I’m a sexless sexagenarian

Am I Normal?: A 65-year-old man wants to know what to expect when he starts getting busy after five years without

Topics: Salon -- After Dark, Am I Normal?,

I'm a sexless sexagenarian (Credit: Salon/wavebreakmedia ltd via Shutterstock)
Send your questions for "Am I Normal?" to tracy@salon.com.

I have a couple of questions or worries that perhaps you can help with. I am a 65-year-old man and for the past five or six years I haven’t been sexually active. When my last relationship ended, I went in a different direction with my life, but for a number of reasons, I decided that I want to be sexually active again. I recently found someone through a website and there seems to a good chance we will go to bed together. YEAH! I really like this woman; I feel like she’s showing me all kinds of new and exciting ways of living. 

So, my first concern is what happens to men as they age. I am not worried about performance — I am wondering what my pleasure level will be like. In those five or six years I lived without a sex partner, I did masturbate and one time I hired a escort. Hiring the escort was the starting point for realizing that I want a sex life again. Anyway, it seems to be that when I have orgasms they’re not as powerful as they were when I was younger. There’s not that sudden release of tension that is so pleasurable. Is this part of the aging process? I am in good health and, I think, in good condition. I run five days a week and do weight training three days. I really like physical affection — of course, I would still want powerful and pleasurable orgasms too!

My grandma said that sex with my grandpa only got better into her 80s. I’ve told that story before in these pages, and many more times in my day-to-day life — partly as a personal prayer, but more so because it reflects a broader definition of “good sex” that I think can be as beneficial at 25 as at 65.

That isn’t to say that aging doesn’t present potential sexual problems. It’s totally normal for older men to have a difficult time orgasming and to ejaculate less — in frequency, volume and force. This typically has to do with decreased sensitivity, changing hormones and weakened pelvic floor muscles. But none of this means that sex can’t keep getting better with age.

Marty Klein, a sex therapist I recently interviewed about his new book, “Sexual Intelligence” — the rare sex advice book that I actually recommend — says, “Just as with everything else in life, if we can expand our thinking and perspective a little bit, then there’s no reason that we can’t enjoy sex just as much, if not more, at 65 than at 25.” Instead of asking whether your orgasm is going to be as powerful as it was four decades ago, he suggests asking a new question: “Are you going to have as much enjoyment and pleasure and satisfaction and nourishment from sex at 65 as you had at 25?’”

His answer: “It is most certainly possible” — but “the nature of that enjoyment may change.” He explains, “Our bodies do slow down as we get into middle age and beyond, so we need to be able to adjust our thinking about what good sex is going to look like and feel like,” he says. In his book, he emphasizes the importance of the mind over the body — sorry, am I getting too woo-woo here? — and talks about the simple concept of having sex without focusing on a climactic endpoint. Imagine a sensual, satisfying encounter that doesn’t include an orgasm — or one where the highlight is not the climax.

Klein offers a comparison: In our 20s, “we might down three or four beers without even noticing how they taste,” he says. Later in life, “we save our money for a good bottle of wine,” one that we savor along with engaging conversation. “It’s the same thing with sex,” he says. “Our bodies change and our sensitivities change” — and that can be a wonderful thing.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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