Sex & Relationships

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

Have a question about sex for seniors?  Every month Senior Planet’s award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Subscribe now (do it here) and don’t miss a single column. Senior Planet subscribers also get The Weekly Orbit, our newsletter with features about personal finance, health and fitness, technology tips, an online book club and more!  

A reader writes:  

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

 Joan Answers:

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-150Joan 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.


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

  1. I’ve been here open or relationship for over 18 years unfortunately the past several years my partner hooked up with someone from his past and no longer have sex with me and I’ve become very insecure of my physical appearance I want to have sex with someone that I have met but I’m trying to get rid of the insecurities before we go to bed what do you suggest?

  2. This is a really good article and I appreciate reading all the comments (even tho the article is old). I am 70 and have not had a relationship with a man in over 20 years.

    I always enjoyed sex but have been frustrated in trying to get a new man in my life, especially since I’ve gotten disabled with mobility issues. I have severe osteoarthritis in my knees and cannot lay flat on my back (I have an adjustable bed, have to sleep on my back in zero gravity position – but I’ve found that helps my back a lot and rarely have backaches now that I sleep that way).

    I also have peripheral venous insufficiency and lymphaedema in both legs and neuropathy in both feet, up into my calves a bit, and half of my bum (I usually do not get pain but my feet, parts of my legs and bum are numb). I will explain in a bit why I mention this…

    I do masturbate when I feel the need, even though I prefer sex with a partner … and with hormonal changes don’t get the urge as often as I used to. One thing I’ve discovered recently that is a real PLUS in masturbating… which I would recommend for any handicapped person hoping to get a love life… is that it has allowed me to experience what orgasm is like with my current medical conditions. If I had not done that… I believe it might creep me out the next time I have sex with a partner. I was also afraid that because of the neuropathy I might not be able to feel anything during sex. Using a dildo type of sex toy and masturbating has allowed me to experience orgasm with the health issues I have fewer concerns.

    One, yes I can feel pleasure even tho half of my bum is numb. Two – yes I can still have an orgasm (hurrah) …
    and three – when I orgasm it feels weird and different in my legs because of the venous insuffiicency (but not painful…) and knowing that and knowing what to expect makes this a whole lot less scary.

    So I would highly recommend for anyone with mobility issues or health issues … DO use masturbation to explore and learn what will work for you vs. what you might prefer and to learn what the experience of orgasm will feel like with your disabilities. It makes it a lot less scary thinking about what first sex would be like with a partner now even with along period of involuntary celibacy and medical conditions that affect feeling in those parts of my body.

  3. I grew up with the good old Catholic church waving its arms and saying no, no no, to everything. Certain priests weren’t listening. Aside. I don’t care. I have a fairly close relationship with a lady but there is no physical contact other than a hug now and then. We have a lot in common and that’s our love for dogs. She has five. I love her enthusiasm. I make no demands. Ever. I just like the say things stand and if all I have is her friendship, that is enough for me.

    There is a famous quote made up by me and I use it often: “Some people ask why? Others say why not? My favorite response is the great song by jazz musician, Miles Davis, “So what!!!”

  4. Hello Joan,

    I’m 63, divorced- celibate for the past ten years (not by choice). First, let me clarify I like sex, sex with men. Having said that, I only had sex with one other man, before I married the second. I was married 20 years before everything went down the drain.

    I’ve reached a point now where I’d like to find someone special to give life a second chance… here is my problem: I can’t picture myself handling a strange old man’s ‘stuff’ (penis and testicles). I see man’s parts as gross… I don’t know why, I would like to get over this. Especially because I know I am no spring chicken either!

    I have the desire for companionship, and sex with a man… I am totally lost on how to begin! Help?

  5. I was widowed 11 years ago and I am now 66 years old.

    I have always loved physical intimacy and missed it immensely. I am not into the sex toys and have had to help me occasionally with my fingers.

    I often felt lonely too and that is why I started renting a room 2 years ago to a young student, a young man of 19 years old.
    What I didn’t expect, we liked each other very much and seemed to need both to cuddle each other.

    One thing led to another and I felt very nervous when it came to us that we were making love. Fortunately, the young man had a lot of patience with me and after a few times it came to a full penetration. That was really a liberation for me and I can fully enjoy it since. I feel young and loved again, but am occasionally insecure because of the age difference and the fact that I don’t get my heavy weight under control. It’s a joy to read that’s also good for my health! :))

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. Jane I have a different question to ask I am a widow of 8years and have a new partner we have a very enjoyable sex life but we both have read an artical on hpv caused by oral sex as we were intending to try this we are worried can you enlighten me about this if it’s safe or not nancy

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.)

  11. 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.

    1. I’m 60 window, I haven’t much sex in the last five years and if you look at the other five years it was nada, my husband was gone to war, training, excersiing and well he could not get it up. Now that he is gone, I’m interested I think to have sex. I’ve always been a very sex in missionary position, I don’t like stimulation with a man playing with my private parts, oral is not even in my books.

      I’m afraid to have sex, and I want this man to wear a condom, I don’t want to have stds.

      N another note one time I had put vagisal prior to my husband I having sex. Two things happened, one I was not having any discomfort when we had sex and the second thing is it made my husband last munch longer.

      Go figure there must be something in that cream. So I think I’ll wear some before we have sex, as I’m sure I have shrunk down there.

    2. I’m 45 had a total hysterectomy about 5 months ago and have not had sex ever. I tried a few times when I was in my twenties and It was always too painful. I discovered the reason for the discomfort during sex was fibroids, and endometriosis and after years of ineffective treatments I had the surgery.
      I’ve recently started going out with a guy I’ve known as a friend for years. We’re attracted to each other and I want to be intimate with him but I’m so nervous. He knows I had a hysterectomy but I plan on explaining about my history and lack of experience before we attempt sex.
      Thanks for this article, and I’m glad to have found it. I will take your advice, as I do occasional clitorial masturbation but will definitely be trying a dildo and some lube before I attempt intercourse. He’s a really sweet guy, I just hope he understands my apprehension and can be patient.
      I do have a question I kept my ovaries, but I am in perimenopause. Would it be ok to try an estrogen cream? I will be seeing my doctor but not for a couple months and I wonder if it’s safe to try the estrogen on my own.

Leave a Reply

Senior Planet’s comments are open for all readers/subscribers; we love hearing from you! However, some comments are not welcome here as violations of our Comment Policy. If you would like to express a comment about Senior Planet locations or programs, please contact Want to continue the conversation? Start your own discussion on this topic on Senior Planet Community.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *