So last week we put to rest hopefully for good, myths to do with the older adult and sexuality.
This week I am glad to share some of the factors that hinder us from enjoying a satisfying sexual life in older adulthood curated from an article that I read recently.
Expectations and past experiences
If a woman for example was conditioned to think that sex is dirty and is not something good girls do, this belief follows one all through life. If a woman for example thinks that sex is just for procreation or as a duty to her husband then the aspect that sex can be used for mutual pleasure becomes impossible to come to terms with especially as one grows older and the chances of sex for procreation decrease. With such a mindset one is bound to become asexual as they grow older. If a man has just been hell bent on performance it becomes frustrating as one grows older as they cannot "perform" as they used to when they were younger. Focus on performance can lead to performance anxiety for the older man. Inexperience and embarrassment over discussing sexual matters may hamper people from fully expressing themselves sexually. We need to resist succumbing to unproductive beliefs about aging and sex.
Lack of a partner
The reality of life is that as we get older many of us will lose partners due to divorce or death. This problem affects women more than men as women are socially conditioned to be in relationships with men who are older than them. As women grow older their men of a preferred age are either already taken, married or are dying as women on average tend to outlive men. Take the case of the American woman who on average lives five years longer than the man and on average is in a relationship with a man who on average is three years older than her.
Closer home in the Mr. and Mrs Kamotho Waiganjo’s wedding that was held two weekends ago one woman advised the new bride, “to take good care of her husband as a good man is hard to find these days,” I could not agree more. If a woman wants to remarry, her chances of finding a man in the older age bracket dwindles with each passing year. The reality of life is that more women than men will spend their older years without a mate.
Many who have been in a long term relationship in the past and have not had a sex life for a while may feel like they cannot do "it" anymore, may be a bit anxious that things “do not work anymore”. Some especially through loss by death may feel guilty or disloyal to their spouse who has died as they contemplate a new relationship and sexual intimacy with someone else.
It is at this point that I want to add my own thoughts, I personally think that older women should think out of the box and be open to relationships with younger men, who are mature
and exhibit the values that they espouse if they are eager to have a loving relationship and sexual life and lack a partner as they grow older, what do you all think?
Anger and frustration
Accumulated anger, hurt, disappointment, and resentment can fester, destroying closeness between partners. These pent-up feelings often extinguish the flames of desire. For men,
anger and frustration can interfere with arousal and getting an erection. Likewise, the breakdown of trust can be devastating to a woman's ability to reach orgasm. Both partners can suffer loss of libido in a conflict-ridden environment. One member of the couple may unconsciously withhold sex as a way of expressing anger or to maintain the upper hand in a situation where he or she feels otherwise powerless.
Communication is essential for partners to build the trust needed for a successful sexual relationship. By talking frankly about your feelings, you can foster acceptance and understanding in your relationship. This makes it easier for you and your partner to collaborate on finding solutions to issues, and it can prevent resentments from piling up. When conversation breaks down, anger and resentment are likely to build. Dialogue is especially vital as physical changes take place. Vaginal dryness or erection difficulties can be wrongly perceived as waning interest in sex, which can trigger feelings of rejection and resentment. By articulating feelings, couples can sort out the physiological factors from the emotional and relationship issues, and address each appropriately.
After having been with the same person over a period of time, boredom may creep into the bedroom. Same person, same old routine, same old. Locally known as “kuzoeana”. Though a lot of trust and intimacy may have been built over time, this may knock off desire leaving a couple to relate more like, “brother and sister” as opposed to “sex sirens” of former days. This tends to be a reason for many to seek novelty in an affair. When sexual activity in a couple wanes, so does physical affection and an emotional distance is created between the partners. People seek affairs for newness, to meet emotional or intellectual needs or an as an alternative to sexual dysfunction in a relationship. Many turn to other people to prove to themselves that it is not them with a sexual problem and also to prove to themselves that they are still alluring and attractive.
An affair is as an indication of an unmet need in a relationship. Affairs have a ripple effect on a relationship; one may not be able to respond sexually to their partner, the sheer exhaustion of juggling multiple relationships will mean that the sexual needs of all parties may not be met, people also tend to compare their partners with those they are involved in an affair with. While affairs are a death knell to many a relationship, many relationships have survived an affair, some even going on to be stronger than before the affair.
Stress and Lifestyle issues
Stress and fatigue are major libido sappers. During midlife, stress can hit from any direction and take any form. Parenting, financial worries, aging parents, and career woes are common. concern over your own health or that of a loved one, or general anxiety about aging can also weigh heavily. With so many demands on your time and attention, you and your partner may neglect to nurture your relationship. This inattention can cause your sexual connection to fray as well. Sheer lack of time is often a major factor.
Body image and self esteem issues
Sex and intimacy can be compromised when older adults have body image and self esteem issues. When one partner needs constant reassurance about his or her attractiveness and becomes overly sensitive to perceived criticism, it can foster mutual resentment. This is especially so for women who feel the need for reaffirmation that they are still physically attractive as they grow older. A negative self-image isn’t always rooted in your appearance. Career setbacks or other disappointments can lead to feelings of failure and depression, both of which sap desire. For
men, episodes of impotence can undercut confidence in their manhood. No matter what its cause, a poor self-image can take a toll on your sex life. When performance anxiety develops as a result, it can spark a downward spiral of repeated sexual failure and diminishing self- esteem. Correcting this problem demands serious attention to its origin. Because feelings of low self-worth are a symptom of depression, you should talk to a doctor if the problem persists.
The physical changes in sexual response that occur in both men and women as they age mean that it will take you and your partner more time to become aroused and reach orgasm than it did in your younger years.
Can you think of any other factors that we may have left out that affect our sexuality as we grow older?
July 2019 – “I ain’t too old for some good lovin’”
#Operationpepesha moto A focus on sexual wellness
Article compiled by Kwambie Nyambane, July 2019
Article: Sexuality and Aging, Sexuality in Midlife and Beyond Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School