I recently posted on the benefits and delights of “older sex.” For example, my wife can stimulate me manually for a much longer time now than when I was young — when I would have exploded very quickly. And that longer period of foreplay in older sex is delightful. I also find that orgasms come more slowly and sometimes last longer. That is especially so, if they are not “hurried.” (I find it strange, by the way, that, if you search online for “don’t hurry your orgasm,” there are no results. This is not a reference to “edging” — which can be a nice foreplay practice prior to the “point of no return” that extends the time of sexual delight — but to the moments just at the beginning of and past the PONR.) This post, though, is on the other side of older sex.
The other side of older sex can fairly be called the “downside.” For the first time in your life, you might not be able to finish sex. (Earlier in life you could not even imagine such a thing happening!) You engage in foreplay, you enter her and thrust, but you eventually lose your erection and can’t finish. Frustrating, no doubt, because you don’t achieve one of the ends you are naturally seeking. (Only one of them, because you are seeking, at least as much, her orgasm.)
For some people, this seems to be something like the end of the world, a source of despair. But I think it’s actually just a normal part of life. Some people probably don’t experience it at all. Others experience it only at much older ages. There is lots of information online about the causes of this: heart disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation, obesity, and medications, among others. (There’s a discussion of various causes here.)
If you think that life is simply about maximizing physical pleasure, it’s no wonder you’d get really upset. But if you think that life is primarily about goodness — being good and experiencing goods, many of them intellectual, moral, and emotional, not physical — then it is possible to accept these challenges with equanimity.
They are challenges, admittedly. No one (that I know of, anyway) likes to experience a failure to achieve the ordinary conclusion of marital lovemaking. And sometimes men look at an instance of failure now as a sign of future general incapacity to come (the dreaded “erectile dysfunction,” which has to be one of the top sexual topics on the internet). (Such fear can actually exacerbate the problem — uncertainty and lack of confidence, or “performance anxiety,” can inhibit a man’s sexual reactions.)
It is a blessing that there are medications that can help with diminishing sexual reactions in older age. (For the record, of course this is not just a problem with older men, especially with young men indulging in pornography and masturbation so extensively.) Sildenafil (or viagra) and other medications can help to stimulate stronger and longer lasting erections (though their effectiveness varies from person to person). Using those medications can also contribute to greater male confidence, which helps as well. So it’s worthwhile taking advantage of these aids, if you find them useful.
But, ultimately, our bodies wear out. One way or another, there may come a time, an age, in which marital relations are rarely, or even never, possible. That’s part of life, and not something to be excessively upset about.
Hugging and kissing still provide opportunities for an exchange of affection — which is, after all, one of the main points of lovemaking. (For reasons I discuss elsewhere, I don’t think mutual masturbation — manual or oral — is a desirable alternative, though, in a society that sees no problem with masturbation, there is not a widespread understanding of that.)
I once was talking to a friend who described his grandfather as a man who was self-consciously always looking to resist being negative about things. When other people complained, he would set himself to avoid complaining, to accentuate the positive. (This didn’t mean ignoring the reality of bad things — of course bad things happen, and just being obnoxiously “chirpy” about them doesn’t change things.) He was a happy man. We, too, can benefit from accepting the pleasant and not-so-pleasant in life — including the good aspects of older sexual life, as well as the other side of older sex — as well as we reasonably can. That’s really an essential part of being a mature man.