Author Morley D Glicken Isbn 9780313382420 File size 11 57MB Year 2010 Pages 202 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship This insightful research driven book offers practical advice to older adults seeking new intimate relationships lasting friendships and better relationships with family members and children Presents powerful personal stories about mature love and intimacy Includes case studies of mature adults experiencing love and intimacy problems offeri
Author : Morley D. Glicken
ISBN : 9780313382420
Year : 2010
File Size : 11.57MB
Category : Family and Friendship
Mature Friendships, Love,
This page intentionally left blank
Love, and Romance
A Practical Guide to Intimacy
for Older Adults
MORLEY D. GLICKEN
Copyright 2010 by Morley D. Glicken
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a
review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Glicken, Morley D.
Mature friendships, love, and romance : a practical guide to intimacy for older
adults / Morley D. Glicken.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978–0–313–38242–0 (hbk. : alk. paper) — ISBN 978–0–313–38243–7
1. Love in old age. 2. Older people—Psychology. 3. Intimacy (Psychology)
14 13 12 11 10
1 2 3 4 5
This book is also available on the World Wide Web as an eBook.
Visit www.abc-clio.com for details.
An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC
130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911
Santa Barbara, California 93116-1911
This book is printed on acid-free paper
Manufactured in the United States of America
Portions of this text were published in Evidence-Based Counseling and Psychotherapy for
an Aging Population, by Morley D. Glicken, pages 132–134, 361–362, and 377–379.
Copyright Elsevier (2009).
This book is dedicated to my parents, Sam and Rose Glicken,
who were loving and tender with one another and
with their children, through good and bad times,
and who modeled mature love in everyway imaginable
This page intentionally left blank
Love, Intimacy, Family, and Friendships
in a Time of Ageism
Understanding Men and Their Relationship
Enjoying Older Adult Sexuality
Coping with Later-Life Divorces and Breakups
Coping with Serious Illness and the Death
of a Loved One
Single and Sometimes Lonely: Good Friends and
Lovers Can Help
Friends or Just Acquaintances
Resolving Problems with Children and Family
Involving Loved Ones in Retirement Decisions
Work and Volunteering after Retirement
to Increase Friendship Pools and Meet
Where You Live as an Older Adult Can Make
Dealing with Later-Life Anxiety and Depression
Older Adults Who Abuse Alcohol and Drugs
Dangerous People: Men and Women Who Are
Physically and Emotionally Abusive
The Road Less Traveled: Making the Most
of Love, Family, and Friends
About the Author
This is a book for older adults who want to resolve issues of intimacy,
romance, and friendships and develop positive relationships with their
children and family members. It is a serious book because the subject
is a serious one. Love is life-sustaining. Romance is just as vital to
older people as it to younger people, and loneliness, as we age without
good friends and positive relationships with our families and children,
is everything it’s cracked up to be.
As I began researching what others had written about older adult
relationships, I found that almost all of it was about sex. The few
books I found on relationships with family and children were often full
of psychobabble and silly advice. How serious can books be with titles
like The Juicy Tomatoes Guide to Ripe Living After 50; How Not to Become
a Little Old Lady; Juicy Tomatoes: Plain Truths, Dumb Lies, and Sisterly
Advice About Life After 50; Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk
About Sex After Sixty, and I could go on.
I’m 69 and I think I know something about every aspect of what
this book will cover from my own life experiences. I’ve also been a social
work practitioner working with older adults and a professor of social
work training graduate students to work with older adults. From these
experiences I can tell you that relationships are tremendously important
to people as we age. As a result, I promise I won’t approach the need for
healthy and life-enhancing relationships in a frivolous way.
I hope you will ﬁnd this book to be a wealth of information, easily
written, and ﬁlled with stories from older adults about their relationships, good and bad. The stories come from real older people who have
something to say. I’ve asked them to write honestly about themselves
and not to give pat answers to tough life problems. You will ﬁnd some
of the stories very moving with positive outcomes, and others touching,
but hurtful. I want you to experience a range of stories. Perhaps you will
ﬁnd a story that is close to the issues you’re dealing with and it will help
you resolve some of your relationship problems—or if not resolve them,
at least understand them better.
Men are as concerned about relationships as women, but from the
wealth of books written for older adult women you wouldn’t think
men exist or have concerns about their relationships with others. They
do and I’ve tried, in the stories written by men and the research I’ve
presented, to make this book relevant to men and to women.
I believe that the last third of our lives can be our best years. The
people who come into our lives have potential to be the very truest
friends we’ll ever have. The people we love deeply can add happy
and productive years to our lives. In writing this book, I’m also aware
that many of us have troubled and hurtful relationships with others,
and I promise to write this book mindful of Bertrand Russell’s words
that we should all have “unbearable sympathy for the suffering of
others,” particularly those of us who write books to help others.
