list, and why:

The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World by Barry Gewen: I’m obsessed with Kissinger’s place in history.

Piglet by Lottie Hazell: This debut novel about a cookbook editor who can’t control her appetite in the run-up to her wedding is a masterful contemplation on women’s appetites writ large.

Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection by Charles Duhigg: Two chapters in and I’m already approaching every conversation more mindfully.

Wonderhell: Why Success Doesn’t Feel Like It Should … and What to Do about It by Laura Gassner Otting: Because if there’s any hope of me stepping out of my pattern of wanting—but then hating and resenting—success and admiration, this is the answer.

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man by Nicholas Shakespeare: Because James Bond is a guilty pleasure, and this is as much about a fascinating man as it is about his period.

Wives Like Us by Plum Sykes: This will be the “It Girl” book of summer 2024, and I have a certain set of friends who are in fashion/adjacent fields who’ll be discussing it at every lunch. I’ll want to have an opinion.

Continue reading here

Things I Did In My 50’s To Meet New Friends That Worked By Dish Stanley

First I became a childless widower, and then in the last couple of years I moved. So I’ve had plenty of reasons to try a lot of things over the last decade to make new friends. Having grown up in the military, I knew that I could put those atrophied friend-making muscles to work again. I get a number of notes asking me for advice on making friends at this stage of life, frequently after becoming an empty nester, divorced/widowed or a move. There is absolutely no getting around the reality that it requires real effort and putting yourself in new, awkward situations. There’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of effort felt entirely wasted. But here’s what actually worked for me.

I became a “very active” regular customer at the independent bookstore in my neighborhood. I stopped in regularly, joined a book discussion group, attended author talks. People who work in bookstores (like librarians) are so very nice, and so are their regular customers.

I learned to play backgammon and started attending the weekly game for beginners at a local club. People who play backgammon are very social, and it’s easy to learn.

I picked up tennis after 30 years, and joined a women’s tennis league in town.

I became a regular at a neighborhood restaurant where the chef hosts cooking classes and other tasting events. I met other regulars who loved to cook and check out new restaurants.

I went on a number of women’s group hiking and travel trips—day hikes, longer style & design related trips to Milan, Rome and Tangier and hiking trips in California and the Dolomites. I met a few women from these who have become very close friends, one of whom I met hiking in the Dolomites and lives in my neighborhood!

I threw the first pizza & salad party in my condo building and invited everybody. Everybody came! I asked everybody who came to bring either a salad or a bottle of wine. Knowing the people in my building when I ran into them made me feel less isolated, and one became a regular for checking out new neighborhood restaurants.

I just tried this and don’t know whether it will work yet: I learned about an informal neighborhood email newsletter and posted a “classified” looking for women interested in learning how to play canasta.

Truly Great Date Moves. Shared by Dish Stanley

I recently encountered one of the best “early” date moves I’ve seen in a while. I thought I should share it. But then I also thought it would be helpful to all of us if every CRUSH Reader thought about a particularly great date move they experienced in their past. Perhaps it was the move that lead to the next date that flowed into a relationship that resulted in marriage sooooo many years ago. A line that opened up a conversation that lasted for hours. Or perhaps it was from somebody you didn’t even click with, but the move itself had to be respected. Some of us here are still out dating—and we need to know so that we can bust out some moves :-). Please, please, please share yours below.

Great Date Move. I’ve already shared with CRUSH Readers that my own favorite approach at the end of a date to signal I want to get to know my date better is to say, “I really feel like kissing you right now.” And then, of course, to observe his response to see if such a kiss would be welcome. This is a variation on something a guy years ago said to me at the end of our first dinner, which was “May I kiss you?” So sweet, and of course I loved the combination of both stating his desire, while at the same time showing me respect and tenderness and a lack of presumption. Great stuff to demonstrate at such an early stage.

But I recently encountered a third variation, and I love it. It is asking, after the first gentle peck, as you go in a little deeper “Do you like it like this?” Any kind of open-ended question asking how you like to be kissed would work here, of course. If they hesitated to answer (out of nervousness or shyness, as I may be want to do) a follow-up question could work: Keep it on the lips? Tender? Rousing? Go all in? Or would you prefer I kiss your neck, your shoulder blade, behind your ear? I mean you could get really creative here. I love this approach of asking what you like, how you like it, of checking in as you progress. It takes the other person’s current temperature; shows that the initiator is in it to please; and most importantly, it sets up a repeatable pattern of asking and telling and sharing—a pattern of communicating needs and wants.

