Whether you're looking to wake-up a tired sex life, start a new relationship, explore cyber-dating, indulge in a four-hand massage, flirt with gigolos on vacation, or commit to the love of your life, you can find tempting tips and genuinely helpful guidance in, “Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years,” by Dr. Pepper Schwartz. Here's an excerpt:
How Did I Get Here?
Dear Dr. Pepper: I am a single woman, divorced after 23 years of marriage, with my kids off to college. Ideally, I would like to have a serious relationship, but if that isn’t around the corner, I still want sex and companionship. I find myself in a world of chat-room hookups, cybermatchmaking, and coconut-flavored glow-in-the-dark condoms. I feel as sexually alive as I did when I was 25, but the number and availability of men for me has changed. How do I look for a life partner and enjoy sexual adventures along the way? Oh, yes, and did I mention that I really enjoy sex? Advice, please. Sincerely, A Single Sexologist in Seattle
After three decades of answering people’s questions about their emotional, sexual, and romantic lives, after writing numerous books on sex and relationships, after thirty-five years as a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, you would think I could come up with an easy answer to my own question. The situation was at least humorous and in no small part ironic. I had plenty of good advice for women in my situation based on solid scientific research. But I had not always followed what I knew to be the best course since my own divorce. Still, I am five years older than when I left my husband, and I think a wiser person than the woman who reentered the singles scene after almost a quarter of a century as a married woman.
A special time, place, and situation
Here I am on a teak lounge chair, west of Kuta Beach on Bali, which is one of the most romantic islands on earth. I am thinking about what I want out of my life and from men. Bali is my muse for this reverie and she never ceases to inspire me. This is an island that celebrates the senses. Hospitality and massage are honed to fine arts. Perhaps most important, the island is enduringly attractive and easy to live on, at least in part because it’s a place where a single woman can feel safe strolling the beaches and villages. I can even banter and flirt with local men of all ages and not worry that anything unwanted is going to happen.
On this island, if my last two trips here were any indication, I will soon find myself in a place I rarely get to spend much my time — the reflective, contemplative present. I’m usually speeding through life, juggling appointments, putting out fires, and scheduling for the near and far future. The prospect of trimming away all of that for a while is exciting.
My friend interrupts my soul-searching.
“Enjoying the guide book?” asks the tall, trim man with salt-and pepper hair.
Dom has returned from his postlunch stroll down the beach. He is a welcome break from my what am I doing with my life? train of thought. Dominic is in the top tier of my favorite traveling companions. When I told him I needed support for the book I was writing, he suggested that he was the man for the job. I agreed and he signed up to accompany me to Bali for two weeks while I finished it. My first thought as I look at him striding toward me is that he has come to get me to take a walk with him. That’s usually fun since we are quite the sight together:
He is about six-foot-four and I don’t quite reach five feet. But Dom is worried that I have been rushing around too much and he is on a program to slow me down.
“It’s so good to finally be here at the same time,” Dom says. He looks rested and tan, and I can see that his week on Bali prior to my arrival has been calming and rejuvenating.
“I’m going to get us some cold water. I’ll be right back,” Dom says. “I want you to enjoy this peaceful afternoon and just unwind after your long night. By tomorrow you’ll feel fantastic.”
My friend the Zen Buddhist was always trying to get me to be more peaceful — which was usually a very hard thing for me to do. This time, however, I had signed up for the program. Bali was going to be different.
“Relaxing is going to be easy,” I say. “I think counting waves would be a fine activity for today. I’ve had my head down, eyes on the finish line for this book for a little too long. It’s got to be done by September, but I can see the end and I’m less nervous now.”
I laugh at Dom’s alternate mothering and voyeurism. “Hey, Dom, if I ever forget I have an appointment for two guys to work on my body, just shoot me right then! Anyhow, I promise to reveal all over our sunset drink.”
Dom turns to me, sporting a mischievous grin. “And Pepper, please promise me you will tuck away your laptop, cell phone, and Blackberry and just unwind for a few hours, okay?”
I smile. Dom knows me well.
I look up from my reverie. There is a handsome Asian man slowly approaching me. He does not appear to be a vendor. I check him out: short hair, tan shorts, white t-shirt, taller than me, warm brown eyes, trim body, gentle, unthreatening demeanor, beautiful bronze smooth skin, and a kind smile with pure white, perfectly chiseled straight teeth. This last detail indicates he is most likely a local since the Balinese have their teeth filled during a ceremony in adolescence. He is most definitely about half my age. Is this a Kuta cowboy approaching me?
The man strolls slowly by me in the direction of Gado Gado, the beachfront bistro behind me. I meet his gaze and I experience a response that is pure Bali. He smiles broadly and sweetly. I feel a bit of internal warmth flow through me. I like being looked at by this attractive young man. When you are over fifty, it is a pleasure to not feel ignored. Another pleasure: He welcomes my gaze. Neither of us feels self-conscious. It’s only a moment, but those are the moments that make you feel sensual and alive. I cast my eyes back to my guidebook. Much as I have enjoyed this quick interaction, I do not want to give the man — Kuta cowboy or not —any indication that I am in the market for company. He walks by.
I have more important things to do right now than initiate a vacation affair. I have come to this island to take stock of my life. For me, that means thinking about love and sexuality. I want to take control of my future. I feel that I am in the prime of my life, a special time when experience, self-knowledge, and sexual maturity have created an outer patina and an inner confidence that I want to use well. I want to make good decisions about my emotional and physical needs during this phase of my life. Time is precious and I am going to use it to figure out what my past has taught me and what I need for my future.
Excerpted from "Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years" by Dr.Pepper Schwartz. Copyright 2007 by Dr. Pepper Schwartz. Published by No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.