EPISODE 2: After The End

Published 10/12/23

0:00:08 – LAURA STASSI
I’m Laura Stassi and if you’re counting seasons, this is Number 5 for “Dating While Gray: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships.” You know, there’s a quote that goes something like before you move forward, you have to look back. So before we get too deep into this new season, I want to update some of the insightful and relatable true stories we’ve shared over the years. “After The End,” that’s next.

I get emails and voice mails from listeners all over the country. They remind me that when it comes to navigating later-in-life relationships, I am not alone. In fact, one time we put together an entire show with listener comments and questions, including this one.

0:00:57 – LUANN
Hello, Laura, my name’s LuAnn and I want to let you know how much I love your podcast. I only discovered it several weeks ago, and I could have used it 10 years ago, when I moved to North Carolina from Montana after a 37-year marriage ended. But I’m 72, and I met a 73-year-old man and I just returned from a wonderful two-week adventure with him. Part of it was on his 2019 Harley, but here’s something I discovered. He does not seem to know about erogenous zones. He’s 73 years old, and he’s been married twice and in other relationships. Is there some way to help him learn besides just me telling him? I think it would be helpful if there was something he could read. I would appreciate your help, and if you can refer me to any materials that might be helpful to him without being insulting, I would love it. Thank you.

0:02:07 – LAURA STASSI
Okay, who doesn’t want to talk about erogenous zones? If you heard that episode, you know I turned to Jane Fleishman for help. Jane’s a sexuality educator, researcher, and writer.

There are different types of — why don’t we call it doors to enter? Now, your door to enter might be this beautiful buffet of fruits and chocolate and yumminess, and somebody else’s door to enter might be a great musical interlude that just gets them excited. You’ve got to find out what the doorway is. And the way to do that, of course, is to learn more about your partner. So when she says her boyfriend doesn’t really understand her erogenous zones, it might be that the back of her knee is just the hottest part of her right now, but he’ll never know about it unless she teaches him.

0:03:02 – LAURA: Okay, so it’s not like there are universal erogenous zones.

No, in fact, wouldn’t that be easy, and wouldn’t that be boring? I think that means so much. Dr. Kinsey studied moths because he thought moths were so incredibly different. And he realized from studying insects that he could extrapolate from that to the human sexual experience. That’s where he began with looking at a completely different world. And when he started looking at people, he realized that people have just a myriad of different types of arousal and parts of the body that really get turned on or get turned off. So you know, brakes that get turned off, things that you stick your tongue in someone’s mouth too far and it’s just a total turn off, and accelerators that turn them on. You stick your tongue in their mouth just the right amount, and it just drives them right into ecstasy. So yeah, there’s a lot of differences. So, Laura, how about she ask him to do an activity that sex therapists use, called body mapping?

0:04:10 – LAURA: Body mapping — tell me about this.

So the idea is that without having sex with each other, whatever they define as sex, they touch each other’s bodies in an explorer’s kind of way, in a researcher’s kind of way, in a way to find out what they can discover. So the body mapping activity could be a really wonderful way of touching without any preconceived notion that we’re going to have sex at that time. This is just about exploring.

0:04:47 – LAURA STASSI
When someone asks for advice, do they actually take it? I reached out to LuAnn to find out.

Hi LuAnn.

Hi Laura, how are you?

It’s great to see you. So your voicemail was featured on Season 3, episode 10. Sexuality educator Jane Fleishman responded. When you first heard it, what did you think about her advice?

0:05:13 – LUANN
I really thought her advice was wonderful, and I enjoyed the discussion that you had with her. I thought it was very helpful. I was really glad to have those ideas. And she was right about erogenous zones. I mean, I know that they’re different for everybody. And the body mapping. I thought, well, we could try that, and I’ll suggest it, but I don’t know, it wasn’t received very well.

0:05:40 – LAURA STASSI
Okay, so let’s talk about that for a second. So you heard it as it aired, and you thought it was good advice. You thought she made some good points. So then what happened?

