Seniors: How (and what) is your sex life?

It occurs to me that after 11 years of talking out loud (shouting, insisting, cajoling, writing) about senior sex, the questions that interviewers ask me have become quite intelligent and open-minded.

When I first started this work, interviewers would ask elementary questions (e.g. “Is it true that seniors are having sex?”) and would often place a value judgement on what they heard (e.g. “Yeah, but eeuuww, the idea of my parents/grandparents having sex…!”)

But now, however young the interviewer is, there’s an open attitude, a nonjudgmental striving to understand. It’s not such an odd idea anymore that we aren’t retiring our genitals at some arbitrary age. This is progress! Or am I just lucky enough to be interviewed by smarter, more sex-positive interviewers?

One topic that interviewers find endlessly fascinating is that we’re not settling into old age passively or predictably. Many of us decide that it’s time to go after what we want, whether or not it’s what we used to want or ever thought we’d want.

I wrote about this in the “Stretching Boundaries” chapter of  The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, and many of you contributed your experiences in the “Off the Beaten Path: Nontraditional Sex Practices and Relationships” in Naked at Our Age. I’m often asked, “What percentage of seniors are into kink?” or “Are many seniors polyamorous?” or “Are most seniors happier with their sex lives than they were when they were young?” I sometimes answer, “I don’t collect statistics — I collect stories.”

Yes, some studies have been done, but more often than not, research and surveys either overlook our generation entirely or only study straight relationships and define sex as heterosexual intercourse, which is just one form of sexual expression. I don’t think that our generation is being asked the right questions about what we do, what we want, and how we feel about it.

So I’m opening this up to you: If you’re over 50 (lots older is fine!) and you find that your ideas have changed about what you want your sex life to be, please feel free to comment with your views and especially how those views have changed in recent years. Please give yourself a first name (doesn’t have to be real) instead of “Anonymous” and include your real age. (If you have any trouble posting a comment, email me with the subject line “blog comment: how and what” and include what you want to say, what name you want to use, and your age, and I’ll post it for you.)

I started this discussion on my Naked at Our Age Facebook page, which I hope you’ll read, “like,” and share. Thanks!

Learn more about my most recent book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50. Order here for an autographed copy, purchase from your local independent bookstore, or order from Amazon.

Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50

Are you having sex? What does that mean?

It’s important for us to redefine what we mean by “having sex” and being “sexually active,” especially with our changing bodies, relationships, and circumstances as we age.

In my view, “having sex” means doing whatever arouses and pleases us sexually, whether partnered (any gender) or solo, with or without sex toys, with or without orgasm, in any manner that turns us on. 
Did I leave out anything? 
It’s annoying and it doesn’t serve us when “having sex” or “sexually active” only refers to partnered sex, and especially when it only refers to PIV (penis in vagina) sex. Media, researchers, survey takers, doctors, please take note!
I’d like to invite a discussion here. Answer #1 and any of the others that interest you with as much information as you’re willing to share:
  • How old are you, and how would you define “having sex” or being “sexually active” at this age?
  • Do you consider solo sex to be “real” sex? Why or why not?
  • If you were surveyed about whether you are sexually active, how would you answer? What would you mean by that answer?
  • Has your doctor or other medical professional asked you about whether you’re sexually active? 
  • If you asked your doctor or other medical professional about a sex-related concern? How did that go?
 
Please post your answers as comments here, or if you’re confused about how to do that, email me with “post on blog for me” as your subject header, and I’ll do it for you. (Include a first name of your choice — it doesn’t have to be your own.)
Thank you. I look forward to sharing views with you about this important topic.

#AdultSexEdMonth

For More Senior Sex News and Views…

A new book coming out in January… regular Sex At Our Age articles for Senior Planetspeaking gigs all over the country… a gazillion yet-to-be-answered emails from readers — with all that’s going on, you may notice gaps of two weeks or more between posts.

That doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring my mission to keep the conversation going about boomer and older-age sexuality — quite the contrary! I’m using my Naked at Our Age Facebook page to give you quick senior sex news and views and links to articles of interest to sex-positive seniors. You’ll also find questions I’d love to hear you discuss and occasional rants from me.

Here are some of the topics we’ve been discussing there:

  • Single seniors: What has made you cringe that you’ve viewed or read on a dating profile?
  • The lack of older adults in sexuality research.
  • What does your favorite porn say about you?
  • Men try sex toys for the first time video — our guys grumble about the message.
  • Sex blogger Erica Jagger’s gynecologist says sex ends for women at 65.
  • A midlife man talks about his body and posing nude.
  • A Danish magazine interviews me about sex toys for seniors.

If you’re not following my Naked at Our Age Facebook page yet, visit the page, “like” it, comment on anything that grabs you, and visit often.

Don’t assume that you’ll automatically see that page in your news feed, even after you’ve “liked” it, though. Only a small percentage of the page’s followers do, because Facebook wants to encourage (strong arm) me to pay to promote the page. You can circumvent that problem by doing this:

  1. Go to my Naked at Our Age Facebook page.
  2. “Like” it if you haven’t already.
  3. Hover your cursor over the “liked” button to get a drop-down menu. Click “get notifications.” 

Aha, now you’ll  receive a notification from Facebook every time I update the page. (Thank you, Eva Gantz of Giving Books a Voice: Helping authors get smart about social media, for explaining this to me.)

Yes, I’ll continue to write this blog with topics that need more length and depth than a Facebook update allows. In fact, I have about five different posts in the hopper that I need to finish. Meanwhile, see you on Facebook?

Has society’s view of senior sex changed? Question for my readers

7/17/14 update: I originally wrote this post October 2012. At that time, it seemed to me that our society’s attitudes towards senior sexuality were finally starting to shift. When I began writing and speaking about the this topic in 2005, I was a rare voice talking publicly about this subject. In the past couple of years, I think we’ve made gigantic strides. A large — and loud! — community of sex educators, writers, workshop presenters, therapists, and sex-positive seniors are shattering the ageist sexual myths that our society accepted for generations, such as that our aging bodies have an expiration date when it comes to sexual pleasure. What do you think?

Do you think that senior sex is now accepted, even celebrated, compared to five or ten years ago? I hope you’ll comment here.

Sometimes I really feel we’re changing society’s view of aging and sexuality — other times, I wonder if I’m deluded because I surround myself with open-minded, sex-positive people who  applaud my ideas and communicate similar messages to their followers.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the momentum of the world I want to live in that I think we’ve already achieved it — but have we?

Are we just a small (but loud!) part of a society that still sees sexually exuberant seniors as laughable? Or are things really changing?

When my first senior sex book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty came out in 2006, it caused quite a stir in the media because it celebrated the joys of senior sex and included details of what was hot about sex after 60. (My personal favorite moment in that book is the nail-filing section — I love the smiles I see from women when I read that part aloud during a speech!)

Then I wrote Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex (2011) to address the challenges that prevent sex at our age from being as spicy and fulfilling as it can be. This book has won two major awards and is used and recommended by therapists and sex educators. I’m proud and grateful to all the people who contributed to that book.

Now I’m interviewed a lot and invited to speak at conferences and other gatherings. It really feels like I’m living in a world that recognizes that our sexuality is lifelong and ageless, and no matter what else is happening in our lives — medically, emotionally, partnered or not — we are capable of this pleasure. 

I hope you’ll post a comment so that this topic can become a discussion rather than one woman’s monologue –or her wishful thinking!