Is Relaxed Retirement For You?

Surprise! Old People Have Sex and They Like It

”It seems older people are a lot friskier than some younger people may have thought.”

If you can resist the perfectly understandable urge to smack the reporter who wrote that sentence, findings from a recent survey support the notion, believe it or not, that old people indulge in sex with one another well into their ninth decade and perhaps beyond.

First, however, here is a video from Jimmy Kimmel, the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! TV show, who did some man-in-the-street interviews with a whole bunch of elders about some similar research:

A friend objected to Kimmel's grandfather “joke” and to showing so much of the man who keeps confusing top and bottom, a quibble we'll save for a future rant.

But to be clear regarding my grousing about that sentence in the first paragraph above, when was the last time you heard the word “frisky” applied to anything but a puppy?

In the past two or three years, several research studies have concluded that old people are having a good deal of sex and young people think it's icky.

Writing at HuffPost, Ann Brenoff answers the question, What's the oldest you can be and still have sex?, this way:

”You can have sex for as long as it feels good, kitten, for as long as it feels good. A recent study of 6,201 people ages 50 to 90 published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that up to 54 percent of men and 31 percent of women report having sex at least twice a month.

“As disturbing as you might find the thought of your parents or grandparents having sex,” Brenoff continues, “the truth is they’re still human beings with human-being urges.”

It's hard to tell but I suspect Ms. Brenoff is at least trying to express acceptance of people old enough to be parents and grandparents into the we-enjoy-sex club.

It's the surprise younger people exhibit at finding out old people still do it that ticks me off. How do these writers think they got here, for god's sake. A report of one survey about old people and sex began with this statement: “Sex isn’t just a young person’s game.”

And why would anyone think otherwise?

Um, it's called ageism and for as long as I've been researching age, it has been commonplace and customary, apparently, for younger people to respond to the idea of elders having sex with wonderment at best and disgust at worst.

When I run across these assumptions and judgments, I invariably mutter the two questions to myself:

At what age do they think people should stop having sex?

Do they think we forget how to do it when we hit that age?

If they think about it at all, younger people seem to have a lot of misconceptions about elder sex. Several recent articles address some false assumptions associated with senior sex. In another Huffpost story, reporter Yagana Shah does a decent job of debunking these five myths:

  1. Sex isn’t as important in relationships when you’re older (Wrong)

  2. Sex becomes kind of 'vanilla' as you get older (Wrong)

  3. Older people aren’t having sex (Wrong)

  4. Erectile dysfunction is inevitable (Not wrong and there are treatments that work)

  5. Sex is best when you’re younger (Wrong)

Not long ago, elder sex guru, Joan Price, published comments from readers of her Senior Planet sex column about what makes their sexual encounters pleasurable at their age. Here are three of the responses:

”I’ve learned that sex without penetration provides me and my partner with at least as much core-shaking pleasure as does PIV. Both are very nice, but my notion of 'real sex' has broadened to center now on sex without penetration.”
”I honestly didn’t know our sex drives would slow down. Nobody tells you that a strong libido has a shelf life. Realizing that the days of spontaneous combustion were over for both of us, I felt like I’d been ripped off by life.

“With time, laughter, tears, and a lot of talking and thinking — plus a vibrator, erotica, and soft porn — my husband and I created a place where sex is a wonderful mini-vacation where we give and receive pleasure.”
”We find planned, weekly date-night encounters far more enjoyable than spontaneous episodes, because planning a scene enhances anticipation. It’s a form of extended foreplay. We are consistently ready for sex well before the next date-night, but we deny ourselves, heightening the desire to extreme levels for days.”

It seems to me that the only real impediment to sharing good sex in old age is having a partner but we all know there are other things to do if that is not possible.

As to youngsters' mistaken ideas about old folks and sex, Ann Brenoff redeems herself with her answer to this question:

Q: “Aw, c’mon. Old-age sex is funny, isn’t it?

A: “Actually, it’s pretty serious business. It deserves to not be filtered through a lens of humor or disgust. We can start by not demeaning it. Older couples dancing intimately aren’t 'cute.' Save the 'cute' for babies and puppies.”


