More sex please, we’re in our 80s

Hilary Fannin: Sexually-active oldies leaving exhausted 30-somethings in shade

Older people, up to and including those in their 80s and beyond, are “adapting their behaviours” and discovering fun ways to maintain intimacy and closeness

Older people, up to and including those in their 80s and beyond, are “adapting their behaviours” and discovering fun ways to maintain intimacy and closeness

 

There’s been a lot of talk about sexual longevity in the media recently. Feels like every time I open the newspaper or turn on the radio, some statistician is telling us that two-thirds of those over 50 are having sex several times a week, or month, and that significant proportions of those in their 60s, 70s and beyond are also enjoying “active lifestyles”. 

“Isn’t that only marvellous,” says our radio host Mary Mac Mary, moving swiftly to an ad break, only to come back after three minutes of growling advertisements for cars that run on seaweed and fairy dust to discuss how older people are finding more imaginative ways to keep their sex lives ticking over. 

Those in their 80s and beyond are discovering fun ways to maintain intimacy

One of the themes emerging from all this happy chat is that sex isn’t defined by penetration; and, depending on whose research you’re listening to, it would appear that older people, up to and including those in their 80s and beyond, are “adapting their behaviours” and discovering fun ways to maintain intimacy and closeness.

This positive picture is in sharp contrast to anecdotal evidence of knackered younger folk passing out on the Nubuck couch on a Friday night, clutching a bottle of artisan ale with Ryan Tubridy ringing in their shell-likes, after a long week of commuting, child-caring, and feeding voracious mortgages and rents.

Hope on horizon

But, according to one article I read, there may be hope on the distant horizon for overstretched, over-tired 30-somethings. The good news for those couples who spend their weekends packing the freezer with quinoa burgers and parsnip chips, and taking little Magnus and Saskia to their swimming lessons, toddler yoga and Mandarin classes, is that, with a bit of luck, they might actually manage a shag when they’re octogenarians. Apparently, “sexual survivors”, men and women in their 80s, testify to more sexual compatibility and emotional closeness than couples in their 50s, 60s and 70s. 

Presumably this is down to power and potency, or else carpet bags full of cash and Viagra

Somehow, though, these surveys always seem to show that it’s the men who are having more sex, and for longer, than their female counterparts. Presumably this is down to power and potency, or else carpet bags full of cash and Viagra, while older women often have to contend with frosted widowhood and a toy-boy factory on permanent go-slow.

Still, it’s heartening to see and hear older people, especially women, getting recognition as sexual beings.

The illicit couple had a lot of standy-up alfresco sex, until vengeance was wreaked

I watched most of the BBC drama series Apple Tree Yard recently, the one that caused a bit of a storm in the dishwasher-friendly teacups by depicting a nice, middle-aged, middle-class woman, a scientist, married to a silvery-bearded chap and about to become a grandmother, embarking on a passionate affair with a mysterious bloke she met while appearing in front of a Westminster select committee.

The illicit couple had a lot of standy-up alfresco sex, until vengeance was wreaked and the police got involved. And ho-hum, the nice lady ended up back in her beautiful Victorian semi-D box, with a cashmere rug around her shoulders and an electronic tagging device embracing her still-slender ankle. Still, at least there was the new grandchild to coo at, wasn’t there?

Public humiliation

I quite liked the series, but it seemed to say that if older women (in media terms, that seems to be anyone over 30) are going to have the temerity to fall in lust with a mysterious stranger, if we’re going to be rash enough to lose ourselves to passion and go around binning our French knickers at the bus stop, then we’d better be prepared for public humiliation and shame.

I have a friend I really like, a woman in her 50s, who decided, on St Valentine’s Day, having never tried it before, to sext her husband, who was working abroad. The idea sprang to mind while she was at work in a busy office. 

Anyway, she went to the loo, removed her shirt and bra and took a photograph of her proud breasts, then put on her glasses to type “Happy Valentine’s Day!” over the image.

She was about to hit “send” when she took off her grubby specs, wiped them clean on the hem of her skirt, and realised she was actually about to text a male colleague she’d recently been communicating with. 

Yep, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is week. I’m going to surprise her with a bunch of microfibres cleaning cloths. 

Meanwhile, maybe someone should do yet another survey, this time on the perils of myopic sexting and other unforeseen consequences of sexual survival.

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