Our Expert: Susanne Braun Levine has written extensively about midlife. Her latest book, How We Love Now, explores love in all parts of our lives. Here, her most intriguing findings about love and sex over 50 for men.
Performance Isn't the Whole Package. "Men have less testosterone and women have less estrogen. That should make us hormonally compatible, but some men are so freaked out by idea of erectile dysfunction that they hold back on being sexually experimental or even emotionally available. If you talk to women, performance isn't the whole package. A man who wants to know how he can please a women is very appealing. A man who can cope with setbacks or failures is appealing."
Yes, There Is Happiness After 50: "The conventional wisdom is that older women and men, especially without partners, have an appalling rate of suicide and depression. That's simply not true. Longevity research at Stanford University finds that both men and women, single and partnered, in their fifties and sixties are happier than people in thirties and forties. This is due to the acceptance factor. Your brain shifts attention from bad things, doesn't register annoyances the same way anymore. It's not worth it. There's a neurochemical backdrop to that. Men are afraid of what comes after their so-called best years. The notion that there are many men out there, happy and content, is important to understand."
Head Over Heels For Grandkids: "Many men of our generation feel terrible about missing out on participatory fatherhood. They meant to, but they somehow didn't do it. They felt they had to be providers, and so they missed out. Suddenly, they pick up a grandchild and start to play hide and seek. A well of pleasure and spiritual growth is opened up. It's a wonderful experience."
Independence Is a Virtue: "In a long-term relationship, by the time you get to retirement years, the women don't want to be in lock step. Somebody once said the worst four words in the language are 'I'll go with you.' Men have to be prepared for that. They have to find their own place in the world post work."
Finally Appreciating the Value of Friends: "Building a circle of trust, an inner circle of friends is so important, yet so hard to do late in life. I met a Wall Street lawyer, who starting talking with his old classmates at a law school reunion. They talked about their lives, and once they'd opened up they wanted more because they saw they had so much in common. They hired a facilitator and set up monthly meetings. They've been doing that for five years. It's a consciousness raising group, absolutely. Nurture the friends you have and seek out new ones. Ask your golfing buddy what his marriage like these days. Ask him if he's afraid of getting old."
Read more of Suzanne Braun Levine's reporting and writing about midlife.