Linda Kirkman’s response reflects the reasons I think encouraging older women to talk about sex is important: “to normalize talking about sex and sexuality, to reduce stigma, and to promote good health and happiness. Silence can breed stigma, shame, and anxiety; therefore, talking about sex can help alleviate all that heaviness.”
I am a sex educator and writer with a focus on midlife women – a category in which I include myself. I talk about sex as a way of encouraging others to talk about it too. I talk about sex with the goal of helping people bring pleasure into their lives. Knowledge is powerful and although older adults may be afraid to ask for the information they need when we can equip them with that knowledge, we can help them create happier lives.
Does Age Matter When We’re Talking about Sex?
The question is, does the conversation change when talking sex with menopausal women?
- Or do they need the same advice and resources as 25-40-year-olds?
The answer is yes to both of those. Midlife women fall roughly between the ages of 40 and 60.
Women of this age may be approaching menopause and women in the upper age range have grown up in a time when sex wasn’t talked about as openly as it is today. Back then, sex education was basic at best, and women were encouraged to save themselves for marriage.
Even though the ’60s brought about an increase in sexual exploration for many people, and the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (1969) gave us eye-opening information, many women in their 50s and older still lack basic knowledge about their sexuality. Some women of this age may have never looked at their labia, might not know how to stimulate their clitoris and may even feel ashamed of their inability to have an orgasm.
Bring up the topic of sex among older adults, and the typical response – at least among younger people – tends to be ewww.
That common reaction reflects our cultural ideas about aging and older people more than it reflects reality.
After all, many people report has satisfying – and even sizzling – sex right into their senior years.
- And why not?
- Although our bodies change throughout our lives, they maintain their capacity for pleasure, even if the way we access that pleasure changes over time.
- This infographic examines how couples can maintain a sexual connection with a partner over time. What do you do to feel sexy?
I don’t really like the word “old,” but it’s an attention grabber and people do tend to refer to “old” people when they’re telling us what we should not do, not wear, not say, etc. One of the things our culture assumes about older people is that we aren’t having sex anymore.
Of course, we are.
I was having a conversation with a neighbor the other night and we were talking about my being single.
I said that I liked having a man in my bed occasionally. She laughed and gave me a high-five.
- Why would we not think that older women, just like their male counterparts, want to have sex?
- And we are. How many?
- How often?
But we need to stop making assumptions about the lives of other people – regardless of age.
Online Dating and Sex
I’m thinking about online dating because that’s what I’m doing these days. I write about dating, so I read what other experts are saying about sex.
Some of it is a bit too prim and proper for me.
Most of them say that having sex too early in a dating relationship is a bad idea. Women are told to delay having sex in new relationships; some version of “save it for marriage.”
What’s wrong with wanting to have sex?
We’re not 16 anymore. We’re in our 50s and 60s. We’ve had sex before.
We understand what’s involved and presumably, we’re capable of making sound judgments, right?
There are reasons not to rush into sex, depending on your goals.
But what if the whole point of you being on an online dating site is to bring sex and intimacy into your life?
If it is, I applaud you.
My last article talked about the reasons we should be having sex. Sex is not a bad thing. It’s good for our sexual health and emotional well-being. So, if the goal of online dating for you is to find a sex partner or two, go for it. Use a little caution, practice safe sex and have fun.
What About Long-Term Relationships?
What if you’re looking for your next long-term relationship?
Eventually, you want to see how compatible you are in the sex arena.
Do you test that out on the first date? That depends. For me, sex is better when I get to know my partner – the sense of trust and ability to communicate my needs is vital. That’s not going to happen on the first date for me.
Sometimes, though, the chemistry is there. The air seems charged with electricity and you find yourself in an embrace that makes you eager for more. Sometimes, sexual chemistry is the only attraction. And then you’re left with that awkward post-sex awareness that you don’t really like that other person!
So, what’s the answer? Think about what you’re looking for in your online dating search and talk about it with prospective dates. See what they’re looking for. If talking about sex feels awkward then having sex will be even more awkward. Being upfront about what you want is always a good idea. Remember, you get to decide what you want when you want it, and how you want it. It’s particularly important for women to be clear about this and to be prepared to talk about what they want and don’t want. Don’t assume your date is a mind-reader and don’t leave it to them to decide what works best for you.
No matter how “old” you are, sex and dating can be part of life. And my advice is the same: follow your instincts and have fun.