Body & Soul
Between the Sheets
Between the Sheets
Dr. Dorree Lynn • June 18, 2012
I couldn’t stand my husband’s terrible snoring another minute, so I’ve been sleeping in the guest room. I love the peace and quiet, but now we rarely see each other. How can we keep the romance alive?
– Betty, 57
An estimated 20 percent of American couples do not sleep in the same bed. This is not necessarily a sign of a poor relationship. With age, people are willing to experiment and create their own comfort zones. Some people find that they need more alone time or that their partners’ snoring or rolling
around in bed really troubles them. There is a difference between sleeping apart because you just don’t like each other anymore and choosing to sleep separately for comfort’s sake. If it’s the latter, it’s important to make the time and effort to meet, greet, and connect with each other for sharing, intimacy, and lovemaking. Even when you sleep in the same bed, if you go to bed at different times, it helps to make a conscious effort to bond with each other for the sake of your relationship and sex lives. Find some time each day to cuddle and connect in bed, with or without sex.
One way of keeping passion and sex alive is to consider making love in new places, like a night in a hotel, or for those who are adventurous, remembering the passion of your youth on the living room floor, or in front of the fireplace, or maybe even on a kitchen table. If a new environment is a turn-on for you be creative, and find new places to keep sex alive.
If you can only do one thing to make your bedroom an oasis for you and your partner KEEP STRESS OUT. If possible put computers and work papers someplace else, and above all save all stress-producing conversations (about money, children, sick parents, grandparents, illness, and whatever might raise your blood pressure) for outside the bedroom. Once you enter your special space try to protect yourself and your partner from all sex-chilling stress of any kind.
Between the Sheets: To Wed or Not to Wed?
There are more people talking about the value and sanctity of marriage than there are actually people standing before one another saying, “I do.” Recent studies that revealed that marriage rates were down in the United States — lower than they’ve ever been, in fact. This has rattled marriage protection groups and fueled the conversation over the definition of marriage and its role in modern society. From same-sex couples who want the protection of marriage to domestic partnerships for widows/widowers who refuse to remarry for economic reasons, marriage is a single-source-topic but nobody is on the same page.
What is most important in a marriage: legal protection, shared benefits, status/recognition or the commitment that comes with marriage? It’s a simple question, one that would suggest a simple answer, but marriage is structured to accommodate people of all kinds and with all reasons for why they want to get married. Some marry for money; others for love or for the love of something. Some marry hoping for everlasting love; others marry knowing it will never last. Whereas people once felt the need to get married in order to have children, many seem perfectly happy raising children as single parents.
Studies show that with or without a ring, healthy long-term relationships produce healthy long-living people. One does have to wonder why the issue of marriage takes on such significance. Perhaps the non-marriage is a backlash to all of the years of witnessing so many unhappily married couples, acceptance of affairs, political and Hollywood influence, etc. Possibly, it’s a good time to rethink if we’ve gone too far in the opposite direction.
The major difficulty with marriage is that it’s hard work. Nobody ever teaches the tools to make it work well. We still have an image that a good marriage should flow effortlessly, but that’s mere fantasy. One of the biggest challenges, especially in our workaholic Washington, D.C., is that our priorities are upside down. Most people give their all at the office and give leftovers at home. Just imagine if we flipped it. Picture it as a strong tree, if your roots are strong, your tree will stand strong. But if your tree is flipped, your branches won’t support you like the roots do!
Ultimately, the backbone of marriage is the bond between you and your partner. It is the love you have for one another and share with one another. There is no legal paper with a stamp on it, no word or term, no social stigma that can affect that bond, and that is something that is created between you and another person, from the efforts of each of you. You cannot allow yourself, your partner or your love to be affected by outside influences including religious debates and Hollywood flings.
The fundamental tools of marriage are communication and the knowledge that sex is more than penetration. Nurture your relationship by keeping your bedroom a romper room (no dirty laundry, medicine bottles, sports equipment), and remember that foreplay begins with “I love you” in the morning. But when it comes down to whether or not to say “I do,” just remember that actions speak louder than words, and a marriage is something you do, not something you say.
