Larry Gould on Sex and/or Intimacy?
The challenge for me in writing my book (Great Retirement Great Sex) was greatly helped by the many people who generously shared their own stories and fears in relation to sex. My researchers and I also spoke to many organisations who deal with sexual and relationship problems. Writing a book is hard task and in fact I am in the process of a re-write, as I am continue to learn and hear more from my readers.
The question is how do I take all this research and information and create bite size pieces for a blog?
I have decided – and let me know if you don’t think it will work – but on a fortnightly basis I will share with you various stories that really helped me on my journey in understanding the sex needs of the 50’s to 90+. One myth that my journey was that ‘all men just want to have penetrative sex’ and women mainly ‘just want to be cuddled after the act is finished,’ (although I have to admit rolling over and snoring after a loving session can be a little disheartening, so a few sentences of affection before your float away into blissful sleep can bode well for future encounters). These myths have certainly put the 50+ under great pressure and I am not sure that the younger generation are in any better shape.
One area that seems to affect us as we get older is our confidence in being able to ‘perform.’
It is true that for a man an erection is much easier and regular requiring less stimulation when you are younger. Many of the people 50+ I have met find erections are certainly achievable in men even into their eighties, however more stimulation and time is required as we get older. It is this pressure on men to sustain an erection and, if possible, a tall sturdy one that negatively effects the sex lives of many men. This is especially the case as so many men are reticent about talking to their Partner, Doctor or Therapist about this challenge. In many cases much can be done to help with these problems. However, due to our hesitation to discuss this subject with our partners it can cause more problems.
One’s partner may feel that the lack of interest in lovemaking / sex is due to them being unattractive, which only compounds the situation. So be brave – and I know it is difficult, but the problem shared can make a huge difference. Moreover, help is available, and certainly if you have a partner and share your concerns with them, this can have a very positive effect on your relationship. If you are not in a relationship, then this situation can make you feel very isolated, so you need to seek help. Remember: good sex is not all about penetration and explosive climaxes – it’s about intimacy. Add to this the fact that the pressure on men and women to perform has never been so high. In past generations, being sensitive to women’s needs definitely came as a secondary consideration, and this is a bad thing, but the 50+ set are stuck in this new place and women are under huge pressure to achieve great heights of passion. I am all for this, but be kinder to yourselves and focus on the great feeling of touching and feeling each other rather than rating your performances.
It’s ironic that as a young man myself, most of my piers were obsessed with how big we were, how many times we could reach a climax and how long we could keep going before reaching a climax. Is it any wonder some of the guys didn’t show the care they should have done their partners with all this on their mind? And for women, as we didn’t share our fears, our lack of communication often led to making them feel that the lack of performance was due to the fact that they were not attractive – a double whammy.
As we have gotten older, sex is another question. Our research shows that if a man initiates the cuddle then the fear is no longer that we will reach a climax too soon, but the exact opposite. The fear now is that I won’t be able to get an erection, let alone hold back ejaculation, and what if I just don’t ejaculate? This is a fear that haunts many men, especially as they get older. For women, their mindset is not to think ‘Oh, bless him, he is having a crisis of confidence,’ but it is, ‘it must be me, he doesn’t find me attractive anymore, because I am old and fat.’ This vicious cycle leads many to just give up on sex, as the thought of failure is too hard to bear. The thought of telling one’s partner that they are frightened that they are going to fail to deliver is too much to admit – and this is a big mistake, as there is nothing more endearing than admitting your fears to your partner, which is, in fact, a great compliment.
On a social level, I don’t think I have ever heard a man or women discuss erectile failure, but they certainly hint with a wistful smile that sex is no longer a regular event in their lives. Despite the fact that sex is so often the part of humour, the failing to achieve an erection or reach a climax is hardly spoken about. So why is this? I ask you all. Have you or any of your friends discussed these issues?
The first myth that I want to dispel is sex is not – and never has been – just about penetration. I hear you asking ‘what do you mean a great sex life?’
A great sex life means responding to your partner’s intimacy needs and communicating your own needs openly and honestly. If you view penetration as the only path to a great sex life, then I believe this is a huge mistake, as you are not only placing undue pressure on yourself or your partner to perform, but you are missing out on the point of what it means to be sexual. Intimacy is about touching, holding hands, hugging, kissing , oral sex and everything in between. It is intimacy that lies at the heart of relationship and we need the intimacy to renew the bond with our partner.
A great sex life means enjoying many different forms of play; this doesn’t mean beyond a certain age you should wave goodbye to intercourse, but our focus should be on emotional and physical closeness from paying your partner a compliment to kissing, holding hands and just touching each other
Let’s try an experiment. Show your partner this Blog and ask them to be honest about this. If that is too difficult, write down one to three different sex plays that you would like to do. If you can discuss and laugh about it so much the better, if you don’t want to talk about it just agree to do it. For this first experiment I would suggest that you agree that penetrative sex is not on the list. This way, you are removing any performance pressure. Let me know how you get along.
In my next Blog, I will share with you my embarrassing experience at the cool gym that I go to in Manhattan, which is also frequented by many t.v. personalities. Talk about a confidence booster – or not. Please check this space again soon for that story.