0:05:50 – LUANN
He lives in another state so we don’t get to see each other very often and we do talk, often by Messenger, so we can see each other and talk. But he came for a visit to North Carolina, and he heard the broadcast. And was not very pleased with what he heard. I think he was a little offended. However, yes, yes, and that visit wasn’t that great because he was not feeling well and so that interfered with some of the fun things that we were going to do. And I tried to talk to him about how maybe I was just unique, maybe I was different than anybody else he’d been with, or maybe I was weird, but these were the things that were important to me. And he seemed like he was catching on. And we didn’t get to see each other for quite a while, but when we got back together, he seemed to be much more open to what I said was good for me, so things were better in that respect.

0:07:01 – LAURA STASSI
So you were able to have a conversation.

0:07:04 – LUANN
Yes, we were able to talk about it more. So I think he still feels a little bit like somehow, I have misunderstood him, because he thinks he’s a very good lover. And I’m sure he has been. But I reminded him, I said, I know that my body has changed, and things don’t work the way they used to always. And he admitted that that was the same for him, too. But I just really liked the way she talked about how each of us is different, and we just can find ways to try to work together on that and talk about it now.

0:07:44 – LAURA STASSI
So when you said he heard the podcast, did you say hey, I’m on this. Or did you kind of spring it on him? Did he know that you were going to be speaking on this particular topic?

0:07:56 – LUANN
Yes, he knew before I let him listen to it. I said, now I’m on this, and I’m talking about some things. And I said, I hope you won’t be upset. But I didn’t warn him very much, I guess, about what it was.

0:08:10 – LAURA STASSI
So it sounds like it might have been a little bit of a shake-up for him because he’s never had this feedback. But it sounds like he is interested enough in your satisfaction to want to learn from this experience and try to go forward.

LUANN Yes, I think that is true.

Are you all in an exclusive relationship?

0:08:32 – LUANN
Yes and no. We are, but he doesn’t seem to want to take certain steps that would take it to another level. He’s been divorced like 21 years. He’s got an ex-wife, and he has a really good relationship with her. It sounds like it’s mostly just when they’re visiting with their son. Or if he goes away, she watches his cats and if she goes away, he watches her dog. But he seems to think that if she knew about me or he had some sort of committed relationship with me, that he couldn’t ask her to watch the cats or take care of anything while he was gone. So he’s kind of kept me a secret from some of his family.

0:09:25 – LAURA STASSI
Does that give you pause, the fact that it’s long-distance?

0:09:29 – LUANN
Yeah, yeah, it bothers me.

0:09:31 – LAURA STASSI
I’m gonna ask a rude question. Are you sure he’s available legally?

0:09:37 – LUANN
Yes, I am. I know him by way of somebody else that’s a good friend, so I had known of him before I ever met him.

0:09:48 – LAURA STASSI
That’s good.

0:09:49 – LUANN
That’s what all my friends have asked me too.

0:09:53 – LAURA STASSI
Well, I guess it seems a natural question. And I think long-distance, although that is a great way to open up our parameters, that does leave more room for potential deception.

0:10:04 – LUANN
So yeah, I found Dating While Gray because I was looking for ways to enhance our relationship or keep our relationship interesting while we were long-distance. You know, we had listened to some of the podcasts and that was great, but he didn’t seem terribly motivated to listen to more. I think he doesn’t like the idea of change.


And at our age, I can kind of understand that. You know, I realized after listening to Jane Fleishman’s podcast, more of her recordings, that I had not really considered something that he had suggested. And that was that if we needed to, we could use some sex toys. And I just kind of no, I’m not gonna do that. No, I’m not gonna do that. It’s not like I don’t, I’m not open to that when I’m by myself. But the idea of doing that with someone else is a little bit intimidating to me. And I had not really given much thought to it until I was listening and thinking more about our conversations that we had had. So maybe I need to be more open to some of his ideas.

0:11:27 – LAURA STASSI
Oh, so that’s interesting. So he had this idea that you kind of dismissed only because it was out of your comfort zone. Okay, I like that. This seems like progress, right?