College Kids Don’t Know How to ‘Do It’
Dr. Dorree Lynn • May 3, 2012
First, Rush Limbaugh was shocked that Georgetown law students had sex (much less found time to). Then, just last week, I was giving a lecture to a class on sexuality at Lynchburg University and the students seemed surprised to learn that people are still having sex—often better sex—after 50. There are 6.8 billion people in the world and yet everyone seems taken aback that there are people engaging in sexual intercourse.
Face the facts: Most everyone interested in sex is having sex—from the children in high schools that we try to prevent from doing it, to college kids who think that just because they can do it and are doing it that they’re doing it right, to those of us in our prime who know what and how we like to do it.
COLLEGE KIDS NEED TO HAVE A MORE RESPECT FOR THE ACT OF SEX!
Supply & Demand
The younger generation today doesn’t know how to value sex. The boys will try to mount anything that moves (and some things that don’t) and the girls will lift their skirts at the first hot guy that gives them attention. Just because it’s right in front of you doesn’t mean you have to take it. There are thousands of potential mates in this city, many on your campus, so make the effort to not have “I wish I wouldn’t have slept with ________,” moments and more, “OMG, _______ rocked my world,” moments.
Quality over Quantity
Keeping with the “rocked my world” train of thought, many guys think the game is over when the girl (or guy) says “yes” to sex. Au contraire! It’s not enough to just have the opportunity to have sex, you need to make it meaningful sex. Sure, a quickie in the morning or a sneak-away study break after lunch is fine, but when one of you reaches a point where you’re just going through the motions and not giving it 100%, it’s time to switch it up a bit. If all you want is an orgasm, you can take care of that yourself. Sex is about the experience…the adventure, and the often forgotten reality of a relationship. Explore each others’ sexual interests and fantasies, divulge in opening up to new ideas, and keep unfulfilling sex out of the game!
Safety vs. SAFETY
Condoms, birth control, pregnancy, STDs, HIV, AIDS—they’re all common place words that, in the heat of the moment, rarely seem to make it through to the intelligent parts of the brain when hormone-driven sex is at hand. But these are real issues! And there really is no excuse not to use protection. Even the most extreme sexual encounters can be grounded in safety—it doesn’t matter if you’re having “before bedtime sex” in your apartment on a Thursday evening or if you’re three hours into an all night orgy, you’re good to go as long as you’ve established a safe word, everyone uses protection, and the harness is securely fastened to the ceiling with eye-bolts and anchors.
If you want to take it back old school and skip the necessary precautions, you do so at your own risk, but don’t put your partner at risk. Know your status and communicate with your sex partner. There are several places in DC that offer free and anonymous STD and HIV testing, so Google one that’s convenient for you.
The bottom line: I’ve been around long enough to know that, regardless of cultural or societal opinions of sex, people will continue to engage in sexual activities. However, there is never a reason to devalue sex. Sex is your birthright—a wonderful, powerful experience shared between two people—sometimes more—and if you’re going to have sex, please, have safe and fulfilling sex…the kind of sex that makes life worth living!
Between the sheets: The Secret World of STDs in Assisted Living Facilities
For what seems like forever, I’ve been working to raise awareness about the alarming increase in STDs in the over-50 population. The biggest semi-secret is the supposed safety of Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs). All too few are neither aware of, or want to openly acknowledge that our parents and grandparents are still having sex! It’s like when we were kids and we said “yuk” at the idea of our parents “doing it.” Even with Alzheimer’s and dementia, though recent factual memory fades and inhibitions wane, desire remains.
I recently met with an RN who works in an ALF in Florida who confirmed my fears. “People are shacking up all the time,” she said on condition of anonymity, “but nobody really talks about it. It’s often innocent…there are a lot of ‘lost husband/wife’ cases, people pretending to be married because they don’t know any better…They can’t help it. They forget who they are and where they’re supposed to be sometimes. It’s an issue that everyone has come to know, on some level or another, but nobody’s taking any action to discuss it, much less help prevent it.”
