Life events when ageing bring about many profound changes of heart and direction like; leaving the workforce, loss of parents, loss of spouses, loss of friends, divorce and illness. We see our children marrying and having families of their own and for many mothers of sons inheriting daughter-in-laws that can at times pull families apart. All change is stressful and as we age these changes can mount up and become too much for many.
At times middle age sees many women become more independent and even more aggressive whereas many men seem to become more family orientated.
This can be a time when men start to lose their potency and will need to take things slower and be more romantic and come to the realisation that their primary sexual organ may not now be their penis. Women in some way have it easier, although many women nowadays find themselves alone and also have difficulty in accepting the changes in their figures and losing their previously good looks to age.
For those born around the 40s we are a generation facing longevity and to find satisfaction and hope for our lives many people need to break out of the rigid stereotypes of old age and retirement. The first halves of our lives were taken up with external issues, work, promotion, marriage and children. The second half of our lives rely more on internal issues, self-esteem and finding new forms of satisfaction.
In my parents day it was household duties, bowls and watching television. Today most retired people travel extensively and also participate in the same activities that their adult children are involved in.
So where does sex fit in with today’s 60+ year olds with partners?
A lack of sex in a long-term relationship isn’t always a sign of a problem, it is often normal for a couple to see their sex life diminish or even disappear. If this is ok with both in the relationship then there are no problems. But this is rarely the case. Most studies into relationships say that sex is beneficial for both parties and those who have regular sex are happier.
Many men don’t know how to approach their wives or partners and tell them they would like more sex in their life. To rekindle the flame the experts say forget the flowers and chocolates as these clichés have worn off with most women in long-term relationships. The clue they say is ‘emotional intimacy’ this is where you start if you want to make changes in your sex life. When we were young we were sexually driven by feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that drove us in the early stages of romantic love to have sex with each other anywhere at anytime every chance we could get. This chemical phase of romantic love lasts between one to three years!
After this for some of us comes the long-term love of attachment, which is deeper and not all-consuming. But romantic love never totally goes and it can be reactivated. A proven approach is to talk to your partner about missing the way sex brought you together. The ideal way to begin to ignite the fire is do something novel that can bring more interest and excitement to your life and has the capacity to tap into those feel-good neurotransmitters. Another great way to kindle passion back into a relationship is to make a list of your best experiences together, and if you can, start doing them again. Even if it doesn’t lead to sex at the time it can put passion back in a relationship.
Most men tend to say they want more sex. Many women also say they would like more sex because it makes them feel loved and connected, but say that their partners seem to want the sex but don’t make them feel they are desired. Walking over to her in the kitchen at night while she is washing up and giving her a nudge and making a gesture towards the bedroom just doesn’t do it for most women. Men should realise that foreplay should start at the beginning of the day. Listen to what she has to say and be supportive and loving and if possible not criticise. Then things may be a lot more receptive next time he rubs against her in the kitchen.
For the singles over 60 often things are very different.
Men over 60 are often no longer sought by the single women in their late 30s and early 40s who are looking for someone established, stable and successful unless of course they are really well-heeled. Many men over 60 are still aspiring to hooking up with a woman in her mid to late 50s who is independent and hopefully still sexually active.
Many women over 60 are often pickier about men than any other time in their lives. They are tired of men who don’t meet their expectations and feel it is not worth spending their time with someone who is not a ‘fit’ socially or intimately.
I know my readers are going to say, ‘You need a partner to have sex’, but even if there is no one around at present you never know what may be around the corner.
Age doesn’t have to mean it’s all over.
Many of us have age-related physical changes. These changes don’t have to interfere with you being intimate and your sex life doesn’t have to be dull or disappointing. Understandably chronic medical problems can affect a person’s ability and desire to be sexually active. It is difficult to feel sexy when you are in constant pain or recovering from surgery. No matter what your circumstances allow yourself the freedom to adapt your sex life according to your or your partners changing needs.
For women with medical problems midlife sex can be made much more comfortable with prescription oestrogen creams and over the counter lubricants. If there are other issues keep the line of communication open with your partner and hopefully between you delicate issues can be resolved. Keep it all as slow as you can for yourself and your ageing partner as you both may need more time to become sexually aroused.
For men their main concern is that they won’t be able to perform anymore and they will have trouble getting and maintaining an erection. As men age the level of testosterone decreases and the blood flow to their genital area will not be as it once was. It will take him longer to respond even if he is aroused. For many males an erection is more likely in the mornings so some timing adjustments to your intimacy may be necessary to fit your partners changing circumstances.
So be positive about yourself no matter what your circumstances are or no matter what is happening or not happening in the bedroom.
Look forward to your comments on how you feel about sex now. xxx CaroleL
If you would like me to cover any particular topic in this column please email me [email protected]
Carole Lethbridge is the author of “Online Dating After Sixty: One woman’s journey of love, lust and losers”. She has been both married and single over the last few decades and she has done her own research, gathering extensive data on relationships between females and males. Online Dating After Sixty is available for purchase for $21.50 via Booktopia.