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Dating at Midlife/Sexual activity with partner


I am a fit, active 66 year old, have been divorced/separated for 5 years. For the last 5 or so years of our marriage no sex took place between us. Recently whilst dating a lady with whom sex was much enjoyed by both of us, on this occasion when I suggested some sexual activity, for various reasons she did not wish to participate. I would like to know why I then reacted by being grumpy and upset, displaying very little dignity and a lack of respect for her. I liken it to chucking my toys out of my pram!! It seems to me to be out of character and welcome your advice as I never want to repeat my behaviour if the situation occurs again.

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for this very interesting and timely question. I'm in the middle of a research project and we've been interviewing couples where at least one person is over 60. As part of that process I've been reviewing the literature on how people and especially what starts to happen between 50 and 70.  

What's happened to you  is not unusual and it is a sign of the emergence of the next stage of  your emotional maturity.

Before I answer your specific question, let me give you some context for my own thinking.

The emotional maturity I speak of is demonstrated in several aspects.  First, the fact that you are much more willing to ask for what you want.  Second, and very important, the fact that when you had this surprising emotional reaction, you questioned it and want to investigate it.  You did not justify it and/or ignore it.  You took it as a sign that there were aspects of your personality worthy of being explored. At the same time you do have values and standards and you hold to them despite emotional pulls away from those standards.  It's a sign of maturity to be able to contain that kind of complexity.

Every emotional breakthrough begins with a step into greater complexity.

I know you are concerned about what you did. That speaks well for you. Let us also acknowledge that you have made a powerful step in the right direction by acknowledging and also questioning.

"What was that about?" you ask. Excellent question.

I suggest you already have several ideas that are answers to that question. I'd  start by having you start a private journal in which you expand on those intuitions.   

In my experience with people in late midlife,there is rarely one simple reason for anything.  So don't reduce your intelligence to a phrase.

You might want to look at my article on my website "How to read someones motivations like a  pro"    and apply those principles to yourself.  Usually anger is an expression of power which has been frustrated.  It's a protest. It's as if you are saying (or your soul is saying)  "Dammit, I want this and dammit there is nothing wrong with me wanting it, and I really really don't like it when I don't get what I want. "

So my first guess is that your feelings about what you wanted were much stronger than you'd realized or than you were willing to admit.

There might also be some history of desires thwarted by people in authority, and a feeling of helpless in the fact of those external authorities.  If you have memories, you can read those memories as metaphors. It's an interesting process.

I have worked with folks from the U.K. I do it on skype. Let me know if you are interested.  Also please feel free to follow up.

Philip Alan Belove, Ed.D.  

Dating at Midlife

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Philip Belove, Ed.D.


Hi. I`m Philip Belove (that is my name, really). I`m 71 and I`ve been a psychologist all my midlife, the past 35 years. My specialty has been counseling and coaching other midlife adults.  I think we all figure things out as we go along, but even more so at midlife. Being between 40-ish and 60-ish and single is like being a stranger in a strange land. I`ve learned which questions help people find their own way. I created this category, I publish a blog at and I write articles for various web sites. My commitment is to help people 1) understand and improve how they deal with others, 2) understand the forces that rule the relationships they are in, and 3) make the decisions which will shape, or create, or end those relationships  so they achieve the goal of midlife development  to finally live with personal satisfaction. I`ve been divorced twice myself. I`m in a satisfying relationship with a fine person. I`m very interested in learning about your challenges and in offering what I can.


Professionally: Licensed Psychologist. Marriage and Family Therapist. Coach.Author. University Lecturer. Personally: I'm 71. I've probably made all the big mistakes, er, learned the big lessons.I've forgiven myself and made many apologies and I've made it into a good, stable, sweet relationship. I now have a perspective on midlife.

Please check out my book, Rabbis in Love, at Also my blog at The Rabbi book was done as part of a research project. My collaborator, Marilyn Bronstein, and I wanted to interview couples with very successful marriage and also we wanted to talk to people who cared as much about their spirituality as love. Maybe being able to love and be spiritual were one and same, we thought. So we found a rabbi couple and the interview was so astounding that we interviewed nine more rabbi couples. One dropped. They'd revealed too much. It's a fascinating book and, Jewish or not, religious or not, these couples do a lot of things right and there is a lot to learn from them.

Masters in Counseling Psychology, Alfred Adler Institute Doctorate in Consulting Psychology, focus on family therapy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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