Dr. Morley D. Glicken
I want to thank my editor at Praeger/ABC-CLIO, Debbie Carvalko,
for taking my idea about a book on mature love and letting me run
with it. It’s a topic near and dear to my mature heart and Praeger/
ABC-CLIO gives its authors a great deal of freedom to develop ideas
in the most creative ways a writer can imagine, so many thanks to
Debbie and to my publisher.
Because this book used a number of personal stories about mature
love, and since the authors asked for anonymity, I want to thank all
of them for sharing such touching and powerful work. None of the
authors are professional writers but I think you will feel, as I do, that
their stories touch our hearts and move us. Thank you, my friends
and colleagues, for contributing your stories to this book.
I have friends and loved ones who model mature love in many
important ways. My new friend and tennis partner, Barry Kravitz, is
a wonderful example of mature friendship. In a recent e-mail, he
wrote, “When I moved away from Santa Barbara, I felt I left ﬁve
‘brothers’ behind who were part of the men’s group I belonged to. It
was gut-wrenching to move and to alter the ‘brotherhood.’ However,
I really feel a brotherly companionship with you—and I thank you
for being who you are.” Thank you, Barry, for giving me such a true
and meaningful example of mature friendship.
My sister Gladys Smith and I have a mature relationship that grows
better every day. Her example gave me a model for writing about the
mature relationships between family members.
I couldn’t have written about children without the example of my
daughter, Amy Glicken, who is a gift to an aging father and who contributed some wonderful stories to this and other books I’ve written.
Finally, to those people in my life who have being loving partners
and whose model of relationships encouraged me to share my vision
of mature love, the best advice I ever got came from John Lennon
who said, loving isn’t about never having to say you’re sorry . . . it’s
about saying you’re sorry every ﬁve minutes . . . and meaning it.
Love, Intimacy, Family,
and Friendships in a Time
We live in a time when growing numbers of older adults enjoy good
health, ﬁnancial independence, and the ability to pursue a long and
happy life. And yet, when it comes to older love and intimacy, many
people think that these issues are no longer important, and that love
and romance are reserved for the young. Where these ideas come from
is a mystery, and consist of a long list of the preconceived and incorrect
notions that deﬁne ageism: the biased and inaccurate view that older
adults are no longer relevant. It is a dismissive belief reﬂected in the
attitudes we ﬁnd in the workplace and the popular culture. Barusch
(2009) says it well when she deﬁnes ageism as “a negative attitude
toward older people and the process of aging, which manifests in subtle
and varied ways. Ageism permeates our personal and cultural expectations of older adults. It is encountered whenever people of a certain
age are considered too old to take a new job, to receive healthcare, or
to fall in love” (p. 12).
This book is written to show how badly ﬂawed and biased ageism is
and to tell the growing numbers of older adults that they can enjoy love,
intimacy, friendships and positive relationships with loved ones for
many, many more years to come. Because I’m an older adult (69 when
the book was written) and a current professor of social work, the book
should not only give you a sense that I know something about aging
but that I will approach the topics in the book in an objective way using
the most current information available. I will also use stories from
Mature Friendships, Love, and Romance
older adults. I hope you ﬁnd the combination of objectivity and stories
coupled with personal knowledge of aging a good ﬁt. I promise I have
written the book as I would want it written were I the reader—with
an absence of jargon and psychobabble, problems that plague many
books for older adults. Because I’m a social worker and we’re very practical people, I’m going to offer suggestions that are based on common
sense and the wisdom of the professionals who write about aging.
Here’s a quote from one of those professionals who sums up my
view of older adult intimacy: “Romantic love is a powerful force in
human development, shaping the events of our lives and the people
we become” (Barusch 2009, p. 12). The author continues by reporting
the results of an Internet survey she conducted indicating that older
adults “frequently experience intense infatuation at advanced ages.
Results of our Internet survey suggest that adults over the age of
50 who were in new relationships experienced even greater romantic
intensity than younger adults involved in new romances” (p. 12).
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Older people have needs for other forms of intimacy. We want to be
close to our loved ones, particularly our children and grandchildren,
but too many of us suffer the pain of being marginalized by our
children and left out of their lives. Rejection by our children is hurtful,
perhaps even more hurtful than being rejected by the adult we love
who no longer loves us because we helped create and raise our children.
