SEXUALITY & SEX THERAPY: Part III
SEX and AGING
by Edward A. Dreyfus, Ph.D.
An 85 year old woman came into my office somewhat sheepishly complaining that
her 90 year old husband had lost his "honeymoon spirit." With some dismay I
asked, "And when did you first notice that he had lost his "honeymoon
spirit?" "Last night and again this morning," she matter of factly responded.
There is no reason for elderly persons to discontinue sexual activity merely
because of the aging process. Human beings can enjoy an active sexual life
well on into their 80s or beyond. Many senior citizens hold onto invalid
beliefs about their sexuality believing that sex should be reduced or
eliminated during the latter years of one's life. Enjoyment of sexual
relations is largely a function of the breadth of activities in one's
repertoire and the degree to which one is open to learn and explore.
Again we can use our dancing analogy. It is true that as we age we may no
longer be able to jitterbug or engage in a fast mambo. However, we can
develop a beautiful waltz and fox trot. New forms of sexual activity can be
added to the sexual experience. One of the problems faced by many elderly
folks is that they believe in the adage that you "can't teach an old dog new
tricks." Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many things
that we can no longer do, or do as well or in the same way, as we could when we
were younger. However, we are perfectly capable of discovering alternative
ways of performing certain activities. Necessity gives us the opportunity
to discover new approaches to old activities.
Like good wine, as we age we can become better lovers, depending on our
attitude. Being a good lover does not mean doing sexual acrobatics or being
able to orgasm a half dozen times. Being a good lover means that we are
sensitive to our partner's needs; we are responsive to their wants. Being a
good lover means that we communicate and listen with an open heart and mind.
It is unfortunate that we don't learn these things when we are young. As we
age we are "forced" to have to learn how to be good lovers because we cannot
get by with the same old performance orientation. Aging gives us the
opportunity to explore alternative lovemaking styles and techniques that we
may have avoided when we were younger.
Suggestions for aging lovers:
- think young, your partner is as young as your memory
- be accepting of yourself and your partner
- discover new possibilities and new ways of enjoying one another
- do not compare yourself to days gone by, enjoy today
- take your time
- enjoy cuddling, orgasm isn't everything
- check your medications; ask your physician how they might affect your sexuality
- maintain your honeymoon spirit.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.