The Crush Letter No. 95

The Crush Letter No. 95

. 12 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love and culture for those 40+sex.  Because midlife and beyond is so much cooler than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Happy Saturday! And a warm welcome to the new CRUSH subscribers who joined us after reading last week's special delivery on one of the most compelling women depicted in pop culture right now, Sylvie Gatreau from Emily In Paris. Bonjour!

This week we are starting a series on being SOLO after 40. It is not written just for those who are solo, though. In particular, Lisa Ellex's piece, The Secrets That We Keep: Brutally Honest Conversations About Being Solo and mine, How to Talk to A SOLO, are meant to share some insight with our partnered-up friends and family on our perspectives as solo's. We live in a world structured around the coupled-up even though the number of solo adults is rising dramatically. Chances are you have a solo you care about. Want to know more about how they feel? (Yes, you do!) They may be perfectly content, by the way, as I point out in The Rise of the Contented Solo.

Thank you to the extremely generous PrimeCrush Readers who answered our call to be interviewed for this SOLO Letter. Your input was invaluable for the Brutally Honest Conversations piece, and that's only Part 1 in Lisa Ellex's series. Stay tuned as we continue this important conversation. Thank you!

And on the (stiletto) heels of our special delivery on Sylvie Gatreau, I'd like to know who you all think are the most compelling female characters over 40 in the movies and shows you watch. Please take our poll (at the bottom of this Letter).


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.  +The Rise of the Contented Solo. By Dish Stanley You can stop asking them if “they’ve met anyone special yet," as there’s a good chance they’re not looking.   +The SOLO Series (Pt 1): The Secrets That We Keep: Brutally Honest Conversations About Being Solo. By Lisa Ellex You’re such a catch! Why are you still married?”   +How to Talk to a Midlife Solo. By Dish Stanley If they have been actively dating for a long time, it could be a downer for you to remind them of how hard it is to find someone.   +The Dynamics of Friendship: Can Singlehood Withstand the Trials of Friends with Kids? By Lauren D. Weinstein Daily conversations soon became weekly—then monthly, or not at all—unless I reached out.   +Peter McGraw, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life Solo is the thoughtful podcast series hosted by Peter McGraw on "the single person's guide to a remarkable life."     +Song of the Week I want to be the one to walk the sun.  +Social Media I Loved This Week. By Dish Stanley


The Rise of the Contented Solo.  By Dish Stanley

You May Be Single, But You’re Not Alone.

Almost half of the adult population in the U.S. is unmarried, a 10% increase since 1970. You can stop asking them if “they’ve met anyone special yet” because there’s a good chance they’re not looking.

Being a “contented solo” is having a moment. Living alone, historically, was never chosen; instead, being single was a status one endured, or was subjected to—or so the thinking went. While the broad assumptions still endure that those who are permanently partnered up are happier, there are signs that we are embarking on an era when partnering up isn’t consistently and mistakenly conflated with living a fuller life.  And that’s a good thing.  

If we lived in a world with less societal pressure for partnering up (and multiplying), more people would have the space to choose the path leading to their most abundant life. Abundance for some people might mean the opportunity to devote more of themselves to creating a masterpiece, whether that takes the form of art, science, service, or simply greater dedication to their community or friends and family. Creating a happy marriage and family is a masterpiece. It takes a lot of time (as well as a lot of other things, including compromise), and it’s just not the masterpiece everyone wants to (or should) create.

There is a lingering idea, a harmful and sometimes painful notion to those who are solo, that love will find you if only you open your heart to it.  Or if you just work a little harder to find it. Or compromise a lot more. It implies that your life is “less” if you are not partnered— less full, less loving, and less secure. It projects one’s own needs and preferences, which align with societal convention, onto everyone.  For those solo by choice, it ignores the fact that love has already found them. It’s just not in the form of making a single romantic partner the organizing principle and priority of their life. They love another way of living, where they can devote time and energy to other pursuits and passions. And it goes without saying, they love themselves enough to choose a lifestyle that aligns with their values.

What’s currently on the rise is the contented midlife solo. Living solo by choice.  Someone who is solo isn’t necessarily searching. They’re content without a relationship, able to fully appreciate the upsides of their status.

