Women of our age: I hear all the time that you're embarrassed about your aging body to the point of avoiding sex with a new partner -- or that you insist on sex in a darkened room, using the braille method of discovery.
And it's not just single women who feel this way: I had a conversation with a man about my age who is no longer having sex with his wife because she's too embarrassed about her weight gain to be naked with him.
Other men tell me similar stories -- that their wives hide their bodies, and the men miss the sex and the intimacy, but don't know how to ease their wives past their distaste for their bodies.
I'd like to talk to both genders here:
Women: By hiding your body and being embarrassed by it, you're buying into our youth-obsessed culture that says that only young, firm, fertile bodies can be sexy and alluring. Let's put that notion to rest right now!
Single women, imagine this scenario:
Finally, after meeting so many frogs (and not even tempted to kiss any one of them), you've met a man who makes your heart flutter big time. You've flirted, you've gone on a few dates, you've talked half the night, you've laughed at his jokes and he at yours. On your last date, you kissed... and kissed. His hands went exploring, so did yours, and you know that on the next date, more than your lipstick will come off. You've even had the Condom Conversation.
But, your inner worrier keeps asking: What if he sees your body and heads for the hills?
You've got to trust me on this, he's not going to say or even think any of the following:
- "Oh, gee, you have so many wrinkles!"
- "You'd be so pretty if you lost weight."
- "Huh -- I thought you looked younger with clothes on."
- "I like firmer butts and perkier breasts."
- "Uh, I gotta go now."
No, whether or not he voices it out loud or conveys it with a smile or melting eyes, here's what he's thinking:
"Oh wow, did I get lucky! This is going to be wonderful."
Partnered women: Does your husband have the same body as when you first dated? I doubt it. Realize that your man wants you; he wants both the bonding and pleasure that comes from having sex. Instead of asking him, "Do I look fat?" try asking, "What do you think is the sexiest part of my body?" His answer might surprise you, and I'll bet he'll be delighted that you asked.
Men: You may not realize how insecure we women are about our bodies. We need to hear from you that you find us sexy, alluring, beautiful. If you think our breasts are gorgeous, or our rear view turns you on, please tell us. Even an "I could gaze into your eyes forever" will make our hearts flutter. We need you to help us affirm our bodies. A hefty dose of romance does wonders for us, too!
We women are our own worst critics, always have been. Remember those teenage pimples? Those worries about our shape and smell? Let's decide, once and for all, that our bodies are just right, capably of visually delighting a partner and of bringing us both great pleasure.
If we can't do that at this time of life, when can we? Even if we don't fully believe it, acting "as if" we're proud of our bodies will help make it so.
So when it's time for that get-naked date, prepare with some gorgeous lingerie (see my blog post about posing in lingerie right before my 68th birthday) and dim the lights if you feel the need. But remember: don't black out the view (candles are sexy and flattering), have lubricant handy and enjoy!
Ageless sexuality advocate Joan Price is the author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. Naked at Our Age won Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Best Book 2012 from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Visit her zesty, award-winning blog about sex and aging at http://www.NakedAtOurAge.com, where Joan continues to talk out loud about Boomer/ senior sex, partnered or solo.