In fluff-journalism/women’s magazines and similar trash, headlines promise us wisdom and insight into topics like “sex after 40”, as if there is a visible and tangible threshold over which people (women in particular) cross after 40. If we are to believe the spate of coverage, it would seem that once the line is crossed, you’ll become invisible, sex will be harder to find or have and might have physical complications for one reason or another. And men too will face their own complications. I may exaggerate here – it’s not always directed at someone who is 40, but maybe to the 50+ set, 50 being the age that the AARP has declared as “senior citizen territory”. And all of this designed to stir up self-doubt and make us wonder if we’re normal (as if we haven’t been wondering that our entire lives) and whether we need this pill or that cream to normalize ourselves and our sex lives.
Is sex, or finding sex or sex partners or people to date, marry, fall in love with, or having sex, really any different at a more “advanced” age?
I am not 70 yet, and maybe all of this will change in the coming decades. But for now, no. There are other people in the 40-something age bracket who also want to have sex and are in the same situation. There are people in lower and higher age brackets who also want to have sex, even with people in their 40s. Just like all the other ages and times in one’s life. It’s almost exactly the same now to meet people as it was when young. The venues have changed, the way our lives are arranged have changed, and we tend to have a lot more baggage, more peccadilloes and preferences, and possibly less patience or tolerance for nonsense. But we’re the same horny people (most likely) as we were when we were 20. (Yeah and somehow this came as a surprise to me when I was much younger meeting people in their 40s, 50s and so on.)
I refer you here to the German film (leave it to the Germans) Cloud 9 (Wolke 9) if you’re left with doubts. It’s a lot of elderly people (people 65 and much older) having sex and having affairs. You will see what I mean.
Different concerns perhaps arise – or don’t arise, as the case may be. Haha. (But there’s nothing big pharma won’t try to cure for you if you’re a middle-aged man.)
For example, a woman spends so much of her younger life thinking about birth control, but it becomes less of a concern later, until it is no longer a concern. Maybe this late-life/still-fertile time is a little complicated because pregnancy is unlikely but still possible, and would not be welcome (less welcome than at 25, 30 or even 35). One friend recently treated me to a semi-lecture on fertility the other day, also reminding me that if we wanted to have a child together (or truer to say, if I were to request stud service), the window is closing, but is not closed. For me, though, it is closed. I have closed it. Another friend, the Schwarzenegger-soundalike (god help me, I can’t listen!), when I mentioned something about people having kids in their 40s, dismissively said, “Yeah but that time is over, no?” Yes. The answer is no.
My body is saying no, no, no.
Not only is my body saying no, so is my mind, my lifestyle, my freedom, my flexibility and everything I have worked to cultivate. I have my life almost exactly the way I want it – why would I want to ruin that now? Every part of me now screams out with the realization that that time is over, if it ever existed. But I had to learn the hard way.
What purpose does this serve now, though, going over the sexuality of middle-aged people and the merits of childlessness? I woke up with these thoughts in my head, turned over to read more of Congo: The Epic History of a People, but still felt like I had to mull this stuff over.
What purpose? None really. Only that it ties in (if only by a thread) to one of the things I try to remind myself of daily: Life is short (how did I arrive in my 40s already when, as a child of six, I would stare at the clock and think what an eternity ten minutes seemed to be?) and, if you are able, you should prioritize the adventure. Whatever adventure it is you choose to go on. For some, that adventure is becoming a parent in middle age. For others, it’s running off last-minute to faraway places spontaneously and continuing to see the world. For many, it’s to “dare” to be a sexual creature after 40. The adventure is different for everyone.
And that comes down to one of the biggest, but possibly most rewarding, challenges of life: Really knowing yourself and what you do and do not want.