Why I'd Rather Sleep with a Man over 50
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Rippling, hard muscles. Firm six pack. Tight, round butt. He undresses you hurriedly. Your pulse is racing. You open your eyes to see a chiseled twenty-five-year-old face with the look of fiery hunger burning in his eyes. He wants you desperately. You want him madly. Your kisses are delicious and wet and deep and full. Your passion builds. Your breath comes faster. He pumps faster and faster, harder and harder ...
Sound good? Before you decide, consider this: The whole scene, start to finish, took twenty minutes, max. Fortunately, he is resilient. He has a brief recovery time-out, and you start all over again. This time, if you are lucky, he thinks about you and your orgasm. If you are in a typical situation, you may reach orgasm or you might feel pressure to fake it. Of course, he thinks you are loving it. And, why wouldn't he? You are telling him so, over and over, as we are taught to do as women.
In the end, though the experience was hot and passionate, the emphasis was on performance, not pleasing.
Not all experiences with every twenty-five-year-old man turn out this way, but this scenario is not uncommon. Truth be told, you probably had fun. It could have been a lot more pleasing, however, if you were somehow able to tell him to slow down, tease, play, and give you what you want. Chances of that happening are slim, though, especially in a moment of raw lust like this. Even in the most solid of relationships, sex is a very difficult subject to discuss. Consequently, couples don't talk, they perform. Most younger men do what they are hard wired to do (get erect and ejaculate) and women (literally) go along for the ride.
Let me tell you, it can be so much better. All it takes is an old guy!
Men over fifty, sixty, seventy-five, even ninety can be great lovers for three basic reasons. Primarily, they are not in a hurry. Secondly, they put their partner's needs first. Thirdly, they have learned that great sex doesn't have to include intercourse at all -- it's only one option.
Why, then, do we denounce older men as lovers? Men in the second half of life -- men over fifty -- have taken a heavy hit in our society. The pack of mistruths perpetuated by advertising is overwhelming. Let's look at what we've been told. Performance is all that matters to women. Men in midlife-plus have to struggle to get and maintain erections. Sustained intercourse is for the younger man; older men just can't stay hard enough to "do it" for any length of time. Men (and women) become asexual and lose interest in sex as they age.
Whoa! What man wants to chance not getting hard when the passion play begins? When the suggestion of failure looms, enter the heroes: Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. These medications manage to engorge his penis with blood, and may (not always) save the day by helping him get that hefty, manly hard-on that gives him firm entry when called upon to perform. There can be trouble in paradise, however. These are not magic pills. When dependence on the drug -- rather than the natural libido -- becomes the source of confidence, performance anxiety is heightened, and now the seed of worry grows: What if I forget the pill the next time? The man begins to believe he has lost his ability to get hard without the drug. The diagnosis of ED (erectile dysfunction) in this country has reached epidemic proportions, thanks in part to performance anxiety induced by the suggestion of erectile failure.
All the red-flagged side effects of these drugs aside, let's stop the presses. The point is that an older man does not need the drug to have incredible sex. We're judging success in the sexual experience with the wrong set of criteria. The whole premise has taken a wrong turn. If Shakespeare's mantra was, "the play's the thing," we can say that our conventional thinking has adopted this mantra for men: "the erection's the thing." What if we changed that assertion? What if we took the emphasis off erections, and off intercourse, and off orgasm? What a concept! What if we decided that having sex was about pleasuring each other, taking time to explore bodies, building up passion intentionally, gradually, bit by bit, savoring each move? What if intercourse became just one option on a menu of lots of options? What if great sex happened over hours, not minutes? What if playing and teasing and opening up to new erotic ideas became part of your regular repertoire? What if you talked about what pleased you and what didn't, and your partner acted on it? What if you had a partner who was more interested in pleasuring you than in satisfying himself?
That's why sex is better with an older guy. Older men have a quiet confidence and patience that allows enjoyment of the entire sexual experience, yours and his. The mellowness of having been "around the block" with age -- and, most likely, a high number of partners -- permits him to let go of having to rush, and prove, and perform. Without those pressures, older men (and women) can see themselves as equal partners in a titillating, creative escapade. Creativity and curiosity allow variety in new erotic adventures: expanding play with oral sex, sampling new sex toys, play acting, even an evening of cuddling, fondling and holding, among others. Everything slows down or speeds up according the needs of the partners.
