Dissatisfied with Sex? Try Focusing on Love
Separating the action from the emotion
By Jane Glenn Haas
I'm bored with it.
Talking about it, that is, not engaging in it.
The latest discussion is a survey by the Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com. The survey says baby boomers—76 million of them—are the unhappiest Americans when it comes to having sex.
And I thought Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra solved their problems.
(I know there is no similar product for women because they don't have to perform the same way. I mean, we just lie there. Right?)
Only 7% of the people between 45 and 65 say they are satisfied with their sex lives, the pollsters say. Two in five men say they're having problems performing, despite the "assistance" of available drugs. Only 19% of the women report the same, but they don't have to work so hard at having sex. Right?
Ah, there are solutions beyond medications, says Ruth Westheimer, the "Dr. Ruth" sex therapist. "Older people can learn new tricks," she says, leading to mental images of couples coupling on walkers or getting high reading each other's blood pressure cuffs.
I know, I know. Being a senior isn't being "old" today—but what is Dr. Ruth talking about?
In an interview, she says aging men and women need to work on being "sexually literate—to really know what they need, what their partner needs, and how to pleasure each other."
Sexually literate? Okay, Dr. Ruth, I thought this was the sexually liberated generation, the first one to be able to claim to be sexually literate because they talk about it publicly. All the time.
Is there a point where sex can be . . . well . . . boring? Are we wearying of trying to figure out why we do it, when we do it, and where we do it?
The AP survey concludes the information that boomers are dissatisfied with their sex lives is a "stark turnaround" for the group who spearheaded the sexual revolution, coming of age as birth control became readily available, premarital sex gained wider acceptance, and abortion was legalized. Boomers also were many of the first victims of the AIDS epidemic—a disaster Pope Benedict XVI now says Catholics can avoid by using condoms.
"Men do tend to have higher sex drives," says Debby Herbenick of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University. Women, she says, have hot flashes and they're tired. You betcha.
She adds that messages about sex are unreal. "The media make it sounds as if everybody should have sex from morning to night, and that's not realistic," she says. Another you betcha.
Instead of talking about sex, maybe we should be talking about love. And respect.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a lot of love on the dance floor of the Senior Senior Prom, sponsored by Age Well Senior Services in Laguna Woods.
There were men bent over with stenosis and women who could barely walk from their table to the dance floor. But they were out there—swaying to the music, holding on to each other and looking like they really cared about each other.
What a concept!
Are they beyond caring about sexual intimacy? Well, what is intimacy, anyway?
Sometimes it's just plain snuggling up to someone you care about. Just letting him or her know you're there.
Anyone can think about, talk about, or have sex. But not everyone can claim to be loved.
AP says "boomers are the unhappiest Americans of all when it comes to making love."
I think it's time we separated the action from the emotion.
Published November 30, 2010