Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions for 2018? I’m not talking about those tired (and usually abandoned) promises like go to the gym, stick to a budget, and stop junk food snacking. I’m talking about Sexy New Year’s Resolutions — changes and commitments that will give you a richer, more joyful sex life, especially at our age. And they’re fun to put into action!
You may know that I write a monthly “Sex at Our Age” column for Senior Planet. Usually I answer a reader’s question in this column, but occasionally I take a different path. This month, my Sexy New Year’s Resolutions offer you 14 tips and lifestyle changes that will make a huge difference if you follow them fully. Here are some examples. (Read the others here.)
Redefine Sex. Change your definition of sex to whatever activities arouse you and bring you sexual pleasure, partnered or solo. Embracing a new definition of sex expands your possibilities for pleasure. Read this account of one reader’s experience.
Track the Tingle. For quicker, easier, and more satisfying arousal, figure out what time of day you feel most sexually responsive. When you feel the “tingle” – that quiver of erotic possibility – set aside time to indulge yourself sexually or schedule that time on your next free day.
Self-Pleasure Frequently. Solo sex is real sex, and it’s good for your general health, your sexual health and your sense of well-being. Give yourself sexual pleasure, whether you’re in a relationship or not. You’re celebrating your body’s ability to give you exquisite pleasure.
Just Do It. This is for you if you enjoy sex when you do it, but you rarely feel desire in advance. You’re experiencing “responsive desire”: your desire follows physiological arousal instead of preceding it. So just do it, and your desire will kick in.
Exercise Before Sex. Increasing your blood flow with physical activity isn’t only good for the heart and muscles — it’s also good for sexual function and pleasure. One of the best things we can do to speed up arousal and orgasm is regular exercise, especially before sex.
Sex Before Food. Eating before sex sends the blood flow to your digestive system instead of your genitals. Have sex first, then eat. Sexual arousal will be easier, orgasms will be more reliable, and you will relish that meal afterward.
Use Your Words. Learning to talk about sex is the key to getting what you want. A long-term partner is likely to continue doing what used to work, even if it doesn’t work for you now, unless you redirect the action. A new partner wants to know how to please you. Speak up.
Have Sex More Often. Difficulty with arousal and orgasm is a good reason to have more sex, not less. The penis and the clitoris require blood flow for engorgement. The more you engage in stimulation – partnered or solo — the more easily the blood flows to the genitals.
Committing to a year of resolutions is daunting, I know. But did you know that it takes just three weeks to make or break a habit? So how about selecting two or three of these resolutions and committing three weeks to seeing how they work for you? Chances are you’ll want to keep doing them. Let me know!
|Shirley Kassman and |
I originally published this on Mother’s Day, 2013. I’m bringing it back on Mother’s Day, 2017.
Let’s do something different here for Mother’s Day: Looking back, how did your mother’s teachings about sexuality affect how you matured, interacted in relationships, saw yourself as a sexual being, enjoyed your sexuality?
I was born in 1943. When I came of age, my mother, Shirley Leshan Kassman, taught me nothing about sex other than a little about menstruation. The birds-and-bees talk was left to my obstetrician/ gynecologist father, who gave me a pamphlet about how women got pregnant accompanied by “ask me if you have any questions.”
|Joan 1961, |
senior year high school
Sure, I had questions. No, my parents weren’t the ones I asked. Since my father regularly saw girls my age who were “in trouble,” as unplanned pregnancy was called at the time, his point of view was decidedly and strictly a “don’t do it!” warning.
So when I started having sex at 17 with my high school boyfriend, I knew I would be in big trouble if I got discovered (I did, but that’s another story), and I knew nothing about pleasure.
Pleasure — or why anyone would do these strange things with each other — was totally omitted from my sex education. That’s a weird and dangerous omission! When kissing and “petting” got me aroused, I was surprised and thought something was happening to me that didn’t happen to other girls. What to do about that arousal remained a mystery, however.
In those days, no one mentioned the clitoris, not in the laughable “hygiene class” that was supposed to teach sex ed, not in any books I could find, and certainly not in the pamphlet that was supposed to ready me for adult sexuality. I had heard that women could have orgasms (no idea where I learned that), but how to make that happen? I had no idea — neither did my boyfriend.
I have two chapters in Naked at Our Age called “Unlearning Our Upbringing” — one with women’s stories, one with men’s stories. They’re poignant, provocative, compelling. At a certain point we either look at our upbringing and realize it doesn’t serve us any more, and we change — or we don’t.
I hope you’ll add your comments and share your own experience. You don’t have to use your real name (choose a first name of your choice instead of “anonymous”), but please tell us your real age so we can see how the era in which we were raised affected what we were taught about sex.
