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Men’s Sexual Pleasure

You want to give your man sexual pleasure, for sure. Yet somehow you can’t seem to manage it…. he doesn’t ejaculate, and even though he tells you sex was pleasant, you can see his frustration and even his emotional pain. No doubt he’s very happy to pleasure you, but you want to return the favour. What can you do when he can’t ejaculate? (This is called delayed ejaculation; you can read a book about delayed ejaculation here.)

Let’s start by looking at the causes of delayed ejaculation.

One thing that seems to maintain delayed ejaculation is high-frequency idiosyncratic masturbatory behavior. This, put more simply, is hard and fast masturbation. Read more about that here and here. Something as simple as encouraging the man to masturbate with his other hand – which will most likely fail to produce an orgasm – can be helpful in letting him see how his delayed ejaculation and idiosyncratic masturbation have become an ingrained pattern of behavior.

Video – delayed ejaculation – what you need to know

Another cause of delayed ejaculation is the discrepancy between a man’s inner world of fantasy and the actual nature of his sexual relationship with his partner. To overcome this, a couple need to integrate his masturbation fantasies into their sexual relationship, which will not only reduce feelings of guilt but also make it easier to overcome delayed ejaculation.

Dealing With Delayed Ejaculation & Achieving Pleasure

For emotional issues that interfere with delayed ejaculation, one basic strategy is to identify inhibitions and anxieties so that your man and you can come up with new sexual scenarios and develop appropriate techniques to help him reach orgasm.

The aim is always to increase erotic stimulation, identify the man’s orgasm triggers, and increase intimacy. 

Greater intimacy between you and your man is likely to reduce performance pressure on him. Mutual pleasuring will increase verbal and physical intimacy, and this will help to overcome inhibition and sexual isolation.

Video – achieving greater intimacy

Is he ready, really ready, for shared intimacy?

An “automatic” erection does not necessarily mean your man is ready to have sex. His sexual arousal may be too low. So what you can do here is relax, take away expectations of orgasm and d to encourage him to see his ejaculation as a natural culmination of a gradual process of sexual play leading to ever increasing sexual arousal.

As you do this, your man learns to be more direct in his requests for stimulation and more straightforward in allowing himself to enjoy erotic feelings. By being more “selfish,” he will experience more subjective sexual arousal and is more likely to enjoy an orgasm during sex.

Orgasm triggers

A great help in dealing with delayed ejaculation can be multiple forms of stimulation and knowing what will trigger his orgasm. New and different kinds of play might include fantasy, testicle stimulation or playing with his partner’s breast or anal area during sexual intercourse.

Orgasm triggers are very variable from person to person, but you can find out many of them by looking at what he fantasizes about. (He fantasizes to get himself off, so if you can turn fantasy into reality, that will help him overcome DE.)

Intravaginal ejaculation must be approached gradually, with a couple only starting intercourse when they are both highly aroused.

To recap.

Two factors tend to promote and maintain delayed ejaculation: vigorous and fast masturbation patterns and a big gap between a man’s inner world of erotic imagery and the actual reality of his sexual life with his woman. To put that another way: his fantasy turns him on more than his actual sex life with you.

So if you can bring his masturbatory fantasies into the open, this will help to relieve any guilt he feels, aid honest communication between you, and if you can act them out, help him reach orgasm. So, if you can incorporate these fantasies into your sex life, this is going to  help him get aroused and bring him to orgasm faster. 

Simple techniques can help a man in this situation. Even something as simple as switching hands during masturbation, for example, will increase his awareness of the way in which he masturbates and how difficult he may be making it for himself to attain orgasm and ejaculation. If his other hand can’t bring him to climax, no wonder his partner couldn’t do it either!

Therapy can be helpful

If your man is willing to see a therapist, there are many therapies which help overcome delayed ejaculation. One starting point is to examine the inhibitions and fears which may lie behind the problem and to develop sexual situations and techniques to overcome them.

Cognitive-behavioral strategies involve a three-part combination: (1) forming a connected and close intimate sexual team between man and his partner;

(2) enjoying comfort with sexual pleasuring; and

(3) increasing the level of erotic stimulation.

1 If a man and his partner form an intimate team, the degree of performance pressure which the man feels will be a lot lower. Helping each other to enjoy pleasure is important in generating the increased level of intimacy that can overcome inhibition and a sense of separateness. This is important in overcoming DE.

2. An erection does not mean a man is ready for intercourse. A man may need to be more aroused even if he is hard. A man needs to understand that he can enjoy sexual pleasure and gradually increasing arousal, and ejaculation is the expected end point of arousal.

The more direct the man can be about requesting stimulation, and the more he can enjoy erotic feelings, the more confident he will be of his ability to be sexual and the more likely he is to enjoy high levels of arousal that ill take him to orgasm. The need to be selfish, to seek out his own pleasure, is a key factor in recovering his orgasmic capacity and overcoming DE.

3. There are many ways of getting greater stimulation and greater arousal: enjoying sexual fantasies during partner sex, enjoying stimulation of the testes, perineum, anus and nipples are just some of these. Each man can discover his individual orgasm triggers.

Finally, a man who is hoping to find some effective treatment for overcoming delayed ejaculation should not initiate sexual intercourse until he’s very aroused. Fantasies can be an effective way of heightening arousal.

But remember that change has consequences

It’s important for each of you to ask yourself what’s at risk if the man changes the way he responds during sex. There will certainly be some consequences if the symptoms of delayed ejaculation disappear, though what they might be will be different from couple to couple.

For example, the woman might wonder if the man will search out new sexual experiences with other women; the woman might wonder if he will find her as desirable as he does now; and so on.

 These points, and others like them, can be very enlightening for a couple to discuss as they work through these issues.

When dealing with delayed ejaculation, a couple need to look at their erotic life together. One of the biggest questions is what happens to the foundations of the relationship when you start to work on your sexual issues.

If you have a boring sexual life, and an inhibited attitude to sexual experimentation, bringing some of heir hidden and dark sexual shadows into the light may make your sex lives more vibrant, flowing and exciting.

Men with DE often show exaggerated concern for their partner as a way of hiding the things they fear. Changing the focus of attention from the couple’s inhibitions with each other onto each partner’s own conflicts and fears can be very illuminating!

In other words, while it’s exciting to discover new erotic worlds, it can also be scary and lead to defensiveness, fear and guilt. A man working to get over delayed ejaculation should be aware of which of his own sexual fears (if any) have been sheltered by his apparent inability to ejaculate.

A very effective way of getting to the bottom of a person’s unmet or unexpressed wishes or desires is to have them imagine being completely self-centered in sex, with no need to think of the partner. What would be an ideal sexual scenario if there were no restrictions?

Causes of ED

This is a checklist to help identify the cause of any erection problems you may be experiencing

If you’re having trouble getting an erection, this checklist may be helpful in sorting out the cause of the problems and resolving your thoughts and feelings.

Question 1: What bothers you about your sexual functioning?

