Is sex the same nearing 70 as it was at 50? No, but that's not necessarily bad news. The lessons I've gleaned over the past few decades have actually made sex a better experience. My body took care of my sexual needs without any help from my heart until I turned 50. Just thinking about sex was enough to arouse me and I didn't need strong feelings to perform. Even sex in my relationships was casual because there wasn't a deep enough emotional connection to make it intimate. I wasn't unique. Sex wasn't always an act of love for lots of boomers who came to manhood in the late 1960s.
The change in my sexuality didn't occur overnight. It was subtle yet noticeable. I talked with my men friends to find out if they were experiencing any changes in their sexuality. Most were, and some felt getting off of the relationship roller coaster was a positive result.
Sex before 50 wasn't emotionally intimate even when I thought I was in love, and I was unaware of any heart/libido connection that would make it otherwise. But I started to panic when the sexual pendulum began to swing in a diminishing direction. This was my lifelong, dependable libido, and I feared it might slip away permanently. The rhetorical question of who was in control of my sexuality, my libido or me, became a constant inner dialogue.
I wasn't having sex in a vacuum. Women played an equal role. It took two partners to strap on a sexual rocket and steam up the windows. And since I'd always dated women my age, at 50 I began to notice they weren't rejecting sex with me, but rather preferred to be sexual with me in the context of an emotionally intimate relationship. I was lost.
While I wanted to embrace emotional intimacy with a woman, I didn't know how, and to be truthful, I was too afraid of the consequences. But I couldn't imagine spending the rest of my life struggling with sex. And then ED meds hit the market like a cyclone, and like many guys my age I thought they were the cure for dwindling sexual potency. In truth they weren't. Getting erect is still something a man has to deal with on his own, meds notwithstanding.
These meds were a blessing for guys with serious physical problems, but for many men, they weren't really a cure. I turned to my men friends, one of whom mentioned he and his wife of 35 years were still having frequent, hot sex. I wanted to know more about that. I wanted to know his secret. His answer both disappointed and discouraged me. He talked about emotional intimacy, two words I'd never used in the same sentence. He wasn't proselytizing. He was simply mentioning it worked for him.
I needed to suffer a bit longer before I fully bought into the notion that great physical intimacy for men over 50 was inexorably linked to deepened emotional intimacy. I hadn't resisted because I didn't think it was true, but rather because I feared I couldn't make that connection.
I wanted to continue having great sex but fear of intimacy was preventing that. Trusting was a leap of faith. Learning to connect my heart with my libido was, in boomer Billy Crystal's words, a process, but I knew I had to meet a woman I could trust unconditionally before I could open my heart. After a few false starts I finally met that woman two years ago. Sex feels more like it did in my 40s now that I've invested my heart. Admittedly I have moments when I forget the lesson, and it's in those moments that I actually feel my sexuality fade. Nothing arouses me as quickly and effectively as emotional intimacy, and it's never too late to make that connection. In my world continuing to have great sex is well worth the effort, and being half of a sweet relationship is the frosting on the cake.
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