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[Orchestral fanfare]

(LIPSYTE)

Coming up on "Life (Part 2)," What's it like to go on a date for the first time since... 1984!? It's scary out there, but plenty of newly singled baby boomers are dealing with it. We're here to help. And later, best-selling author Gail Sheehy on what she calls "Sex and the Seasoned Woman."

Plus, style guru Simon Doonan on why, when it comes to fashion, you should not grow old gracefully. All coming up on "Life (Part 2)."

(WOMAN)

Major funding for "Life (Part 2)" was provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies--engaging many to improve the lives of and achieve health and economic security for older adults. And by MetLife Foundation--celebrating the wisdom, talent, and experience of older adults. MetLife Foundation proudly supports "Life (Part 2)."

 [bass, & plucked strings play in playful rhythm; bright in tone]

(LIPSYTE)

Welcome to "Life (Part 2)," I'm Robert Lipsyte, and I'm not dating these days. My wife doesn't permit it. But as more and more of our friends lose partners through death and divorce, I've become an observer of the dating while graying scene. I've tried to be a matchmaker of sorts, arranging the seating at dinner parties to put people together, and I've come to one overwhelming conclusion, dating now still has echoes of high school.

Blind romanticism and raging hormones and pressure to get married have been replaced by the hard-won understanding of who you are and what you don't want and the compromises you're willing to make.

There may be fewer choices, but you should be able to make them more quickly, including the choice to create a rich, active life as a single person.

The Internet has made an enormous difference. I found out about that a few years ago when a divorced friend, determined to remarry her ideal man posted a very precise personal ad that included the prerequisite of a Ph.D. in a limited number of disciplines.

Eventually, an anthropology professor at a college in her city popped up! Their e-mails were erudite and erotic. Perfect match. Then they exchanged pictures. He was good-looking. And he stopped writing. So she lost 20 pounds and sent another picture. We attended their wedding--echoes of high school. Which brings us to our panel and their hard-won knowledge of the Boomer dating scene. Pepper Schwartz is Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, where she studies gender, sexuality, and relationships. She is the relationship expert for perfectmatch.com. Her book "Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years" explores her own experience, returning to the singles market after a 23-year marriage that ended in divorce.

Leslie Oren is the former Senior Vice President of Publicity for Fox Television Studios in Hollywood and now runs her own publicity company, Babygrande. She documented her dating life in her book...

Robert Schwalbe is a therapist who specializes in the emotional problems of men in late middle age, and he's the author of...

Welcome everyone to "Life (Part 2)."

Pepper, let me start with you. Your dating history bookends your 23-year marriage. So you were active socially in your 20s. You seem very active socially in your 50s and early 60s. You're a sociologist. What's different?

(PEPPER)

I'm a lot smarter and a lot more secure than I was in my 20s and 30s. I think I was always trying to prove something to the guys I dated then about how acceptable I was.

(LIPSYTE)

But what about, are you quicker and smarter in your picks?

(PEPPER)

Well, I think I have a better vision of who I would be with. I mean, I have a very short list of essentials. I often think that one of the problems with women who are dating older is that they still keep their 25-year-old list that they kept of the guy who's going to be the father of their children, and they were going to be together and build their home and their life together. I threw that list out, and I think you can do that at 55 and older. You can say, who am I now and why do I need all those other rules and lists? I really don't. Girls just want to have fun, right?

[laughs]

(LIPSYTE)

Well, that's a little bit lighter than I would say, but you know. Dr. Schwalbe, men-- is it easier or harder for men?

(DR. SCHWALBE)

I think it's harder actually. I think a man in his 50s and 60s, who finds himself in the dating world and has not been in the dating world, either is divorced or widowed, refers back to his 20s. He doesn't know the new rules of the game. Often enough, he doesn't relax with it. I find men can be very threatened by women today, by women who have careers, which is what they were not used to in their 20s when they were initially dating, and they sort of stumble, and they often enough will miss the right woman, because they just are awkward about it.

(LIPSYTE)

Leslie, the Internet is such an important part of it, and you are our expert on the Internet. From what we just heard, how does this male-female thing play out online?

(LESLIE)

First of all, I agree completely with what Bob said and with what Pepper said, and I think missing each other is one of the key challenges that men and women face, and I think online dating, it's sort of a microcosm f what's going on in the larger dating scene. One of the nice things about dating older and dating as you get older is your goals for dating change, and your goal in dating may not be to get married and have children anymore. It's for other purposes. One of the reasons that I wrote my book came out of all these conversations that women do have with each other, these postmortems from a Saturday night or a Friday night date, where they talk about, he didn't see me, or I felt uncomfortable talking about my work. I think these are very complicated issues, and they play out online, I think only magnified from the way that they play out in regular dating.