1 Low sexual desire in general
2 Low sexual desire for my partner
3 Not feeling aroused (turned on)
4 Not getting an erection sufficient for intercourse
5 Not keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction)
6 Not having an orgasm, even though I feel aroused
7 Ejaculating too quickly (coming too fast)
8 Having an orgasm that lacks intensity
9 Having an orgasm but not being able to ejaculate (delayed ejaculation)
10 Pain during sex

Interpretation of Question 1

Answering the question should get to the heart of your problem. Some men are able to get an erect penis but cannot ejaculate or have an orgasm. Some men can erect and ejaculate but experience a decline in the intensity of the orgasm. Others are not  able to ejaculate and have orgasm, a condition which is called delayed ejaculation

Some men can attain an erection but not sustain it in order to penetrate and complete the sex act. Others can become erect and penetrate but ejaculate too quickly to satisfy themselves or their partner. (Read about erection problems here.) Some men will experience pain in the genitals with sexual activity. Having defined your problem, let’s determine the cause.

Question 2: When is the last time you had what you would consider a complete, normal erection followed by ejaculation?

Interpretation of Question 2

It is important to estimate the time of onset of your difficulty. Erectile problems (ED) of short duration is very often psychologically related to a specific event or has a physical cause such as beginning a new medication or having gone through a surgical procedure. ED that is of a longer duration and has come on slowly but progressively usually has a physical cause such as poor blood flow. Read about causes of erectile dysfunction here.

Question 3: Are you able to achieve an erection with masturbation? If so, what percent of a full erection do you get?

Interpretation of Question 3

Being able to achieve a fully hard penis with self-pleasuring or that provided by your partner indicates normal blood and nerve supply to your penis. Being able to become erect with masturbation but not for intercourse usually indicates a psychological problem.

Question 4: When you awaken during the night or in the morning, what percent of a full erection have you seen in the last few months?

Interpretation of Question 4

Erections that occur during the night are indicative of normal nerve and blood flow to the penis. Every man will have three to five erections at night, each lasting 20 to 25 minutes. These are not generally appreciated by the man (although they may be by his partner) because they only occur at a certain depth of sleep. The erection that is noted upon awakening, contrary to popular opinion, is not due to a full bladder. It is a reflection of one of the normal erections occurring during rapid-eye movement sleep. The presence of these erections is a very favorable sign and often points to a psychological cause for any erection difficulties during partnered sex.

Question 5: If you read erotic material or see an erotic movie, what percent of a full erection do you usually get?

Interpretation of Question 5

An erection brought about by an erotic thought or visual stimulus is initiated in the brain. This is a very favorable sign and again is indicative of normal function of the nerve and blood supply to the penis, suggesting a psychological cause.

Question 6: Are you able to get a good firm erection at some times and not at others?

Interpretation of Question 6

If you get a good-quality erection at any time that is sufficient to complete the act of intercourse, yet at other times you are impotent, it is quite likely that your difficulty is psychological.

Question 7: Does erectile difficulty occur only with a certain partner?

Interpretation of Question 7

If you are failing to become erect only with a certain partner but can perform successfully with someone else, there is not likely to be any physical problem causing impotence. (This is not a suggestion that you try multiple partners, particularly if you are married!) It does, however, suggest that sex therapy or marriage counseling should be considered.

RELATIONSHIP QUESTIONS

Question 8: Does your partner know that you are seeking help and have come for an evaluation?

Interpretation of Question 8

If a man with ED has discussed the problem with his partner, it indicates good communication. Treatment is more likely to be successful if his partner is aware of what is happening.

Question 9: Is your partner supportive of your seeking help?

Interpretation of Question 9

Men who have supportive partners are more likely to experience a quick recovery. Men whose partners are not supportive are generally angry and resentful, which does not help the healing process.

Question 10: Do you find your partner sexually attractive?

Interpretation of Question 10

Men who are no longer “turned on” by their partner are more likely to experience erection problems. Men who do not accept the normal changes in a partner’s body that occur with aging may have unrealistic expectations and desires. Read about ED from a woman’s point of view.

Question 11: Has your sexual problem caused any of the following difficulties in your relationship?

  • 1. “Chilly” atmosphere in the house
  • 2. Less overall communication
  • 3. Avoidance of specific topics like sex
  • 4. More arguing
  • 5. Withdrawal from family members or friends
  • 6. Less trust in my partner
  • 7. Less trust in me by my partner
  • 8. Doing fewer activities together

Interpretation of Question 11

Like a stone cast in the water, a sexual problem may have a ripple effect upon a couple’s entire relationship. Arguing, avoidance, distrust, frustration, and discouragement or depression are more likely to occur in either or both individuals.

Question 12: Do you or does your partner usually initiate sexual activity?

Interpretation of Question 12

If one partner always initiate sexual activity, it may be indicative of widely differing levels of interest in sex or reflect negative feelings about the relationship. In an ideal world, each partner may initiate sex at different times depending upon urge, interest level, and a desire to satisfy each other.

Question 13: Do you feel it is important that your female partner reaches orgasm during every episode of intercourse? Do you feel that all sexual encounters must include intercourse?

Interpretation of Question 13

If you feel that you must guarantee your female partner has an orgasm during every sexual encounter or that you must achieve sexual penetration and vigorous thrusting, you may be placing unrealistic demands on yourself, which may lead to sexual failure.

PAST MEDICAL HISTORY QUESTIONS

Question 14: Do you have or have you had in the past any of the following?

1. High blood pressure
2. Heart disease
3. Heart attack
4. Diabetes
5. Thyroid gland disease
6. Testicular disease
7. Multiple sclerosis
8. Parkinson’s disease
9. Other neurological disease
10. Stroke
11. Kidney disease
12. Cancer

Interpretation of Question 14

Any of these illnesses may indicate a general medical problem that can cause difficulties with sexual functioning. It is important that your physician, psychologist, or counselor be fully aware of such problems. All of these may indicate an underlying physical cause of ED.

Question 15: Have you had any of the following surgical procedures?

1. Removal of the prostate
2. Removal of the bladder
3. Rectal or colon surgery
4. Cardiac bypass
5. Disk surgery
6. Vascular surgery of the legs or major blood vessels

Interpretation of Question 15

Any of these operations may indicate a physical cause for your impotence because of an impairment of blood flow or nerve function.

Question 16: What medications do you take?

Interpretation of Question 16

Commonly prescribed medicines such as antidepressants, blood pressure pills, sedatives, hormones, drugs for peptic ulcer, and over-the-counter cold medications can contribute to erectile failure. 

Question 17: Did your sexual problem begin soon after taking a new drug?

Interpretation of Question 17

If you can document in your mind that your difficulty began soon after starting a new medication, this may be a very important point. It suggests that this drug may be causing or contributing to your problem.

Question 18: Have you ever had an erection that lasted several hours?

Interpretation of Question 18

A past history of an excessively prolonged erection (usually more
than four to six hours) may prevent future erections. This is due to damage caused to the erectile tissue, which is generally not reversible.

Question 19: Do you smoke, abuse alcohol, use recreational drugs, or have high cholesterol? Do you believe that you are not in good physical condition?

Interpretation of Question 19

Any of these factors, smoking, elevated cholesterol, abusing alcohol, or failing to exercise, may contribute to difficulties with sexual functioning.

