Is it normal to be sexually adventurous when you’re old enough to know better, or is it – as Paul O’Grady once said – just the last desperate kick of a dying horse?
Not so long ago, I was discussing sexual fantasies with my then partner. One of his fantasies was to go to a sex club, and so a week later, we were at a swingers’ club. The bar was small and dimly lit. There were rooms branching off the main bar; one had glass walls and a big bed, another room was very dark. At one end, I could see something that looked like an altar and hanging on one wall there was a vast array of metal and leather bondage equipment… I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that we met some spirited, likeminded people that night and a good time was had by all.
My partner was keen to go again but I thought once was enough, so we called it a day. He seemed disappointed; and this disparity in desire is something that the newly adventurous should bear in mind. Psychotherapist Tina Radziszewicz says, “When it comes to sex, giving yourself the gift of new experiences can be life-enhancing. But it’s vital that partners discuss their sexual needs and both agree on what to try – and what to leave as fantasy. One partner coercing another will lead to resentment at best, and the relationship breaking down at worst.”
Angela is 72. She’s been single since her husband died 18 years ago. Every Friday night, she packs a sexy maid’s outfit into a small bag, along with some pencils and a sketchbook and heads off to her art class. Well, that’s where she tells her family and friends she’s going. “They’d be horrified if they knew where I was really going,” laughs Angela. “If anyone asks, I tell them I go for a drink with the other students after the class, when in reality I’m propping up the bar at a sex club!”
Her libido isn’t what it used to be, Angela admits, but claims she’s not there for the sex alone. “I don’t get many offers anyway,” she sighs. “I’m a bit ‘niche’ if the truth be told.”
Angela isn’t the only senior citizen who enjoys adventures that many believe are the domain of the young. Writer Jane Juska’s book Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance is a personal account of the sexual journey she started at the age of 67.
Her adventure began when she placed an ad in the New York Review of Books. The ad said: ‘Before I turn 67 – next March – I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me’. She had 63 replies. She took some time off from her job as a teacher to concentrate on this next exciting chapter of her life and the book – a frank account of her exploits – is the result.
What Juska’s memoir reveals is that older people can be just as adventurous as their younger counterparts. Yet many are still shocked that people in their 60s can be sexually active, so much so that many – Angela, for example – choose to hide this side of themselves from their friends and family. Jane did the opposite, however, and publicized what she was doing by writing a book about it. Not everyone she knows was happy with what she did.
Like Jane, many people find themselves single in their sixties. Contrary to popular belief, most second-lifers still have a healthy libido but some are at a loss as to what to do with it. Many are wary of starting new relationships, often because they relish their new freedom and don’t want to be tied down again. But they still have needs. Those in relationships may still enjoy sex but feel it’s become a bit thrill-less. So what to do?
Tina Radziszewicz (who is an MA UKCP registered psychotherapist and Aviva Health registered counsellor) says: “For many people, their middle years are a time of liberation. Women can enjoy sex without having to worry about pregnancy, and long-established couples have learnt how to satisfy each other sexually.”
According to new research from The University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research, 54% of men and 31% of women over the age of 70 reported they were still having sex. The author of the paper Dr. David Lee, an Age UK Research Fellow at The University of Manchester’s School of Social Sciences, says, “We hope our findings improve public health by countering stereotypes and misconceptions about late-life sexuality, and offer older people a reference against which they may relate their own experiences and expectations.”
Bearing all this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that all these sexy seniors are searching for new ways to liven things up in the bedroom. After 35+ years of being sexually active, most people are up for making a few improvements.
As Tina Radziszewicz says, “The older we get, the less we care what people think of us and the more we want to spend our precious time pleasing ourselves. Knowing we have far fewer years ahead of us than behind us concentrates the mind wonderfully, giving us the urge to experience all kinds of new, thrilling experiences – including in the bedroom.”
9 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life
Don’t let age be a barrier to having an exciting and fulfilling sex life. If you’re stuck in a sexual rut, here’s how to make changes.
- Boost your sex drive by getting more exercise. Physical activity increases your energy and put you in a sexier mood.
- Let go of worries about your looks. Tina Radziszewicz says: “Studies have found that women over 40 are more likely to feel confident asking for what they want in bed, and that they feel less sexually inhibited than when they were younger. And older ladies have often come to terms with how their body looks in a way that would surprise 20-something women.”
- Talk to your partner about your inner desires. Ask them about theirs. Even talking about your fantasies can be an aphrodisiac, so give it a try.
- Don’t be shy. Shy is for the youngsters.
- Got problems? See a therapist. Talking through your worries can free you up and make you more attractive and confident.
- Talk to friends about sex. No need to be embarrassed. Break that taboo.
- Treat sex like exercise. Out of practice? Then get back on that metaphorical bicycle and pedal like fury.
- Work out your own ways of livening up your love life – there are hundreds of books on the subject and you can research pretty much anything via the internet.
- Be bold. Always fancied trying out some sex toys or dressing up but too shy to go shopping for them? Buy online. Want to join a club? Email clubs you like the look of and take it from there.