I'm a 60-year-old woman who still considers herself a sexy beast. Well, maybe not a beast. A kitten. A sexy kitten. Okay, maybe not a kitten. A sexy gerbil. That's it... a sexy gerbil! The operative word here is sexy.
I was married for 27 years, and single for the last 10. Dating in your 50s isn't for sissies. One man I dated told me that I was sexy in my glasses. Another loved it when I wore high heels, and yet another was a big fan of red lipstick and cleavage. Mine, not his.
When you begin to date after you've been married for most of your adult life, you can count on being confused most of the time. Juggling your needs and desires with the needs and wants of your partner is tough. Yeah, I was definitely a picky dater. Which means I spent more nights at home with my dog and was generally pretty happy about it.
It all seemed like so much work. Games were still being played and I found myself less than tolerant of people who were less than forthcoming. Sex was still a huge part of the equation, but not something I was ever willing to give away, if not to the right person.
The question begs asking: what makes a woman feel sexy, and what makes a man think that she is?
I can answer that question by first stating that what was sexy in my 20s is no longer such a big deal. When I was in my 20s, I fell in love with my high school sweetheart who was tall (6'4"), dark, handsome, and had a gorgeous head of hair and a ridiculously confident personality. I knew our love would last forever.
It didn't. Lust always outlives love, if for no other reason but to baffle us further. He is still tall, dark and handsome. The hair is now store bought and the confident personality turned out to be just loud and obnoxious arrogance. Who knew? He was everything I was looking for and all I ever wanted.
Until I didn't. It took me years to learn that what you put up with is what you end up with.
These days, sexy is a lot less about tall, dark and handsome with a full head of hair. It has become a lot more about confidence, humor, affection, kindness, loyalty, and intellect. And sex.
I was no longer in the market for a man to have children with, build a career alongside, settle into our first home together, and have crazy, sweaty sex 7 nights a week. I was looking for a man I could grow old with, travel the world, have wonderful conversations, share our homes together and have crazy (less than sweaty) sex 2 nights a week.
According to e-Harmony, men find women sexy who are playful (flirty), beautiful, affectionate, open and mature about sex, fearless, appreciative, like and understand men (I'm not at all sure the latter is possible), flexible (in thought, not in body... I think), funny, and a good kisser. It didn't disclose what age demographic they were talking about. But I'm betting it was younger rather than older. Just a hunch.
In my 10 years of dating between the ages of 50 - 60, there was only one man, out of many, who asked me what I found sexy in a man. That is the man I've been with for the last four years. Not because he asked, but because he made sure that he was what I wanted and needed. Which only makes me want to please him more. Funny how that works.
Not too long ago I was watching my fiancé on the floor playing with our little dog and two cats. He was throwing a squeaky hamburger for Maddy, our dog, and playing laser beam with the cats. When he got up off the floor, he hugged me hard with both arms and buried his face into my neck and breathed me in for a very long moment. I'm not sure a man has ever been as sexy to me as he was that night.
So, if you want to know what a mature woman finds sexy, I'm betting big money that you will get a different answer from every woman who is asked. Because it's a lot less about you look like and a lot more about compatibility, wants, needs, and, of course, love.
For me it's about affection, appreciation, passion, tenderness, laughter and loyalty. Okay, fine, he is a fine drink of water with a full head of hair, but that's just icing on the cake.
Sexy is as sexy does.
"Medications that are prescribed for stroke issues and heart issues can have devastating effects on sexual functioning," explains Dr. Janice Epp of the Institute of Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. In addition, researchers have found that a family of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) can take the winds right out of your sails. These drugs include brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
Don't be shy -- talk to your doctor about how your prescriptions are affecting your sex drive. "There are a whole lot of new drugs that don't necessarily have those side effects, but it takes a lot of experimenting," says Dr. Epp. "Sometimes it takes three to four different tries to find the one that's best for you."
"People of both sexes can develop pain disorders as they get older, and that can have a big effect on sexuality," notes Patty Brisben, founder and chairwoman of Pure Romance, a company that specializes in selling sex toys and providing information on women's sexual health issues.
Brisben suggests re-evaluating your definition of sex. "Being intimate does not necessarily mean having sex in the traditional sense," she says. Some solutions sensual touching and massages and mutual masturbation. Dr. Epp suggests looking into new positions. "Sit on a chair, try being in different positions," she says. "Side by side actually puts the least amount of stress on your joints."
The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight hours of shut eye a night. But with the stress of work, kids, bills and, oh yeah, your marriage, who can think about fitting in time to have sex, much less sleep?
For some couples the days of random romps may be behind them, and that's alright, says Dr. Epp. "Plan some sex dates around times that you know you feel more energetic -- it lets you look forward to it," she says. "Some people say, 'Sex should be spontaneous!' to which I say bullsh*t," she says, laughing. "You plan other things in your life and you don't complain about it. You can do the same with sex."
Waning libido and vaginal dryness are two unpleasant side effects of menopause. With increased longevity, "women can now expect to spend a third of their lives in post-menopausal years," Brisben said. "So understanding how you're being affected by those changing hormones is essential."
A dip in estrogen may lead to thinning vaginal walls and itchiness in the area. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatments can include vaginal estrogen creams such as Estrace and Premarin; a flexible estrogen ring that is inserted; or estrogen pills, patches or gels.
"I think if you're just now embracing this subject at or around age 50, you've got some catching up to do!" Brisben tells Huff/Post50. But it's never too late to start having a frank and honest conversation with your partner about what you want in bed.
"I recommend having these conversations out of the bedroom and when you have some alone time," Brisben says. "Be open, be receptive and be ready to listen." Don't be afraid to bring some playfulness to the discussion. "Shop online for intimacy products together," Brisben suggests. Or write your partner a letter: "Tell them what you'd like to introduce into your intimate relationship." Another tact: Read sexy books together and share what interests you and what doesn't. "If you find these conversations are still hard to have ... a sex therapist or counselor is trained to help," Brisben adds.
It's the one part of aging and sexuality that gets the most attention: erectile dysfunction, which is often rooted in some larger physical problem, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic. Medications and drug and alcohol use can also play a role.
Ubiquitous ads promote the popular little blue pill to cure impotence, but there are other treatments as well, including vacuum pumps, implants and surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.
According to the movies or steamy prime time television shows, passion goes from 0 to 69 with a mere glance, a bitten lip or a bad pun. But "as we age, our bodies slow down and we have less energy," Dr. Epp tells Huff/Post50. "That's naturally occurring, but it can have an affect on our sexuality."
Rethink the connection between arousal and desire. Tell your partner if you need more than the average 20 minutes spent on foreplay.
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