Question 20: Do your legs ache when you walk more than a few blocks?

Interpretation of Question 20

Poor blood supply to the pelvis and the legs, which is usually caused by atherosclerosis, may indicate poor blood flow to the penis, which may cause impotence.

Question 21: If you have heart disease or have had a heart attack, are you fearful of dying during intercourse or is your partner fearful of having sex with you for this reason?

Interpretation of Question 21

Anxiety following a heart attack may keep you from resuming a normal sexual life. If your partner has major concerns, she may be unwilling to participate in sex for fear of precipitating a heart attack or stroke. Many men who have suffered from such an illness and whose partner refrains from sex out of concern for them often misinterpret her restraint as a lack of interest.

These questions and your answers are intended only as a framework to help you understand your problem and to aid a professional sex counselor or a physician in managing your case.

Many men who answer these questions will figure out for themselves whether the cause of their erectile dysfunction is likely to be psychological or physical, or both. Most are relieved once they have taken a step toward understanding their own diagnosis. Once you pinpoint your difficulty, you will have a better understanding of diagnostic tests or treatment that your doctor may recommend.

Myths About Sex After 50 (Part 3)

Here, we’re going to examine some more myths about sex after 50

Sex is shameful

Unfortunately many of us were brought up with the idea that sex is somehow shameful, or if not shameful, at least something to keep quiet about, something that needs to be hidden from the world.

Regrettable as this is, it’s up to us to change out thinking if we believe it. Consider genital play or masturbation, for example. What were you told about this very natural form of self pleasure as a young adult? Probably something like this: it could stunt your growth, make you mad or go blind, would spoil your sex life as an adult, or even perhaps that it would cause you in some mysterious way to go to hell!

The problem is that as children we tend to believe what we’re told, even when that information is misguided, if not malicious. No matter how much as an adult you might tell yourself that masturbation is a very healthy and pleasurable activity, it would be very surprising if you didn’t have some inhibitions about it. There is no clearer example of this than the fact that partners who are enjoying a sexual relationship very often find it excruciatingly embarrassing to talk about masturbation with their partner, let alone to do it with them.

Far from giving up masturbation when you get into a committed sexual relationship as an adult, my suggestion is to enjoy it even more often and for longer!

Self pleasuring is a fantastic alternative to sexual intercourse when you don’t want to go down that road. Sharing masturbation can show you how to please your partner when you yourself don’t want the ins and outs of penetration.

More fundamentally, it allows you to discuss those aspects of your relationship you normally keep hidden from your partner. Yes, of course you might have to admit that you do indeed masturbate in private from time to time: but there’s no shame in that, and, particularly for men, masturbation can be a valuable way of relieving sexual tension without making the whole performance into a big deal.

So it’s a serious suggestion, therefore, to incorporate lots of masturbation into your sex life. You’ll find it’s very helpful indeed if one of you has a high sex drive than the other. When you’re masturbating your partner, you can focus entirely on their pleasure without any sense of performance anxiety yourself. When they are masturbating you, you can just lie back and enjoy it to the full without any worries about pleasing them.

More importantly, masturbating with each other removes the worry about who’s going to come first, or taking it in turns, or am I going to last long enough? It doesn’t matter how long it takes to reach orgasm, and there is no need to try and synchronise your orgasms.

But how do you overcome the embarrassment that stopped you masturbating together in the first place? I think the answer to this is very simple indeed — just do it! By now you will have read lots of ideas for opening up communication between you and your partner, and you may already be able to bring this up comfortably. For example: “I thought it might be fun if we just snuggled together for a while and then perhaps we could bring each other off with our hands — or maybe even our mouths!” Of course — as you know — every couple has its own code to these matters, and no doubt you can find a way of saying it that you feel comfortable with.

We’ll come back to the subject of mutual masturbation and shared masturbation in the exercises for a great sex life.

Overcoming sexual trauma

Don’t believe for a moment that if you were traumatized by abuse of one kind or another that you’re stuck forever with the consequences. Yes, it is certainly true that your relationships will be impacted by the history of abuse that you experienced.

And yet at the same time, in a long-term relationship with a partner who you trust at a very deep level you can get over sexual shame. 

Having said that, you may need professional help to get to point where you’re able to open up. In a way, healing from sexual trauma is a subject beyond the scope of this website and so we would like to recommend a starting point for you which you can find here. Not only is it a very perceptive article on the subject of sexual and other forms of abuse, but there are number of links to other resources which may be helpful for you in exploring how you can overcome a traumatic past.

Lack of romance

It’s all too easy in a monogamous relationship to take your partner for granted. The days when the intensity of your love or passion motivated you to be romantic, affectionate, and enjoy exciting sex may have passed. Instead, it now requires a conscious effort on your part to be romantic.

The problem is that many other things get in the way of thinking about romance. Life can be stressful; there’s no doubt about that: the demands of family, work, home, and especially these days, financial matters, all conspire to take our minds off romance and diminish the intimacy we feel with our partners.

Often, after romance has dwindled away, we feel foolish at the prospect of trying to behave romantically. And we may begin to justify our inactivity: sex, you may say, should be spontaneous! Or, it’s so childish to play at romance: that’s what teenagers do. And so on. And yet, the ironic thing is that romance is is appreciated by everyone – both those giving it, and those receiving it.

Romance is a way of creating a relaxed and inviting situation in which sex can happen — maybe even spontaneous sex! Playing at romance can help you to overcome the seriousness with which we sometimes treat sex in a long-term relationship. And deciding as a partnership to take time for sex, or deciding individually to treat your partner to a romantic experience is essential to keep your sex life passionate and exciting.

Even if trying to be romantic makes you feel self-conscious and silly, at least you have the consolation of knowing that taking the first step is the hardest part. Once you start, once you’ve made the initial effort, matters tend to take on a momentum of their own. You can reconnect with your romantic impulses in many different ways: some suggestions about rekindling romance are included in the exercises which you can find in another section of the site.

Anger and resentment are inevitable

What do you do if you feel angry or resentful towards your long-term partner? Do you suppress these emotions, and wait until you’re in a good enough mood that lets you tolerate sex with them? Do you experience the frustration of not speaking out about the issues that are on your mind? Do you end up feeling frustrated and angry that your partner seems to take you for granted, misses your wishes, needs and desires, and doesn’t pick up on the subtleties and nuances of how you feel?

Well, I have some surprising news for you! This is probably your fault. If you’re not communicating how you feel it’s unreasonable for you to expect your partner to know. Very often anger is just a build-up of frustration about unexpressed thoughts and feelings.

Of course, there are many things that seem too trivial to express in a long-term relationship; but when they’re not expressed they become a source of resentment which undermines the relationship. 

Turning yourself off

We’ve already covered the question of turning yourself off and turning yourself on. At this point all I wish to reiterate is the fact that you do have much more control over the way you feel and your emotional responses than you probably believe right now.

How are you to access that control, you may ask? By considering which form of therapy and or counselling you may wish to pursue. After all, this is not about living a limited life. And to live a full life, you need to make sure that your shadow does not get in the way of achieving the fullest expression of yourself.