Continue reading here.

The Secrets That We Keep: Brutally Honest Conversations About Being Solo.  By Lisa Ellex

In a series of in-depth conversations with midlife women and men, this author asked volunteers from the PrimeCrush community to share the things they’re hesitant to say out loud to even their closest coupled-up friends.

If you’ve suddenly found yourself swimming in the deep end of the solo pool, beware of the prying friend who often asks, “You’re such a catch…why are you still single?” Those of us who have been solos for a while, whether by choice or circumstance, whether male or female, know to expect it. Each time I hear this, I cringe and resist the urge to reply, “You’re such a catch! Why are you still married?” Next thing I know, the prying friend is trying to pair me off with a recently divorced brother-in-law or dentist. I thank the friend for their concern, then politely explain that having them choose my mate is like sending them to the market to select my fruit; I much prefer to see, smell, fondle, and pick the produce myself.

Curiously, these friends who express concern over my singleness are the same friends who have stopped inviting me to couple-centric events. Seldom am I asked to attend certain dinners and activities where couples are in the majority and I can’t help but wonder how, in this era of inclusiveness, am I finding myself excluded from the “cool” table like the new girl in the high school cafeteria?  What is it about my freedom that makes my friends uncomfortable? Perhaps the very sight of me reminds them of just how stuck they are in their own relationship. Is my presence a threat to them somehow? As a married woman, I was an asset to couples’ social events. Single, am I a risk?  Just when did I become the apple in the Garden of Eden? And are single men having the same experience?

According to a January 2018 New York Times article, an estimated 42% of marriages are not monogamous (and those are just the parties who admit it!). Whether they are in a mutually open relationship, having a clandestine affair, or both parties are conveniently “looking the other way,” one or both parties in the couple are going outside their relationship. So by keeping the available people out of sight, are they kept out of mind?

We were fortunate to have candid conversations with some uncoupled PrimeCrush readers about how they relate — or don’t — with their coupled friends. What they have to say may —or may not — surprise you.  

Continue reading here.

How to Talk to a Midlife Solo.  By Dish Stanley

Want to be more sensitive and compassionate? (Of course, you do!) Here are some easy tips to try.

Don’t Say:

“Why are YOU still single?” or “Have you met anybody special (yet)?” or “How is your dating going?” unless you’ve already had a conversation with them in which they made it clear both that they are dating and that they are comfortable discussing the status of their intimate life with you. There are so many ways that these questions can be hurtful. Here are just a few:

Even in the best case, where your intentions are altruistic and your goal is to show you care about your friend’s happiness and well-being unless they have invited you into a dialogue about this aspect of their private life, it can feel intrusive. As my friend, Paul said to me recently, “It is really a mash-up between ‘what’s wrong with you?’ And nagging.”  And even if you don’t intend it this way, my friend Sally says it can feel like somebody is asking about her sex life, when (of course) she’d never ask about the sex life of her married or partnered friends casually, out of the blue.

They may be happily solo and not interested in dating! In a worst-case scenario, you may be making an assumption about their life that conveys more about your own preferences, prejudices, fears, or curiosity than about your interest in them. You may inadvertently be conveying that you don’t think their single life (or any single life) is as [fill in the blank — worthwhile, full, fun] as coupled-up life, which can be hurtful or insulting.

If they have been actively dating for a long time, it could be a downer for you to remind them of how hard it is to find someone. Think through how people in these circumstances answer this question. Usually deflated.

Finally, these pointed questions are so predictable they can just get boring. ("OMFG. Not another dead-end ‘but you’re such a catch!’ line".)

What I prefer is an open-ended question about what I’ve been up to or how my [summer/winter] is going that lets me take the lead on sharing what’s most important to me, what I’m excited about, etc. If I want to go into the status of my latest “situation” I will.

Continue reading here

{Reshare from a previous CRUSH Letter}

The Dynamics of Friendship: Can Singlehood Withstand the Trials of Friends with Kids?  By Lauren D. Weinstein

Bette Midler belts out, “You gotta have friends!” but what do you do when you realize they lack balance and no longer serve you or your lifestyle?