(LIPSYTE)

But whatever happened to church socials, much less, political involvement, hiking clubs? Aren't there less threatening ways?

(GUEST)

If there were, there wouldn't be online dating.

(LIPSYTE)

So there aren't?

(GUEST)

There's very few. Online dating has grown hugely. Maybe Leslie would like to comment further on this. But the fact is that you get older, you run out of networks. You run out of friends that have single friends. You run out of places in your work that you're meeting new people.

My experience and a number of my women friends in their 40s and 50s find that men in their 50s and 60s are looking for women in their 20s and 30s, and it's very disheartening for middle-aged women who feel like they're being discounted by maybe a recently divorced or widowed man who now feels like a kid in a candy store.

(GUEST)

Yeah, I think that lasts for exactly 6 months. I know so many men who have done just that, who want the younger woman, and you know what? After a while, they have nothing to talk about. Sex is great, no question about it. But they have nothing to talk about, they have nothing in common, they come from 2 different time zones. Their cultures are different. A man who is 55 or 60, sure he would like someone younger, but what is he going to talk about with a 25-year-old once the sex is not as exciting as it was initially?

(LIPSYTE)

Let's talk about bodies. Because obviously, well, not obviously, but for-- no one at this table--for a lot of people as they go into boomer-hood, they don't really quite have the bodies that they had in their 20s and may be a little self-conscious or more reluctant to take their clothes off. What do you guys feel about that?

(GUEST)

I think you are absolutely right, particularly for a man who has been married for a long time and finds himself in the single scene, or widowed or divorced. The inhibition really comes to the surface real fast because he is aware of his body and has really not done anything about it because he's been in a long-term relationship. And that's the baby boomer that I'm really concerned about, who's suddenly out in the dating world again. It's very inhibiting, and it definitely can cause a problem, and that's where a sense of humor comes in because I think that is key to success. Pepper was very open and helpful in her book "Prime" about her feelings of self-worth as her weight goes up or down and yet her ability to get over it.

(GUEST)

Well, I'm highly motivated to be in a loving relationship, and so it's which terrorizes you most, taking your clothes off and having someone not exactly get what they hoped for, or being alone?

(GUEST)

Well, I'm willing to take clothes off rather than be alone. My experience has been, and not that I'm all that experienced, but I don't think that it matters.

(GUEST)

I have to say, my girlfriends and I laugh about this, but my experience has been that men are just so happy to be there. They're so happy your clothes are off. It doesn't really matter. But you know, I see many brave women, and I use them as an illustration for other women who are simply 20 pounds heavy or something. I see women with mastectomies who are out there dating. I seen women who've had their body ravaged by one thing or another, and they go out there and they find men who love them. Good for them, that's great. It's tough. It's tough, but it can be done, and they do find love, so it's becoming courageous.

Look, I think if dating were so easy, none of us would be married. One of the reasons to settle down is dating has its harrowing parts. But I think anybody, male or female, if they are brave enough to show their true self, then whatever they're encased in, they will find somebody who wants them scars and all.

(GUEST)

I agree. I agree up to a point, because a man has a different issue, particularly a man who's not been in dating scene and who does want to have a sexual relationship. He goes through that whole issue of performance anxiety, and let me tell you, that is rough going for a man. Much as they desire to connect, much as they desire to have sex, boom, it's something else when they're really in that bed.

(LIPSYTE)

What do you suggest men do about it, or if they're thinking about it?

(GUEST)

Back off, back off, don't jump into bed so quickly. That may be the fantasy, but definitely do not act on that fantasy, particularly if performance anxiety has actually occurred. That can really push a man away. I say don't get involved sexually. Get to know the person, enjoy one another. Again, the sense of humor comes in. have experiences together, but stay away from sex for a while. But if it happens, then you're in a little bit of a different situation. I think women have to be sensitive to it. I think a little honest and open communication about it isn't the worst thing. I would say the same thing I say to young people. If you can't talk about it, you're not ready to do it.

(LIPSYTE)

The problem though with talking about whatever it is, men don't talk about those things.

(GUEST)

Well, then let them listen. Let the woman talk about it. But somebody's gotta about it!

(GUEST)

It's even awkward for a man to listen to that. What are we gonna do? Tell me what we're gonna do. If he won't talk, and he won't listen, tell me what we do with him?

(GUEST)

Well, I think that's where, again, it takes time. It's not evolutionary, but it is a slow process.

(LIPSYTE)

You may not have time. He may be scared away, embarrassed, humiliated. What would you do?