In practical terms what this means is that you need to take a decision to change things: and to commit to personal change,  regardless of what form of therapy you choose..

The mid life crisis won’t affect you

I have absolutely no doubt at all that there is a time in almost every man’s life when he goes through significant psychological and physical changes. Happily, this can be dealt with fairly easily. You can find ideas on how to beat the midlife crisis here.

In conclusion

We could go on, but I think you’ve probably now got the idea. No matter what you think and feel about the long term sexual relationship you have with your partner, the truth is that you have the power in your hands to change it for the better.

That might mean getting professional help, or it might just mean following some of the suggestions given here to help you establish a more passionate sex life. It certainly means – at some level – taking a decision to stay faithful to your partner and change the quality of your sex with each other so that you get more arousal, passion and reward (fun and orgasm). 

Myths About Sex After 50 (Part 2)

Some more myths about sex after 50

Selfish sex is bad!

No, it isn’t, because it’s only by asking your partner for what you want that you are a likely to get it – and be satisfied with the results!

Those people who are too obsessed with pleasing their partners tend to have bad relationships because they don’t communicate. They may not be in touch with their own feelings, don’t know how to get sexual pleasure, and are resentful of the fact that their sex life is “all give and no take”.

Sex which is constantly aimed at the pleasure of your partner is just frustrating sex; it’s not likely to lead to much fulfilment for you. Reframe the idea of “selfish sex” as simply seeking out the best way to find joy in a sexual relationship. This may make it easier for you to overcome your embarrassment and ask your partner for whatever it is that you want.

In the end this is a much healthier route to sexual satisfaction. Compared, that is, to waiting in frustration for your partner to miraculously work out what it is you want and give it to you! Further more, when your relationship is truly monogamous, you need to express your sexual needs before they become too strong and remain unfulfilled – that way lies temptation….

When both partners seek to please themselves during sex rather than expecting their partners to do so, you finally begin to have a relationship where sexual equality is possible. You satisfy each other. You start by asking for what you want and your partner agrees to give it to you, in the expectation that you will do exactly the same for them.

This is true sexual equality, and gives both partners the chance of sexual satisfaction.

Sexual problems cannot be solved

This is a truly pernicious myth about sex after 50. By sexual problems, here I mean things like delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and low sex drive. Each and every one of these problems has a solution. Delayed ejaculation can be overcome by training the body and mind to become more aroused. Erectile dysfunction can be overcome by using drugs like Cialis and Viagra. And so on. There is a solution for every problem: sometimes that involves medicine, sometimes it involves therapy.

You must always put your partner first.

It’s a kind of charming, old-fashioned notion of the romantic man seducing the lady, taking her to bed and making her swoon with delight.

Whatever the truth of these stereotypes, one thing is certain: your partner is a sexual woman, with desires, lusts, fantasies and sexual needs. And what that means in practice is that if you’re hung up about the relationship between women and sex, or you don’t know much about female sexuality, then be prepared for a few shocks.

As you get to know a woman within a long term relationship, and your sexual relationship develops, you will find there is a sexual goddess close to the surface: a sexual goddess whose lustfulness may surprise you in its intensity. It should also means there is nothing that you can share in the sexual arena which is embarrassing or off-limits (provided it’s not harmful, coercive or distasteful to your partner).

To achieve full openness and an absence of sexual inhibitions with your partner is a wonderful experience. So ask yourself how you would feel in any of the following situations: watching her masturbate or masturbating her; having her watch you masturbate or having her masturbate you; enjoying mutual masturbation or watching her using sex toys to masturbate; using a vibrator to bring her to orgasm.

If you are inhibited by an image of your partner as a Madonna stereotype, saintly and sexless, then you really need to share some uninhibited sexual experiences which will blow these illusions away.

Masturbating together in an uninhibited way can be a very good start in this process for it removes performance pressure. That’s because it teaches you what your partner likes in the way of genital touch. You also learn that it doesn’t matter who comes first or second, and it helps you to shed your embarrassment about sexuality. There’s something about the act of shared masturbation which breaks down inhibitions rather quickly and helps couples learn about others’ sexual needs and desires. Sexual embarrassment is much more common than you might realise.

The same is true of discussing fantasies, with the proviso that if your partner shares them with you, you must respect what they say.

If you’re a woman you may have fallen victim of the pernicious myth that men want perfect bodies.

As you may have noticed, however, most men are with partners who do not have perfect bodies! This is because the supply of physical perfection is a little bit thin on the ground nowadays!

The truth is that men are far less critical of women’s bodies than are women themselves. The reality is that most women are extremely critical of their own bodies, and very conscious of what may be wrong: whether that is breast size, the amount of fat on their bodies, the tightness of their vaginas, slackness of their butts, the double chin… or whatever.

But to focus on what is wrong with our bodies, or what we believe to be wrong with our bodies, just reinforces those issues in our minds (and indeed in the minds of our partners). If you are told something is bad for long enough you come to believe it. If you focus on the good things instead, then those become predominant in your consciousness. Monogamy is not about avoiding reality – it is about embracing it. Sex in a monogamous relationship is not about desiring perfection: it’s about appreciating the beauty of what you have.

That statement has a profound truth in it. And that is that we’re all responsible for how we look, and we’re all responsible for how sexually fit and healthy we are.

Loving and accepting our bodies is certainly necessary before our partners can be expected to love and accept them. Remember the old expression “beauty comes from within”? Well, you are what you believe: if you believe you are attractive, you are more attractive. 

If you look at this list of what men want in a lover, you’ll see that nowhere is the issue of body size or shape mentioned.

Myths About Sex After 50 (Which Men & Women Believe)

Here, we look at some common myths about sex after 50 that women hold. MYTHS!

You can’t have good long-term sex in a relationship.

Start by refocusing your energy, in particular your sexual energy, from anything outside your existing relationship, and back into your relationship. Then, there is every reason to think you can have wonderful sex with your committed partner for years to come.

Video – sex in a long term relationship

If you believe that you’re currently in a relationship with the wrong person, that might be different issue. Even there I’d ask if you’ve devoted energy to trying to put things right and establish a better relationship. (As opposed to just making the assumption that your relationship is doomed. Ultimately, of course, only you know the answer to that question.)

There’s a rather similar related issue here: the belief that monogamy is unnatural. That’s often put forward as a justification for unfaithfulness. Here’s one point of view on this.

In strict socio-biological terms, monogamy is not natural…but what makes us different a a species is that we at least have the means to make a choice. We can decide whether we wish to sustain sexual monogamy with one other person for the rest of our lives (or at least for as long as the relationship lasts).

Bear in mind also, that what you call good sex depends how you define it.…. number of orgasms? Amount of pleasure – even if that comes from seeing your partner happy rather than having an orgasm yourself?

Just enjoying the chance to express your sexuality? How do you define good sex? Is that a definition your partner would agree with? Have you ever asked them what makes sex good for them?

Video  – what is good sex for men?

Video  – what is good sex for women?

We can’t control who we fall in love with.

This is a myth that has driven people’s choice of partner for a very long time. The reality is actually very different. We all make choices about who we fall in love with, whether we know it or not.