(A much shorter version of this post was published on Mother’s Day 2011.)
|High school |
If you’re over 60, 70 and beyond, how did sex misinformation and the lack of a decent sex education form your attitude about sex? What did you have to learn or unlearn to become the person you are today?
I’ll start. I was born in 1943. This was my sex education:
- When I was in junior high, my school’s gender-segregated sex education program was comprised of a filmstrip showing drawings of the reproductive system (no clitoris to be found) and a lecture about menstruation — why it happens, what to expect. I recall nothing about why people might choose to have sex!
- When I was a young teenager, my sex education was a pamphlet handed to me by my father, an obstetrician/gynecologist, explaining how the sperm fertilized the egg — but nothing about how the sperm got to the egg, and nothing about arousal or pleasure.
- When I was an older teenager, my father told me, “The best birth control is a dime — held firmly between the knees.” He did not want me to end up like some of my classmates who came to his office for a pregnancy test and later were shipped off to have the baby somewhere and give it up for adoption. These were the days before legal abortion.
- The summer before I started college, my grandmother told me, “Don’t ever let a boy have his way with you! If you do, he’ll never marry you. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?” I was already having sex with my high school boyfriend.
- During my freshman year in college, my father found out that I was having sex with my high school boyfriend. My parents declared that I was never to see him alone again, only supervised by my parents or his. So I learned how to lie to my parents.
- Home for the summer after my freshman year in college, I feared I was pregnant. Rather than risk going to a local doctor who would know my family and inform my father, my former boyfriend and I drove 50 miles so that I could use a fake name and not be recognized. I never told my parents about this.
How did my lack of sex education inform my later attitudes and behavior? Fortunately, I was a rebel. You wouldn’t have guessed that looking at me. I behaved in school, dressed like a “good girl,” studied hard and got good grades, and mostly kept my divergent views to myself. But sexually, I rebelled. Thanks to my [lack of] sex education in high school, I thought I had discovered sexual passion — surely no one else knew about this! I loved getting excited, even though I wouldn’t have my first orgasm until sophomore year in college. That was one more casualty of my [lack of] sex education — we didn’t know anything about the clitoris and its role in female orgasm. Heck (I laugh to find myself falling into the language of the times!), we didn’t know anything about female orgasm, except that some women were “frigid” and it was their own fault and they should fix it.
But enough about me. How about you? What are the things you were taught — or not taught — that make you shake your head in disbelief now? If you’re over 60, please comment. Use whatever invented first name you want, but please include your real age. If you’re under 50, please stay and read the comments — this is the life we led. This is how we learned (or didn’t learn) about sex. These are the barriers we had to overcome.
Speaking of barriers, who remembers the childhood game Red Rover? “Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare Joanie to come over!” — is that how it went? The person who was summoned would race to the line of locked hands and try to break through. As tiny as I was (6th grade nickname: Mighty Mouse), I always succeeded because I barreled through any obstacle with little fear of consequence. I guess in my small way, I’m still doing that!
I had the delightful experience of sharing Francisco Ramirez’s #FreeSexAdvice in Union Square, NYC. If you’re not familiar with Francisco’s events, he sets up two chairs in a park along with a sign offering free advice about sex, relationships, and dating. Then he sits down and waits for people to join him and ask their questions.
Yesterday — Saturday, May 2, 2015 — he brought a third chair. A chair for me. We had decided to take advantage of my visit to New York to offer park visitors a sex educator duo. We set up and Francisco tweeted that we were ready.
I thought I knew what to expect, but I was surprised and thrilled that people would actually sit down in the chair and, with very little prompting, start confiding their sexual concerns, stories, and questions. They shared confidences that their partners (if they had partners) didn’t even know. We heard these types of stories, among others:
- I love my partner but we don’t live close enough to see each other regularly. I’m cheating when we’re apart, feel guilty about it and keep promising “this is the last time,” but I can’t seem to stop.
- I was brought up in a church that condemns same-sex relationships. I know I’m a lesbian and I want a wife. But I love my religion!
- Will masturbating to x-rated man-woman pornography make me a pedophile? I’ve heard that porn does that.
- I live with a younger man. It was okay at first, but now it’s just blow jobs and giving him money. I don’t leave him because I’m afraid of being lonely.
- I don’t have much trouble finding people for hook-ups, but I’d like a real relationship. Should I be pickier?
Often people talked to us for 15 minutes, getting deeper into their stories, as Francisco and I asked questions to clarify the issues and offered advice. Sometimes the people arrived at revelations and conclusions that they hadn’t expected, and after they left, Francisco and I turned to each other and said, “We really helped someone just now.” It was deeply satisfying to how good information and a new perspective could change people!
Many thanks to Francisco for including me in this great adventure. We’ve already agreed that we’ll do it again next time I’m in New York.