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Let’s Talk About S-x!

If we want to have better, healthier sex, we need to be brave enough to communicate openly about it. And this certainly didn’t come easily to me…

In the United States, we do not talk about sex and, when we do, the conversation is usually awkward, uncomfortable, and negative towards sex. We need to change our attitudes and our ability to have both public and private conversations about sex, both healthy sex and unhealthy sex.

This article deals with human sexuality. In this context, I am referring to sexual activity between two consenting adults. 

Research suggests that, even privately, sex is not discussed between partners. According to a Paired survey, 40% of couples find it too awkward to talk to their partner about sex, and just under half secretly hate something their partner does, but are not willing to discuss it. Why is this true? According to Dr. Marisa T. Cohen, relationship expert at Paired, “Discussing sex with your partner can be challenging as it requires vulnerability. People may need to face insecurities they have (about sex or the relationship in general), or directly confront the fear of rejection/perceived fear of rejection.” (1)

Our behaviors are driven from our beliefs. And, for many of us, our beliefs were highly influenced by religious institutions that promote doctrines that shame and discourage sexual behavior. 

In my case, I was raised Catholic. The Catholic church maintains very rigid stances towards most matters involving sexuality including sex outside of marriage, masturbation, homosexual sex, pornography, abortion and the use of birth control of any type (with the exception of abstinence, of course). (2) In my family, we never, ever talked about sex. Intimacy of any kind, even hugging or kissing, was an uncomfortable topic. My parents assumed that my public school dealt with “the birds and the bees.” Out on the streets, I was exposed to pornography at a fairly young age.

My relationship with the Catholic church ended when I graduated from high school, but the damage was done. Shame and guilt were a part of my belief systems regarding sex. These beliefs negatively affected my sexual behaviors and experiences. I did not date much and in my marriage I was not equipped to have conversations about sex. This became a large problem when I was diagnosed with low testosterone. After I started testosterone replacement therapy, my libido skyrocketed. Not surprisingly, the marriage ended in divorce.

A Catholic friend of mine shared that her two twenty-something daughters were both virgins. Of course, she cannot know this for sure. And, even if true, is it actually good? I suggest: no, it is not good. Sexual function is not only pleasurable, but also important and cannot be taken for granted, especially as we age. 

According to the American Council on Aging, “Sexual health is a vital part of our overall well-being. Sexual activity with or without a partner can help burn calories, strengthen your muscles, lower your blood pressure, and even reduce your risk for heart disease. It’s also been linked to better sleep, a stronger immune system, and relief from headaches.” (3)

Researcher Alfred Kinsey and his collaborators, authors of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, write that men and women have sexual peaks at different phases of life. His research suggests that women reach their sexual peak in their thirties whereas men peak in their late teens. (4)

By the time men and women reach their fifties, sexual function may have been significantly degraded. Many men experience impotence or erectile dysfunction while menopause is often responsible for reduced sexual desire in women. (3) There are often treatments available for both men and women to restore or improve sexual function. 

I recently watched the play Jagged Little Pill. The play, which takes its title from the 1995 album by singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, has sexual content that represents how we think and deal with sex as a society. 

There were three different sexual stories portrayed concurrently in the musical. One is about a married couple whose life had become sexless due to addiction to drugs and work. Another story is about a rape of a woman that was witnessed by the son of the previously mentioned couple. The third story is about the adopted daughter of the couple. She is involved with another woman but also has sex with a man to the chagrin of her female partner.

The play makes a very strong statement that “no means no.” This is a welcome message. I fully support the requirement that sexual activity be between two consenting adults. I am also not encouraging reckless sexual behavior, nor am I in favor of late-term abortions. Sex- and pornography addiction can be a problem for some people and there is treatment available for this.

At the conclusion of the play, the couple acknowledges that their addictions were problems for them and their family. The son, who witnessed the rape, reports it even though it affects his future college plans. The daughter reconciles with her girlfriend. However, there was no mention of healthy sexual activity or sexual healing. Did the couple resume having sexual intercourse? We do not know. Did the daughter and her girlfriend have sexual relations? Sadly, the play does not address this. 

I acknowledge that the play does address sexual issues, but the disappointing message of the play seems to be that sex is bad; at least for women. Is this the best we can do? Why is it not ok to discuss both unhealthy and healthy sexual behavior? I also acknowledge that sex can be harmful for women; as well as for men, but let’s discuss it. All of it.

Fortunately, not all spiritual practices and leaders are sex negative or sex avoidant. I was able to gain a healthier perspective related to human sexuality from Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. Here are some quotes regarding sex from his books (these quotes are from the voice of “God”). “Sex is just about the most fun you can have with your body, if you’re talking of strictly physical experiences alone. The good news is it’s all right to love sex! Obviously, self-gratification at the expense of others is not what we’re talking about here. This is not about ignoring the needs of others. Yet life should also not have to be about ignoring your own needs.”

Walsch’s books, along with counseling, helped me have a healthier attitude towards sexual behavior. My situation and my sex life were improving. Finally! However, I still had more to learn. I accepted several red flags (bad behaviors) in a relationship in order to have sex. Dating and relationship expert Amber De Vos, The Seduxe, says, “Great sex and the right lies will keep you in the wrong relationship.” (5) I think a lot of people can relate to this statement! I learned that good boundaries and assertive communication are needed for a healthy relationship that includes sex. 

I believe that avoiding the subject of sex or focusing only on unhealthy sexual behavior distorts our beliefs and actions. As Walsch writes, Your attitudes about sex form a microcosm of your attitudes about life. Life should be a joy, a celebration, and it has become an experience of fear, anxiety, “not enough-ness,” envy, rage, and tragedy. The same can be said about sex. 

Written by Greg Damian: I am a 61-year-old author, motivational speaker, health and fitness disruptor and an Elite coach. My mission is to assist men over 50 to overcome perceived limits of their age to look and feel younger. My book, Abs at 60: The Four Steps to Look and Feel Younger at Any Age is available on Amazon. Each chapter of the book has a set of questions to answer. You can download a free workbook that includes all of these questions at www.absat60.com. At my website you can also learn about my Elite coaching services. I will donate 50% of my coaching revenue to a charity of your choice, if you meet your goals.

  1. https://www.paired.com/press/why-were-not-talking-about-sex
  2. https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/outline-of-catholic-church-teaching-on-sexual-ethics-9531
  3. https://www.ncoa.org/article/sex-after-50-how-our-changing-body-affects-our-sexual-health
  4. https://www.medicinenet.com/what_ages_are_women_and_men_at_their_sexual_peak/article.htm
  5. https://www.instagram.com/p/C2L-q8rOIFD
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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Greg Damian
I am a 61-year-old author, motivational speaker, health and fitness disruptor and a coach. My book, Abs at 60: The Four Steps to Look and Feel Younger at Any Age is now available on Amazon. My mission is to help men over 50 to overcome perceived limits of their age to look and feel younger. I do this by applying my four-step DOLR(TM) system that is described in the book. Each chapter has a set of questions for you to answer. You can download a free workbook that includes all of these questions at www.absat60.com

 

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