0:11:36 – LUANN
I might be willing to try. Okay.

0:11:41 – LAURA STASSI
Okay, so do you regret calling in and asking?

0:11:44 – LUANN
The only thing I regret is that I let him listen to the podcast without first kind of talking to him about some of the ideas that were talked about in there, because I think he quit listening as soon as he heard what I said and, you know there’s so many great things that you two talked about.

0:12:09 – LAURA STASSI
All right. So I don’t know, I’m trying to neatly sum up your relationship, but it doesn’t sound like it can be neatly summed up.

0:12:18 – LUANN
No, and I have been back and forth on how I feel about it.

0:12:26 – LAURA STASSI
Thanks, LuAnn. And I have another update. LuAnn says things got really awkward with her long-distance man. They decided to take a relationship time out. Then, a few months ago, they got back in touch. Now they video chat every night, and they’ve made plans to go on a trip. It will be the first time in a year that they’ve seen each other in real life. LuAnn says they’ve agreed that when they get together, they’ll try out Jane Fleishman’s tips for achieving mutually pleasurable sexual intimacy.

Speaking of sexual intimacy, maybe you remember a conversation I had with Tim.

0:13:07 – TIM
You would think that as a 58-year-old man, I would be able to have that sort of conversation with a woman, but it was not something that I was able to do. I did have a couple of casual relationships. Well, I had one in particular that I talked with the woman I was seeing casually and said I wanted to move into being romantic and see if she wanted to go the same direction. And she didn’t. That was sort of the end of the conversation. My impulse was to ask her why. But the fact is, I kind of know that nothing good would come from that. I don’t particularly want to hear why I’m not the guy, so I let it go.

0:13:55 – LAURA STASSI
Okay, so what are you looking for? And give me your complete wish list, whether it’s attraction that’s most important, or just tell me what you’re looking for.

0:14:13 – TIM
Well, I my initial impulse was to say a pulse, but the fact is that that is not true. I really am looking for somebody who is smart, who I can have a conversation with. I really enjoy being with the woman who is funny and who enjoys my sense of humor. And I’m not — you know, physical attractiveness, I kind of have learned, is not that important and sometimes it can even be a little deceptive. You can meet somebody who’s really physically attractive and then find out that everything that my body is telling me about them is not the truth. You know, and nothing wrong with those people, but they just may not be who I am thinking. They are simply based on their appearance.

0:15:01 – LAURA STASSI
Have you thought about what you want as far as down the road? Do you want a series of long-term relationships? Do you want marriage?

0:15:12 – TIM
Well, I should say I, I’m in a relationship and this is it’s a fairly new relationship. It’s about a — I think we’re right at about two months since our first date. But things have been going very well and I feel like it’s sort of the kind of relationship that I’m looking for. So, yeah, it’s a relationship with a person who is smart. We have great conversations; we have a lot of fun together. You know, as far as physical stuff, I mean, we are physically involved and that is a great part of the relationship. It’s not the only thing.

0:15:49 – LAURA STASSI
Update from Tim. That relationship ended shortly after the episode came out. Oh man, I hope I didn’t jinx it. Tim told me he wasn’t all torn up about it, though, but he was convinced he was destined to be alone. And wouldn’t you know it, a few months after that light bulb went off, Tim was introduced to a friend of our friend. They clicked and they’re still going strong, even talking about moving in together.

Sex is a potentially hot button issue for older couples. Another one money.

0:16:22 – BOB
I’m Bob Howard, I’m 84.

0:16:25 – MARJ
I’m Marjorie Lane and I’m 86, and they call somebody like me a cougar. Right?

0:16:34 – LAURA STASSI
And in Bob and Marj’s relationship, money talk is not taboo. That’s after the break.


Bob and Marj are role models for merging lives without blending finances. They started dating around 2016, and they shared the nitty-gritty of their financial and living arrangements in a Season 1 episode.