Education and acceptance are the keys to unlocking a safer future for our older population. Many people over the age of 50 have never been tested for STDs, much less feel the need to. The majority of safe-sex programs are for the younger generation and statistics show that they work. Our well-seasoned population didn’t grow up talking about STD’s, and they still don’t. They’re often unaware that they could get an STD and, more often than not, doctors don’t consider that these elders are having sex. As a result, they often misdiagnose STD infections.
To find out what is being done about it, I contacted the Executive Director of one of the most respected ALFs in the DC Metro area. In addition to providing leading health and residential support to their residents, she explained the main priority when addressing residents’ sexually active lifestyles is “to protect the residents that cannot make their own decisions.”
While facilities like this one maintain a high degree of resident care, the unfortunate reality is that many facilities don’t, or can’t because of budgetary and staffing circumstances. And though we can’t fight the staffing problem, we can increase the educational element.
Ideally, ALFs could incorporate safe-sex education programs into their activity schedules, similar to those taught in high schools. Also, a conversation about sexual activity and STDs should become a standard part of every ALF intake interview.
It would be easy to blame the health care industry, but the truth is that those actually doing the work are doing the best that they can with what they have, under the legal guidelines set for them. For now, the responsibility of protecting our grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters ultimately lies with us—as family members, as friends, as a community who cares—to talk to our loved ones and to have “the conversation” about STDs and safe sex.
In Between the sheets: A Turn-On for Old People
Phyllis Diller sure has an imagination, doesn’t she? “The best contraceptive for old people is nudity.” What was she talking about? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of visually unattractive people out there in the “over 50” population. But the last time I checked, there are also a lot of visually unattractive people out there in their 20s and 30s, too. And while I would never say it to a mother’s face, not all babies are adorable, either.
We don’t all look like weather vanes with everything pointing south, though sometimes it takes effort to defy normal wear and tear. Personally, I don’t love exercise, but I do yoga and Pilates three times a week and, even at 70, much younger gentleman quite often flirt with me. But even those who admit to outside help work hard at staying in shape. For example, there’s Cher with her slim and fabulous body and Dolly Parton with her breasts riding high as mountain tops and a waist so small you could pick her up by it. And don’t even pretend that Tina Turner didn’t age like a goddess, either!
Fortunately, for us fabulous older women of a certain age, the men out there aren’t all Robert Redford look-alikes. George Clooney is getting closer to my age every day. Richard Gere grew hotter and more handsome every year after “Pretty Woman,” and I don’t care who you are or what you think, but Sean Connery is still a smokin’ hot piece of man.
To a degree, Phyllis Diller is right. And for the sake of the joke, I’ll let it go. After all, it is pretty funny. But let’s be real for a minute: your body won’t ever look as good as it did 10 years ago. Not everyone can be lucky enough not to not bulge, sag or droop in places. And staying super thin doesn’t mean you don’t get knobby elbows and knees and lines that seem to etch overnight. It’s not our age that shows in our bodies. It’s how we treat our bodies that shows our age. Diet and exercise are keys to health and vitality. If you don’t eat right and exercise often, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a life of turning the lights off to undress.
The final decision-maker for whether or not you’re going to be attracted enough to someone in order to head for a home run is desire, which comes from the brain. The brain, of course, is your biggest sexual organ. It combines all of the sensory stimuli that you receive when you’re in a sexual situation and then decides whether it wants to be “turned on” or “turned off.”
So, effectively, it really doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or 120, fat like Albert or slim like Jim, Sloppy Sally or Fancy Nancy, black or white, vegetarian or meat Viking, you are perfect just the way you are. This very minute, there is someone out there looking for you! You can and deserve to get your groove on.
Give The Greatest Gift: You
Chrismahanukwanzakah is upon us once again, and regardless of your religious beliefs or cultural traditions, December can be a wonderfully romantic time of the year to rekindle the romance in your relationship.
I have written numerous articles about the health benefits of sex, including masturbation. Sex is our birthright. It flushes toxins from our bodies, pumps blood through our veins, releases positive endorphins in our brains that make us happy, and provides good exercise — especially for those over 50!
