Category Archives: living the passionate life

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 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.

In 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.

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.

In 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.

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?
  • How 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?

   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.)

The 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?

Happily, 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.

Phase 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.