Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles on sexuality and aging, co-produced by the National Sexuality Resource Center and Rewire. Check back in the coming weeks for more on seniors and sexuality. Read the previous contributions: How Are Your Orgasms, Mom?, Older, Wiser, and Sexually Smarter and Viagra Man, a Decade Later.
Snapshots from real life
Fernando* plunks down next to Annie at McDonalds. He’s fifty-nine. She’s seventy, but you’d never know it, he thinks. Nice body. Big breasts. Ample butt. Pretty face. Super funny and wholly confident. You’ve got to love those older women! Three dates, three long kisses, and tonight’s the night. Her place after dinner. A dark fear descends. Here we go again . . . what’s she going to think? What if I can’t keep it up? Darn heart medication: no Viagra.
Frances tingles. Twenty-five matches! She looks closer. Match.com says all those men over seventy are looking for women under fifty-five. Frances is seventy-two. For god’s sake, who are they kidding? The tingling turns to dejection.
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Robert, sixty-six, waits anxiously at JFK for Alexsandra, sixty-five, arriving from Moscow. Alexsandra understands. She gets it, the agony of watching Sue Ellen die. We’ll heal together, build a new life. Lucky to find her online. He chortles. Six months of emails and hot chatting! He adjusts his trousers. Any minute now.
Dating over 55. Lots of myths. Some truths. Many stories.
Body, soul, and priorities change after fifty-five. In a youth and information-saturated culture, however, very few fifty-five-plusers are going gently into the early bird special. The resigned grandma and grandpa have leaped off the porch rocker, carted across the golf course, and now can be found in second, third, and fourth careers, seeing themselves are more youthful, refusing to give up a firm grip on life. Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra notwithstanding, people are simply healthier, wealthier, better medicated, and more energized. That means longer life, on average – with new occupations, fresh relationships, more dating, and better sex.
Better sex? Remember, this is the generation who brought us The Rolling Stones, Betty Friedan, Hair, free love, and The Joy of Sex. This generation is not going to take dating while aging lying down. It’s no surprise that this group is redefining dating and sex to fit their needs. Fernando (above) is advised by a sexologist to address his worry about erection and sustained intercourse with oral sex and mutual masturbation. Frances can overcome her rejection by skipping over Match.com and venturing to sites that better suit her desires, sites such as It’s Just Lunch and SugarDaddy.com. Or considering her abundant resources, she could choose one of the elite, opulent services, where the opening price for a match-up is $55,000.
Then there is Robert. Sadly, he’s a sixty-six-year-old victim of exploitation. There will be no Alexsandra. She will not look, or talk, like her online self. That’s because the woman he talked to was not in Russia at all. She was right here in New Jersey at a phone bank, matching up casualties like lonely Robert with frantic women in Russia, so that they can flee to the United States. Robert has paid big bucks. He will lose it all.
He is not alone. Single men over fifty-five, many of whom are lonely and afraid of erection failure as they age, are marked targets for twenty-first century snake oil barkers. Despairing and alone, they are prey to promises from “a woman in your area” who wants to meet them. Money gets sent. No one shows up.
For straight women, it comes down to logistics. Census figures say of those sixty-five years and older, approximately 60 percent are women and 40 percent men. Do the numbers. It’s not always easy to find a man.
Does that mean you are out of luck if you are over sixty and on the prowl for a decent date? Not at all.
Successful heterosexual dating and partnering over fifty-five can and does happen for both sexes. So how do they get connected? Aside from the traditional fix-ups, bars, and shared interest groups, most jump on the Internet – and they aren’t just signing on to eHarmony, Match.com, or JDate. Here are some of the best online services devoted just to “seniors,” people over fifty-five. (Note: We who are over fifty-five shudder to call it “senior dating.” No one wants to get older, let alone become a senior.)
- Silver Singles
This is just the beginning of the dating sites for older Americans. With the boomers entering the arena, there’s huge money to be made from the loneliest of the fifty-five-plus crowd. It’s a good bet that this list will multiply in the next few years as this age group is exploited.
The need for relationships and sex never ends. Some centurions are still having sex! With the right attitude, and these ingredients, dating is a winning proposition:
1. Keep your sense of humor. Have fun! Seriously, what else is there? Don’t take yourself so seriously.
2. Remember that all three legs of the stool count. The financial, the psychological, and the physical are three of the key components for a successful relationship. Score high on each, and you just may have a winner.
3. Move on if it doesn’t feel right. Don’t waste precious time. It probably doesn’t feel right to her/him, either. Your mother is still right: There are other fish in the sea, even older fish.
4. Carry condoms. This generation rebels against condoms-most were lucky enough to dodge the AIDS epidemic because of long-term relationships. But the fifty-five-plus demographic has one of the fastest growing HIV diagnoses.
5. Carry lubricant. Women’s vaginas are drier after menopause. Use lots of lube!
6. Expect intimacy, not sex. In bed, take the emphasis off intercourse and let go of orgasm-mania from your twenties and thirties. Think pleasure, not performance.
7. Always keep time for friends. They will sustain you long after the latest love interest has gone.
Laugh at the foibles! True story: Kathy, sixty-six, checked her make-up and decided she looked younger without her glasses. Off they came. Okay, ready to flirt. Date No. 4 with Glen, sixty-nine, and tonight would be their first real intimacy. Where’s the lube? She grabbed the sample in the foil packet. Off to Glen’s! Hours later…sheets move, hands wander, mouths connect, and breath comes fast. Kathy grabs the lube, rips open the packet, and lowers it under the sheets. Glen stops fondling. What’s that smell? Nail polish remover. Kathy’s note to self: Keep glasses on when finding lube.
Dating over fifty-five is alive and well in spite of the challenges, the heartbreak, and the silly happenings that come with age. The need for intimacy never ends. By the way, here’s the end of the story: Kathy and Glen are still laughing about the caustic lube, even after five years of marriage.
* All names changed to protect privacy.