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Sex Questions: You Asked, We've Answered

The "Sexology" blog is back — and it's more unvarnished than ever!

Your Sex Questions Answered

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Married and flirting on Facebook? Pepper Schwartz explores why.

In the course of publishing an e-book called Better Sex this summer, I was reminded of just how curious most people at midlife and beyond continue to be about sex: They constantly turn to me with questions — some predictable, others unimaginable — about dating, love (or the lack thereof) and relationships.

To address the demand, we're resuming our popular Sexology blog: Every fortnight or so, I'll answer one of your questions about whatever topic is giving you fits or frissons in the bedroom.

So if you have a question you'd like to see answered online, just shoot me an email at TheNakedTruth@aarp.org. I'll do my best to answer your question or direct you to additional resources as appropriate.

To get the ball rolling, I've answered three of your recent questions below, as well as two more at AARP's Sexology blog. Please watch that blog space for additional Q-and-A's as the year unspools. I look forward to learning about — and helping you resolve — your love-life issues!

Q: I'm a 56-year-old man. A few months ago I was contacted on Facebook by a true love from 35 years ago. (I was 21, she was 18.) It was "Hi" and "How are you?" So I replied in kind, and we became Facebook friends.

Our relationship back then was mostly fun and good times — no marriage talk. We dated for about six months, broke up, saw other people, got back together for a few months, then broke up again for good. But I loved her deeply the whole time, and my heart was broken when we finally parted as friends.

Our Facebook contact has involved "likes" on posts only. She's been married for 30 years (but still looks great), raised a family and has grandkids. I can tell she's happy. As for me, I've been married more than 20 years to a woman I truly love. We, too, raised a family and have grandkids, and I'm happy with my wife, my marriage and my family.

Out of the blue about two weeks ago, however, I started to have very intense feelings for my ex: I got that old familiar pain in the gut, couldn't eat or sleep, thought about her constantly. I long to tell her how much I loved her back then, but I don't want to jeopardize anyone's marriage — I'm no home wrecker.

I feel guilty about this turn of events — like I'm mentally cheating on my wife. I haven't said anything to her about it (because we've never discussed past loves). How do I navigate this minefield?

Take the "Keys to Happiness Quiz" and more in the next AARP Webletter

A: You're feeding an emotional craving with fantasy when what it needs is a heaping dose of reality. Your continuing attachment to this woman is real, deep and disturbing to you (and to me, in all honesty; I think your feelings are strong enough to merit seeing a therapist).

Still, I'm glad you spoke up; your letter is an instructive reminder that the flames of love leap just as high in our later years as they do in our teens. Although it's a privilege to have known a love so hot and deep in your past, it's a priority to recognize that these emotions can cause cataclysmic damage to your present way of life.

Best, therefore, to squelch them.

Start by acknowledging that this relationship had its chance back in the day, but — likely for very good reasons — it never worked out. Face the fact that your long-ago love has found contentment with, and a commitment to, someone else, and that she shows no signs of seeking a way out of her marriage. You are in your life and she is in hers, and nothing good can come from scrambling that.

A qualified counselor should be able to help you unhook from your Facebook interactions. Make that appointment today; permitting this one-sided Web affair to continue will only endanger your marriage.

Q: Now that the kids have left home, it's just me and my wife in the house. How can I persuade her to go naked during the day more often?

A: It can be difficult to overcome lifelong inhibitions without a little help, but sometimes all it takes is getting a little bit tipsy to say "What the hell!" and frolic unabashedly.

Set up the party gently, though — no one responds well to being pushed. Have a picnic in your living room, perhaps, enhanced by champagne and good music. Or watch an erotic movie the night before, then make a batch of mimosas when you get up the next morning and have breakfast in bed; after making love, suggest a shower and a bit of good old-fashioned lolling about (naked, of course).

Let your wife get comfortable with postcoital nudity, and she may become more comfortable with nudity in general. Just remember to keep things fun and playfully sexy. One night when you cook dinner, for example, spice up the situation by sipping wine coolers and dressing in robes or pajamas — so much easier to shuck quickly than those pesky old street clothes.

And by all means, don't forget to verbally admire how good she looks in the altogether! Most of us are self-conscious about how we look disrobed, especially after the passage of a few years, so heaping on the compliments may encourage repeat performances!

Q: I laugh at people who think that older people cannot perform. My current boyfriend is 66 and can last longer than any man I have known. The longest time has been 40 minutes nonstop. A few times I've even had to ask for a break! (Smile.)

Sex is necessary and makes you feel better all the time. I stick to one partner and hope to get married again one day. I am 64 now. I am sure some men think I'm lying about a 40-minute lovemaking session, but why would I? I am never too tired. Quite the opposite, I get energized when I am going to make love.

A: You are a fortunate woman! (In fact, I half-expected your letter to include that famous advice-column punch line: "P.S. Please excuse the shaky handwriting.") And you have had some lucky — and talented — partners.

Your situation raises an interesting (and unsolved) question: Do some women and men simply have an extra dose of estrogen or testosterone that makes them more interested in sex? Might they have a special kind of brain? Or do these differences have more to do with learned ability and learned desire — that is, do some people enjoy sex more because they have had a lot of creative experiences with sex during their life cycle? Or because a particularly talented partner brought out the best in them?

That said, I am impressed that your current boyfriend can have sex for 40 minutes nonstop — I think he qualifies for the Sexual Olympics! At the same time, that sort of stamina is not unheard of, so is he not a medical marvel but just a guy with good blood flow?

One thing is clear: The two of you have an aptitude for picking partners with a compatible sexual appetite. Just think what we could accomplish in the bedroom if we were: a) not conflicted about sex; b) not conflicted about how we look; c) talented at driving our partners wild; and d) expert at knowing what it takes to drive ourselves into a sexual frenzy — and capable of communicating that knowledge to a new partner.

I think it's great that you enjoy sex so much and that you have found a partner to have a hot time with. I also wish more people would react as you have: Sex can and should energize us; when done correctly with the right partner, it should add bliss, or at least a positive mood, for the rest of the day — possibly even the next few days. Sex is worth having and worth working on, if only for the satisfied and reinvigorated feeling it leaves us with.

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