If you ask a man over 50 for the first word that pops into his head when you say “sex,” he’d very likely answer with something like Yes, Now, Please, or More. It wouldn’t matter if he was single, happily married, or unhappily married – most men would have that positive, or at least hopeful, reaction.
But what if you asked an over 50 woman the same thing?
For a plenty of married woman beyond 50 — those who are in that standard, three or more decade long relationship — their first word just might be “obligation.” As in, my husband expects it, I don’t really want it, but I’ll submit occasionally, in hopes of keeping him happy. Or getting him to mow the lawn.
And for unhappily married women past 50, their word is probably something along the lines of No, Nope, Nah-ah, or Fugetaboutit.
But what if you asked a divorced woman over 50 for the first word that pops into her head? Well, there’s an excellent chance that word is “Yahoo!”
How do I, a divorced man over 50, know this?
Hours and hours of intimate contact with almost two dozen divorced women over 50.
No, not that type of intimate contact. It was social intercourse, not the other kind.
Through this website, I sought volunteers for interviews about their marriages, their divorces, and their recoveries. Those interviews have been edited and compiled into my new book, Gray Divorce Stories.
Although those interviews covered multiple aspects of their married and divorced lives, a clear theme emerged on the topic of sex.
For so many of the women, sex, especially during the latter stages of their marriages, was a complete negative. It was a chore, the result of negotiation, or nonexistent.
But then, once they were out of their marriages, their libidos came roaring back.
Early fifties Donna (not her real name) was typical: “By the time we got into counseling, we were going on two years since we’d had sex,” she said. “He would initiate, but I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t connected with him.”
And though Donna hasn’t had sex with anyone else yet, some fooling around with one man she dated has gotten her primed: “I am going to be so ready to go when that right guy comes along… I cannot wait, because I am so charged up sexually. I have a lot of time to make up for.”
Linda’s story is similar. During the marriage, sex was “…just a habit. He’s the man, who needed a release. But there was no cuddling, no pillow talk. No real intimacy, for years.”
After her divorce, Linda met a man online. Before spending their first weekend away together, Linda felt as nervous as if she was losing her virginity all over again. But she and the man discussed it openly beforehand, and “It was wonderful. He was caring, and gentle, and tender, and WOW!”
Gayla hated having sex with her husband. “Oh God, it’s Saturday night,” she said. “He’s gonna start rubbing my back again… It was a chore, like vacuuming, and laundry, things I had to do in my marriage.”
But now, out of the marriage, it’s a completely different story. Gayla was in a friends-with-benefits arrangement with one man, currently has sex with a married man who’s in an open relationship, and has joined another couple in a threesome. Her attitude is, “As long as I’m having fun and being safe, that’s fine.” She adds: “If my ex had any idea how things have turned completely around for me…” (Interestingly, Gayla waits for the man to contact her first online because she’s “a little old-fashioned”).
Alicia’s ex-husband would be similarly shocked. Alicia spent a year exploring sexual fetishes, enjoying her time as an enthusiastic newbie “kinkster.” Having gotten it out of her system, she now dates in a more traditional fashion.
Robin, who’s been divorced for a dozen years, sums it up this way: “In my twenties, there’s no way I would have thought sex could be better when I’m ‘old.’ But it really is.”
Adds Carol: “I have never been as horny, or desiring sex as much as I am now. Not even as a teenager, or in my twenties. I don’t ever remember it being so hot. Honestly.”
So what factors have turned things around so fully for these women?
The biggest, of course, is that they’re out of their old, unhappy relationships and with someone new. But it isn’t simply the excitement of a new man. Rather, it’s the approach and attitude the new man brings to the relationship. A couple of women specifically noted how great it felt to be told they were beautiful. Others talked about being kissed better than they had been in decades. Their excitement came from being with men who were caring, who communicated, and who treated them respectfully.
Certain “advantages” of being older also helped make the sex better. A few women mentioned how freeing it was to not worry about an unwanted pregnancy. Additionally, not having that constant concern about young children in the back of their minds helped some relax and enjoy themselves more.
As over 50’s, many of these women had learned to be comfortable and accepting of their bodies, even if they no longer looked like they did at 20.
And, at this stage of life, the women aren’t evaluating men as potential providers and fathers to their children. With no pressure about their partner, it can all be about enjoying time with someone, and being in the moment.
Certainly, many married women over 50 are having fulfilling, enjoyable sex lives. That’s great, and that’s how it should be.
But as these interviews show, women over 50 who are in unhappy marriages and who have shut down sexually, may very well find their sexuality reignited once they’re out of those marriages, and they find new caring, communicative, partners.