I question the stereotypes of older men having sexual performance issues and older women having physical attraction issues. I look at six illusions about age and sex for men and women.
Old people sex is often seen by people as a contradiction. In response to my column about being a good man, ‘What On Earth Is A Good Man?’, a man made a fascinating comment on Facebook about a friend of his wife.
“This lady is in her upper forties, and single. She was saying that after being divorced for several years she is ready to start dating. She said she was looking for men in the 55-65 age range. She said she had to get her teeth fixed and lose some weight first. I said that was not necessary. I told her men in that age range would be happy with a friendly gorilla. What I meant to say was that (I am 62) I think men in this range have few illusions left, and may have a few age related problems. I know because, I myself , have sexual performance problems due to an enlarged prostate. There are also pain issues for many in that age group.”
I thought that view of older men is just as much of a stereotype as the tough jock is of younger men.
In a current article on Good Men Project, ’10 Reasons Why You Should Date An Older Woman At Least Once’, the writer talks about dating older women. In one of his points he characterises older women as a tad desperate in the same way.
“They’re more appreciative of relationships.
Young women are happy they are in a relationship… until they’re not. Older women understand how difficult it is to find someone half-decent, so when they find someone they really like, they try to make it work, to not throw it away over any stupid reason.
Older women are usually more thoughtful and caring. They understand that compromise is sometimes part of the deal and are willing to do what is necessary for the good of the relationship.”
Compromise is not the way to create or maintain a relationship. A relationship is about both parties finding their core essence and create something magical, anything less is doomed for disaster, or at least boredom. Perhaps the desperation is really in the ‘young writer’ who wrote the piece.
I accept that everyone thinks that ‘old’ people are sad, lonely and desperate, when they are young. The idea that your parents still have sex is weird! That is, however, a stereotype. Old people, on the whole, still love sex, with each other.
My response to the comment above set out my attitude,
“I am 66 and I don’t agree with you when you say, ‘I think men in this range have few illusions left, and may have a few age related problems.’ This can apply to men at any age, it depends what you focus on and how you deal with what happens to you. In my sixties I met and married a lady who is anything but a ‘;friendly gorilla’.”
Why is this stereotype wrong?
1. Age related problems exist at any age.
When I was a teenager I had serious issues related to being young. I was terrified of girls and of going out on dates. At that time I would have gone out with anyone as long as they showed an interest in me. I coach many men in mid-life (35-45) who have serious mid-life issues. This age is classic for men with failing libidos and men who have an inability to maintain any kind of relationship. Of course men in their autumn years have issues with sexual performance, diabetes and other health problems, but many do not.
2. Compromise is never part of the deal.
It does not matter what your age is, if you believe that one side should compromise to keep a relationship going then you are bound for failure and a sad old age. This strikes me as part of an old attitude that men have, that women are a lesser species and that they should bend to what the man wants. There is no need to say any more on that!
3. Men do not only want sex with someone who is attractive.
The woman referred to above said that she had to get her teeth fixed and lose some weight before she could start dating. I wonder which magazine told her that story. Relationships are about emotional and energetic connection not just physical attraction. Even the physical attraction is in the eye of the beholder. A woman who goes with a man just because he finds her physically attractive is selling herself down the river.
4. Sex appeals at all ages.
Appetite for sex does not diminish with age, it diminishes through boredom, ill health and lack of fitness. For women, an interest in sex can increase after her menopause and for men, it can continue as long as he is physically able to open his eyes. Take the case of the famous Brazilian Architect, Oscar Niemeyer, who designed the capital city, Brasilia. He first married Annita Baldo in 1928, she died in 2004, at 93, after 76 years of marriage. In 2006, shortly before his 99th birthday, Niemeyer married for the second time, to his longtime secretary, Vera Lucia Cabreira, a month after he had fractured his hip in a fall. He died at age 104.
5. Sexual performance problems are no bar.
Sexual performance problems exist at all ages and can be either physical, psychological or emotional. There are solutions and treatments for all of these. I am not expert enough to detail what these are but, from my own experience, I know that a little creativity can open up a world of sex for all. We can get too obsessed with the need for sexual intercourse to the point where we retreat into a self-imposed purdah if we cannot do it. Sex is about far more than that and I urge any man who has these issues to talk to his partner about them and open up the discussion of what is possible.
6. Age difference is not generally about better sex.
I am older than my wife and the age difference is irrelevant to us. We should beware of that other stereotype, the older man wanting young girls, or the man who leaves his wife for a younger woman. Yes, this happens, but there are also older women who want young men. Outside of relationships this is usually about capturing the vigour of youth through the sexual agility of the younger person. In relationships, however, it is more about an energetic approach to life. One thing that many older people do suffer from is a tendency to give up on life, to accept the comfort of cardigan and carpet slippers. To partner with a younger person is to reject this view and re-affirm your desire to keep challenging and enjoying the life you have. I admire Oscar Niemeyer and his vigour for this.
Old people love sex, often as much as young people. For young people there is a drive that needs to satiated, a drive that they do not understand. For old people it is a powerful pleasure based on years of experience, a pleasure that can be savoured through creative imagination.
Image Credit: Flickr/Tommy Hemmert Olesen (Creative Commons)
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