Sex is complicated enough when it’s easy — but when we’re in grief, it’s especially mysterious and confusing. How do we nurture ourselves as sexual beings when we’re grieving the death of a partner? Why does taking care of ourselves sexually even matter when we’d rather hide under the covers and wail? What do we do with those sexual feelings that arise despite our misery? How do we know when it’s time to open ourselves to a new sexual relationship, whether it’s a friend with benefits or a new love connection?
stumbles along the way), my attempts to dip my toes in the dating pool, and what I learned.
This is where you come in. If you have experienced the grief of your partner’s death, how did you get sexual again? What was the hardest thing about opening yourself to sex with a new partner? What lessons did you learn about sex and grief that you’d be willing to share with others? What worked for you? What didn’t work? What did you learn along the way?
Additionally, I could use your experiences and perspective in these areas:
2/19/19 update: I edited this list again, deleting those topics that I no longer need and adding a few new ones. If you’d like to share your personal experiences or tips, even just a couple of sentences, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll use short excerpts from your sex-after-grief journeys along with my own, plus quotes from professionals. Choose one of these topics and email me with “Sex after Grief” as your subject header if you’d like to contribute. **DEADLINE 2/25/19!**
- Your first partnered sex after/during grief, what it meant to you then, what it means to you now
- How did you know when you were ready for partnered sex with a new person?
- Feelings of guilt/betrayal of deceased partner when you wanted sex or had sex with a new person
- Sex after grief when you’re in a non-traditional relationship style: poly, kink, etc.
- Adventuresome sex after partner’s death
- Getting sexual in stages
- Advice about sex and grief from your grief counselor/ therapist/ coach/ surrogate
- Dating while grieving
- Your first time with a new partner — how did it go?
- Communicating with a new (or potential) sex partner about desires, boundaries, uncertainty, safer sex
- Solo sex during grief
- What happened next? How you moved forward. Reflections on how far you’ve come.
- Advice for newly bereaved
- Unexpected joy with new sexual partner
- Cautionary tales, warnings while we’re vulnerable
People of all genders, all sexual orientations, all relationship styles are invited to contribute. Notice that I haven’t said that you need to be age 50+. Sex after Grief will be primarily, but not exclusively, for our 50 to 80+ age group. Whether you’re older or younger than 50 and you struggled with death, bereavement, and regaining your sexuality, your story is welcome.
Thank you so much for getting involved and helping other people who share the journey we never wanted to take. I hope to hear from you.
Thank you to all of you who emailed me since I first posted this 11/25/2018. Thanks to you, this book will be filled with diverse experiences and perspectives.
June 2019 update: the book is written! Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved comes out August 2019! Learn more here.
I used to be eager for sex, easily aroused. My desire dipped after menopause and now barely exists. I can go weeks or more without desiring sex or thinking much about it. The funny thing is, if I get started, I like it, but it’s so hard to get in the mood.
The number one sex problem that I hear from women is the lack of desire for sex. They do still enjoy sex once they get started, they tell me, but they’re seldom in the mood ahead of time. It isn’t just a problem for women—many men also report decreased desire—but for women, it’s the primary complaint. The problem is that if we wait for the mood and don’t make sexual pleasure a priority, we’ll rarely have sex.
There are lots of reasons that you may be feeling decreased desire, but let’s cut to a solution that works first, and figure out the reasons afterward:
Instead of waiting for the mood, start getting yourself sexually aroused—on your own, with a partner, or with a vibrator. Just do it. The physiological arousal will trigger the emotional desire.
That’s the opposite of the way it used to work! When we were younger, our hormone-induced sex drive bombarded our brain and body with desire—especially during our most fertile times. This was simple biology. A glance, a thought, a murmur, a fantasy, or a touch sparked the mood. Once in the mood, we opened ourselves to the pleasures of physiological arousal. We got turned on, our arousal built, and we crashed joyously into orgasm.
But now, this all works the other way around. Instead of waiting forever for the mood to strike, we can induce the mood by letting ourselves get physiologically aroused as the first step. Arousal will lead to mood and desire, instead of vice versa.
Here are your new mantras:
- Desire follows action.
- Use it, don’t lose it.
- Just do it.
