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« If You’re Happy And You Know It… | Main | 5 Physical Deal Breakers For Women »

Good Friends

I was walking through Whole Foods the other day noting how much the aisles look like a movie set where the products all have unrecognizable brands so as to avoid a lawsuit or give anyone any free publicity. And, I came across a rather creepy looking photo on a cereal box.

The cereal is called Good Friends. The photo is of a hispanic man and white woman in their sixties, smiling very uncomfortably while holding a giant bowl of high-fiber cereal that appears as large as their heads. Whether they are uncomfortable from consuming 50% of their daily fiber, from marketing a product targeted to seniors, or due to some unspoken interracial tension, I will never know. But it got me thinking about what else is wrong with this picture.

How often do you see a handsome older man with a woman of his age group? Never in Los Angeles, I tell you. On the rare occasion you do, the man is not smiling. He is not canoodling. He is not playing footsie. He is sitting across from his septuagenarian counterpart eating in silence and gawking at whatever hot, young woman crosses his line of vision. Not unlike one of the opening scenes in Crazy Stupid Love when Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore, as Cal and Emily, are having dinner.

Older married couples are often completely disinterested in one another, and yet, they are together. Sure there is some residual love component, but after years together, they have nothing in common. The children are grown and out of the house and are no longer the topic of conversation. The passion is gone. The mutual interests have waned. Those little quirks one used to find adorable in the other are now irritating. In the best circumstances, the man and woman are good friends. In the worst, they are detached, disinterested and might as well be alone. Is it complacency, money concerns, or a fear of dying alone that keeps these unhappy couples together? 

For older women, financial dependency is often a factor. The longer a woman is out of the work force, the more difficult it is for here to jump back in. And, if she spent 30 plus years raising a family and being a wife, what exactly are her qualifications? Does she know how to Tweet? Is she well-versed at web design and familiar with HTML coding? Does she even know how to use her phone for anything other than texting and calling? Odds are, her skills are horrendously out of date and need a facelift—her face might need one as well. She cannot compete in the work (or play) force; she is obsolete.

Growing old sucks for women. I recently overheard two 60+ women talking about going on match.com now that they were recently single. Their husbands had left them for younger women. Alone together, they strategized: maybe a little nip/tuck, a revamping of their wardrobes, and hiring a professional photographer. That ought to do it! Good luck! If an intelligent, sexy woman in her late thirties with a rocking body can't find a man, these women don't stand a chance. Perhaps that's why the awkward look of the woman on the cereal box. The best shot she has with her Ricardo Montalban faux husband is to be "good friends".  

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Reader Comments (27)

And yet, knowing what you know about the certain futility of marriage futures I find it fascinating that you still desire to be married. In your own words, "Older married couples are often completely disinterested in one another, and yet, they are together." Why do you suppose that happens? What is the adage? "Familiarity breeds contempt"? Perhaps the adage reveals a time tested wisdom, and perhaps, it's true. Marriage was a useful concept back when couples merged to begin a family...you know, husband, wife, children. This concept was useful for survival! A plot of land, the American dream, self-sufficiency, and an inbred workforce. The nuclear family was just that: Daddy was the proton, Mommy the neutron; they formed the nucleus. The many children made up the whirling electrons whose identities revolved around Mommy and Daddy. The size of the family atom defined its mass; the larger the family atom, the greater the gravitation pull in society. He who had the most children had the most influence in the community.

Times have changed. Families have gotten smaller. Since we as a society produce NOTHING anymore, there is no need for many children. In fact, families now that over-breed are considered ridiculous. The mass of the nuclear family has shrunk leaving behind only the nucleus. Daddy proton (with a positive charge) and Mommy neutron (with a neutral charge). If they ever had any electrons soon enough they will have abandoned the nucleus leaving Mommy and Daddy alone with each other. No mass, no gravity... no pull in society or on each other. This phenomenon is systemic and we are watching the physical world of marriage and families...and, by proxy, society, itself, collapse all around us.

Yet, for some illogical reason there are those, including you, who believe that for them it will be different. It must be different or what is the point of it all?

Today, our society has now proven the theory of alternate universes. We interact with worlds outside of our worlds by the stroke of a key or a push of a button. At the speed of light we collide with each other. Anyone who knows physics will tell you that as neutrons collide with other atoms, they sometimes split the atoms apart releasing lots of excitement...yet the atoms, themselves, are no more but remnants of what once was...often toxic.

Forgive me for using atoms as an analogy for relationships, but the truth is, each of us is a universe of atoms and what applies to physics applies to each of us as whole...in our bodies, in our minds, and in our hearts. The only way to keep an atom whole is to shield it from wandering neutrons. This may be impossible in today's new technological world. Marriages might stand to remain strong only as long as the children remain the focus. Once the children leave, the "friendship" is what is needed to stay together. If the marriage was based on anything but the friendship (i.e. good looks, great sex, money, influence, status), the marriage is doomed.