0:16:59 – BOB
We talked about the possibility of living together fairly early on in our relationship. Marj was not ready for that, first of all and secondly, she felt that house was too much of my late wife — which it was. And I told her the house was not that important to me. And so I decided to sell it, and I bought a different condominium fairly close to where she was. And we continued to date and then we took a cruise together in the Baltic.

0:17:38 – MARJ
That was early and that was a courtship event, so I was comfortable in letting him pay for that.

0:17:48 – BOB
I said, all you have to do is come along and actually, I would pay for all the trips. I don’t have a problem with that, but Marj has a problem with that. Then we got back, and we decided to make that regular. So we had dinner every night, some nights at Marj’s place and the others at my place. We did that for a couple of years.

During that time, Marj wanted to buy a condo of her own. She was renting one. She saw one through me that she really loved it. But her financial advisor said, you can’t possibly buy a condo at this point. I said, you know, Marj, I can buy it, you can rent it from me. I bought it. Marj moved.

I think you made up a lease.

And I told her, the only thing that I expect is, if you’re living there under that term, you’re going to pay the rent and that’s it. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.

0:18:51 – MARJ
I was happy with his proposal for my renting from him because there were no strings attached.

0:19:00 – BOB
I figured Marj was the right person for me, and I was the right person for her. And then, if this is the way she wanted to live, it was okay with me. And our children and our siblings were all happy with that, this arrangement. I knew that I was going to have a mitral valve replaced. Everything went fine. So afterwards, Marj had brought some champagne to celebrate, and I thought, well, I wonder, if I ask her to marry me, what is she going to say? Am I going to ruin a perfectly good relationship that we have? But I said, oh, what the hell?

0:19:51 – MARJ
It was lovely. And I said yes, and I think at first, I wasn’t quite sure whether that was the question.

0:20:01 – BOB
I asked for a prenup because my lawyer said that there had been some changes in Virginia law.

0:20:11 – MARJ
I thought it was a good idea. The only issue was, it took the lawyers a long time to put the papers together — and then writing the checks for the legal fees. But I’m glad, and I think Bob is, that we did it.

0:20:29 – BOB
Early on she said, you know, Bob, she said, I’m a very independent person. And I said, you know, that’s not a problem for me. I expect somebody to be independent.

0:20:40 – MARJ
I wasn’t as needing the formal ceremony, and I was happy with just a commitment relationship. But the more I thought about it, and the more he felt strongly about it, I thought to myself well, why not? If you’re going to be committed, why don’t you be committed to all of it, not just half of it.

0:21:10 – BOB
We were planning to continue to live the way we were, with our separate places, but in the middle of the winter we said, why are we doing this, you know? So as a result, I bought another one that we now live in.

0:21:24 – MARJ
It’s worked out comfortably. He’s always shopped in Harris Teeter, and he likes bargains. He’s a man comfortable financially who likes to get the sales. And so he goes on Thursdays when they have the senior discount, and they have all kinds of good deals.

0:21:41 – BOB
And so she insists on paying her share. But really what she does, she pays me the same amount every month. And it’s a little bit more than what she was paying me in rent at the other place. So I told her it’s more than she needs to pay. But she insists, so I let her insist.

0:22:04 – MARJ
I married a man of substance, and I’m very fortunate. It’s not the only reason, but it was part of his appeal. All of the things that I would have gone for when I was 50, five years after my divorce, I didn’t know who I was looking for, but I had ideas about a poet in hiking boots. And Bob is neither. But if he had asked me, I would have rethought that those requirements.

0:22:43 – LAURA STASSI
Bob was a military veteran, home builder, real estate agent, father, grandfather and, for the final three and a half years of his life. Marj’s husband. Bob died last November at age 87.

Sadly, there’s been a more premature loss in the Dating While Gray community.

0:23:04 – STEVE
By the way, I happen to love that phrase: the uncoupled singled male. Uncoupled — it sounds like I should be attached to a train headed west.