Of course, older men come by their willingness to slow down and participate fully with their partners because of several drivers. One is the gestalt experience. He has learned that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, experimenting on or talking about how the total experience can work better for both of them -- who likes what and when -- is far superior to two individuals trying to perform and get what they can out of it for themselves. When an older man asks you that old clichÃ©, "Was it good for you, too?" he really wants to know because he wants to make it better the next time. Another driver to decelerate and participate fully is this: The physical aging process slows down the urgency that leads to the "wham-bam-thank you ma'am" needs of his younger counterpart. The necessity to ejaculate takes a second chair to touch and connection.
It's true that as men age in the second half of life, some physical changes happen. According to Metz and McCarthy, in Coping with Erectile Dysfunction (2004), "the vascular and neurological systems become less efficient, so that psychosocial, relational, and psychosexual skill factors become more important." That means that, yes, it may take longer for a man to get hard. He may not get as hard as when he was twenty-five. He may not ejaculate each time he has an erection. If we stop here, and pledge allegiance to the old "the erection's the thing" mantra, we have set older men up for performance failure, and a greater chance that he will need a prescription for Viagra to feel sexually secure. He may even make a decision to abstain from sex completely. None of that has to happen.
This cloud has a BIG silver lining at the end of the day. All the physical changes in men demand accepting reality. It means assuming responsibility for where he is in his life cycle, and it requires adjusting his responses, creatively. The good news is that he no longer has to succumb to feeling that he's less of a man than when he was twenty-five, measured by his erection performance. It's time to break that paradigm and look at what can happen, what is happening with many older men, and what makes sex satisfying and just as enjoyable as sex at twenty-five. Physical changes lead to creative thinking. Creativity becomes the change agent that leads to alternatives. Alternatives reduce erection performance anxiety. New thinking invites slow touch, spending time to caress and tease. It means talking to your partner. Foreplay becomes foretalk. It means finding out what really feels good to both of you. It means thinking about alternatives to the old kiss-grope-intercourse-orgasm routine. It means discovering your partner's real needs, and yours. It means true pleasuring.
In my interviewing of men over sixty, and in the revealing DVD Sex Over Sixty , with Dr. Dennis Sugrue of the University of Michigan, men seem to agree on one thing: Every man wants a big, hard erection, no matter what age. No one wants to settle for less, really. What seems to change is how men in midlife and beyond perceive the sexual experience. The focus begins to change when creative acceptance takes place. Men begin to learn that women's wants are different than what they have always assumed them to be. Though most women whom I talked to in the fifty-five-plus age group agree that firm erections are, indeed, a turn on, they also tell us that rigid erections take second place to being pleased. Women seemed overjoyed that they are finally talking with their male partners about the experience and taking time to enjoy each other's bodies completely. It was a surprise for men to learn that for most women, intercourse was not the primary drive but simply one of several delicious menu options.
Instead of embarrassment over lack of rock hard erections, older men can become relaxed, finding imaginative ways of pleasing. Oral sex increases. Sex toys are used. Erotic body exploration happens. In some cases, even "dress up" and gentle kinky sex transpires. A whole new world of possibilities opens up! Here's the best news: Once the worry and fear of soft erections goes away, many older men are surprised at the firm erections that appear seemingly out of nowhere.
All this leads me back to why I'd rather sleep with an old guy. Of course, there is no doubt that the hot stud in the opening scenario would be a big turn on. For me, however, it ends there. Let me look at eye candy on a DVD or at the beach. I can fantasize about him when alone. For my real bedroom, give me a seasoned man. I'll take the older guy who takes his time. The one who plays and teases, and offers suggestions of new titillating erotic ideas. I don't need the old routine -- ending in intercourse every single time. Been there, done that, and it's overrated. Give me someone who knows what I like and cares enough to make sure I get it. I'll place my bets on the older guy ... Who knew?
Katherine Anne Forsythe, MSW, has been a sexuality educator with a specialty in intimacy and aging for over twenty years.