Dating Again In Your 60s: How to Get Over the Fear of First Sex

joan-price-150Every month in Sex at Our Age, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds! To send your questions directly to Joan, email


I am a divorced woman, age 62. I’ve been celibate for 15 years since ending my marriage. I made some male friends over the years and I socialize, but after my divorce I didn’t really date. I like being single and living on my own, and it’s been my choice to be celibate.

A couple of years after my divorce, I bought a vibrator that I use maybe once a month for both clitoral stimulation and vaginal insertion. I like it and reach orgasm easily that way, but I don’t feel the need to use it more often.

Recently I’ve had a couple of lunch dates with a new man, which is a long way from having a relationship, but it did bring the question to the forefront of my mind. I am interested in him sexually but extremely nervous about it. If I do decide that I want to have a relationship, what do I need to consider with regards to having sex?

I grew up with a rather repressed attitude toward sex. In college I educated myself, got birth control, learned about STDs and proceeded to break all the rules of my religious upbringing – and enjoyed it. I didn’t orgasm easily then, though, and one of my concerns is that I will not orgasm with real life person-to-person sexual intercourse. I know I need a lot of clitoral stimulation to orgasm. I enjoy penis-in-vagina sex, too, but that alone is not enough for orgasm.

I have many concerns about having sex after a long period of celibacy. I read one of your columns about a lady who couldn’t have intercourse because it was painful. I don’t have any trouble with my vibrator even though I don’t use any lubrication, but it is a slim vibrator of hard plastic and it slides easily. My biggest concern is that intercourse will be painful, maybe impossible, and no fun.

I am also afraid I will just burst into tears since I have not had an intimate relationship for so many years. I fear being completely overwhelmed by emotions.  —Celibate for 15 Years


Of course you’re nervous! You haven’t had a relationship, or even any interest in a relationship, for a long time. You ask very important questions, and you’re smart to want to get these questions answered now, so that you know how to prepare for a sexual relationship that might be coming.

First, please understand that having orgasms through clitoral stimulation and not through PIV (penis-in-vagina intercourse) makes you the same as most women. Only about 25 percent of women have reliable orgasms through intercourse alone. Instead of worrying that orgasm might not happen through intercourse, a good strategy is to have enough manual and/or oral sex before penetration so that you reach an orgasm before intercourse, or incorporate a clitoral vibrator with PIV. A partner who knows how women work sexually will be savvy about this and will want to learn how to give you pleasure. Be sure to give feedback so he knows what’s turning you on – moans and the occasional “oh, yes!” and “don’t stop!” work nicely when complete sentences are out of the question.

Also, realize that your new partner will likely be having performance anxiety himself. How do I please her? What if my penis doesn’t get or stay hard enough? I suggest you take the goal of intercourse out of the first sexual encounter altogether. When you’re ready to get naked, express that you’d like to take the pressure off by exploring each other without intercourse. Kiss a lot. Touch a lot. Find out what turns you both on and, if it happens, what gives you both orgasms. By saving intercourse for another time, you relieve each other of anxiety and learn how to please each other.

Before you get sexual with a partner, though, it would be wise to ramp up your solo sex to at least once a week. There are many health reasons for that (see my list of 33 reasons why weekly solo or partnered sex is good for you in my new book “The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50”) – plus, the more you have orgasms during solo sex, the easier it will be to have them with a partner. You’ll want to include penetration with progressively larger penetrative sex toys (dildos) so that you’ll be able to accommodate a penis when you’re ready. Please start using lubricant – you’ll need it with a partner.

You need to have a conversation about safer sex before you have sex. For more info, read “A New Love in Older Age: Should You Be Tested? How About Condoms?” and “Dating Again Post-60: How Far and How Fast?” on Senior Planet.

Yes, having sex for the first time in 15 years might easily bring you to tears. Let him know ahead of time that you’ve been celibate for years. Discuss how that will affect you and explain that he needs to go slowly, that maybe intercourse shouldn’t happen the first time, and this will be an emotional experience for you. If he’s worthy of sharing your re-entry into partnered sex, he’ll be respectful, gentle, and appreciative. —Joan


Joan Price is the author of the new Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life”;  the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex”; and the sexy memoir, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age,” and her Facebook page.

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  • Jan Gardner

    I really needed to read this column. It has been 17 years since I’ve had intercourse. I am 56, last menstrual cycle was last August–just over a year ago. There were a lot of circumstances behind this decision that I won’t bore you with, but like the lady mentioned being afraid of bursting into tears, it happened to me just getting ready for a date recently. I haven’t used a vibrator, but did try one last night in anticipation of sex with a new friend and it was a difficult process. He is excited at the prospect of having intercourse with me because he thinks it’s going to be like devirginizing me all over again. I’m scared but glad I read this tonight and know how to proceed.

  • Lonely widower

    Im a widower of five years and was sexaally active with my wife of 17 years but being celebate now is getting very frustrating . I’m 63 years youngat heart and live in Ga. The bible how can i meet ladies in my area with my same same frustrations without going on phony senior dating sites.

  • joanna kiersteaad

    Unfortunately, most men do not have a great amount of patience and understanding . They also are no very easy to understand women’s anxieties. I think every thing I read was very good and well worth trying but go slow and don’t expect too much at first.

  • Boomer Baby

    Dear Joan,
    I am new to this site, and I love the wonderful information I am finding here. But OH MY HOW I wish I had found it before recently breaking nearly 10 years of celibacy!
    There was lots of pain involved, extreme tightness, and the feeling that something was ‘just not right down there’!
    Now I am running to a gynecologist to find out if something is truly wrong, or if lack of use alone has changed things. In retrospect, I realize now that it was unrealistic on my part to think that my vagina was in some state of suspended animation, just waiting to be reopened where I left off 10 years ago…like a Christmas present sitting wrapped under the tree!
    I had a complete hysterectomy and extensive repair work done 15 years ago, but after the surgery, returned to my fully functioning capacity for orgasm with penetration. I remember that there was a period of healing required post surgery, but after some initial tightness, patience and careful treatment paid off.
    During this mostly 10 years without a partner, I have reached orgasm on a regular basis wth clitoral stimulation using one of those ‘massager’ types of external vibrators that you can buy in any drug store. I haven’t tried inserting a vibrator or dildo, just because I didn’t own one, and I can have strong clitoral orgasms easily and quickly with the massager. With deep penetration during sex, I had normally always had very strong, multiple orgasms.
    So, I have now made an appointment with a gynecologist to be thoroughly checked out. I am also doing a lot of reading here, and thinking…
    I think it would have been wise to have been inserting some vaginal estrogen cream over the years, (I don’t take prescrption estrogen because of breast cancer in my family. I do take Black Cohosh regulurly). And, I realize now that I should have been using at least a dildo with my massager. Also, since my recent attempt at sex was with a partner with a much larger penis than my partner after my surgery, I should have expected that I would need a lot more preparation.
    Vaseline and coconut oil, patience, and determination finally got me thru some penetration, but wow! I was very tempted to give up a dozen times. With a lot of cltoral stimulation, and very shallow penetration, I was able to orgasm, but it was nothing like I had expected.
    I guess that old adage “Use it or lose it” is not without it’s measure of truth! If I get the go ahead from the gynecologist, I will proceed with her advice, and the valuable information I am finding on your site. Thank you so much!

  • David Pittle

    Usual excellent advice. Also, they make a wonderful “device”, a set of vaginal dilators. If a woman has not had vaginal intercourse in a long time, a set of these dilators, essentially a set of graduated dildos, can be a relatively painless way of recovering the facility. One need not have full-blown vaginismus to find these useful.

    You can purchase these on-line without a problem, however when my client tried to get them at the local CVS, she was informed that she needed a prescription. (There is no reason for this, if it is true.)

  • Toni

    I am 83 and grew up thinking I ought to achieve orgasm through standard missionary intercourse, one of the greatest sexual myths ever perpetrated. To Joan’s wisdom I would like to add that Celibate… might want to consult her health care provider about the possibility of taking hormonal supplements to perhaps raise her sexual interest. Such supplementation is controversial so seek knowledgeable and experienced counsel! It helps me a lot but I am just one person and don’t know what the risks and benefits are in general – perhaps Joan knows.
    I also want to assure Celibate that there are lots of us out here in pretty much the same situation.

  • Wildflower

    I would love to have the problem of this what if?…Send me a man to help me over any anxiety. I await the hands-on after 3 years of just looking lovely.

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