(GUEST)

Well, this is going to sound not so nice, but you know what? He ought to be a grown-up by now, and if he won't listen or he won't talk...

(LIPSYTE)

Get rid of him.

(GUEST)

Yeah! I'm sorry. I want a grown-up.

(LIPSYTE)

Okay, [laughter] but you must all hear the constant complaining of men saying, "women these days," women saying, "men these days." What are you hearing?

(GUEST)

I'm hearing from men who are back in the dating scene who are in their 50s and 60s and they are meeting women, that women are too eager to connect, and they become too nurturing. I've been hearing this a lot lately, that women are, they don't know really how to make that connection right away, so they go back to what they've known all their lives, which is to be a nurturer. And I hear complaints about that. I actually saw a woman on a date cutting her date's food.

(GUEST)

Yup, there you go.

(GUEST)

I did, I actually did.

(LIPSYTE)

Are you sure he didn't have arthritis?

(GUEST)

I hope he did--that's my way of agreeing with you. What I hear from both people, which I think is unfair on both sides, is they don't want people with baggage, and I'd like to know who doesn't have baggage? At this age? A baby boomer? Baby boomer's have baggage.

(LIPSYTE)

You bet! So if you don't want baggage, you don't want a relationship.

(GUEST)

Then I hear men saying they don't want somebody who wants a sugar daddy. I think women also worry about that if they've been successful, and there's a reason too. Then women worry, just last one, that they're going to be asked to be caretakers.

(LIPSYTE)

 Yes. Is that at a certain age?

(GUEST)

I'd say over 50, particularly if you are talking about a 60-year-old guy who's calling up a 52-year-old woman or something, she's thinking, how healthy is he?

(GUEST)

Yeah, guys like me want a nurse with a purse!

[laughter]

(GUEST)

It does seem that men are less level headed about this. I've had several friends, more than 2 or 3 actually, at the end of long-term marriages tended to fall in love a little too quickly and badly, and then feel devastated at the breakup, and then go do it again!

(LIPSYTE)

Yes, I agree with you. I know those men who make terrible, terrible mistakes and really rush into marriage, and it backfires terribly. They've read the statistics that married men live longer than single-- marriage is actually supposedly better for men than for women. Isn't that true?

(GUEST)

It is, but it's good for both of them. I think it was a myth that it was really terrible for women.

(GUEST)

No, it's good for both of them. I think one of the biggest myths was that men really like to play around and be single. Most men are desperately looking to re-pair again.

(LIPSYTE)

I absolutely agree with you. particularly someone in his 50s. He doesn't want to be single, it's hard, and it's boring. You know, how far can you go? How often can you jump into bed with a new woman? But I think that's where men and women have the same thing in common, to connect, to have a relationship, and to live happily ever after. Well, and other reasons, to have some intimacy and some really good feeling before you actually do take your clothes off.

Thank you so much for joining us on "Life (Part 2)." Gail Sheehy's 1976 book "Passages" was a "New York Times" bestseller for over 3 years. Her book "Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life" suggests that for Boomer women, the best is yet to come--new dreams, spiritual growth, and a revitalized sex life. Gail, thank you so much for joining us.

So, how will I know a seasoned woman when I see one?

(GAIL)

Well, she's spicy! She's been marinated in life experience, and if she's truly a seasoned...

(LIPSYTE)

Sounds like a little too hot for me, eh?

(GAIL)

Oh, well, she can also be mellow and effervescent, resourceful certainly, maternal, but also attractive, but it really comes from within. Now some of these women are married, and some of these are single, and some have been marinating, but some have been stewing as well.

That's right. [laughs] I call them the WMDs.

(LIPSYTE)

And that's?

(GAIL)

They're bored with it. They don't really want to give up the security or the financial situation or the status, but they really don't have a marriage, and they don't have an interest, a dream of their own. This is such a key time in your life. You call it the possibility of a second adulthood. A second adulthood, yes. Not a second childhood, but a second adulthood. It's an opportunity to reinvent yourself or explore or expand yourself. Women, by and large, spend the first adulthood pleasing and performing for the people who can reward and protect us, starting with parents, and then teachers, boyfriends, husband, mentor, bosses. Men do too, but women do more of it. They are pleasing longer.

Women, when we get to about 50 and, of course, we have this wonderful marker called menopause, which really tells us that we are changing, and we physically change, we don't have to please and perform anymore for everybody. There are some people we still want to do it for, but we can now say what we really think and do what we are passionate about and what reflect our own values. That is a revolutionary change for women, and I think it much more often happens for women at that age than it does for men.

(LIPSYTE)You've always seemed very accomplished and independent. As I recall, it's going from pleasing to mastery.

