With new love comes a new sexual challenge for our relationship


Q I write as a widow in her late 50s, who had almost resigned herself to living out my days in celibacy, until I met a wonderful widower also in his 50s.

It’s been a whirlwind, falling in love again. Trips to the concert hall, long walks hand-in-hand, romantic dinners. We truly are second soulmates for each other. However, I was brought up at a time when sexual matters were never to be mentioned. Whereas my new lover spent much of his career in America, and has no such qualms.

We have shared a few long sensual nights together, but without fully consummating our new love. I held back a bit, as is proper for a lady at my stage in life, but not for want of desire.

However, he didn’t take the lead as strongly as I would have expected from the man. He must have sensed my growing impatience when he announced that there was something I needed to know before we took things any further.

Alarms bells ringing.

He informed me that over the years his body had “slowed down” and before his dear wife passed away, the only way for him to achieve erection was for her to “orally stimulate” him for a few minutes beforehand.

Kate, let me tell you, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I heard it. It seemed so unnecessary to bring her into it. He also said he’d be “perfectly happy to reciprocate”, whatever that means. If my dear departed ever wanted or needed such a thing, he certainly never said it out loud.

What shall I do? I wouldn’t be so against “expanding my horizons” but really, is that what people our age actually do these days? I wouldn’t even know where to start. Also wouldn’t it be wrong to grant my new love a pleasure that I withheld from my dear departed?

He’s gone away on business for two weeks, so I have that time to work out how to respond. I can’t bring myself to speak to my married friends or sisters about this. I don’t want to lose this unexpected second chance at happiness, but I’m very unsure about how to handle his request.

A I’m so happy for you, finding a “second soul mate”. What are the chances? Both you and your new lover have had your
sorrows, so an exciting new relationship is well deserved. It’s so romantic that you have taken your time to know each other before moving in to the bedroom, though part of the delay seems to be the fears that each of you have about how things will go in that department.

I think the nub of your problem is in the question, “Wouldn’t it be wrong to grant my new love a pleasure I withheld from my dear departed?” No, it wouldn’t be wrong. All sexual relationships are unique and different. What suits one couple may not be for another.

“Many couples, whatever their age, find oral sex to be a very satisfying, normal, and sometimes integral, part of their sexual activity. The subject of oral sex for you and your husband never arose but it seems to have been a necessary and pleasurable part of your new partner’s sexual life,” advises Teresa Bergin, sex therapist.

Sexual needs
“You are understandably unsure and somewhat anxious about this request as it’s not within your experience; your new partner may also have been anxious about discussing this matter with you.

It is positive and healthy that he shared his sexual needs and desires with you; this bodes well for your relationship,” she says.

Indeed, it does. It’s brilliant that a man in his 50s summoned up the courage to speak about something that some thirtysomethings baulk at. But I can imagine that for you, trying something new with a new lover, to boot, seems daunting.

First, while it may seem an odd way to say it, first-time oral sex is, emotionally, a little like making the final goodbye to your husband, in that in your sexuality you are changing who you were with him and transforming into someone new.

Secondly, you are understandably nervous about making love for the first time with a new lover, and on top of that being asked to do a new thing.

But the 50s is not old age, my dear. Yes, people “our age” do have oral sex. So perhaps in the second stage of your life, it’s time to explore new aspects of sexuality.

I doubt very much that your friends and sisters would be shocked if you were to raise this issue with them and they could very well be a source of education on the topic.

Take things slowly
As for your new partner, you need to tell him honestly how you feel. Let him know that oral sex is new for you and that you need to take things slowly.

Your lover has also expressed a fear common to his age group that I think you haven’t quite picked up on. He is worried that he won’t be able to maintain an erection.

He should talk to his GP about this, but also needs to understand that he too should be open to changing the manner of love-making from the sort he had with his wife. He too is letting go of the past, just like you are, and creating a new life with you.

Neither of you should worry about the fact that you haven’t tried before what he is asking you to do – the fun is in the attempt. Laugh about it.

Your partner has offered to reciprocate by giving you oral sex too – if you feel comfortable enough to try this, in time you may experience a whole new world of sexual pleasure.

Email your questions to tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com or contact Kate on Twitter @kateholmquist. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into.