• "I find the whole idea of sex at our age embarrassing and a little disgusting."


    My husband and I are both in our early fifties and our children have now grown up and fled the nest. We still love each other very much but somewhere along the line we stopped having sex. I liked to think we’d outgrown that kind of thing, but now, out of the blue, my husband has started making sexual advances again. I’ve been trying to laugh it off but frankly I find the whole idea of sex at our age embarrassing and a little disgusting. I just can’t go through with it.


    I get a quite a lot of shocking emails but I have to say this one made me spurt my morning coffee all over the computer screen. Dear God woman, I’ve never heard of anything more ridiculous than feeling too old for sex in your 50s! I know 80-year-olds who have a healthy sex life. It might not include all the elements their sex life did when they were younger but they’re still having plenty of orgasms. Your husband has the right idea making moves now. He figures you’ve done all the hard work bringing up the kids, now it's your time to enjoy yourself. And what better way to enjoy yourself than to have sex!

    You think sex is disgusting. Really? Think back to when you were younger. I bet you didn’t think it was so disgusting when you were a horny 18-year-old. Unless you want to lose your husband, I’d suggest you try to rekindle some of that past passion by thinking back to the best sex you ever had and remembering how good it felt. Talk to your husband. Tell him you feel a bit weird and embarrassed about resuming sex again but you’re willing to try. Start by doing sexy things that don’t involve sex. Have a bottle of champers in the bath together. Start snuggling up on the sofa rather than sitting on different seats. Get him to give you a shoulder massage. In other words, get used to being physically affectionate and playful again. Plenty of older people find sex in their later years is the best ever. If you don’t believe me, get a copy of a brilliant book called ‘Better than Ever: Time for Love and Sex’ by Bernie Zilbergeld, which challenges many of the myths about sex and ageing.

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    Comments (4)

    • DirtyRedAngel: November 27, 2011 21:22
      I have to say, assuming this is really an email sent to you, just how insensitive you sound.

      Someone says they feel disgusted about having sex and you spurt your coffee out and say it's the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard.

      For someone who is a Sex Expert I personally, would have thought you could have worded this slightly more sensitively. People feel what they feel, you don't have to make them feel silly.

      That said I hope this person can get over that feeling and enjoy the rest of her life with her husband once she's overcome this hurdle.

    • bx: November 28, 2011 00:02
      If this is a real email, and the sentiments behind it are some i've heard male and female friends express many times, then the reply is atrocious.

      Some men and women have a naturally low libido that decreases even more with age for a whole host of reasons. Some people, male and female, fake having a libido because they feel they need to in order to attract and keep a partner hoping that as the relationship and they mature they can just stop faking. Various academic as well as social researchers have written and published about this so I find it amazing TC chose to ignore it in her abysmal response.

      If the initial writer (assuming there was one) or any readers have a similar lack of libido and always have had a low libido then there are books and websites out there to give you a place to begin to move forwards.

      I will say that, assuming the husband is a decent sort, this can be devastating for the partner who can often feel that the seeming decrease of libido in their partner is their fault. Different partnerships find different ways to handle it ... some do break up, neither I nor anyone else can tell anyone else which path to take but some degree of compassion and signposting beyond "you should like sex, you will like sex just get on with it" is definitely in order.

      for women with low libidos Joan Sewell's "I'd Rather Eat Chocolate" is an intriguing, human and emotional journey with her and her husband Kip ...

      I'd also reccomend for an insight into how this kind of sex issue can affect the higher libido partner, particularly in this case the male partner of a heterosexual relationship, Bettina Arndt's "The Sex Diaries; Why women go off sex and other bedroom battles".

      neither book is perfect, and both give shonky advice and have shonky assumptions in places but equally both can help anyone faces 'sex issues' like the 'letter' (assuming it is real) is asking about.

      I should also point out i say this as someone who is a juicy tomato and enjoys sex and thinking about sex, sexology and so forth and do beleive that sex can be a healthy part of our lives ... but sexuality takes many forms and it is as natural to be on the asexual spectrum as it is to be on the prosexual spectrum ... perhaps something TC as a 'sexpert' should be aware of and express in her replies to any similar letters in the future.

    • Steele: November 30, 2011 11:34
      As an advice writer and self proclaimed 'sexpert', Tracey, you have certain ethical responsibilities. Now every writer, sex educator and general purpose human being is going to have their own opinions on what is and isn't ethical when giving advice, but here's a quick pointer that most adults who aren't sociopaths would agree on - It is not your place to express shock or mirth when someone comes to you asking for help. The role of an advice giver is to help not to ridicule. No one writes to you looking to be mocked or to give you a good laugh, they are writing to you because they are scared or confused or curious and want someone who supposedly knows more than they do to clear the fog.

      You go on to tell this woman she will 'lose her husband' if she doesn't have sex with him. Look, I'm the first to rant about how screwed up it is in a monogamous relationship when one person wants to end their sex life and the other doesn't. It's a huge challenge on both sides and ultimately some compromises will need to be made. That doesn't make it ok to try to intimidate her into having sex she's uncomfortable with. One of the constant threads in your writing is your nasty point of view that coerced sex is somehow ok - enthusiastic consent isn't half as important as serving your partner's needs. You're delivering an ultimatum - put out or lose him - and that's NOT ok.

      Your advice about starting slowly with physical affection and intimacy is good, but it needs to be framed with support and backed up with encouragement to ONLY move things forward if everyone involved is comfortable, happy and enthusiastic. Relationships are not about servitude or favours owed, they are about partnership.

    • limpy: December 03, 2011 07:57
      I don't want to sound insensitive but I think Tracy has hit the nail on the head.
      My partner and I do have sex, although it is the other way around to you. She is the one wanting sex, and I cannot be bothered that much, in fact I cannot even maintain an erection sometimes, however I do like to please her in bed as much as she wants.
      I tend to think that people, particularly females separate sex from love, whereas for most men who are in a relationship they do not. It is part of loving your partner.
      If you feel uncomfortable about sex, go for extended foreplay and massage lotions, honey dust and games to get you in the mood. Put something on that makes YOU feel sexy Play music that could help get you relaxed. A lot of time it is tension that is a turn off.
      At the end of the day, do you actually love your partner enough to please them, or is the word just an excuse for staying in a relationship.
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