And herein lies the rub: Friendship. How is it friendships are stronger than marriages? How is it we remain friends with relative strangers for a lifetime but those whom we've shared a lifetime with in marriage are so easily discarded when the "excitement" wanes? You know what I mean - we all have "best friends" who've been around since childhood or those we meet with once a week to play golf or have coffee with. Yes, THESE are our best friends, the BFFs; but the persons who live with us day in and day out; who struggle with us year after year as we seek a better life, whose bed we share and whose bodies have not even a square inch left unexplored...these people are the first ones we discard in that lovely phenomenon we call divorce. And most often a bitter divorce, mind you. Why? Familiarity breeds contempt. We get sick of each other! We forget why we "fell in love" to begin with and since we "failed" each other's dream, we must retaliate with vengeance! Ludicrous!

As we get older our looks fade, our bodies change, our thoughts get heavy with worry. We age. We feel the undertow beneath our feet pulling us back towards the source from which we came. We are pushed aside to make room for the new wave heading towards the beach. We become yesterday's news. We try to remain relevant, but society is always coming up with a new and more interesting flavor of the day. Unless, we somehow managed to become a classic, a staple, then we are relegated to our own mundane existences. Some try desperately to live vicariously through the lives of others. Some try to attach themselves to the new wave in order to always find a spot on the beach.

The man who looks past his wife to eyeball the young hottie is merely reminiscing; remembering when. He's quite aware that his day in the sun is coming to an end and soon all that is left are the shadows of brighter days. How he'd love a vacation from the daily routine. So he fantasizes. What he's forgotten; what is sad, is that the light of his life is right there before him: His beautiful wife who has been there for him all these years. He takes for granted that she has been there above the clouds and will continue to find ways to shine her love upon his face and warm his heart as long as he dares to look into the eye of her sun. Despite what mamma says, that's where the fun is.

In your own words above, "The best shot (we have) ... is to be "good friends". If for nothing else, love will keep us together. I say, that ain't a bad thing. It's a beautiful thing. It's the only thing we take with us...our love and our friendships. If you find a great friend...I mean, a really great friend - marry him.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKP

"The longer a woman is out of the work force, the more difficult it is for here to jump back in."

Actually, this is true for men and women. It's just that in the circles that Lennie travels, it would be very unusual for a man to be out of the work force for 30 years. The more fundamental issue is, "Have you been using your brain for the last 30 years?" If not, you are road kill. If you have, and you have time and money to rehabilitate your skills, you should be able to learn a marketable skill.

In the last 15 years, women have been outperforming men educationally. Among blacks, for example, there are significantly more women who graduate from college than men. This is also true of whites but the gap is not as large, but it is noticeable. There is now a substantial underclass of men who will be working, but at manual jobs that no longer pay a decent salary the way they used to.

Anyone who is reasonably intelligent, who has intellectual curiosity, and has a practical outlook can make a decent living.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Mitchell

A decent living? Depends what you call decent. Further decent is different from having a career, as surviving and thriving are different. I would love to hear from a woman who has been out of the work force for 30 years or even 15 years how easy or not it is to reinvent oneself.

September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterLennie Ross

Excellent post. Women who buy into "You're Nobody Unless You're Mrs. Somebody", and then once you're "Mrs. Somebody", you're set for life are fools.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara A

I think they actually look quite content: probably because the pinky dog and the double stuffed Oreos they've ingested the prior evening have "left the building". But really- All men need to take into consideration what happiness truly is, but unfortunately, many are not willing to look that deep to find what makes them tick outside of the primal urges that often consume them. There are many beautiful "older"(whatever your idea of that is) women out there that offer much more to give than younger,less worldly ladies out there. I Know this to be a fact. Look Deep Gents.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

The best relationship is the one I am currently in. It's been going for three years. I am 52 and she was 18 when I started dating her.(I think she was 25 when I met her, she acts very mature.) She is now 21. I joke she is becoming too old for me.

She is very unusual. A woman in some ways and a total girl in others. Totally romantic, she is not jaded and cynical the way so many people are. She has more spunk and better social skills than most 40 year old. And several times a week, she almost f**** me to death, I literally think, "I am going to die, well we all have to go sometime." So far she has not f****** me to death. Thank God for Viagra.

5'10", long hair down to her ass, 38DD-24-36, long legs, probably the most attractive girl in the world. Uber feminine. When we are walking down the street, guys will stop their car, run up, claim they are major league photographers and give her their card. She gives me the card, I say, "Sure, I'll bet he really is a major league photographer." And then I go to this website and I see he has shot covers of Vogue, Playboy, and Esquire.

