Never Too Old for Sex
By Eleni Fakotakis, Director of the HCGM Hellenic Social Services of Quebec
Great sex requires experience and self-confidence. The older we get, the more experience and confidence we accumulate and therefore the better our performance becomes at something, this is also true for sex. Sex is an integral part of our lives and should continue to be, as we grow older (old). People over the age of 65 do have sex and should definitely continue to!
Unfortunately, the aging process changes our health and our bodies and these changes make us self-conscious and when we are not proud of the way we look and feel, then we behave with insecurity. We may avoid sex altogether or engage in it with the lights off, for example. We may feel that because we think we are not beautiful, that our partner will also not find us attractive. Attraction though, is a tricky thing. We do not necessarily become attracted to someone because of their physical beauty (although this helps), attraction has more to do with confidence and how one wears their confidence. It is more about who we are; our values, our personality, our popularity, our optimism, our generosity, our success or whether we are humble or not, that may be attractive to others, for example. These are far more important elements that shape how others define whether we are attractive or not, than just our physical attributes. Everyone views attraction differently, we do not all find the same people attractive.
We deserve to be happy and healthy and to lead a quality life. This is everyone’s own responsibility and no one else’s. A partner can certainly help to make us happy, but should never be held responsible for our complete happiness. We control whether we are happy or not. We have to be happy and satisfied and in love, first with ourselves, before we can share our love and happiness with others. We are responsible for our well-being, what we do, what we eat and how we feel emotionally and spiritually. We are responsible for getting our health back on track.
Keeping healthy involves exercising on a regular basis and keeping a healthy weight at all ages, not smoking, avoiding drinking a lot of alcohol and keeping diabetes under control (if you have it).
Good health and good sex help us feel better about ourselves and help to raise our self-esteem; they help to keep us feeling young. Sex has many other good benefits as well, for example, it can help a couple maintain intimacy and a healthy, satisfying and longer-term relationship. It is also a very good form of exercise. It increases emotional health; it is a stress reliever and can increase your immunity because we can acquire a higher level of antibodies when we have sex on a regular basis. Studies at Wilkes University have shown that people who engage in sex regularly (more than 3 times a week) have fewer colds. Studies have also found that having sex more than twice a week reduces the risk of a fatal heart attack by half, as compared to people who have sex once a month. A research study in England published in the ‘’Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health‘’ disproves that the frequency of sex is associated with strokes.
Menopause, andropause (which is male menopause) and taking certain medications can decrease the desire for sex or affect one’s ability to have and to hold an erection. It is a good idea to check with your doctor if you feel that your medication is doing this to you. It does not take much to lose one’s confidence and one’s erection; a first time with a new partner, a distraction, a disagreement with your partner, the way you are treated by your partner, too much stress or certain medications, can all hinder an erection and consequently, performance. There are pills that can be prescribed by your doctor and other good products that can be purchased at a sex store that can help with erectile difficulties, such as rings or pumps. For women, there are a variety of lubricants that can be bought at the pharmacy and used to alleviate dryness safely. The very daring can choose between a variety of other lubricants that come in different flavours and which are sold in sex shops. Regular creams and lotions that are not meant for this purpose should not be used because they can cause irritation and burning.
It is very important to have a healthy, positive and fun attitude about sex, it should not feel like a chore, or something you feel you have to do. This greatly depends on the relationship you have with your partner. If sex is not fun or exciting, the couple has made the act a routine or there is not enough of an effort being made to please one another or only one person is being satisfied and the other is not. Another reason for not enjoying sex is if someone is being forced to have sex, or if there is disrespect or violence within the relationship. It is important to note here, that no one belongs to someone else. We cannot own another human being. We do not own our husband, or our wife, or our children. We cannot do what we want with them. Just because a couple is married, does not mean that the husband has a right to sex anytime. Even in this context, both individuals have to agree to have sex. If a woman or a man is not treated with respect, if there is little trust or none at all, if a couple is not happy generally, they will not enjoy each other’s company even during sex. If there is extreme jealousy, ambivalence or smothering is involved (which is when someone feels they cannot grow and improve because they are being held back or put down or not given enough time to be on their own) then the relationship will not be a healthy one, therefore sex will not be healthy either. When people force themselves to stay together for a long time, for all the wrong reasons, they develop co-dependent, negative behaviours towards each other, that only worsen in time and turn into feelings of resentment and hate.