The adult child who never returns our phone calls, who never calls to
ﬁnd out how we are, who neglects to invite us to birthday parties and
holiday meals, even when we live in the same community, is a hurt some
of us never get over. What should we do? Hopefully this book will help
you overcome hurt feelings and do something that will change the
course of your relationships with your children, siblings, and extended
It would be nice if blood really were thicker than water, but many of
us have distant and unsatisfying relationships with our siblings. Why,
we wonder, don’t they call us on our birthdays when we always call
them? Why don’t they send a Christmas present when we always send
one to them? Why do they invite other friends to join them on trips
when we’d love to go but are never asked? I taught a class of 30 graduate
social worker students a few years ago and asked if any of them were not
on speaking terms with a brother or sister. Every single hand went up.
Love, Intimacy, Family, and Friendships in a Time of Ageism
Half the older students said they hadn’t spoken to a sibling in more than
10 years—some of them in more than 20 years. How could such a thing
happen? I’ll discuss why it happens and what we can do about it in a
chapter on relationships with loved ones.
Friendships are important to everyone throughout the life span,
but older adults who are single and living a distance from families rely
on friends in very important ways. Whom do we go to when we have
a crisis and we’re not in a current love relationship? We often go to
friends until we ﬁnd out, as many of us have, that the people we think
of as friends are just acquaintances who have only a marginal sense of
loyalty to us. A friend once told me that he’d had a heart problem and
called his best friend (he thought) to ask her to drive him to the ER.
She said no, and as he drove himself to the ER with his heart rate beating at over 200 beats a minute, he wondered how he could have been so
wrong about his supposed friend. It isn’t until a crisis hits that we know
who our friends really are. I will provide some objective information to
those of you who have a hard time distinguishing real friends from
acquaintances in a future chapter.
My immigrant mother was a fan of radio soap operas. She would listen to them and when an episode ended, she would come up with aphorisms that used to make me wince. One of her favorites was, “Better
to have a good neighbor near by than family far away.” Having worked
her way across Europe for three years before she ﬁnally came to
America, she knew something about loyalty and who you could trust.
She had been in life-threatening situations and had learned that you
have to develop a friendship slowly and over time, and that you should
never take for granted that the other person felt about you the same
way you felt about them. It seems like a good lesson for all the issues
we’ll talk about in this book.
I asked a number of people to write stories for the book about love,
romance, relationships with loved ones, and particularly relationships
with children. I didn’t ask them to be positive or negative but to write
honestly about their experiences and to offer some advice that might
help others. Each chapter has a story or two, all written by people in
their sixties, seventies, and eighties. I haven’t edited anything other
than minor grammatical errors. Here’s a story about conﬂict with a
sibling many of you may ﬁnd familiar.
Mature Friendships, Love, and Romance
PERSONAL STORY: SISTER CONFLICT
“I am the oldest of three children. My sister, Lorna, is four years
younger than I am. We have a brother, Joe, who is the middle child—
one year younger than me and three years older than my sister. My sister
and I shared a bedroom while we grew up.
“The dynamics of our household were such that Lorna, the youngest child in our family, was our mother’s favorite. I used to tell myself
that even though I strongly sensed my mother’s favoritism, I magnanimously did not take this perceived unfairness out on my sister. Not
surprisingly, I suppose, she feels otherwise. I suppose it was inevitable
that she and I had conﬂicts, especially since we shared a bedroom. It is
unclear to me, looking back, how many of those conﬂicts were due
simply to the usual sibling rivalry, our forced proximity in sharing a
bedroom, or how much was due to what must have been my resentment of what I saw as her favored position in the family. Interestingly,
my recollections are that things between us were usually hunky dory,
while Lorna recollects terrible ﬁghts and my abuse of her.
“As to why Lorna was my mother’s favorite, my mother told me a
story several years before she died that may begin to explain some of
her favoritism. She said that when she became pregnant with Lorna
(who was named after her mother), our father announced he did not
want a third child. A few days later he brought home some pills that
he told my mother would induce a miscarriage, and told my mother
to take them. My mother was horriﬁed, and threw them out while pretending to take them. So I couldn’t help but wonder if my mother felt
a special afﬁnity for Lorna because she felt she’d saved her life.
“I recall the following incident which, combined with previous incidents, made me feel like an outsider—an intruder—in my own home.
Shortly after I had gone away to college, I returned home for the ﬁrst
time for Thanksgiving. When I walked into my bedroom, I discovered
that Lorna had removed my bed and taken over all the drawers of my
dresser. Not only had my sister drop-kicked me out of the house, my
mother let her do it.
“Fast-forward to recent history. My sister is single and childless,
having been married once very brieﬂy. She has a career, a lakefront
condo, and a large circle of friends. During most of my adulthood, even
though my sister and I have lived some distance from each other, we
have put these petty childhood conﬂicts behind us and been close but
lately Lorna and I seem estranged for reasons I can’t fully understand.
