Host: Anti-Aging Psychologist Dr. Michael Brickey
Guest: Dr. George Zilbergeld
Broadcast and podcast on webtalkradio.net. The podcast is also on the links below
Wine and cheese can get better with age, but sex? The principal author of Sex & Love at Midlife: It’s Better Than Ever drew upon decades of clinical experience as a sex therapist and on interviews with 145 men and women ages 45 to 87. For some, sex gradually worsened with age, but for many, sex got better than ever. Sexologist Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld died before his book came to press this year. With us to share the fruits of his work is his brother and coauthor, Dr. George Zilbergeld.
Sex and Love at Midlife uniquely profiles lovers’ traits, thinking, and lifestyles so we can emulate them. It gives a hopeful message that many couples, including older couples and couples with previous failed marriages, can become lovers. It also give a hopeful message that sex can get better with age—even when there are serious physical disabilities.
I hope, however, that people don’t think that they are less than successful or worthy if they aren’t lovers, or for that matter choose to try to be lovers. We have many choices in life and when we spend time in one pursuit there is less time for other pursuits. Thus, some professors find their research the most fascinating, rewarding part of their lives and choose to focus their time on their research. The result may be we get a cure for cancer sooner rather than later. Many entrepreneurs view their business as their babies. Athletes and performance artists may choose to focus on their sport while they are in their athletic prime. Some people are very good at socializing and become the grease that makes organizations or groups work. They may find their love of people in groups more rewarding than a one-to-one romantic relationship. A lot of politicians probably fit this pattern. Some people have been burned by abuse or failed relationships and are not willing to take the emotional risk. Some people have poor social skills and intuitively know it would be extremely difficult for them to have the emotional intimacy of Zilbergeld’s lovers. Examples include people with autism, schizoid personalities, and schizophrenia. Some people have such strong need to be in control that keeping a certain distance is more appealing than risking intimacy. Thus being a lover is a great goal but not something everyone must or should pursue.
That said, the only way I would disagree with George Zilbergeld, is that in the interview he tended to take an almost nagging parent approach of why aren’t you doing this. Since Bernie was a therapist, I suspect that while he hopes more people will become lovers, he understands and respects people who choose or invest their time in other ways or for emotional reasons choose not to pursue a lover lifestyle.