These choices are based on

  • who is geographically available
  • the kind of relationship we want
  • the kind of person we want to have a relationship with
  • the needs that we believe will be met in relationship with someone
  • the excitement we want to experience in relationship
  • the sort of person that we find physically attractive
  • the needs we have that we believe a person can meet
  • and the degree of self-actualisation that we think we will achieve in relationship with a particular person.

Relationships are not generated randomly; affairs of the heart are a myth, in the sense that we all actively choose our partner from the pool of people available to us.

What this means in practice is that if you choose to have an affair, you’re not just blindly falling in love. Rather, you’re fulfilling some need, perhaps one in the list above. A need that you see as giving you potentially more gratification than your existing relationship.

Attraction Always Leads to Sex

To believe this is to believe that our sexual arousal and sexual desire is an uncontrollable beast waiting to overcome us with its unimaginable power. It’s a myth!

Whether you feel like a teenager or not, lusting after every possible sexual outlet is immature. You have a choice about acting or not acting on your sexual desire. To be sexually aroused is a pleasurable thing – no doubt about it. But it really does NOT have to be taken any further. But over 50, such things can seem compelling. It may seem important to act on an urge which is, perhaps unusually for you at this age, strong.

But just because you have an erection, or you feel yourself getting wet, does not mean that you are in the grip of an uncontrollable process which will inevitably take you to bed with person who is the object of your lust.

Even if you’re dancing with somebody and you feel aroused, or you’re flirting with them and they respond to you, that does not mean you have to take it any further!

Instead, take those urges home to your primary relationship, and use the energy you’ve generated to increase the quality and frequency of sex with your partner.

Age inhibits sex, or the pleasure of sex

It may be that comparison with past performance or past ability or past potency leaves you feeling inadequate in midlife. Certainly the rampant erection of your youth may have softened, your erect penis may no longer point to the heavens, and it may indeed get soft during sex more easily than it used to do. But sex after 50 can be better than ever before. Read this to find out why.

Certainly the level of desire that you feel may have lessened and softened and mellowed. And the length of time between penetration and and orgasm may have increased. But does any of this matter if you are still just as capable of initiating sexual activity and just as capable as getting as much pleasure from it as you always did?

True, in midlife and beyond you may need physical stimulation to get an erection. You may need longer periods of thrusting after penetration to reach ejaculation. (You may even have delayed ejaculation.) You may not be able to get erect again as soon after a session of sex as you once could. (You may even have erectile dysfunction.)

But none of these changes need spoil sex or the pleasure you derive from it. If you have problems getting erect there is Viagra. If you have problems with you sexual drive there is testosterone replacement therapy.

So much of what we believe about midlife changes around male sexuality is clearly a myth. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that women who go through the menopause fall into two broad groups: the first made up of women who lose interest in sex, and the second of women who find the menopause to be sexually liberating and a gateway to greater sexual activity.

The difference appears to be that the first group of women simply believe that women lose interest in sex after the menopause. The second group of women believe that freedom from menstruation, fear of pregnancy, and the need to use contraception, is a liberation which will improve their sex lives. And as you believe, so shall you experience.

Men want a perfect woman in bed with them

As you may have noticed, however, most men are with partners who do not have perfect bodies. The simple truth is that the supply of physical perfection is a little bit thin on the ground nowadays.

So what, you may say to yourself, men just make do with what they can get. Yet, in general, men are far less critical of women’s bodies than are women themselves.

 The reality is that most women are extremely critical of their own bodies, and very conscious of what may be wrong: whether that is breast size, the amount of fat on their bodies, the tightness of their vaginas, slackness of their butts, the double chin… or whatever. (Men tend to be more conscious of the size of their penis, but are subject to other self-doubts and self denigration.)

But to focus on what is wrong with our bodies, or what we believe to be wrong with our bodies, just reinforces those issues in our minds (and indeed in the minds of our partners).

 If you are told something is bad for long enough you come to believe it; if you focus on the good things instead, then those become predominant in your consciousness. Monogamy is not about avoiding reality: it is about embracing it. Sex in a monogamous relationship is not about desiring perfection: it’s about appreciating the beauty of what you have. (For help in changing the limiting beliefs you hold, professional support from a therapist trained in such arts as shadow work can be helpful.)

That may sound like a trite statement but actually it has a profound truth in it. That is simply this: we are all responsible for how we look and we are all responsible for how fit and healthy we are.

To complain about our appearance without making any effort to change it is rather sad, because loving and accepting our bodies is certainly necessary before our partners can be expected to love and accept them.

Remember the old expression “beauty comes from within”? Well, you are what you believe: if you believe you are attractive, you become more attractive.

Sex After 50

We see lots of references to sex amongst those in the 20s and 30s age bracket whether it’s on TV, in the movies, in books, magazines and so on but it’s rare that we see a mention of sex between couples of older ages.

That is definitely not to say that the sex life of those over the age of 50 wanes in comparison to other demographics. Many couples and single people over the age of 50 live more fulfilling sex lives than their younger counterparts because they have less distractions and at times they are less stressed!

It’s all about attitude and how you approach it once you hit the milestone of 50. People over that age definitely experience more physical and physiological changes to their bodies but most of these are manageable through a visit to a physician and the like.

The addition of things like adult toys and sex lubrication will also serve to enhance the sex lives of the over 50s and more and more of this demographic are utilizing these types of things to reignite sparks in the bedroom.

Self pleasure sessions and masturbation are also fantastic for those single older players and can be a hugely enriching experience. The people at Carvaka have put together this useful infographic below all about sex after the age of 50. It separates the myths from the facts in terms of sex at this particular age; it details some concerns that people should look out for eg STIs; it also covers some interesting suggestions to create some excitement (should you need it!) in your sex life after the age of 50. Check it all out below!

Sex After 50 Can Be Great!

Many people think that sex after 50 doesn’t exist, and that sex is the preserve of bright young things – teenagers and 20-year-olds, perhaps 30-year-olds at a stretch.

But the truth the matter is that people over 50 are just as interested in sex as anybody else – and sex in midlife can be wonderful.

One of the problems is that myths are spreading in society about what we can expect from sex in our later years – for example, there’s a common belief that people lose interest in sex after a certain age. The truth is that while sex may occur less frequently, our interest in sex doesn’t diminish: what does change, however, is the nature of sex and the quality of the factors that play into our sexual desire.

For example, it’s been demonstrated that people over 50 need a better quality relationship to get sexual satisfaction and pleasure than those in their 20s and 30s.

This is because we enjoy sexual connection and intimacy more as we get older – for example, it may become an affirmation of the relationship rather than just the release of sexual desire, perhaps.
It’s also a commonly held myth that men will become less functional sexually as they get older – perhaps suffering erectile dysfunction.

The truth is not so simple: men may experience low sexual desire because they have less testosterone, but what they actually need to get an erection is direct physical stimulation to the penis rather than just relying on their imagination or indeed their historical expected response – to get aroused – from simply being near a woman who wants to be sexually intimate.