She wants to get married, I said that at 21 she is too young to decide that. So we have agreed that if at 25, she still wants to marry me, we will get married.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAn Older Guy

Lennie, I love your insightful, sarcastic, (but not cynical), laugh-out-loud observations regarding
LA's dysfunctional dating scene.

The dynamic between men and women is... WILDLY broken.

To me, LA's dating scene can only be described as a Frat Party meets Lord Of The Flies meets Peter Pan
Directed by David Lynch.

When I lived in LA I was amazed at the number of women I met who were involved in
romantic relationships with other women because that was the only way they could enjoy a caring,
compassionate connection.

I agree, the senior couple on the cover of KASHI's GOOD FRIENDS cereal box raises more
comically uncomfortable questions than it answers.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBradford Richardson

Well stated, Lennie! And for all the reasons above and then some, in my next life, I'm coming back as a Lesbian bird!

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Whitlock

@ Older Guy: Case & point.

September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterLennie Ross

Thanks Bradford. Love all your contributions!

September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterLennie Ross

@ Lisa Whitlock... Ha! Me too!!! Xo

September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterLennie Ross

Well, if negativity were a draw...this post will certainly qualify. Sorry Lennie, but this post put ALL women in a dark, desperate, dooming spot. And this simply is NOT our reality. This short-sighted view of women, especially older women is simply not true.

First of all, I'd like to introduce you to 20+ couples that have been married more than 30 years and STILL adore each other, they have a love that most have never experienced. They vitality and energy they have for one another is to be revered.

Second, why won't women stop looking for men and allow men to look for them. Don't sell men cheap no matter how badly you feel about them. Listen. All men are NOT dogs and good men are NOT extinct. They just aren't where you're looking. Stop looking and allow him to look at you!

You be a woman first and foremost. Stop carrying the burden of loneliness. Fall in love with you! Fall in love with life and moreso, humanity. When that shines through (genuinely) its greatest effects will cause others to be drawn into you. It's intensity and the magnitude of that love will have more men at your feet than you can ever imagine. Then you will have a 'post' that readers will wait in great anticipation to read, share, and repost :)

Simply put...fall in love with loving.

The Counselor

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlwaysthecounselor

An Older Guy -- I am totally envious! Does she have a sister?

When you go out socially, what has been people's reactions?

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTotally Envious

Always The Counselor:

Well, if you look at this blog compared to some of my previous, you will see that this one has generated quite a number of comments and quite a lot of discussion. I was not being "negative", I was making observations, provoking thought and encouraging others to share their comments...

I'm very much in love with loving. Always have been, always will. And I'm very much in love with me, loved by another, and I also love another. So, I'm not in need of therapy at the moment, but thanks for your concern. You need to look beyond the words on the page. Isn't that what therapists do? Read between the lines?

September 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterLennie Ross

Lennie, First off. Read and loved your novel. Second, does that therapist person have her knickers in a knot! My mother was one of those women who was left high and dry in a marriage. She tried to reinvent herself and was met with nothing but resistance at age 63. Fortunately, she has family (me and her sister) to help support her. I agree with you, that women don't have as many options as they get older. Maybe, the same is said for men, but I still believe it's harder for a woman.

Also, when a woman is not working, she has no income, and therefore, no credit. without two years of income on the books, she cannot buy a home, because she can't qualify for a mortgage and if all she can get is a $60,000 a year job (survival not thriving... agree with lennie...disagree with James Mitchell), she will never be able to buy a home. Even if she has cash in the bank. They want to see income. Especially these days.

Ms. Therapist blogger (nice plugging your blog on lennie's...maybe if you had good advice and a sense of humor like lennie, people'd read your blog) you should read Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach (yes, a man... deal with it!) who talks about how women get the short end of the stick often financially in relationships, and women live longer, make less money, and spend more money. He urges women to protect themselves and their income in relationships so that they don't end up living in the streets late in life.

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah K—New Jersey

Totally Envious, yes she has a sister who is 3 years older. But the older sister is a 6 rather than a 10 and more important is half as mature as my girl is. The older sister acts like a 20 year old (she is 24) while my girl can, if she wants to, act like a mature 27 year old, even though she is only 21.

She also has a younger sister, who is now 15 and looks just like her. It's hard not to notice the 15 year old and I wonder if I can go to jail just for looking at her. But I doubt the younger sister will have her drive, her energy, her poise, her maturity.

Lightning only struck once in that family.

How did my girl become as romantic as she is with incredible social skills. By watch old movies. She fell in love with the romance and she decided that is what she wanted in life.