Love, Intimacy, Family, and Friendships in a Time of Ageism
“I have been divorced twice and have one child and one grandchild.
Around ﬁve years ago, I met a man with whom I am now living. I recently
retired and we bought a house together and moved to Colorado.
“Lorna has a childhood friend, Marsha, who lives in Los Angeles,
just a few miles from where I was living at the time. One Christmas
Lorna announced she was coming out to L.A., but not to see me, but
to see Marsha. While she was there we spent a few hours together,
which felt obligatory, as if she were visiting me out of duty. I felt hurt.
While she was in L.A. she presented me with a Christmas present that
seemed odd—almost like it was something she had bought for herself
and then didn’t want. I was puzzled.
“The following year on my birthday she sent me a watch with a
leather band that had obviously been previously worn. She regifted
me. I was offended. There were a few other incidents involving either
odd gifts, or no gifts. I then sent an email suggesting we refrain from
sending birthday or Christmas gifts. I received no response at all to
“Later she announced that she and Marsha were taking a trip
together on a barge down the Danube River. She had received the trip
as a bonus of sorts from her job, and she was entitled to bring a guest
at no charge. I was hurt that she did not think to invite me.
“Recently, I sent Lorna an email expressing unhappiness and dismay
at what I saw as the deterioration of our relationship. She responded
by saying she was busy, and would respond to my email soon. I never
received a response.
“This year I sent another email again suggesting we refrain from
exchanging birthday presents (the birthdays of the three of us fall within
a month of each other—what we call the ‘birthday season’). This time
she responded, wanting to know why I wished to do this. I hesitated
responding, not quite sure what to say. I decided to be truthful about
my feelings about her recent gifts, and again expressed my unhappiness
about the state of our relationship. She sent a terse response, essentially
saying, well ﬁne, I guess that is your reality. This all occurred during
our ‘birthday season.’ I wondered what would happen when my birthday rolled around in the next few weeks. I received no phone call, but
the day after my birthday I received a card from Lorna closing with
‘I love you.’
“I tend to obsess [over] a lot about things that hurt me and I’ve begun
to wonder why Lorna and I are so estranged. Two things come to mind.
When we were both single and before Michael came into my life, we
Mature Friendships, Love, and Romance
talked about living together when we retired. I wonder if Lorna is angry
about that or if she’s jealous about the fact that I have someone in my
life and she doesn’t. Or maybe it’s just the old conﬂicts we’ve always
had, the ones from when we were kids, and maybe we’ll never settle
them. I don’t know. All I know is that it hurts and there doesn’t seem
much that I can do about it except try to forget about it and get on with
“Michael says that I should go get some professional help and
maybe that would make it better. I’m thinking about it but until then
I guess I’m just going to have to let Lorna do more of the work and,
to the extent that I can, try not to let it bother me so much.”—J. H. F.
This chapter discusses the realities of love and intimacy with a number
of important people in the lives of older adults, including people we are
intimate with, family members and friends. The chapter notes that many
of us have long-standing problems with family and friends and that
mature love as we age sometimes eludes us. A personal story at the end
of the chapter discusses the hurt associated with a younger sister who
isn’t responsive to the relationship desires of her older sister and why
the older sister believes the conﬂict between them is happening now.
Barusch, A. S. (2009). “Love and Ageism—A Social Work Perspective.”
Social Work Today 9 (1): 12.
Bean, J. F., Vora, A., and Frontera, W. R. (2004). “Beneﬁts of Exercise for
Community-dwelling Older Adults.” Archives of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation 85 (7 Suppl 3): S31–S42.
Cohen, G. D. (2005). The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain.
New York: Basic Books.
Emlet, C. A., and Poindexter, C. C. (2004). “Unserved, Unseen, and
Unheard: Integrating Programs for HIV-infected and HIV-affected
Older Adults.” Health and Social Work 29 (2): 86–96.
Johnson, R. A. (1983). We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love.
New York: Harper Collins.
Levin, I. (2004). “Living Apart Together: A New Family Form.” Current
Sociology 52 (2): 223–40.
Pfeiffer, E., and Davis, G. C. (1974). “Determinants of Sexual Behavior in
Middle and Old Age.” In Palmore, E. (ed.), Normal Aging II: Reports
Love, Intimacy, Family, and Friendships in a Time of Ageism
from the Duke Longitudinal Studies, 1970–1973. Durham, NC: Duke
University Press, 251–62.
Ray, R. (2008). Endnotes: An Intimate Look at the End of Life. New York:
Columbia University Press.
Wechsler, D. (1955). Manual for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
New York: The Psychological Corporation.
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