Local Authority: Pepper Schwartz
Category: Seattlepi.com featured stories
For Mature Audiences: Seattle’s love and relationships expert lends her expertise
Name: Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D
Title: University of Washington sociology prof and AARP’s sex and relationships expert
What senior citizens have over younger daters: “They are much more confident relative to themselves earlier in their lives.”
On seniors surfing the web: “It’s the biggest growing group online.”
Benefits of "vibrant aging": “I believe relationships keep us young if we keep them well.”
Pepper Schwartz has an abundance of credentials under her belt—the 64-year-old UW sociology professor has written multiple books and articles on sex and relationships, writes about the topic for psychologytoday.com, seattlepi.com and bewell.com, and is the relationships expert for dating Web site Perfectmatch.com and creator of its matchmaking system, Duet—all of which means she’s highly qualified to help with whatever’s going on under your belt. Recently she became AARP’s sex and relationships expert and author of the organization’s weekly online column “The Naked Truth,” allowing her to directly address age-old concerns in some new, modern ways.
SM: How did your role as love and relationships expert for the AARP come about?
PS: I got a call out of the blue saying they were thinking about this and “would I be interested?” I thought, “Here I am at that section in my life and it makes sense.” I see a lack of discussion about romance and sexuality and intimacy for this age group. There’s never been anybody with this particular title [at AARP]. They have just started to recognize the sexuality of their readership.
SM: What are the relationship and dating concerns specific to this demographic?
PS: We’re going to talk much more about health—there are a lot of things that can affect men and women as they become older that get in the way. Also, how to meet someone when you’re older.
SM: What makes meeting people difficult for that age group?
PS: When you’re young, people still throw parties, meet at bars—that’s part of your teens, 20s and early 30s. But then people turn inward. So where are you going to turn for romance? The Internet is perfect for that. But [seniors] are not as technologically savvy or comfortable. Although, I think, in some ways, it’s easier for older people. You kind of like yourself. You have some victories in your history. Hopefully somebody has loved you, whereas when you’re 20, maybe you haven’t been loved yet.
SM: What are your thoughts on so-called “cougars”? Is that a lifestyle or mind-set you would encourage AARP women to adopt?
PS: There are two ways to look at it: one is as a predatory older woman; the other is an elegant feline vision of older womanhood, where she’s attractive, seductive and fearless. If you look at the elegance and effectiveness of the creature—that’s the vision. (Not older women seducing young men because they’re easy pickings.) I like the idea of older women as sexual people. It used to be that there was no sexuality in their vision, but now it’s not ridiculous for a young man to sexualize those women. I like the idea of sexy as opposed to invisible.