As for people's reactions. Pretty much every straight guy is totally envious. One guy offered me $50,000 for "first crack" at her if we ever break up. My social standing has soared.

As for women, it depends. The older the women, the less they will approve of the relationship. I get the "How does it feel to be dating someone your granddaughter's age?" a lot. Answer: It's great.

At parties, many girls, girls that are in most cases straight, will hit on her. She is between bicurious and bisexual, so if I want, I could have menage a trois three times a week. Normally we just do it once or twice a week. She will make out with other girls at parties, but anything more than that, she wants the privacy of our bedroom.

She likes to wear very skimpy clothing. "Less is more" as she likes to say. We have learned that for more staid parties, this is not always a good idea, assuming she does not want many of the women plotting to kill her on the spot.

Business lunches and dinners are almost always with men, and so if I bring her along, the exceptionally skimpy outfits are usually OK.

The relationship works. She is incredibly happy (I put her on a pedastal and treat her like a princess) and I am incredibly happy. Many times when I wake up with her lying next to me, I think, "I have died and gone to heaven."

Guys, there are girls out there like this. Not many, but they exist. She was living on a farm in Minnesota, totally bored. She had and has big dreams. I met her by phone by accident and after several phone calls (and photos), I invited her to come visit me. On our second day together, we both told each other that we wanted it to be a permanent relationship.

You will not find girls like this in LA or NYC, or if you do, they will know their market worth. You have to find them in distant places. There is some girl in some village somewhere in Peru who is one of the most beautiful girls in the world. She is bored out of her mind, all of the guys she knows dropped out of third grade and drive pickup trucks carring around cow dung, and through the Internet and satellite TV she knows about the U.S. and LA. You have to find a way to meet them and then invite them to come meet you. When they arrive, treat them well and you will have an amazing girlfriend.

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAn Older Guy

I scrolled briefly thru some of the opinions of other readers.. i am 58 been single most of my life married young then never again.. a few long drawn out relationships that didn't work.. i did have a daughter and i raised her alone.
i kinda figured that dating for me was done.. too much hassle.. so i kept busy with my daughter, friends, and 3 jobs.
Out of the blue came a sweetheart of a guy.. was my friend for 5 yrs. so i know what he was like. he was out of his relationship of 3 years. so we hung out... bowled , hiked, and biked.. he is just 3 years younger.. so it seems to work..
i'm just saying... don't give up,if you are in a long relationship. it is not impossible to bring back the flames.. even in your 60's, 70's, 80's.. if you are single.. get that nip and buy new clothes to make you feel better. and get out there and start with friends.. life should not be dull.. My favorite inspirational guru Wayne Dyer says it the best..
"Don't die with your music still in you". another favotrite saying of his is...
"when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change".
Nothing is impossible but you have to love yourself first, then your love automatically, energetically spreads to everyone around you.

And, Older guy got out his tape measure (which he probably keeps by the bed) and measured, her tits, her waist and her ass! All he can talk about is how great she is in bed! Well, little buddy, I pity you when one day you walk across the room and your ass has turned into two bookend "L's" and your belly hangs over your pecker! I'll bet you won't need your Viagra then! You make us "vintage women" sick!!!

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Whitlock

To "The Counselor"

What planet are you on! Cause here on Earth, all of the hundred+ older women who I do on a regular basis(I'm a hairdresser by day, writer by night ), there is NOT ONE, and I repeat, NOT ONE truly happy, been married forever couple. They "tolerate," they "choose their battles carefully," they have "put up with his affairs, boys will be boys, after all," and they "don't think it would be better with anyone else, "I've got this one trained." So, I think your 20+ couples are lying out their rearends. Sorry, I'm not a therapist, but all of mine are "just friends now" or waiting for each other to croak.

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Whitlock

Lisa, I have never measured any part of her body. For fun, she does some modeling (she makes a lot of money, typically $5000 a day, which is pretty good for a 21 year old) and she has a comp card. On the card, it lists her measurements. It also lists, for example, her shoe size and her dress size, as well as foreign languages spoken.

Yes, she is incredible in bed, the best I have ever had. But that is one of 30 things about her that I love. I would not be with her if she was not incredibly mature. I love her energy, her laughter, her femininity and dozens of other things about her.

And there is nothing wrong with a girl being great in bed! About six months ago, when I came home she told me she has purchased several "How to Give a Great Blow Job" books. She indicated she wanted to practice what she had learned. Another time she brought home a dozen see three negligees and she wanted to model them for me. She does things like this all of the time. How many 45 year old women do that for their boyfriends?

Your bitterness is Exhibit A for why so many older men prefer younger women. One advantage of younger girls is that they are not jaded.

September 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAn Older Guy

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