And it’s certainly true that erections can be less firm as a man gets older, but that doesn’t make any difference to the pleasure of sex. The use of lubricant, either natural or artificial, will ensure that penetration and enjoyable intercourse is still possible.

On the female side of this equation, a lot of people believe that women become much less interested in sex after menopause – but the truth is diametrically opposite.

Freed from the burden of pregnancy, and the possibility of becoming pregnant, women can release their energies more freely during sexual intercourse and intimacy.

The main problems they face are about hormonal levels – vaginal dryness, in particular, can be a problem which causes discomfort during sex. Fortunately there are medications which are available such as estrogen supplementation in pellet form which can be placed directly in the vagina.

And it’s certainly untrue that a woman loses her ability to reach orgasm she gets older – that’s ludicrous! Often a woman’s orgasm frequency and intensity is much greater after the menopause.

When men can’t get an erection, they tend to lose a major part of their self-image of being a fertile and sexual man. Often the problem is physical – circulation problems, prostate problems, and sometimes side effects of prescription medications can all affect a man’s ability to get an erection. These PHYSICAL  causes account for the vast majority of erectile difficulties.

Of course sex won’t stay the same as you get older, that’s inevitable because your fitness and health change, and it can be difficult, for example, to get into certain sexual positions.

But it’s important to keep sight of the fact that if you’re in a long-term relationship, you almost certainly know your partner very intimately indeed, and you’ll be very familiar with each other’s bodies.

This allows for a greater level of relaxation and confidence during sexual activity, and this in turn will produce much better and more enjoyable sex for both the man and the woman.

And because (inevitably) hormones are declining, and your sex drive with them, in many cases sex becomes the result of emotional attachment rather than simply physical desire – which makes it more satisfying and fulfilling for almost everybody.

(Hormone replacement therapy for men is available, in case you didn’t know that fact.)

Where a couple find sex less rewarding and fulfilling, the reason is likely to be some kind of emotional issue – perhaps a man or his partner has failed to accept the fact that aging is inevitable, with all the implications this has for damage to self-image.

Moving gracefully into old age is vital, and to accept who you are as you get older, may not be a simple process. It relies on emotional stability, emotional maturity, and acceptance of what is, rather than what you would like things to be.

Strangely enough, women tend find this process more easy than men – which is probably something to do with men having to retire and give up their work; this forms a massive part of most men’s self-identity throughout most of their life.

If you’re experiencing any difficulty about the changes happening to you in midlife, it’s well with finding a therapist or counsellor who has experience in this field.

Men need to be aware that fat cells can produce estrogen – this can be a major problem in men because it preferentially attaches to cellular testosterone receptors. Therefore, if you are a man, and you’re overweight, it could be helpful to lose weight and improve fitness. Women, too, need to look after their health – circulatory problems can often be caused or made worse by obesity. So if you want to experience rapid weight loss you might like to try the Venus Factor diet for women.

Sex after fifty

Suggestions for women and men over 50 years of age

There is a widespread view that sex for women ends around the time of the menopause. And indeed, many women beyond 50 don’t seem to have much of a sex life.

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t limited to women who’ve gone through the menopause: in 1999 the American Medical Association published a study which revealed that as many as 43% of women aged between 18 and 59 have experienced some sexual problem – lack of desire, pain during intercourse, low arousal, performance anxiety, or anorgasmia.

What is more surprising is that these sexual problems were not limited to any particular age group: another study revealed that 36% of women with sexual problems were aged below 40, 32% were in their 40s and 50s, and 31% had gone through the menopause. That shows age alone isn’t the cause of the reduction in a woman’s sexual desire and activity.

how to survive an affair after fiftyIn fact, some experts have argued that women can have the best sex of their lives after they’ve gone through the menopause.

This isn’t just because the menopause provides a natural breakpoint in life which gives women a very good reason to examine how their lives are working, and perhaps to change what they’re doing, it’s also because women of this age have the wisdom and sexual experience to be fully in tune with their sexuality and to enjoy it to the full.

The question is of course how many women over 50 are aware of this, and how many of them know how to grasp their sexual potential and enjoy it to the full.

Myths and facts about men over 50

Culturally, we live in a society where women over 50 have traditionally not been seen as particularly sexually active, and certainly not sexually active with men much younger than themselves.

However, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that men in their 30s, and possibly even younger, find women in their 50s increasingly attractive.

Sex is entering a whole new territory: men over 50 may find that their erections are less certain and less firm, and that their overall level of sexual desire has decreased.

Dating advice for men over 50

Women over 50, given all the advantages of a place in life where they can relinquish responsibility for family and home, begin to focus more on themselves; potentially they have more discretionary income and the freedom to help them enjoy it; above all, these days, they may find themselves the object of sexual desire from men in a way they never expected to encounter at this time of life.

overcoming the impact of an affair after fifty And, of course, the other thing that helps women cope with life changes is that they are used to them – for women, change in status and expectations are common as they move from adolescence into young womanhood, then to marriage or relationship, then to motherhood.

raisingboysLater, as they let the children go, they move into the adventures of midlife and the menopause…no wonder a woman has the experience of and ability to cope with change!

Furthermore, after the age of 50 a woman has no agenda about having children, and her biological clock has stopped ticking. She’s probably overcome the fantasy of a man riding in to save her on a white charger (metaphorically speaking!); she may not expect a man to rescue her or carry her off in a dream of romance; she is probably learning how to live fully in her own sexuality and wisdom, despite the things in life that may have disappointed her and the dreams that may not have been fulfilled.

Empowered and accepting it’s OK to be sexual, a woman around this age can explore her sexuality, possibly seek romance, and certainly expect to achieve sexual satisfaction.

This is something that can happen to all women, not just those who find themselves single in midlife: women in a stable, long-term, committed relationship can move from a place where sex is either unsatisfying or infrequent to a place where sex is an important part of everyday life, and provides many satisfying orgasms.

Sexy blond woman over fifty years of showing sexuality in mid lifeIn short, 50 can represent the start of a whole new phase of life; even though you’ve lived through the fertile years of adulthood and perhaps brought up children, fifty represents a time of potential transition from first adulthood to second adulthood.

What’s more, if you’re healthy when you reach 50 your chance of getting to a ripe old age is very high: a woman in the US free of cancer and heart disease at the age of 50 can now expect to live to 92, according to epidemiological research.

Gail Sheehy coined the terms first adulthood and second adulthood. She said that in our first adulthood we’re simply consumed with moving from A to B to C — meaning, I assume, that we move from one stage of life to another almost inevitably as people have done for generations: moving out of the family home, separating from our parents, testing our ability to survive as independent adults, developing intimate relationships, and gaining the skills and abilities that we need to support ourselves in life before we put down our own roots, and then have a family.

Obviously it’s a mistake to believe that you can hang onto the same values that sustain you up to age 50 in the years beyond that, for the expectations that life puts on you are quite different, and so are the responsibilities that you will have.

In other words, you need to adapt your expectations and beliefs about life and yourself to be able to enjoy your second adulthood beyond fifty years of age, and to feel less anxiety and greater self-confidence and fulfillment.

A natural transition beyond the age of 50 for both men and women is to find yourself feeling less competitively driven, feeling a pull to take on a role that is more like that of mentor or teacher to those younger than yourself.