(GAIL)

That's right.

(LIPSYTE)

Is this an arc that you have described in your art?

(GAIL)

Oh, I definitely experienced the arc from pleasing to mastery. In your 50s, I think as a woman you really, you take pleasure in being able to get things done, to master your environment in ways that I didn't feel confident about before, which is kind of going with the punches and often feeling a little bit chaotic.

(LIPSYTE)

How does this happen? It doesn't seem like a necessarily natural progression. It seems you have to be mindful about it.

(GAIL)

 You do have to be mindful about it, and I think that's why menopause is a gift for women, because we have to stop and take stock at that time because our bodies are changing. You have hot flashes, there's more fatigue, and you have to accommodate that. So you have a real signal. But men change in a very different way. I always talk about it as a sexual diamond. Men and women kind of cross in their 50s, and as women become more assertive, more aggressive, more managerial, men often become more nurturing, more in need of nurturing, a softer side comes through. They become more as aesthetically aware. And if a man is evolving in that way, it makes a very nice complement with a woman who is becoming more assertive and managerial.

Well, at the moment that they meet, but then they go off in different directions.

No, I think the most wonderful couples really take care of each other, and they complement their strengths, and that brings up a different kind of sexuality. Now you're talking about real intimacy, where people can be loving and touching and physically close without necessarily having the kind of athletic sex that they had in their 20s and 30s.

(LIPSYTE)

Gail, earlier in the show we talked about the dating scene for Boomers. Are there particular challenges, advantages, shortcuts for the seasoned woman?

(GAIL)

I think, looking at it, it's attitude. I've interviewed an awful lot of seasoned women who've tried dating and the ones that seem to have the best luck are those who look at it like a giant candy jar. You just keep taking out candies, and then you're going to just put them aside if they're not the right ones.

But what really happens is, you develop relationships, friendships. One woman told me about friendships that she had with 3 men that she was dating, and when her former husband died and she went to the funeral, all 3 of them showed up and were there to support her. Because when you're older, those friendships are as important as anything else.

(LIPSYTE)

Gail Sheehy, thank you so much for joining us on "Life (Part 2)."

(GAIL)

My pleasure.

(LIPSYTE)

Simon Doonan's approach to life is as passionate as any of the heroines in Gail Sheehy's ode to seasoned women. For the past 3 decades, Simon has been the Creative Director of one of the trendiest stores in America, Barneys New York, where his exceptionally quirky windows are pop culture masterpieces. He also writes a lively column for the "New York Observer." His latest book is a memoir, "Beautiful People." We wanted his take on aging with style.

(SIMON)

[British accent]

It's simply not fair! Back when I was young, youth had no currency. In the 1950s and the madmen early 60s, children were still seen and not heard. The deranged kind of fetishizing and worshipping of youth, which dominates our culture today, would've been unimaginable, laughable, incomprehensible. To become an adult, this was the goal. Youth was just the holding pen. Youth was the greenroom, where one waited for life to begin. Unfortunately, the passage of time has brought changes to this system. There has been a significant switcheroo.

Now that I'm a grown-up, a middle-aged dude, guess what?

Adulthood has lost all its cachet. Everybody wants to be 15 today. Nobody wants to be an adult. This injustice is making me into a grumpy old gay.

For example, as we age, we are all supposed to become models of decorum and restraint. Instead of enjoying life and becoming increasingly fabulous, reckless, and colorful, we're supposed to sit back like Whistler's mother, napping, drinking tea, and dispensing pearls of wisdom. Fie on this notion. Now that young people are getting all this attention, I no longer see any reason for we Boomers and senior citizens to set examples or tow the line.

As you get older, make sure you act upon your wildest impulses. Join the circus, sail the South Seas. Make your own absinthe. Wear a leopard leotard, grow old ungraciously.

Burn baby burn! Boomers take back the night.

It's time for the "Counterculture (Part 2)."

(LIPSYTE)

For now, that's it for "Life (Part 2)." I'm Robert Lipsyte, thanks for watching. See you next time, older and better.

(WOMAN)

Are you ready for "Life (Part 2)?" Find information, inspiration...

All I can tell you is, getting old is not for sissies!

(WOMAN)

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Thank you!

[laughs]

(WOMAN)

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CC--Armour Captioning & TPT

(WOMAN)

Major funding for "Life (Part 2)" was provided by The Atlantic Philanthropies--engaging many to improve the lives of and achieve health and economic security for older adults. And by MetLife Foundation--celebrating the wisdom, talent, and experience of older adults. MetLife Foundation proudly supports "Life (Part 2)."

(WOMAN)

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