Episode 5 – Dr. med. Stefan Woinoff, expert for love

The medical specialist for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy, Dr. Stefan Woinoff, is the Expert for love relationships. He discusses with us how the pandemic has changed the lives of couples and singles. We also elaborate on issues like loneliness, problems in marriage or partnerships, and how people can find new love at any stage of their lives. You see the English version of the blog below.

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Love is always great

About Dr. Woinoff:

Dr. Woinoff has been a practicing physician and psychotherapist for over 30 years and owns a practice in the heart of Munich. Woinoff offers one-on-one, couples, and group therapy. 

Woinoff ist auch Autor von zwei Büchern. Die Idee für sein Buch „Überlisten sie Ihr Beuteschema“   entstand, als er merkte, dass ihn immer mehr Frauen zwischen 35 und 40 Jahren aufsuchten, die beruflich alles richtig gemacht hatten, aber nicht den richtigen Partner fürs Leben fanden. Dies lässt darauf zurückzuführen, dass Frauen oft nach jemanden suchten, der ihnen auf beruflicher Ebene mindestens gleichgestellt sei. Die beruflich unabhängige Frau sollte aber eher nach ihrem Herzenskandidaten Ausschau halten.  Der Beziehungsratgeber „Er steht auf Dich!“ erklärt, wie man mit seinem Charaktertyp am besten einen Partner findet, und dass sich unterschiedliche Charakterzüge wunderbar ergänzen können. 

Finally, Woinoff is an advisor for the dating website 50plus-treff.de, where he supports the message that people over 50 are free to choose a partner and that it is possible to fall in love again, just like in the past -during youth and college times.

Relationships are changing

Frimeso: How have relationships changed during your long years of practice?

Woinoff: In the past, men used to have to meet traditional demands of being breadwinners. Women often took on the role of the housewife. This has changed. A career and education now are as important to them as it is for men. The demands on both sides have increased significantly. Now both sexes are responsible for everything.

“Singles are even lonelier in COVID times than they were before..”

Frimeso: The current COVID crisis affects many single people particularly hard. Do singles feel particularly lonely in these times?

Woinoff: Singles often feel even lonelier than they were feeling before. They are working from home and aren’t invited anywhere because of the restrictions, which poses a real problem. A patient told me that she simply misses touching her colleagues in the morning. No one has touched her for weeks. When your family then also lives far away, you can feel trapped in a difficult situation. 

Frimeso: Can young people feel “lonely” like old people do, or do they feel more” alone”?

Woinoff: Old and young people alike can experience the feeling of loneliness. “Being lonely” and “being alone” are not necessarily the same thing here. You can be alone and not feel lonely. You can feel lonely while standing in the middle of a vast crowd. Loneliness actually is the feeling of being excluded from everything. Brain morphological studies have shown that this feeling of loneliness sparks where the pain matrix is located in the limbic system. Loneliness hurts! It’s a life-threatening emotional state. This can be derived from evolutionary history. Back then, you could only survive as clans. Those who were excluded were doomed.

Dr. Stefan Woinoff: Er steht auf dich!

Great love All love is great!

Frimeso: Is there one true “great love”?

Woinoff: Counter question: Is there such a thing as a “small love”? No, all love is great! Love is a beautiful feeling. You emerge from the foggy haze of being compared and constantly pondering. Love is what we all rightfully strive for. Sometimes people are madly in love, but it does not work out in everyday life. That’s when they often say: “it’s still the man or woman I want to start a family with.” That’s okay, too. Tranquil love can still be big love.

Frimeso: What percentage of marriages or partnerships last “forever”? How many happy marriages are there?

Woinoff: The divorce rate has gone down significantly again. A third of all marriages end up in divorce. The average marriage lasts for 14 years. Many married couples either divorce early, for example, when they have their first child, and then again later, when the children are out of the house.

“COVID will result in more children and also more divorces.”

