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The Myth Of The Sated Senior

Some research on Americans’ sexual behavior comes to us from Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion, in a study funded by Trojan condoms. Most of the study looks at titillating stuff like masturbation, anal sex, and faked orgasms, but researchers seem also to have discovered that a lot of old people manage to have sexual intercourse and find it “pleasurable.”

Those who write reports like this one, and the journalists who extrapolate from their summaries, must surely be in their 30’s.  How else to explain the condescension with which this data is reported?  I hate the way they perpetuate the myth that sex for seniors is tepid.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking for sex that is merely “pleasurable.” Pleasurable is what I want in a documentary about porpoises, or a leisurely autumn stroll. What I want vis a vis sex is the earth moving, fireworks, the 1812 Overture, and speaking in tongues (no pun intended).


And I’m not the only one. In response to an ABC News article about the Indiana study, a reader posted this inspirational comment:

We have a big whirlpool tub that my wife loves. She soaks with a few glasses of wine, scented candles and a book. I bring her chocolate once in a while. After an hour of that and a half hour of foreplay, no need to fake it. …. Guys, take it from an old man who’s been married for a long time. If you only have a few minutes, wait until you have enough time to do it right. It’s worked for 35 years ;-).


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'The Myth Of The Sated Senior' have 15 comments

  1. July 21, 2014 @ 9:13 pm Sienna

    Terry – you made life worth livin’ for me today. So nice to have your kind words. Thank you.

  2. July 15, 2014 @ 9:05 pm Terry

    I positively LOVE your blog! It gives me hope as an available widower. I have to admit I honestly laugh out loud at some of your posts and I mean that as the most genuine of compliments. I truly hope I’m NOT one of the horror stories you describe but it is very useful to read as behaviors to definitely avoid!

  3. August 8, 2013 @ 10:10 am Sienna

    Metta — Thanks so much for confirming our belief that sex is ageless, and that deeply felt appreciation of one’s body, mind, and personhood is what makes sex rewarding at any age.

  4. August 8, 2013 @ 9:11 am Metta

    I’m 62 and my romantic partner is 61 and is the best and oldest sex partner I’ve ever had. I have never had better sex in my life nor have I ever had a more appreciative lover — including his being appreciative of how my body looks (and I am not a supermodel!).

    The sex is hot, creative, uninhibited and fulfilling, and we can have intercourse several times a day. We also can laugh out loud in bed together. I have other senior friends — up to age 82 — who have fulfilling sex and whose partners enjoy their bodies including sleeping naked with them.

    My senior friends are people who live active lives being involved actively in athletics, the arts or some other hobbies that take time and energy and allow them to be with people of all ages, including much younger people. They do this even if they are disabled. For instance, one of my senior friends who was 82 and blind used to have daily afternoon sex with her 79-year-old boyfriend, who was an avid tennis player.

    The seniors who do nothing but sit home and complain about their aches and pains and how horrible the younger generation is are the ones who aren’t having sex. The rest of us are living life with gusto including having dynamite sex.

  5. July 7, 2013 @ 4:41 pm Iona

    I’m not sure I can expect more than pleasurable at my age. I’m looking for someone who has respect for me and will be gentle. I had a lot of fireworks when I was younger, though.

  6. July 7, 2013 @ 11:29 am Pollyanna

    I’m not looking for tepid anything, certainly not sex. Life is for living.

  7. June 3, 2012 @ 8:14 am Trina M

    It’s no use telling young people that senior sex is good. they don’t listen to your advice about anything else – why this – !?

  8. November 1, 2010 @ 11:51 am Paloma

    This is so true about young writers not getting it. They write out of ignorance and insensitivity, things like, “She is still attractive, even though she’s in her mid-forties.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I haven’t been in my mid-forties for almost twenty years.

  9. October 11, 2010 @ 9:16 pm Sienna

    I think this is a legit comment, LB, even though this guy sounds too good to be true (chocolate AND foreplay – OMG).

  10. October 11, 2010 @ 8:56 am LB

    Is the “old man who’s been married for a long time” referenced above for REAL?!!

  11. October 9, 2010 @ 10:29 pm Sienna

    Molly, I actually thought about this when I was writing this post. But I think it’s just part of the cultural malaise – we’ve got sex all mixed up with athletic achievement. Maybe kids are always going to feel grossed out about mom and dad “doing it,” but as a society we’re staying fitter longer, and the sexual landscape has to change with us.

  12. October 9, 2010 @ 6:31 pm Sienna

    Thanks, Helen, for your reference to the wonderfully earthy poet Lucille Clifton. This is my favorite of her poems, and it’s apropos of our discussion here. Clifton was born in 1936, and she was no kid when she wrote this. She died this year at 73.

    Homage to My Hips

    these hips are big hips.
    they need space to
    move around in.
    they don’t fit into little
    petty places. these hips
    are free hips.
    they don’t like to be held back.
    these hips have never been enslaved,
    they go where they want to go
    they do what they want to do.
    these hips are mighty hips.
    these hips are magic hips.
    i have known them
    to put a spell on a man and
    spin him like a top

  13. October 9, 2010 @ 5:39 pm Ricki

    I couldn’t agree more. Otherwise, what’s the point! Life is short.

  14. October 9, 2010 @ 4:42 pm Helen

    Amen, I say! I’ve always agreed with poet Lucille Clifton’s observation that spiritual and sexual ecstasy are more closely intertwined than one might think. They each express our “lust for life,” and that’s not age dependent. An ancient Sumerian prayer (1600 BCE) to the Goddess praises her “luscious lips” and asserts that “life is in her mouth.” This is the kind of juiciness I treasure and cultivate!

  15. October 9, 2010 @ 4:30 pm molly campbell

    Interesting. I do feel that those youngsters can be very condescending, but then again, what reaction did you always have when you considered YOUR PARENTS having sex? molly

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