Old people and sex: it’s a pretty taboo topic, mostly because younger people imagine it as something kind of crusty and gross.
Admit it. You’ve wondered about this before. We all have. The big question that keeps us all up at night, wondering if it's really that good of an idea to get married...
How can sex possibly stay interesting for a lifetime?
Cornell University's Dr. Karl Pillemer, head researcher behind The Legacy Project, has the answer! Answers, actually. He's spoken to over 1,500 elderly Americans, recording their perspectives on everything from major historical events to the secret to a happy marriage.
Read some of their thoughts on intimacy between ageing partners. You might be surprised – love is truly a beautiful thing. These responses make me excited to grow old with my future partner. :)
Somehow as you get older you kind of get blind to the infirmities that affect the other party. And you always see them the way they were. You don’t see aging. It’s a wonderful thing. I don’t know if the brain is wired for that, but that’s the way it is. You just need to have a spark to begin with. And whatever it is you’re doing, just keep doing it. We’re in our mid-70s, and we still have a fine sexual relationship, it’s wonderful. You make do with what you’ve got, basically. – Alfredo, 77
I think sex is very important because it’s kind of the glue that keeps the spark alive in a marriage. The one special expression that a married couple has is through sex—sexual intercourse—through keeping your bond just very close and very tight. It’s that expression that makes your spouse know that they’re loved and well cared for and you put all the other things with it. – Diane, 74
If you’re really physically and sexually attracted to somebody and your head is working right, then you should be able to feel that all the way until the end of your life. And what fun that is! I don’t know whether young people hear that kind of thing. They think, you know, when you get to have gray hair that the sex just removes itself from your life, but that’s not true. Not at all. – Rachel, 86
How important is sex? Well when I was young, I thought it was 90 per cent! But at 71, it’s a very lovely side dish. And I do think it’s important—yes, I do. At our age, it’s not as much the hot romance kind of thing as it is for young people. But there’s a certain wonderful friendship that exists if you have the basic foundation for it; if you’ve made that, you’ve got each other. And it’s quite nice! Of course this is a woman’s viewpoint, but the comfort of touch: a hug, a kiss . . . those are things that mean I love you. – Gertrude, 73
The great thing at our age is that sex is not about procreation; this is purely about recreation! – Beverly, 69
I think what happens is the spark changes. You know, initially there’s a lot of physical attraction and that continues. But it changes over time so that the romance or whatever you want to call it becomes actually much more profound. It’s less, what’s the word – frenetic maybe. For me anyway it’s really wonderful just to be able to sit together reading or watching TV, and I’ll just hold her hand or touch her arm or whatever. There’s a kind of a quietness there that’s quite deep. It’s very fulfilling. You feel a peaceful intimacy that’s in a way really more meaningful than the frenetic thing. – Mason, 77
Aren't these just beautiful?
I felt really reassured when I read them. I'm 23, and right now it's a little mind boggling to imagine being with someone from today until the day I die. But these quotes made me believe that not only is it possible – it just might be fun, too.
This is the first installment in my Wisdom of Your Elders series, just in time to celebrate National Grandparents Day next Sunday! Follow my collection to see the rest as the week goes on.