With baby boomers scurrying to remain youthful and sexy, we don’t hear a lot about waning sexual desire. And regardless of age, the media might have you convinced that you’re supposed to want sex more than you do.
The truth is, according to findings shared with me by Tamar Krishnamurti, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, and George Loewenstein, a professor at CMU: 1) As we get older, we want sex less and 2) As we continue year after year in the same relationship, we want sex less.
Don’t despair; we still like sex — just not as much as we used to! Why the declining desire and pleasure?
Even sex can get routine and monotonous. If you’re over 40 or had sex with the same person for more than five years, you probably knew that. And sexual appetite is designed to propagate the species, mostly while we’re still young enough to make babies. There goes some of our pleasure — eating when we’re really hungry is more satisfying!
Apart from procreation, though, there are practical reasons to have sex. It has been shown to improve physical, mental and emotional health, as well as relationship satisfaction. There is a direct correlation between frequency of sex and both longevity and happiness. In fact, increasing sex from once per month to once per week is the equivalent in “happiness” to a pay raise of $50,000!
Another good reason to have sex is to express love and devotion! Love doesn’t get routine or monotonous, but, oddly enough, we often have trouble integrating sex and love. And when sex is simply meeting a physical need — that wanes with age — we begin to want it less.
One option is to have sex whether you want to or not, knowing that when you do, you’ll like it. While that sounds terribly unromantic, it could very well lead to more romance. Still, let’s look at how we can actually increase our desire and, thereby, increase our enjoyment as well.
Krishnamurti’s data shows that the length of time couples have been together is an even bigger factor in waning desire than age. And since we’re not about to stop the aging process, how do we maintain the newness factor?
We can create mystery and intrigue. I’m not suggesting — as some do — that we play deceptive games; but as long as we’re learning and growing, our partners can learn something new about us, right?
So, make a point of ongoing education and personal growth. Learn a foreign language (with sexy new words), visit a historic town, read books, learn to pole dance, start a new hobby or a second career, attend a retreat, feed the hungry. Growing is vital to your overall health.
And to have a healthy relationship and sex life, you have to share the new and expanded version of you with your partner. Surprisingly, we spend very little time really talking with (read: getting to know) our partners. How much is left after 8-10 hours of work and a whopping 4.5 hours in front of the TV?
And here’s a no-brainer: If you’ve been with your partner for more than a year, you can increase your sexual wanting and liking by trying new things sexually. Try a different room, technique, position, word or attitude. Knowing each other well enough to be comfortable is a lovely gift; so is knowing each other well enough to step out of your comfort zone!
Grow old, but not boring. Have sex, but practice integrating it with love. Do it a couple times a week. And live a healthier, happier life.