As we get older our sex lives become increasingly private, leaving us wondering if what we are experiencing is anything like what other women are going through. As with many “taboos”, sometimes the best way to break the ice is with simple first-person stories -- to recognize glimpses of ourselves in other women’s stories, to be reminded how different our journeys can be, and to be inspired by each other.
We’ve compiled a selection of quotes on love, life, and sex from real women in their 40’s and beyond. We hope you’ll find their candor powerful.
“While not exactly where I thought I would be at this juncture of my life, there is something empowering about dating when you know who you are; and at 42, I know who I am. I know what I will and what I won’t compromise on when it comes to choosing a partner. I also know that I am ok being alone and don’t feel desperate to find a mate. Perhaps that’s the most affirming part of the whole experience thus far.”
“With menopause, sex happens less often (somehow you forget about it), but I feel more confident than when I was younger. I’m in good shape and I feel sexy and attractive. I think it’s important to keep in shape and remain active. Physical activity keeps your body and senses awake.”
“I had not dated since my twenties, so initially I was in what felt like a steep learning curve. I am the first to admit that I am not looking nor am I ready for a long-term partner. But when it comes to intimacy, I discovered I am more confident than I was two decades ago. I know my body and am comfortable in it, contrary to the narrative women this age are often fed. I am also transparent about what it has experienced: childbirth, nursing, weight shifts and the like, and I am not interested in being intimate with anyone who does not appreciate that evolution.”
“When I was twenty-something, I was so freaked my parents would hear my now-husband and I having sex. Now in my 50s, I am so freaked my twenty-something sons will hear us having sex!”
“I dipped my toe into the dating waters and quickly realized I am not ready. I have three young children and am currently back in school, so honestly there really is no time. Eventually I will try it again, but when I do I want to be in a place of curiosity and excitement. I actually want to test the proverbial waters, something I really never did since I met my ex when we were in high school. I am confident that when I am ready, I will find a lifelong partner.”
“It’s like the Sahara down there. Natural, organic lubes are key. Anything with chemicals, especially ones that are supposed to warm you up, feel like battery acid to me.”
“I don’t have the personal obligations many women my age have, since I never had children. However, I have been single for some time and go through phases with dating. One thing that surprised me is that I have become way less conventional in the way of relationship terms. Sometimes I just want physical intimacy and nothing more - no strings attached. I have not necessarily been like this when dating in years prior. Maybe it’s because I have emotional intimacy within my friend group, but I am ok in knowing that I don’t have to find someone to check all the boxes. At least, not right now.”
“I don’t tend to think about sex as much as I did when I was younger. I have sex maybe 4-10 times a year. The urge to masturbate seemed to vanish after menopause too, at least for me. But I do seek comfort and closeness from my husband daily. My need for touch hasn’t gone anywhere. I feel like we are on the same page of the issue (which really isn’t an issue!). I almost get annoyed at the constant talk of sex as if everyone should want it and that it is a vital part of every stage in life. I feel like it is very natural not to want sex as much anymore from an evolutionary point of view, given that I’m long past the point of being able to pass on my genes.”
“The timetable pressure is totally off. When you're younger there's often the thought about what your dating is "leading to". There's an ingrained cultural (and maybe biologic) expectation that by a certain age, usually late 20s or early 30s that it's time to partner up, settle down and have kids. When you start to date after you've already been married and had kids there is just WAY less pressure to date someone in a linear fashion. Your biological clock just isn't ticking in the same way that it was.”
“If you present yourself as someone who is interested in dating (and not just sleeping around) then you have to make yourself available both physically and mentally. You have to be available to meet someone where they are. By the time we're in our 40s we all have had things happen in our lives that make us who we are. We all have battle scars. The key is being open and willing to put yourself out there and not be afraid of falling.”
“At this point in my life, I prefer a back scratch, foot rub or cuddle to sex. Sex is still at the top of my husband’s list. We haven’t specifically talked about our different levels of interest in sex, but it is simply apparent. We each give the other what he/she wants, so it works.”
“Young people tend to think they invented sex; I thought that. I am now a 51-year-old woman and my partner is a 67-year-old man. We have been together for over 25 years, and we are not averse to waking up in the middle of the night to have sex, lots of it. Age improves intimacy; it improves communication; it makes for much better sex.”
“I still want to cook, but it takes me longer to heat up. I have little tolerance for bad sex; it’s just not worth it. But make no mistake, if it’s good, I want it. I always say the oven might be broken, but the bakery is still open for business!”
“Sex can be the best of times and the worst of times. It is a crapshoot. You take a risk and sometimes you hit the jackpot. Sometimes you walk away with nothing. If it weren’t for the occasional jackpot, I’m not sure why we would keep doing it. It takes a partner with a heart and mind and soul as big as yours to make it worth the effort, especially as you get older and a few things, including sex, get more challenging. The emotional interplay is the biggest payoff.”
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