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Sex in the Fifties

Check out the results of our sex and romance survey, and see how your own love life stacks up.

NAKED: Sex Survey

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How often do you have sex? How about oral sex? Ever had an affair?

These probably aren't questions you'd relish answering, at least not in front of the kids. Luckily for us nosy types-and those who have a purely academic curiosity about the sordid details of other people's sex lives-AARP has released the official findings of its 2009 Sex, Romance, and Relationships Survey. Using a random sample of 1,670 Americans ages 45 and older, it revealed exactly what older Americans do behind closed doors (and plenty of other places), as well as their honest opinions about things you'd typically get punched, slapped, or arrested for asking.

Following are some of the biggest revelations. Are they inspiring, comforting, or troubling? That depends on what's going on in your bedroom-and how your love life stacks up against the "norm." A clue: If you're a woman in your 50s and you have sex at least once a week, 64 percent of your peers might be jealous.

Baby, It's Cold Inside
Wondering if you're the only person in the country whose sex life has taken a dive even though you're healthy, hardy, and still highly interested in your partner? Stop wondering. It seems that there's been an alarming drop in our nookie sessions. Between 2004 and 2009, the percentage of people in their 50s who say they have sex at least once a week took about a 10-point plunge for both sexes (women dropped from 43 to 32 percent, and men from 49 to 41 percent). The 50-somethings aren't special; most other age groups saw a drop in their frequency of sex, too.

And guess what? They're not happy about it. The survey found that only 43 percent of older Americans say they're satisfied with their sex lives (down from 51 percent in 2004), while the percentage who are dissatisfied with their sex lives increased.

The chill isn't confined to the bedroom, sadly. The percentage of people who say they engage in affectionate acts like hugging, kissing, and caressing at least once a week also fell between 2004 and 2009. About half enjoy such simple nurturing activities at least weekly, although those with a regular partner are much more likely to report such frequency.

So, what caused the recent nosedive? Good question. We're certainly not more prudish. Consider that the number of 45+ Americans who believe that only married people should have sex has dropped by nearly half in five years-from 41 percent in 1999 to 22 percent in 2009. What's more, fewer survey respondents agree that "there's too much emphasis on sex today" than they did in 2004 (though maybe Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl had us fed up back then).

For one possible answer, check your wallet.

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