Most of my friends are married, have children, and some work outside the home, as well. I am a single freelancer and I am not a parent. Being a wife and mother definitely has a different set of responsibilities and priorities.

I’ve noticed that maintaining these friendships has become frustrating, exhausting, and, frankly, apparently on life support. I totally understand that these friendships, realistically, are not able to be the way they used to…they dwindle due to a difference in the investment of time and energy.

I nostalgically miss the days when my gal pals were each other’s “go-to”, with seemingly endless conversations on the phone, when we all were single and calling each other up to ruminate, lament our romantic relationships—or lack thereof—giving intricate details about disastrous blind dates, Bumble swiping, rehearsing break up speeches, sexual escapades, (who got the crabs on vacation from the hot guy in Club Med, or who’s anxiously reading the pregnancy results from Clear Blue Easy), pep talks, career advice, navigating family dramas, struggles with the Keto diet, sharing beauty tips from Botox to boob jobs, and which psychic to consult.

Continue reading here

Solo - Peter McGraw
Podcast: Solo The single person’s guide to a remarkable life In a world where most people get married, where do you turn for advice if you don’t want to settle down — for now or forever? Solo is the single person’s guide to a remarkable life. Welcome to the podcast that explores how being unattached…

Check Out Peter McGraw's Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life

McGraw is a leading advocate for a solo lifestyle and host of the podcast SOLO: The Single Person's Guide To A Remarkable Life. The series explores a full range of ideas and issues surrounding living life as a solo, like how to live alone, how to go on a date, solo travel, male friendships, making friends as a solo, unconventional marriages, and getting off the "relationship escalator." In addition to his podcast, McGraw has created an active solo community you can join here. Here are some favorite podcast episodes:

Making Friends the Center of Life (Ep 63): As someone whose life is not centered around marriage or children (by choice), his friendships (with men and women) have a special status. In this episode, McGraw, a hetero-white midlife man, takes on the "one-two punch of homophobia and hypermasculinity that make it difficult for men to be vulnerable enough" to have close male friendships.  He provides a powerful model of male friendships and offers an important and distinct perspective on friendships generally.  Listen here.

The Power of Seeking No Power with Timothy Krieder (Ep 86):  "Power? No thanks, I'm Good."  Solo is the thoughtful podcast series hosted by Peter McGraw on "the single person's guide to a remarkable life."  In this episode, McGraw speaks with Timothy Krieder, a writer and cartoonist, who explains why the freedom to say what he thinks and to command his own time is all the power he needs.  This episode raises the stakes on defining what power is - and argues that giving up opportunities to pursue power in order to gain freedom is a power in and of itself. Listen here.

Song of the Week

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

This 80’s classic about living life to the fullest all on your own is a perfect pick for this Letter about being SOLO.

Listen here

Social Media I Loved This Week.  By Dish Stanley

@dan_regan_comedy

@primecrushxo

@oursensualselves

Please take our poll on who your favorite female character over 40 is in a popular movie or show!

And please, please, please, if you enjoyed this Letter pass it on to somebody!

I always love to hear from you at Dish@PrimeCrush.com. Thanks for being here.

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

‘Merci’!’ to Emily In Paris for One of the Most Riveting Women in Pop Culture. Sylvie. By Dish Stanley
Yes, we’ve seen other compelling women over 50 in major shows. But in Season 3 of Emily In Paris, Sylvie becomes a multi-faceted stick of dynamite, and one of the most riveting women to watch on television. {Alert: NO SPOILERS here.} Women of a certain age finally got the sex
DEVOUR { reads we think you should DEVOUR }
In our weekly DEVOUR column, we share the reads we think you should eat up, Here is a slice of what we’ve feasted on. To get all of DEVOUR recommendations, you have to subscribe. Read. Read. A Short Erotic Story Aloud To Yourself (Or Someone Else) from “Coming Soon: Women’s
Naked & Not Afraid. By KC Roth
One writer bares all for a relatable tale of regaining one’s self and sexuality, reinstating the all-important lesson that endings bring brave new beginnings.


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