"I didn't have sex with my wife the last year we were married," said Joost, a start-up muckety-muck that I dated last year. "I didn't know what I liked."
We were sitting on a sofa in a cocktail lounge. I gazed at him over my Malbec, surprised that this silver-haired businessman -- a cross between James Bond and someone you might have found tossing back a Manhattan at the Algonquin Round Table -- had ever had a doubt about anything, especially his sexual desires.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I had these thoughts, and I used to ask myself, is it all right to be thinking about these things? Is there something wrong with me?"
"Well, what exactly were you thinking?"
He ran his hand up my calf and under my gray dirndl skirt.
"I was thinking about what it would be like to totally dominate a woman."
Joost's shame about his fantasies and his inability to talk to his wife about them, killed his marriage.
"It might have been different if I'd met her now," he sighed. "But I didn't. I met her then."
He fixed me with his predatory gaze, the same one he gave me on our second date, when he told me he wanted to do bad things to me in the LACMA sculpture garden.
"People like what they like," he said, his fingers gripping my thigh. "Sex doesn't lie."
And then he took me back to his place and spanked me.
* * *
I had always been submissive, I just didn't know it. Even as a teen, I found myself gravitating towards older, professional, rather bossy men -- and them to me. The thought of being a high-class hooker excited me, then horrified me the next moment. I was educated, I was a feminist, I was a social progressive: how, then, could I be turned on by the thought of serving some imposing man in a suit?
So I packed up my naughty thoughts and shoved them into a dark corner of my brain. They crept out during sex with my husband, though I didn't dare tell him. We were just slightly less vanilla than Ricky and Lucy, and slept almost as far apart. To this day, I have no idea if he wanted to expand our repertoire, or what kind of porn he liked, or if, as I suspect, he'd ever wanted to be tied up.
Our inability to explore our sexual personas with each other created a desperately lonely chasm in the bedroom. Like Joost, I was worried there was something wrong with me. I'd read that people have all kinds of fantasies that they never act on, so I figured as long as I didn't try to turn my kinky desires into reality, I'd still be a good person.
But then the divorce happened, and with it a surge in my libido that exploded when a series of adventurous lovers appeared in my life. Each one of them was freaky, yes, but not one of them was a freak. They were highly intelligent, ambitious, successful free-thinkers. And as they had each traveled further down the BDSM road than I, and they were skillful and enthusiastic teachers. Their complete acceptance of their sexual personas liberated me from the shame that had bound me during my marriage, the shame that kept me from true intimacy with my husband, and all the men before him.
I now wear my sexuality proudly, without double-guessing, or caring, what's "okay" to do in the bedroom. Finally, at 50 -- 51, to be precise -- I know what I like, and I like what I think.
What about you? How old were you when you began exploring your fantasies? Did you ever feel ashamed of your desires, or were you always comfortable in your sexual skin?
Everything in our culture makes people, and women in particular, feel that after the age of 40, they're no longer sexually attractive, and this belief gets internalized. But researcher Gina Ogden, in conducting her famed Isis study (a national survey of sexuality and spirituality), found that women in their 60s and 70s were having the best sex of their lives -- people need to understand that the brain is the most important sex organ in the body!
Men and women get into sexual patterns in their teens, 20s and 30s that never change. So in recognizing this, we need to say, "the hardware is going to stay the same, but we can update the software." And you can update the software by trying different things, but mostly by getting to know yourself.
If your body is an instrument, then you're only going to get better by practicing. And quite frankly, from a health standpoint, there isn't a better use of your time. Men take erection-enhancing drugs to increase nitric oxide in the penile blood vessels, but they can increase nitric oxide themselves by improving their sex lives either on their own or with a partner. Orgasms trigger a huge burst of nitric oxide, which balances the neurotransmitters in your body -- the same neurotransmitters that people take drugs to balance. It's a shame because antidepressants lower one's ability for full sexual expression, so the one thing that could really decrease depression is the one thing that the drugs quiet down. People don't realize that you can turn on chemicals in your own body without importing unnatural drugs to do it for you.
If you're fit, you're much more likely to have a satisfying sex life. Being and feeling healthy and being and feeling sexy are synonymous. I just spoke to a 70-year-old friend of mine -- a total fox -- who's trying his luck on eHarmony. So we talked about what people in his demographic are looking for, and we both agreed -- health! When you're healthy and your hardware is working the best it can, you can focus on downloading new software.
Women need to understand that they are far more complicated sexually than men are. For men, the focus is in the genitals. But with women, sex is like a martial art, and women need to master that art and have the ability to move sexual energy around, manipulate sounds and focus on certain areas. The beauty of being over 50 is that you have more time to practice this. Women need 45 minutes to get fully turned-on. Do you know how long the average couple spends making love? 15 minutes. Slow down! Take time!
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