Googling "cute" came up with:
"1. attractive in a pretty or endearing way.
"a cute kitten"
synonyms: endearing, adorable, lovable, sweet, lovely, appealing, engaging, delightful, dear, darling, winning, winsome, attractive, pretty...

I'll take it. *big smile*

Hmmm. I wish I was getting some. Both my ex-husband and partner are dead. Not too many healthy guys around. I'm 77 and live with 150 people in a retirement community.

Great post again, Ronnie. Somehow I smell a Puritan in all of this. I would ask how Europeans view seniors and sex? My suspicion is not like here. That makes me grumpy. Somehow, sex and youth and procreation are all linked together in the USA and therefore, it is " approved or condoned by society. " As to seniors, if we are doing it for, God forbid, pleasure, there is something inherently wrong with that.

But, my belief, now that I qualify as a senior is that we do it better. We've had longer to practice and have the time to enjoy each other unlike those who have to work. So, take that you youth culture!

As for me personally, my husband and I enjoy a wonderful sex life. I am his " hottie!" We still light each other's fires after 22 years of fun and it gets better with each year.

Thanks for talking about the forbidden topic! Ha..ha..

Living as a widow for eight years has certainly put a crimp in my sex life. My late husband and I had worked through a lot of issues and positions and had developed a fun time of togetherness. I've had one boyfriend since and it was stimulating but other emotional factors were not included in the relationship, and I wanted more than he could provide. One of my major concerns is that I live in a small town and still provide professional, medical and emotional counseling. I don't think being obvious in my lustiness is best for my reputation. And that might be a bit restrictive in attitude, but it is a concern. Plus there are few eligible men and many of those are 'playing the field'. I decided I didn't want to be one of the many girls at their fingertips. So I have a pink friend who is keeping me company as I sort through the layers of my needs and wants in this area. I tried online dating and that has basically been a nightmare and disappointing. Companionship would be at the top of my list right now with the possibility of some time between the sheets. At 73, I am definitely not dead yet.

I am 76 years old and recently ended a three year relationship. The man I was with wanted sex on a steady basis. He was a good lover but it soon became too much for me. Many nights I simply wanted to cuddle or be left alone. But, he kept persisting, waking me up In the middle of the night to "play". We talked about it and he said he understood but he didn't because it continued. The bottom line is that his libido and his physical needs of kissing and touching were much stronger than mine. This caused a lot of frustration which turned into passive/aggressive anger. We decided to part ways.

All I can say is that after more than 30 years without a partner, I'm jealous.

Am I weird for saying it's just not that important anymore, and I'm fine with that? Married 43 years, sexually active through most of that time. Now not so much, and we're still as happy and close as always. I'm a zillion years past menopause. The hormones no longer rage in either of us. Isn't it just as natural *not* to want it like we used to?

IMO, what's "natural" depends on each individual's definition of the word. Sex was never #1 on the Top 10 List even in my relative youth, so it would logically follow that it isn't now.

It was your last line about intimate dancing that really got to me. Because one of the "grief holes" I fell in during my fist year of widowhood was the realization that I would never slow dance with a man who desired me again. Or at least that's something I've decided on. The last 10 or so years of my marriage were so harrowing that I have no desire for any more male company.

But I know what you really meant about intimate dancing, and that was missing from our lives for at least 15 years. My husband had heart problems and COPD and vascular issues, and the combination not only prevented spontaneous erections but also kept various medical solutions from working. He offered to satisfy me with other methods, but I turned him down. Partly because I believed it would frustrate and upset him, and partly because I wanted to have sex with HIM. And I hoped that part of me would just sort of go away over time. It hasn't.

The last years of our marriage were just a series of losses due to his ill health - the loss of a sexual partner, the loss of a fellow traveller, the loss even just of someone to take the trash cans out to the curb once a week. And as the trips to the ER and stays in the hospital increased, all my energy was used up in stress and trying to manage the practicalities of taking care of a man who wouldn't accept help. Part of me began to long for him to die, just so the near constant drama would stop. The loss of sex was far, far down the list of losses by then.

The study mentioned here gives an age group of 50 - 90 years old. I can bet most of the active ones were closer to 50 years. Two reasons being that they are more likely to have a partner and have the health for an active sex life.

