Yesterday in the Forum an Associated Press article was featured with the following headline, "Sex is less satisfying, occurs less often after age 45, study says."
Needless to say (but as always – saying it anyway), the headline drew me in. I immediately wanted to assess the credibility of the research as I am encapsulated in that after age 45 demographic. Also, I might add, I am single in that demographic (hence no spouse at the ready) and still quite interested in such extracurricular activities.
Not at all shocking to learn was the fact that AARP sponsored the survey. I hesitate to even mention their organization in my blog as it has been probably at least a month since I received a solicitation to join their organization and I am hopeful that they have forgotten about me. They have been relentless recruiters since I entered the new forty.
The survey results were based on "questionnaires completed last year by 1,670 people 45 and over." Similar surveys were completed in 1999 and 2004 by the AARP.
So, let’s get to the the meat of the results to see why sex is allegedly "less satisfying" after age 45. First and foremost the article noted a general summation of the research – "Americans 45 and older are far more open to sex outside of marriage than they were 10 years ago, but they’re engaging in sex less often and with less satisfaction." Well…there is a lot in that statement.
First, folks "45 and older are FAR more open to sex outside of marriage than they were 10 years ago." In this survey the definition of FAR equals 19 percentage points (41% in 1999 and 22% in current survey). Really? This is big news? Is anyone out there surprised that attitudes toward non-marital sex have changed over the last ten years? Remember that the researchers will continue to dip into a new generational audience each survey go-around. They are well into an audience now that experienced the free love of the sixties…I am thinking these are not your grandparents’ version of 45+ year olds – these are Woodstock peeps…new game, better rules.
Next – "but they’re engaging in sex less often." Well, the information in the article indicates that the believed "prime culprit" of less sex is financial stress due to all the economic woes. Frequency of sex, be it weekly or monthly went down roughly 10 percentage points from 2004 (and that applied to both the married and the single). I can see that…probably this is true across many age demographics. Although, I might urge folks to remember that in most cases sex is a free or low cost activity that has numerous health benefits and could (indeed, I say should) be utilized to de-stress.
And then shockingly came the information that as folks engaged in sex less often there was an eight percentage point drop in their satisfaction with their sex lives (from the 2004 results). Who would have thunk?
But where are the results for the big statement that sex is less satisfying? Well, here is what the article had to say about that (get ready – this is big):
"Respondents who had a partner but weren’t married had sex more frequently and with more satisfaction than respondents who were married…long-term married couples may get a little less interested…older people in nonmarried relations work harder at it and enjoy it more.”
Profound? I don’t think I got too much new information there, but there is some relief for this new forty single girl who doesn’t mind working harder. I must say though that as happy as I am that the results as presented seem to support that my sex life still has hope of being satisfying, I hardly believe marriage is the death of a healthy and fulfilling sex life. The article doesn’t indicate that the survey examined enough data to fairly conclude much – hence "long-term married couples may get a little less interested" – may…not do…may. Luckily for me, I am not marrying again so I’ll just be reporting from the harder working non-married front, but I welcome input from the married folks who think the AARP’s may is all wet.
The best news that the survey results provided is that folks well into their 70s and 80s noted the importance of a healthy sex life. As a member of the new forty I find that to be fabulous news…not sure if the mental image is easy to grasp at this point, but I am sure I will grow into it.
I sure hope I am part of the next AARP sex survey group in five years…I will be happy to give them something to talk about in their results. Of course, that would probably mean they would solicit me even more than they are now…and as a harder working non-married girl I don’t know how much time I will have for opening all that mail.
Day three hundred and seven of the new forty – obla di obla da