0:23:16 – LAURA STASSI
That’s Steve: broadcaster, actor, and voiceover artist. He died in October of 2022 at age 64. Here’s part of our conversation from the “How to be Single” episode.

0:23:30 – STEVE
I think what I’m looking for, I believe what I’m looking for, is someone who is a friend at first and then becomes a companion, a trusted companion. I think it goes to, as we do a little self-analysis here, I think it goes to a matter of trust — that I really need to know someone because of previous experiences, particularly with the second wife, where I would much rather know someone as a friend and have that turn into a real relationship than to be tossed into almost a set-up relationship, if you can call it that, through one of those sites.

0:24:19 – LAURA STASSI
I hear you.

0:24:20 – STEVE
And quite frankly — and I know there are people who need those sites or prefer those sites, and there are plenty of them …

You’re looking for a deeper connection, not necessarily — not that you can’t find a deeper connection with someone you meet online, but you want the relationship to sort of build organically …


… as opposed to, here’s some potential partners. Pick one, get to know them and see if there’s any sparks.

0:24:49 STEVE
You might as well put mugshots up on a dartboard if you’re going to do it that way.

0:24:54 – LAURA STASSI
Shortly after that aired, Steve had an accident that launched a series of medical issues that spiraled wildly out of control. Over the course of several months, Steve was surrounded by friends from around the world bearing his favorite foods, including onion rings and matzah ball soup. Steve was greatly loved, and he recognized and embraced it.

Finally, remember Margo, the long-haul truck driver? When we talked for the “Making Moves” episode, her heart and her home were on the highway.

0:25:29 – MARGO
Okay, this is where I live. I drive an 18-wheeler. This has always been my dream truck. I love life on the road, I really do. I have a refrigerator, a storage. That’s where I put my clothes, and this is where I sleep, me and my dog. I’m glistening a little bit because it’s hot in here.

0:26:02 – LAURA STASSI
Other than dog Xander, Margo was on her own. She lost Eric, her driving partner and husband of five years, to COVID. He was only 59.

0:26:12 – MARGO
I’m fine with living in my truck. It’s just that I’m by myself. Xander talks every now and again, but Xander now sleeps where Daddy used to sleep, so he’s been a constant companion. Eric is on the truck; I have his ashes. He’s on the truck, so he’s with me.

0:26:37 – LAURA STASSI
Have you given yourself a timeline for when you want to come off the road?

0:26:41 – MARGO
Yes, before the winter. I am going to run local so I can go home every day. Being here at my sister’s house, Xander went to the sliding door out to the deck. I’m like. it’s the little things that people take for granted that are a big deal to me. And I’m like, wow, he barked like, Mommy, let me out. And I’m at a house, and I’m like, he deserves this. So for Mommy to go to work and then come home, he’s always excited to see me. It’s like, oh my gosh, Mom, where have you been? And I just went and took a shower. Yeah, it’s like, oh my gosh, where have you been? Oh, my, I’m so glad to see you. So, working a regular job and coming home, that’s boosting to me. So I’m looking forward to getting my dog a place to live.

0:27:35 – LAURA STASSI
I caught up with Margo recently and guess what? She’s off the road and in a house. She reached her goal. Margo’s driving locally now, and though her days behind the wheel are long ones, she comes home to Xander every night. Margo says he very patiently waits for her. And Xander’s not the only one. Margo met someone. She calls him a dear friend.

I’ll share more Dating While Gray updates on social media as the season unfolds. For now, though, that’s enough looking back. All eyes and ears ahead.


Dating While Gray’s audio production and mix is by Steve Lack: Audio. For more on the show, check out datingwhilegray.com. That’s where you can find the latest episodes, plus the archive of previous episodes. You can also find links to send me questions, comments, tips and true stories through email and voicemail. You know I love hearing from you. While you’re there, sign up for the free Dating While Gray e-newsletter, delivered every Friday to your inbox. That’s datingwhilegray.com. I’m Laura Stassi. Thanks for listening.

Transcribed by https://podium.page