At my next birthday, I’m going to be sixty six. I’ve got five grandchildren. I have gray hair. Conventional wisdom would suggest that I’ve arrived at a stage of life where sexuality is no longer important.
There’s a joke about the Miami women who were discussing conversational conventions. “Ve don’t talk about politics, because vat is, is. Ve don’t talk about religion, because vat vill be, vill be. And ve don’t talk about sex because vat vas, vas.” But in my life, sexuality very definitely IS and I intend to keep it that way.
At a recent annual gynecological exam, I inquired of my doctor about a testosterone patch for libido-enhancing purposes. “How often do you have sex?” she wanted to know. “About three times a week,” I responded.
She said, “I don’t have any other patients your age who have sex that often! You don’t need a testosterone patch!”
There’s a novel entitled In Praise of Older Women, and there is a jingle extolling sex with older women: “They don’t yell, they don’t swell, they don’t tell, and they’re grateful as hell.” But to the best of my knowledge this article may be the first to praise older men as lovers . . . and in my experience they have a lot to recommend them.
At the Loving More East Coast Retreat in September, 2010, I attended the sex and aging workshop, ably led by Nancy Miller, Jens Wennberg and Ken Haslam, MD. I think it was the third such workshop I’ve been to. The aging men at these workshops described, almost without exception, age-related changes in their sexuality which included decreased ability to attain an erection and decreased ability to sustain an erection if they got one in the first place. And most of the men expressed concern that their partners might think less of them because they were not rock hard for lots of vigorous coital thrusting. Ken Haslam described men’s concern as “prepositional”. . . get it on, get it up, get it in, get it off.
It bears mentioning at this point that to the best of my recollection and observation all of the men who talked about this sensitive subject were heterosexual or bisexual; none of them talked about the impact aging may have on same-sex coupling. I’m looking at this issue from the point of view of a largely, but not exclusively, heterosexual female: I’m talking about sex between aging men and their female partners, because that’s what I know best. But I don’t mean to suggest that there’s something normative about heterosexual polyamory or heterosexual sex. In fact, recent research seems to suggest that responsible, open multi-partnering is common among homosexual male couples.
None of the women in any of the versions of the workshops expressed dissatisfaction with the softness of their partners’ penises, and many women commented that sex is better for them now than it was when they were younger. There were only two of us women in the LMEC workshop, and neither of us cared much whether our sex partners could get erect.
One male attendee, however, remained skeptical about women’s satisfaction with less-than-rock-hard penises. So I asked the first five women I encountered after the workshop whether they minded if their lovers didn’t get hard. All but one instantly said they didn’t. That one said all her lovers were younger and never had that problem. So I said, suppose one developed it—would she stop being lovers with him? She said, “Of course not.” And that made it unanimous. Seven of us at the LMEC conference, selected randomly, weren’t much concerned about erections.
Several women at two of the previous sex-and-aging workshops, in fact, commented that they would far rather fellate a flaccid phallus than a tumescent one. (Well, actually what they said was they’d rather suck a soft dick than a hard one, but let’s be polite.)
Fine, you may be thinking, but not minding that older men can’t always get it up isn’t the same thing as appreciating older men as lovers. Here’s what I find to be true about my aging lovers: They like cuddling and stroking and massaging and caressing. They have come to appreciate slow, tender, lovemaking as their testosterone-driven urgency for orgasm has faded. They are more accepting of physical defects (like crepe-y skin, wrinkles, or fat) than younger men, because they’ve learned to appreciate the whole person more than the parts and they have these flaws themselves.
And they know more. They’ve learned, over the years, with various partners, what women like, and how to give it to them, and they want to give it to them. They are wise and kind and tender and ardent and I love them.