It worked so well, I thought you should know about it.

What’s the single best ”date move” anybody has ever made with you? Please, please, please share it below. We need to know.

In this series, readers like you share recommendations for the things they love the most, right at this moment.

  1. Mary & Jane Sunny Melts

OMG I’m so into these (over, say, drinking a cocktail) for social events. Sunnies are pastilles (i.e., mints) with just the right micro-dosed balance of thc and kanna to give you an ever so slight lift. The Sunnies people say “our proprietary formula creates a subtle euphoric and blissful effect for a plant-powered mood boost.” There’s only 1mg of THC in each, so we are talking a very slight lift (less than a glass of wine). Kanna is a South African plant that has been used as a natural mood enhancer since the 1600’s. I take two Sunnies before I go out to socialize, and then drink something non-alcoholic. They have zero calories and none of the after-effects on my sleep (and etc.) that alcohol does. Read the ingredients/instruction/dosing (always).

  1. Talenti Mini Lemon Sorbetto Bars

Absolutely obsessed with these. So refreshing and only 50 calories each. This is a brand new product from my favorite grocery store source for sorbet/ice cream. I was literally walking through my local Whole Foods to pick up some of their sea salt caramel gelato when I noticed an employee stocking these mini sorbetto bars. He said they were a brand new item and I scooped up a box to try. I quickly became addicted. They are mini, and that’s all I really need—a few refreshing bites. Unlike scooping out from a container, it is so easy to just stop at one. The lemon is tart and perfect for warm weather. 

Evo Oil Sprayer Evo Sprayer Bottle, Non-Aerosol for Olive Cooking Oils, 18-Ounce Capacity, 1 Count (Pack of 1), Yellow

  1. EVO Olive Oil Sprayer

A friend who knows I love to cook sent me this as an impromptu gift. It’s brilliant and I can’t believe I ever lived without what has become my favorite, most-used kitchen gadget. A light spray of oil over fish (or whatever I’m cooking) is so much better than the thick glop that I was pouring on with a bottle. Of course I’ve tried the cans of olive oil spray from the grocery store but I’m picky about my olive oil and didn’t like the flavor or quality of what I could get in a can. This sprayer is the solution, and I use it almost daily (yes, I cook every day). This particular model is high-end and high quality. 

Want to tell us three things that you're currently crushing on? We would love to share it. Let us know here!

Social Media I Loved This Week





Song of the Week

Go Easy Kid By Monica Martin

I learned about this gorgeous song from Nick Hornby’s Substack, A Fan’s Notes. Here’s Hornby’s description of himself “I am a novelist, occasional essayist and screenwriter, and I am now well into my seventh decade.  And despite my advancing years I am still employed in those fields of endeavour, although screenplays have taken over recently ...” I know him because he wrote High Fidelity, about a fanatic record collector whose romantic entanglements don’t sort.

Here’s what he wrote about the song Go Easy Kid that made me want to check it out.

“Monica Martin’s song ‘Go Easy Kid’ is one of the most beautiful songs I have come across in the last few years. It seems to me both completely idiosyncratic and yet an instant classic: with little tweaks here and there, it could belong in a Sondheim musical, or on Tapestry, or the first Rickie Lee Jones album. (I’m thinking of the song ‘Company’ on the RLJ record, a torch-song tour-de-force which Sinatra or Streisand or Diana Krall should have covered.) And yet it just suddenly appeared, like all great songs suddenly appear, I suppose, in 2021, out of time, contemporary, perfect.”

The song is a poetic contemplation on both the vagaries of life and of letting go:

Cut through the smoke
There's no secret special code
No deeper hidden wisdom
Just accept we'll never know

Here’s a perfectly beautiful live version of Go Easy, Kid, where she’s backed up by a chamber orchestra.

Listen here

Here’s a fabulous Song Explainer on it.

Have a great week, CRUSHes. And if you loved this CRUSH Letter, please pass it on! Thank you.

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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