“You may have just saved my marriage,” a woman told me after I gave this suggestion at a presentation. Try it—you may feel the same!
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to approach our sexuality in this new way: Relax, start getting physically aroused, emotional arousal will happen, and voila, we’ll be in the mood. So the key is to commit to regular sexual pleasure, partnered or solo.
How does this translate to real life? Here are some tips:
- Schedule sex dates with your partner and/or with yourself at least weekly, more is even better.
- Exercise before sex for faster arousal and easier orgasms.
- Create rituals with your partner that signal sex would be welcome.
- Allow plenty of arousal time — no rushing, no goals except pleasure.
- Make sexual arousal and orgasm a habit, whether you’re partnered or on your own.
That means that you can start 2015 with the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to sex after 50, 60, 70, 80 and beyond.
You’ll learn immediately useful information and tips about medical challenges, loss of libido, loss of intimacy, dating, elusive orgasms, erectile dysfunction, vaginal pain, self-pleasuring, sex toys, kink, and more.
If you want information about the sexual changes, questions, and concerns you’re experiencing. The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty offers straightforward, nonjudgmental information and immediately useful tips, spiced with comments from my readers.
The Ultimate Guide to Sex After Fifty delivers solid, practical information in a friendly, accessible style to help you — whatever your gender or orientation, partnered or unpartnered — enjoy your sexuality for the rest of your life.
Do you want your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50 now? Here are three ways to get it:
- Order directly from Joan for an autographed copy with this PayPal button:
Autograph to [name]:
- Buy from your local bookstore. They probably have it in stock; if not, ask them to order it.
- Order from Amazon with this link.
Chapter 1: Busting the Myths about Sex and AgingChapter 2: What’s Happening to My Body?Chapter 3: Getting Your Mojo BackChapter 4: Sex with Yourself and ToysChapter 5: Sex with a Longtime PartnerChapter 6: Stretching BoundariesChapter 7: When Intimacy EndsChapter 8: You and Your DoctorChapter 9: When Sex Is PainfulChapter 10: Cancer, Cancer Treatment, and SexChapter 11: Heart, Brain, Joints, and SexChapter 12: Sex without ErectionsChapter 13: Single after All These YearsChapter 14: The New Rules of DatingChapter 15: Sex with a New PartnerChapter 16: Safer Sex: AlwaysChapter 17: Sexy Aging Going ForwardChapter 18: ConclusionRecommended Resources
|Joan with Brenda Knight|
I was so excited about the arrival of my books that I drove an hour and a half in gusty winds to the Cleis office to pick up the copies I ordered, rather than wait for shipping. I arrived to find Brenda Knight, the queen of Cleis Press, and the whole staff as excited as I was!
Update: The book is done and going through the publishing process. Thank you for your help!
Needed: more LGBT reader quotes for my new book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty (to be published Dec. 2014 by Cleis Press).
This book will be a valuable self-help guide for people over 50 of all gender identities and sexual orientations. However, right now, most of the experiences, comments, and questions that readers have sent me are heterosexually focused.
Can you help me fix that?
If you’re over 50, identify as LGBT, and you’re willing to share comments for publication, please email me or comment here with a few sentences about your experiences or views about any of these that strike your fancy. (Don’t try to answer them all — choose one or two and send me a paragraph.) Please include your age.
- What has changed about your sexuality lately?
- How has aging affected your sexual behavior, attitude, and enjoyment?
- What are the special LGBT issues related to sex and aging?
- How do you keep the spark going in a long-time relationship?
- If you’re single now, how does age impact finding a partner or having sex with a new partner?
- What myth about sex and aging would you like to change?
- What medical conditions have impacted your sex life, and how have you dealt with them?
- How did your doctor react when you brought up a sexual concern? Did your doctor ever say something that offended you or led you to switch docs?
- If you were having sexual problems, resisted going to a doctor or therapist, then finally did, and there was a treatable explanation for the problem, tell me your story.
- What else would you like to share?
By emailing me or posting a comment here, you’re giving me permission to use excerpts in my book if they fit. What you tell me may help others significantly.
If I use your comments, I won’t identify you in any way, and I’ll be careful to delete any details that might lead someone else to identify you.
— Joan Price