What’s Your Life Going To Look Like After 50 ?

Slowing Down After 50 Years

Of course, it’s entirely possible that you can, say, start a business and remain busy, achieving “great things”, but in general the pace of life slows down.

The mellowing that occurs in the majority of people after the age of 50 means that their focus may well be different to the years before: perhaps more spiritual, directed to greater self-fulfilment, and in the area of sexuality, certainly devoted to exploration, finding satisfaction, and maybe even having new adventures.

And at the same time, we recognize that these are easy words to say, because many women are trapped in marriages where sex has died, or where the relationship itself is simply not fulfilling any longer. The question for many women then is: do I stay or do I go?

And what is going to happen to me? Is this about this emotional fulfilment, or sexual fulfilment, or both? As far as this website is concerned, the emphasis is on achieving greater sexual pleasure and satisfaction, no matter what your life situation, after the age of 50.

Men Over 50 and Testosterone Supplementation

Sexual Pleasure For Women After 50

We will have a look at many issues as we go through the various aspects of achieving sexual satisfaction after 50, including male sexual desire (or, rather, the lack of it!), how a relationship can grow rather than stultify, and most importantly of all, how it is possible to achieve greater sexual satisfaction and pleasure even in the face of what appears to be a lowered sex drive.

A woman in her 50s is often moving from a position where she serves others like parents, teachers, husbands, lovers, partners, and other powerful people, into a place where she seeks greater mastery and independence: a fulfilment of her own emotional, physical and career potential.

She can stop pleasing other people, and start pleasing herself; she may feel a sense of power, or a desire to achieve independence and fulfilment in some other way.

Possibly what underlies all of this is a search for meaning that emerges round about midlife in most human beings.

The search for meaning encompasses many things, and its exact nature is different in almost everyone, because what is emotionally and psychologically significant to each of us is slightly different.

What lies at the root of the search for meaning is a search for personal fulfillment.

This can take any form — you can think of it, in shorthand, as the opportunity to actually achieve something personally significant.

Along with this change there ought to be a natural sense of something evolving (or dying) as you give birth to new dreams, new aspirations, new expectations, and hopefully more fulfilling relationships.

It seems that women over 50 are not as willing as they once were to settle for the stability of a marriage that has no intimacy, emotional connection, or sexual fulfillment.

Gail Sheehy interviewed hundreds of women in the course of writing her book “Sex and the seasoned woman”, and she had access to the membership of The Third Age, an online website with more than a million members, designed to focus on the needs of midlife adults.

Her interviews and research in this group demonstrated that women seem to divide fairly natural into five groups which she called: Passionates; Seekers; WMDs (women married, dammit!); SQs (status quos); and LLs (lowered libidos).

The Passionates, who represented 40% of the total, were described as healthy, independent, sexy women anywhere between their late 40s and their 80s. 

They usually had a measure of financial independence, and passionate about their work or a cause, and usually involved with someone romantically — whether that be post-divorce or in a long-term marriage. These women often say that they enjoy more romance and novelty in their sex play since the children left home, and many of them have been widowed, but have found new sexual relationships easily.

Seekers look forward to new relationships eagerly, anticipating the pleasure of being in sexual relationship with great satisfaction.

Judging by the descriptions that Sheehy gives of her interviewees and participants, these women have always found sex important, but in this period of their life it assumes a new importance: their orgasms are more powerful and more satisfying, and there may be a blossoming of their sexuality.

The third category that Sheehy identified was that of WMD.

These women represented 15% of the total. They were women who were frustrated by marriages that had been sexually or emotionally empty for some time, or women who felt victimized by a man who was an alcoholic, an adulterer, or lacking in fundamental masculine values (power, compassion, inner strength, vulnerability, etc).

Unfortunately these women didn’t feel ready to change direction, and they didn’t have a passionate interest that could provide them with the energy to change direction.

Most of these women had given up on sex: they were too angry, or too busy, or too resentful, and many of them were looking for reciprocity in their relationships — and not finding it. Some of them were having affairs; some were eager to have sex; in general they didn’t find their partners satisfying, and their marriages were failing to provide fulfillment.

Next, Sheehy identified the SQs or status quos, 12% of the total.

These women were resigned rather than happy. Like the WMDs, they didn’t have a burning dream or a new love, but felt that maintaining the status quo was preferable to the risk and discomfort of any change. In many cases they had long-standing marriages, though sex had often dwindled to zero.

However the women didn’t seem to care, for even if their husbands were having affairs, the SQs would turn a blind eye. In general they seemed to have personalities that were anxious or shy, or they lacked the confidence to seek out sexual relationships.

Continued below!

Also – you can get more information here.

 

Living A Passionate Life

The next group was the LL’s — the lowered libidos — who also represented 12% of the total.

These women had totally given up on sex, or were simply complying with their husbands’ or partners’ demands. Most of them were married, and most of the rest were divorced; the only thing that they all had in common was that they had had a lowered libido since going through the menopause.

 

Gail Sheehy In Person

This group don’t do anything about it, they don’t even find the motivation to take hormone replacement therapy or vaginal estrogen and they rarely enjoy masturbation or introduce a novelty into their marriages. Once again, like the SQs, they put very little energy into seeking any change in their situation.

Sheehy makes the point that these categories are not fixed, in the sense that we can move between different categories at different points in our lives, a fact which might be encouraging for women who feel stuck in a situation that seems suffocating and prevents them from growing.

One of the things that comes across again and again in her book is that women over 50 who make the leap out of a dead or dying relationship — whether propelled by desperation or by desire — say that they are having the best sex of their lives.

It’s fascinating how a point in the development of a woman’s life which has traditionally been regarded as the end of her sexually active period can in fact be precisely the opposite and lead to exuberant, joyous sex which provides more fulfilment than ever before.

But of course the question is, what’s actually necessary to achieve this? Is good health essential, or financial independence? Do you need to be an optimistic personality to attract a mate who wants to enjoy sex with you? Or is it about your luck?

  • The answer is that whatever situation you’re in at the moment, whether married or divorced, whether living with a partner where sex is dull or indeed completely non-existent, this is the time at which you have to do something to achieve a more passionate life, and that might mean making some important choices.
  • So the questions that you might need to ask yourself include:
  • Who am I now that I’ve reached maturity?
  • What do I see as the benefits of middle age?
  • What do I see as the threats and opportunities of growing old?
  • Do I have a passionate interest in something that sustains me?
  • Quotes-1How is my present life partner supporting me or frustrating the achievement of my objectives?
  • Am I still sexually desirable?
  • Am I still sexually active?
  • How long do I believe I’m actually going to live?
  • And how am I going to live the years that remain for me?
  • Do I want to spend the rest of my life in a marriage or enjoying casual relationships?
  • And, perhaps above all, what will be spiritually fulfilling to me?

  Quotes-14 In some sense passion is the thing that drives every aspect of human life. That doesn’t necessarily mean sexual passion, it just means passion in the sense of a fervent desire to pursue something you can pour all of your energies into. Finding something you love to do is essential for your spiritual fulfilment.