Frimeso: Nowadays, many couples work from home all day because of the COVID crisis. There aren’t many opportunities to get out of each other’s way in the evenings, either. Is the COVID crisis a relationship killer?

Woinoff:  That’s where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Some find it quite cozy and spend their evenings with their partner and children. Those who get along well during vacations generally get along well during the pandemic. Those who usually only get along when they don’t get in each other’s way are currently massively getting on each other’s nerves. That’s where people clash. COVID will result in more children and also more divorces.

Frimeso: Older couples who have been together for a long time often drift apart. What are the exact reasons for separation?

Woinoff: The reasons vary individually. Generally, people break up for two main reasons: They hope for something better, or they are simply unhappy in their relationship. Often, it’s the women who end the relationship. At 30, she’s looking for a man to start a family with and thus uses objective criteria in the selection process. Whether he is a soul mate or the ideal partner sexually is often not the decisive factor. Once the children are out of the house, she considers whether she really wants to stay with this partner for the rest of her life. There is dissatisfaction among both men and women. In my practice, however, I experience that men tend to come to terms with the respective situation. Men tend to keep up appearances in the spirit of a solid double standard and carry on.

 

Love and loneliness in old age

Frimeso: Are there people who purposefully choose to live alone and not enter into partnerships?

Woinoff: It does exist. Those people usually have other attachment figures, for example, their children. So it doesn’t always have to be a partner. There are, by the way, even some who don’t dare to date again because they already had the “full package” once and don’t want it again. But you can also have a relationship without living together, where you only do things that you like to do together and that you do well.

Sex and affection in old age: an unnecessary taboo that needs to be relinquished.

Frimeso: Sex during older years of age still seems to be taboo. Is sexuality important, or does its significance decrease with age?

Woinoff: The need for sex decreases a little over the years, of course. This is compensated, however, by an increased desire for affection and touch. Many old people aren’t touched anymore. This is also because, especially in advertising, sex and love are always associated with beautiful young people. Old people don’t dare to show that desire anymore because of this. But that’s wrong. There are enough old people who give each other just that. Affection and sex can take place up to the highest age. This taboo should definitely be relinquished.

 

Happiness despite grief

Frimeso: When a spouse dies, the other partner naturally grieves. How long does grief last, and what is the best way to deal with grief and loneliness?

Woinoff: There are many ways to deal with grief, but the most reliable way is a partnership. The duration of grief also varies. In any case, you should allow yourself at least one year to grieve. Some people grieve a little throughout their whole lives. However, they can still be happy and even enter into a new partnership. Usually, there are different stages of grief: After initial shock and stress, which is characterized by increased release of cortisone and adrenaline, you enter another nervous system, the so-called parasympathetic nervous system, where you calm down, but there’s also a feeling of gloom, even depression. It’s essential to embrace these phases and allow them to happen. At some point, it will get better, and reorientation will occur.

Frimeso: Is love different with age than it is in younger years?

Woinoff: Love changes. Nevertheless, love can be even crazier with age than among younger people who sometimes give into optimization frenzies. Once happiness hormones kick in, the balloons rise just as high. In old age, you accept yourself more as you are. The many things that bother you are often just the things that your partner likes. Often, we don’t even know what riches we have because we take them for granted. And for the other person, it’s something really great and new. That’s what I wanted to point out in my book   „Er steht auf Dich!“. You are right, just the way you are! Perfection and being human are mutually exclusive. Nobody is perfect!

Frimeso: How can you combat loneliness? Do you have any tips? Love online?

Woinoff: Nowadays, it’s possible to find love online, and it offers viable addition to getting to know someone in the wild. Of course, getting to know each other in everyday situations remains as relevant as ever. But online platforms like 50plus-treff.de are very reputable and user-friendly these days. Furthermore, older people feel that they are among themselves on such dating platforms and not like competing with young people. I can only encourage people to use these platforms.

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