Friday, July 11, 2008

A Midlife Sex Conversation

There is going to be a sex question and survey for you at the end of this post so I hope you’ll read through.

This week we are having an ongoing conversation in the WomenBloom forums about sex and midlife. We have a couple of guests in the conversation, Gayle Michaels and Jade Beaty, who between them have an amazing breadth of sexual experience and wisdom to share. Both of them are firm believers that sex is a sacred and spiritual gift that has the capacity to add enormous joy and intimacy to our lives. And, that it is all too often treated with secrecy, shame and disrespect. They are on a mission to help people experience it more deeply and joyfully.

The reason we decided to do this is because I don’t think we midlife women talk about this very much, I can pretty well guarantee not with the complete frankness Gayle and Jade do. Oh sure, the occasional semi-embarrassed giggly exchange with a girlfriend but not really conversation. Am I wrong about this?

And, am I the only middle aged woman who still has a conservative voice in my head telling me that sex is only to be enjoyed within the sanctity of a marriage? And, I better not think about enjoying that too much or, heaven forbid, having it with myself, because I’ll go crazy and end up in a mental institution. Oh, no, I think the mental institution is only reserved for those who pleasure themselves. Oh yeah, that’s right, the marriage one is primly doing the wifely duty thing but not having an orgasm. Anyway....

I even used to think that ANY physical contact even as simple as a kiss MEANT something significant, a kind of implied launch down the path to matrimony or something like that. I have a guy friend whom I met a few years ago now on Match. For various reasons, we never connected ‘romantically’ but we kept up and would occasionally get together for a glass of wine. Well, at some point I found myself making out with him in the back of a dark bar and enjoying it immensely. After the first time, I had some angst about ‘What Did It MEAN?” After it happened a couple more times, I came to see that it’s possible to just do it for the sheer pleasure of it. It doesn’t have to mean ANYthing.

I know. Duh.

My views of sex have changed quite a bit since I was married and widowed 14 years ago. Most certainly, I’ve become more curious and relaxed about it. My attitudes about sharing sexually aren’t as casual as deliciously making out in a dark bar, but if there is someone you like and respect, and there is some chemistry there, and each is free from other commitments, what is wrong with that? With all the usual warnings about STDs and safe sex and the rest, of course. Most of us aren’t gonna be doin’ the baby thing anymore so....what?

I’m told by my friend, Karen Kreps, who writes a column called True Intimacies that 50-something men tell her that us middle-aged women are pretty much rarin’ to go on the sexual front, screw long term relationship or commitment of any kind. And, if you can believe this, the men are the ones protesting, ‘hey wait a minute, can’t we connect on a deeper level before we jump in the sack?’ Hmmm.

Anyway, I’m curious how you see it. How have your views about sex changed as you reached midlife? Or, have they? I hope you’ll comment but you can also take this easy as pie survey which might be kinda fun. Or you could do both in the interests of giving me both subjective and rigorously quantitative data. hee hee.

Then, I’m off to call my guy friend for, er, a glass of wine.

13 comments:

Midlife Slices said...

What, no comments? I've been on the road all day is the reason why I'm so late reading. I have lots to say but not in a comment box. But I will say, I think sex is a very personal subject but I also think sex is a beautiful thing and more appreciated in middle-age. I speak for myself and I also suggest you should think about having more ahem...drinks with your friend. Life is too short to have regrets.

WomenBloom said...

Midlife Slices...

I KNOW, does this validate my point about we don't talk about this? Or, was everybody out of town and un-wired over the weekend? Or, is no one interested in the subject? This is very interesting.

Allison

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said for sex with a knowledge of a person whether in a marriage or relationship or friendship. With that said I love sex, I will say it again... I LOVE SEX..

I choose the other option in the survey because I have sex outside of relationships and I have sex inside of them.. one is not better nor worse than the other in my head the feelings are different the orgasms are orgasms some are mind blowing some are amusing some are just lovely.

I think you are leaving out the variety of choice in the survey.

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Renee Fisher said...

Sex and sexuality is important for all women at midlife and beyond, whether we have active sex lives or not. It's important to discuss our desires, our fears, our expectations. Sex can change at midlife and beyond, and it can mean far more than the sexual act.
Renee Fisher, co-author Saving the Best For Last: Creating Our Lives After 50 (savingthebestforlast.wordpress.com)
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