Here are a few ideas to consider when revving up your gift list this year.
Santa’s toy bag isn’t only for boys and girls, adults love to play with toys, too. My personal favorite line of vibrators is the designer brand, Lelo. Vibrators aren’t just fun to play with; they can also improve the health of your erotic zone by stimulating the muscles and tissues within the vagina. Respectably priced, packaged and designed, Lelo products are great gifts to give and to receive.
If you and your partner enjoy using sexual lubricants, I am a strong supporter of Sex Butter: an organic, plant-based lubricant that I believe may help improve your erogenous zone while giving you a healthy dose of the holiday spirit.
Made in the sacred mountains of New Mexico, Sex Butter has been featured in Hollywood gift bags and is a stocking stuffer for almost everyone on my Christmas list this year.
If time is on your side this holiday season, perhaps a short getaway is in order. There are several parts of the country that offer “off-season” prices during the winter. Do you know how many charming bed and breakfasts are out in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia? Gettysburg, Manassas, and Charlotte are all within a day’s drive and all feature fabulous accommodations and things to do and see!
Want a more elaborate adventure? Join my friends at the 30A Songwriters Festival based in Seaside, Fla. It’s a great way to enjoy a long weekend on the beach at heavily discounted prices.
After a walk on along the coast, cuddle up with your special someone in the Backyard of Love at the Hibiscus Guesthouse while relaxing to the melodies of some of the greatest singer songwriters in the country.
If money is tight, opt for the free gift of thoughtful love. Instead of giving things this year, give yourself. Give time to someone special. Give love to someone who wants it. Give yourself to someone you care about!
There’s nothing quite as romantic for me than warming up with my husband with a bottle of wine by the fireplace followed by some present unwrapping in the bedroom . . . if we get that far!
Most importantly, give thanks this holiday season. 2011 has been a challenging and educational year for all of us.
The earthquake and hurricane brought us together, the occupy protests and political scandals drove us apart.
But in the end, we made it through.
Between the Sheets: His Time Alone
Dr. Dorree Lynn • April 4, 2012
One of the questions most frequently asked by women is, “Why does my boyfriend/husband still masturbate when we have such a good sex life?” Most men, especially younger testosterone-ridden men, find adding masturbation to what may be an otherwise satisfying sex life to be perfectly normal. It’s relatively easy, involves little fuss or muss, and satisfies an immediate urge. It’s only an issue of concern if that’s all he does in the relationship and avoids connecting to you physically. But if the sex is still good, no harm no foul, right?
Masturbation is a natural way for men (and women) to learn about their bodies. Often, and to the shock of parents, male babies frequently find their penises infinitely fascinating. As boys mature and their hormones remain raunchy, whether or not they are in a relationship most men simply find masturbation fun. When you’re in a relationship, it can be easy for a woman to feel neglected or inadequate to learn that her male partner is flying solo behind her back. However, as long as you, as a couple, are on the same wavelength and can communicate your feelings, you are probably going to be okay. Many couples bring mutual masturbation into the bedroom as an extra way of having fun and being intimate. Try it!
Self-pleasure for both men and women is also a way of teaching one’s self about what you enjoy. The more a person understands what turns them on, the easier it is to show your partner that thrills and chills you or what smoothes and soothes you. Most people make love the way they want to be made love to. Unless their partner tells them or shows them what they prefer, it’s akin to two engines full of steam who may miss being on the same track.
Healthy masturbation—self-pleasure inclusive of a sexual relationship with your partner, not totally lacking mutual connection—can actually be beneficial. It causes your heart to race, increases the flow of blood throughout the body, releases endorphins in the brain, and flushes toxins from the body. Furthermore, some research has revealed that people who masturbate tend to have more and more satisfying sex!
Ladies, if you’re away for a while, do you really want your guy to be celibate, become a porn addict or seek release elsewhere? Relax, some single-handed sex is just fine, just ask him to wash his own shirts, towels, socks, etc., as you may not want to be his hand maiden in this area.
Remember when we used to joke about “blue balls”? Jokes aside, they do exist. The scrotum will actually turn a shade of blue when the blood flows into the penis and surrounding areas without the opportunity to flow out via orgasm. It leaves men with the need to “drain their veins,” and any guy will tell you that it can be a painful experience. So, guys learn an easy way to avoid pain. If it doesn’t prevent him from having sex with you, then is there really a problem?
For the most part, it’s safe to assume that most men masturbate (religious prohibition and sense of shame aside). What we, as women, need to come to terms with is that just because your man masturbates, if you are having great and frequent sex, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t interested in you or that you’re not interested in fulfilling your sexual desires. I’ve never heard a man say, “Sorry, sweetie, I’ve already had sex with myself four times today, I’m beat!”
But why does your man masturbate? He’s known his penis longer than you. It’s familiar, comfortable, stress relieving, and it just plain feels good.
Dr. Dorree Lynn, PhD, is a psychologist and life coach in Georgetown and author of ‘Sex for Grownups.’ DrDorreeLynn.com
Herman Cain’s Arrested Development
Dr. Dorree Lynn • November 21, 2011
I’m a 70-year-old white feminist liberal who would never vote for Herman Cain but I cannot silently watch him fall victim to the arrested development of the American public via the defamation of his character by the American news media.
Let’s get a few things straight: I do not endorse Herman Cain. I will not vote for Herman Cain. The thought that Americans would elect Herman Cain as the next U.S. President makes me glad to be 70 and not 17. And my opinion is strictly based on his policies and has nothing to do with the scandal he’s immersed in at the moment.
I am a product of the 60’s, just like a lot of hardcore GOP voters out there. The exception is that I remember what it was like back then. Herman Cain is being attacked for sexual harassment and lying to the public about it, and the media is portraying this as if it is something that Americans should be shocked about. But the only surprise I have towards the scandal is the notion that people over the age of 50—MY GENERATION—should be or would be shocked by the whole ordeal.
Really? Has the Internet made us so accustomed to instant information that we can no longer remember what happened just a few short years ago? At the same time Cain was trying to eat at the chef’s table Clinton was hiding cigars with Monica Lewinsky. While investigating Clinton’s affair, lead Republican of the investigation, Newt Gingrich, was himself having an affair with a staffer over 20 years younger than he was.
I’m not condoning Mr. Cain’s acts. But I’m not shocked by them either. In fact, I’m not even that shocked that most of America is making such a big fuss about it, because the truth is that America could care less! The news and media are the ones responsible for the scandal part of the scandal. Granted, Cain has yet to own up to it—he’s barely acknowledging it. But this is a perfect example of a tool that the politicians have been using for years: PERCEPTION IS REALITY.
When 40 different newscasters and commentators repeat the same information over and over throughout the day, throughout the week, using the same words, that information become implanted in our minds whether we realize it or not. It’s called “perception setting.” Have you ever noticed how certain phrases seem to pop up in every news report when a story drops? These information gateways are experts at crafting, delivering, and reiterating a message and making sure that you get that message and log it in your mind to serve as reference for when you have to develop an opinion or an attitude about the subject at a later date.
So I don’t think Herman Cain is being rightly treated in this matter. We live in a country where men of power use sex and, sometimes, women use sex for power. This behavior is older than mythology itself! In other countries, France for example, this kind of behavior wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. But in America’s prudent and prurient society we have to once again use this as an opportunity to hold Mr. Cain, a presidential nominee, to a standard that we like to pretend we ourselves live by. Will we ever grow up and start to be honest?
Dr. Dorree Lynn, PhD, is a practicing psychologist and life coach with more than 40 years of experience. She is the founder of the website FiftyAndFurthermore.com, and is AARP’s Media “Sexpert” wit her own segment, “On the Couch” on AARP TV. Dr. Dorree’s latest book is Sex for Grownups: Dr. Dorree Reveals the Truths, Lies, and Must-Tries for Great Sex After 50. Facebook.com/DrDorreeLynn. Twitter.com/DrDorree
Between the Sheets
Dr. Dorree Lynn • November 3, 2011
My boyfriend is really sweet and sex has been pretty good, but I don’t like the way he kisses. Is there anything I can do?