And it’s not just about having a hobby that you enjoy: it’s about finding something that actually generates excitement and exhilaration as well commitment to your own future. Gail Sheehy talks about reaching back into your own adolescence to find the dream that slipped past you without your noticing it go by. What was that idea, that dream, the thing that motivated you, that you always wanted to achieve or to do?

(I don’t agree with this. What motivates you in midlife can be very different than what motivated you earlier in life, but it’s not a bad way of starting to identify what your passion might be in the years ahead. But it’s true that a life without purpose is a spiritually empty life. And there is a fundamental link between finding the passionate pursuit that will enliven the second half of your life, and reopening the doorway to sexual pleasure, real intimacy, and companionship.)

Quotes-121The most profound aspect of this philosophy is the belief that the object is to reach mature love and a sense of meaning and purpose that lasts until the end of your life. Gail Sheehy also claims that the third thread of the passionate life is spiritual exploration: meditation, prayer, yoga; indeed anything that leads to a deeper understanding of your place in relationship to the world could be seen as a spiritual pastime. What to make of this?

For those who have come here looking for advice on how to be sexier after 50, talk about spiritual pastimes and a meaningful purpose in life may be somewhat overwhelming.

I don’t believe that it’s actually necessary for somebody to have an overarching spiritual sense to rekindle their sexual desire, nor do I believe it’s essential to have a purpose in life to be happy: I think life can be lived perfectly well in the absence of deep spiritual fulfillment as long as there are plenty of small but meaningful episodes in everyday life that sustain you spiritually. Indeed, the principle behind all of this website is that great sex within the context of a good life is easily achievable for everyone, at all ages.

But I agree that if you have a spiritual sense, or your life is graced by a sense of spiritual purpose, then it’s possible to reach deeper levels of intimacy and connection with your partner during sex.

On a simple and practical level, it’s worth quoting what one of Sheehy’s interviewees said: “The more a woman enjoys whatever activity she is doing, the more she radiates joy and energy for life. This acts as a beacon that attracts people, including possible life companions.”

It’s quite clear, however, that many people entering midlife feel the need for a change: a change in relationship, perhaps from one that lacks intimacy, companionship and sex to one that will provide more nurturing for the soul; perhaps a seeking out of a spiritually fulfilling occupation or community (or even a hobby or pastime that nurtures one in this way); or a change in the level and frequency of sex and the persons with whom you enjoy it.

A life lived passionately is likely to be a life in which the enjoyment of sex features predominantly. But what if your libido is low, you feel low little or no interest in sex, or, even worse, you feel that the possibility of sex has diminished so much that you’re not even interested whether you ever make love again or not?

passionHappily, there are some very clear answers to these questions and we’ll be dealing with them in specific detail later on. That includes the issue of low sex drive for women, low sex drive for men, and unequal sex drive within a couple’s relationship.

Gail Sheehy talks of the five phases of a passionate existence in midlife.

Phase 1 The Romantic Renaissance

She describes it as a period in which something or somebody reawakens your senses, both sensual and emotional, and you rediscover the power and excitement of “the romance of the new”.

This is indeed the power and passion that you experienced in your youth with your first young love — a type of personal energy which can serve to remind you that you’re still a sexual woman. (For a long-married couple who are still together and wish to stay that way, the romance of the new can be sparked in unexpected ways, such as the first holiday they have together after the departure of the last child from the family home).

In the context of a personal relationship, or a new dream, or a new spiritual focus, the excitement and romance of the new can propel woman towards a new and passionate life. When you’re in this phase you live completely in the moment, escaping worries about the future and untouched by the emotional consequences of the past.

In terms of romantic and sexual relationships, the romantic renaissance is often a short lived affair, but it can serve to bring you back in touch with the sexual side of your being.

Given the opportunity to seize a chance to reconnect with sexual energy, many people in midlife have taken what another man or woman has to offer, even when they know that the person is not a suitable long-term mate or partner.

Such sex is a wonderful gift from another person and doesn’t provide just fantastic sex — or even just a reawakening of the spirit; it can reawakened the soul to the glories of life. You can part without regrets, holding only fond memories and gratitude for the experience you’ve had. Many women and men who begin dating again in midlife will find a partner who gives them the gift of great sex and new sexual skills, helping them to move on in their search for a new existence.

Phase 2: Learning to be alone with your new self.

For women who’ve spent all of their lives looking after others, or feeling dependent on a husband, partner, job, place or other person, it may be hard to live alone and be content with that.

But it’s essential that a woman knows how to be alone without feeling abandoned before she leaves the structure of her current life to search for something new.

The pain of loss and abandonment can be considerable, as many women who have been divorced and left to fend for themselves by husbands who have searched out younger partners can testify.

But this doesn’t need to happen. By using a series of exercises which help you to shed any inappropriate and outmoded rules and regulations that have governed your life up till now, you can change the beliefs which underpin your philosophy of life.

And by gaining the social skills you may need to acquire to strike out independently in the world, you’ll move beyond projecting desperation into a level of satisfaction with your own company which is likely to give you the opportunity for personal growth as well as widening your imagination about the realm of the future possibilities that lie ahead of you.

Quotes-11Phase 3 : The boldness to dream.

Sheehy quotes Goethe, who wrote: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. / Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” It is simply time to strike out with the dream of passion, whether in a sexual or personal sense.

Phase 4: Soul Seeking

This describes the dramatic change in needs which can occur for somebody in their 50s. Certainly, the shadow of death lies ahead of us — death being the one certainty for all of us — and this means people may change their priorities, they may look towards the light of faith, or they may become more spiritual in some very personal way.

A person who doesn’t go through this fundamental change in philosophy or spirituality is likely to remain unfulfilled or uncertain as they move through life, and may perhaps fear death when it approaches.

One of the best antidote is to the anxiety of later middle age to have a deep and meaningful connection with another person, sometimes from a marriage that began years ago and has grown steadily as times have gone by, and sometimes from a new start in midlife. This can occur when a person knows deep in their souls that what they have is not enough and they need to seek more.

Of course, new connections can be found in all kinds of places: within a reinvigorated marriage or existing relationship, with a lover outside marriage, within a romantic friendship, and even with a same-sex partner. You might relight the fires of passion for an old flame or friend, or begin a new relationship.

Every story is individual and there are potentially as many variations on the theme as there are individuals in the world! Nonetheless, we’re all made of the same genetic and biological material, and fundamentally we all have the same developmental stages….and need for support, love and spiritual fulfillment, whatever that means for you.

Phase 5: Graduating to mature love

Which Sheehy describes as the gold at the end of life. For those who are able to incorporate their passion and their dream with the practical matters of living, there should be greater confidence, fulfilment, and self-acceptance than at any other point in life.

A broader view of life in the short time you have left to live can be a catalyst for the growth of wider love, a form of love that is expressed through giving to community and loving others outside relationship, friends or family; a love shown through your actions — which might include giving creatively, or philosophically, or through some kind of activism for a cause that you espouse. It’s a phase of life in which your goals are realigned and you think about what you will leave behind when you’ve gone.

This is still underpinned by passion, a passion which may spread into love for and with another human being.