Mary....Reading your post literally brought me to tears, dear lady. Perhaps you can feel my empathy all the way from Oregon. We are like the old line, "Twin sisters, different mothers"...or "Parallel Universes". I am 7 years past losing him and I still notice. My own tears surprised me but you have helped me feel less alone. Thank you.

I cared for my husband of 56 years for 8 years, and although his medical issues were different, (a rapidly growing cancer and a non-pressure hydrocephalus), the exhaustion for the lone caregiver is the same.

After driving 130 miles every day for 6 weeks to get his radiation, which only partially worked it robbed him of most other functions. I felt like a wee mine donkey hauling the Depends in one door and out the other. After the funeral home came to take him from me, I slept for 16 hours straight. AND that's enough of that !!!

**But now, even though I am 30 years past my "use by date" and use a walker when I'm in unfamiliar areas , I still long for an adult companion now and then to share a meal, a hand holding walk, a book, or a movie. I am hoping to build a 'new normal' for myself some way.

TGB has been truly helpful since I found it in February . Food for thought and encouragement always. Thank you all.

There is no balance in a marriage, in a life, without sex.

I wonder what decade ..... century? ..... the topic of sex will cease to be taboo for discussion, especially sex after ..... what age? Another area in traveling on life’s roadway where we learn accommodation and adaptation to our circumstances is part and partial of creating that happy existence we all seek. Perhaps more open discussion as is occurring here and elsewhere will eventually enlighten all age groups to the fact sex is a biological function with no age limits, maybe just variations in how it’s practiced.

"There is no balance in a marriage, in a life, without sex."

Whoa! That's a bit of a sweeping statement. You are of course entitled to speak for your own life on that score, but not for other lives. There are endless ways to express one's self in this world and that goes for sexual energy, as well as every other kind of energy.

Those who meditate for instance, may channel all their chakra energies, including their sexual energies, towards their awareness of Oneness.

Creative people may channel all their energies into their art.

We in the west are a little backward in our understanding of energy, sexual and otherwise. But I suspect it's fair to guess that none of us who walk this earth are perfectly balanced energy-wise, regardless of whether we're engaging in physical sex, or not.

We're all just doing the best we can here.

Sex? What is this "sex" of which you speak? Seriously, like Nora closing the door, I said goodby to all that before I was 50 when the last man in my life disappointed me for the second time. When I was, as they say, sexually active, I really liked it. A lot. To be honest, I didn't really intend to quit sex for good, but after the incident above, every time I got close to a relationship, I retreated. Fast. It was partly because I could no longer handle being that intimate with a man. Mostly it was because once I became accustomed to living only with myself---a person with whom I am perfectly compatible--- I could never even contemplate sharing my life with another human being. My thoughts would immediately go to bathroom habits, snoring, messiness, bed-sharing, not getting to eat what I and I alone wanted, fights over control of the TV remote, and worst of all having to be fair. Answering only to myself had become too much a way of life that I did not want to change. The lure of a sexual relationship simply couldn't win over that.

I married in my early 30s. No prior sexual experience. I had my first child before the first wedding anniversary, and four children in seven years. Sex was just another chore then. When the children were older, I had no energy and just wanted to sleep at night.

My husband died about 18 years ago. Children long since flown from the nest. I mourn the time I now could have enjoyed with my late husband .... time to re-connect and get to know each other again. I now think how frustrated my husband must have been with me, as he was much more into sex than me.

I miss the intimacy most of all. The feeling of pride and care about the progeny. I can't ever have that with any other human being.

Sex was never a biggy with me, unfortunately for my husband who was always in overdrive. Maybe that was why. Anyway, I'm now a widow, older and content and enjoy my freedom and doing what I want when I want. I don't miss sex at all, but I do miss cuddling and affection. Wish I could find a male companion for socializing that had no interest in sex, but I don't think they make them like that.😊

Aren’t we strange people. I come from a Puritan-like background, where sex wasn’t spoken about in polite company. So as teenagers when we learned about procreation, we were aghast that our parents may have participated in such activities. And they were only in their middle years at the most.
So it’s not surprising that some of us, particularly women, felt that sex was a chore, and desire something we had trouble acknowledging.
I envy those who have had, or still have joyous intimacy.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)