Satisfaction happens when you know your partner well and know what they like and dislike and are willing to please them. If you are not sure, there is nothing wrong with asking your partner what turns them on and what they want you to do exactly. Having great sex is about knowing your partner well, aiming to please him or her, having fun, it is about creating an ambiance, and it is about being mature and having confidence. Confidence is a state of mind that is developed over time, mastering it will assure you have it not only when you have sex, but all the time. Confidence is an ‘’air’’ about you, in the way you walk, in the way you speak, in the way you look. Having a lot of confidence is like imagining you are like Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall in one of their movies.
Satisfaction depends on many things, particularly foreplay. Excitement is achieved in foreplay. The greater the excitement, the greater the passion. The more passion and excitement that build up, the greater the climax or satisfaction. Over time, couples engage in less foreplay and unfortunately create routines that kill excitement. The important thing is to keep discovering new ways of pleasing your partner. Don’t be afraid to experiment. The elements of surprise and discovery are important. Imagine that your partner’s body is a foreign land with hills and valleys and you, a traveler that has to discover every inch, over time and with excitement and sensuality, each time. Run a feather or soft item over this land and enjoy your partner’s enjoyment. Be unpredictable; abstain intentionally from some activities for a certain time; don’t do the same sexual activities every time; dress sexy; be sensual in and out of bed; do something special for your partner; vary the type of activities; choose a different place to have sex (not always in bed); have fun, laugh; play games; try to have sex without physically having sex (this can be just as exciting); take the time to please each other; these are all ways of increasing the excitement and passion and getting to know one another better, in a fun and/or sensual way.
If you are widowed, divorced, or separated and do not have a partner, there is nothing wrong with engaging in sex with someone you do not love, on occasion, if you wish to. Life is too short to wait for the ideal moment or to fall in love. Do not hesitate to date someone you meet online or through a friend. We do not have to love someone to have sex with them. The two (sex and love) can exist separately and there is nothing wrong with that. However, in this case, a certain amount of physical attraction, respect and trust must be present between the individuals in order to want to engage in sex without love. Ideally though, when sex and love do co-exist and the couple knows each other well, sex can be much more pleasurable.
Sex is not shameful, against the law or against our religion. This is the same for women as for men. Yet many women are made to feel ashamed of their sexual feelings. Some cultures control this by cutting a girl’s clitoris so that they can never enjoy sex. While other cultures regard sex as normal and natural as the air we breathe and vital to our well being and openly discuss it even with their children. Some have a comical way of looking at sex and try to put ethnic pride on performance. Remember the movie, ‘’My Big Fat Greek Wedding’’? Nia Vardalos’ mother in the movie said, ‘’Greek women are like lambs during the day, but they are tigers in bed!’’
Yet, it is a shame that some people feel disgust at the thought of an elderly couple having sex or of seeing an elderly couple kissing. Is it because we are thinking of our parents or grandparents? Is not what is good for us, good for them as well? When does a good act stop being a good act? Does it ever? There is absolutely nothing wrong with elderly couples engaging in sex, it is wonderful. Remember, we all age and grow older, why would we act differently just because we are older? Also, if there is real love, it would only get stronger with age. The elderly may be physically limited and move slower, however, this can allow for an opportunity to be more sensual than they were when they were younger. Good healthy habits have to continue. The more public the elderly are about their feelings for their partners and the more displays of affection we all witness in public, the more this will be accepted and perceived for what it is, normal behaviour. It is only when people do not understand or try to hide things that negative feelings and feelings of taboo seem to linger. Even elderly in institutions have the right to their privacy and to their sexual intimacy. This is very normal and natural as well.
Age should never hold us back from anything, not even sex. We need it and it makes our life exciting and helps to keep us healthy and feeling better about ourselves. How many times have we heard older people say, ‘’ I am this age but I feel like 25 years old. I do not know where the time has gone!’’ The secret is not to think about age as a negative thing. Remember, good sex comes with age and experience, wine is better with age too, is it not? Great sex though, comes about when there is confidence and more sensuality. Therefore, age and experience is the wine; and confidence and sensuality, is more about how we pour the wine into the glass and drink it. Can we serve it with perfection, without the wine dripping on the neck of the bottle? Do we smell the wine as we drink it? Do we swirl it? Sip it slowly, trying to identify whether it is fruity or spicy? Do we appreciate it to the last drop? Or do we drink it down fast, without consequence and ask for another glass!