Every 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
My partner and I have been together for 20 years, best friends for 40 years. Now age 60, we love each other and our togetherness. The problem: I don’t find his body or mine attractive anymore, and I no longer want to have sex.
He still desires me and doesn’t seem to notice the signs of aging in my old body, but for me it is a turn off. Sometimes I force myself to have sex out of love for him, but it always feels sad. We used to have such good sex. Just enduring sex now seems an insult to what it used to be.
I have always orgasmed easily and still do. But while my body might be orgasming away, I am looking at the whole process with abhorrence — these two old bodies doing such ludicrous stuff! I feel sorry for him and it seems awful to reject him sexually, but I feel worse if I fake interest. We discussed him getting sex elsewhere, but he only wants me.
Is this as good as it can get from now on?
Joan Price Responds
How lucky you are to have a partner who loves you, desires you and isn’t bothered by the changes in your body. But you hate the changes in your body and his, and this has shut down sex with your partner.
Aging bodies inevitably change. Instead of hating this, what if you could reverse your attitude that aging bodies are icky? You could enjoy the intimacy of the man you love kissing, touching, and desiring you. You could celebrate your body’s ability to give you immense pleasure and easy orgasms. Wouldn’t that be sweeter than the feelings of distaste that you have now?
Think where those feelings came from. The media and our youth-oriented culture tell us that only young, firm bodies without wrinkles or puckers are sexy. We’ve rejected plenty of other social messages that limit us, why not reject this one, too? Our bodies wear the badges of age, and that doesn’t make them disgusting or our sexuality ludicrous. We are sexual beings lifelong if we want to be.
Avoiding sex and feeling disgust for aging bodies will only hurt your relationship and your own self-image. Your partner is trying to be accommodating, but he must feel very hurt and lonely to be forced to do without sex with the woman he loves, when that’s an important part of intimacy.
Here are some tips for enjoying sex with your partner again:
- Plan special dates. What kinds of dates did you enjoy with your partner when sex between you was vibrant? It’s easy to let these “courtship dates” fall away when you’ve been together so long, but bringing them back weekly can help you recapture those feelings of excitement for each other.
- Turn on your sexual brain. Do erotic stories turn you on? Romantic films? A private fantasy? Sexy memories? Your brain is your most powerful sex organ, so let your fantasies fly.
- Get physical. Exercise regularly and especially before sexual activity. You’ll get in touch with your own physicality, and, if you exercise together, you’ll appreciate your partner’s body more, too.
- Set the mood. If viewing every detail of your bodies is a turn-off, darken the room and light a candle. Play with blindfolds – I don’t mean to send the message that you can’t bear to look, but because shutting off one sense intensifies the others.
- Arouse each other slowly. Don’t go straight to intercourse, if that’s your usual sexual activity. Massage each other. Explore erogenous zones (these can change with age, too). Explore non-penetrative sex. Focus on giving and receiving pleasure rather than racing to orgasm.
- Get help from a therapist. If your reaction to these suggestions is negative – you’d rather not deal with improving your sex life – I strongly suggest seeing a counselor or a sex therapist (find one in your location) to help you understand and deal with your feelings.
I know that short advice here can’t magically reverse your feelings about your body – that will take a process. The results will be worth it!
Would you like to see more questions and answers? See all of Joan’s advice in Sex@Our Age.
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Joan Price is the author of several books including “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50” and the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age.” Visit Joan’s blog, “Naked at Our Age” and her Facebook page. For senior sex news, tips, event and webinar announcements, and special offers, join Joan’s mailing list.