— Cora, 62
You know how “they” keep telling you not to try to change someone, to just love them as they are? Well, that’s mostly true, but who says you can’t teach an old kisser some new tricks? In many ways, we do teach partners (and they teach us) to make love in a new way that is a melding of the two.
How about telling your boyfriend that you love having sex with him and you’d like to make it even better by trying new ways to kiss? Maybe make it a game and try a new kind of kissing each day. Or ask him to experiment with changing one particular thing, such as holding his breath or keeping his lips too rigid. The key here is relaxed experimentation and feedback. Talk about what you each like. For example, do you know if your boyfriend likes the way you kiss?
After touching, kissing is high on the list of what makes sex mysteriously work. Whether it’s your first kiss ever or your last kiss with your current love, kissing can be magical. Or it can become boring and routine. There are a million good ways to kiss. With the passing years, why stay with the same old, same old? Maybe you’ve always preferred a peck on the cheek, or perhaps deep, tongue “French” kissing got lost along the way while you were raising children or chasing a career. Many times, especially in long-term relationships, people can forget how much they used to like kissing and may become complacent lovers. There may be other reasons as well. For some people, kissing may be more intimate than intercourse and they are holding themselves back from feeling too vulnerable.
It’s never too late to change how you kiss. Play with kissing to see what works for you. Pecks, deep soul-kissing, the quickie, butterfly kiss — what do you like? If you always kiss in just one or two ways, try something new and see what happens!
Dr. Dorree Lynn is a Georgetown-based psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships fulfilling sex lives. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, CNN, PBS and other major programming. She is the author of “Sex for Grownups,” available from Amazon.
In Between the Sheets: Dating is Like Job Hunting
Dr. Dorree Lynn • September 13, 2011
Living in D.C. is a lot like living under a rock and living in the public eye, all at once. It is eight square miles surrounded by reality and brimming with some of the most talented people in the world. And while many of the people in D.C. are definitely boyfriend/girlfriend material, finding the one that’s right for you is possible but not necessarily easy.
The catch is that most of the people in this city are so focused, so business-minded, and so dedicated to their jobs that they rarely have opportunities to get out and socialize. Not to mention the fact that, because of the nature of some of the occupations in this city, some people can’t/don’t drink in order to not get sloshed and spill national security secrets. In some cases just being seen out in social bar-type environments can be detrimental to one’s public image (we won’t even discuss the risk of being caught tweeting pictures or cruising Craigslist!).
Now, not everyone in D.C. has a public image. I’d imagine that half of the staffers and interns on the hill can be found on U St. or H St. or prancing around Dupont Circle in the late hours, and you’d never know who they were or what they did. But generally speaking, at least 80 percent of the people in this city are quality people, even though they may be hard to find at times.
Like a strong company looking to hire the perfect employee, there is someone out there looking for someone like you. The downside is the same for both dating and job hunting: competition is fierce and you may have to go through a lot of interviews before you land that dream job…I mean boyfriend/girlfriend.
The keys to finding the perfect partner are the same you would use to find the perfect job: dress for success, get your name out there, and call in favors from friends. Also, do what you love to do and you’ll meet people with similar interests. If you like to bike then join a bike group, if you enjoy museums then visit museums, etc.
Start by meeting new people, even if just for fun. There are TONS of online resources for groups to join and things to do in this fabulous city. Ask your friends and coworkers for suggestions on social events, happy hours, and networking opportunities. And don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone at the grocery store or on the Metro. Your two-second interaction could lead to dinner and a bottle of wine!
Dr. Dorree Lynn is a psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships & fulfilling sex lives. Dr. Lynn is a contributing author for The Georgetowner, AARP’s “Sexpert” and has appeared on “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, CNN, PBS, & other national programming. Her book, “Sex for Grownups” is available on Amazon. Follow Dr. Dorree Lynn online: www.DrDorreeLynn.com or www.Facebook.com/DrDorreeLynn.