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What’s Changed?

How We Love Now and Suzanne Braun LevineA Conversation with
Suzanne Braun Levine

Q. What do you think are the major changes or shifts that occur for women in second adulthood when it comes to relationships?

A. By the time women reach second adulthood, they have accumulated confidence and they are beginning to know what they want in a relationship. We are less needy, we’re about finding, not losing, ourselves in a relationship. Women say they feel more empowered to set the terms in a new relationship or to renegotiate a long-term marriage. Our requirements have shifted. The thoughtful man with a Ph.D. In life experience becomes more appealing as we age – not like old days when the “bad boy” was the sexy choice. By the time we’re fifty we know what love is and what it isn’t.

Q. How would you describe the “new” intimacy after fifty?

A. For many of the women I have talked to, it starts with acceptance. We are more accepting of ourselves and others. We see life and love as the glass half-full, and that opens up many new possibilities and choices. Whether we’ve always been single, divorced, widowed or married we are letting go of old baggage, resentments and unrealistic expectations. For many of us, we now have a second (or third) chance to start over – to get it right. Many women at this age are ready to venture outside their comfort zone with a younger man or to discover the joys of same sex intimacy. The bottom line is that we are not too old to love and enjoy intimacy in countless ways – being in love knows no age limits.

Q. What intimate connections are important to women over fifty?

A. Every woman I spoke with, said, “my women friends are more important than ever.” The nurturance, support and laughter we get from our “Circle of Trust” is key after fifty. For the first generation of women to succeed and even love their work, we also count on our former colleagues. The ones who were part of our “Thank God It’s Monday Club” in our 20s and 30s become our posse for regular get togethers as we age. One of the most popular sites on the Internet is It’s not surprising women our age celebrate each new grandchild with multiple emails and many, many photos on Facebook. Being a grandmother is a huge source of “eyes light up experiences” for women who no longer have to feel torn between work and childrearing.

Women are avid volunteers, both to contribute to society and for the camaraderie that accompanies caring networks. Many of us want to give back by doing work that fulfills our passion and provides a paycheck. This shift to encore careers is creating new intergenerational communities and cross-cultural connections. We are also our family’s primary caregivers – a stressful and often exhausting intimate relationship. My goal is to encourage women to be care-getters too – to do unto themselves that which are doing for others.

Q. In How We Love Now, you say the Internet has changed everything. How is it changing intimacy for older women?

A. Instead of our intimate connections shrinking as we age, we are a click away from expanding existing relationships and opening new channels of intimacy about health, sexuality, family problems and secrets with people we’ve never met. The Internet has made more matches than all the Dolly Levis put together and that includes older women. I’ve heard many stories of the long-lost love showing up within hours of a woman establishing a Facebook page and stories of less common experiences. One woman told me that after 21 years of marriage and three children, she flirted with the idea of open marriage on the Internet and then “floated the idea out to her husband.” He read about it on line and signed on. The Internet facilitates and expands a wide range of desires and for better or worse love, sex and intimacy have changed forever – for everyone.

Q. What prompted you to write the new introduction, “Love, Sex and Unicorns,” for this edition?

A. As I traveled and talked to women about How We Love Now, I found that women were embarrassed to talk about sex in public at events. But when I asked: “Who is reading 50 Shades of Grey?” hands went up around the room. To explore this seeming contradiction further, I blogged about it. To my surprise and delight, I found that women and men on line were extremely eager to provide answers, suggestions about sex after fifty and the changes that happen to our “equipment” as we age. So being anonymous accounts for part of the disconnect. One other explanation is the reality that women have only gotten halfway to believing they are entitled to an erotic life after menopause – we go for it, but we don’t talk about it – in public. After all, most of us – like Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated – still undress in the dark.

Q. What do you hope women will learn from this book about love and intimacy?

A. The book is about what is going on with women now who are experiencing love and intimacy in new ways – it will be different for each woman and it change as we travel through this stage. I urge women to take inventory of the many intimate connections that already exist in their lives and to learn from the experiences of other women who are their co-travelers in second adulthood. Reinvention after fifty is not always easy and we are the first generation who has this extra 25 or more years to recharge and reinvent our live. We are each other’s ‘horizontal role models’ on this exhilarating and challenging journey , and we are defining a new life experience for women as we go.

HOW WE LOVE NOW – Women Talk About Intimacy After Fifty
by Suzanne Braun Levine, author of Inventing the Rest of Our Lives
*With a New Introduction – Love, Sex and Unicorns
How We Love Now Book Cover

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