What we learned from thousands of comments seniors posted about sex
Among other things, scientists discovered that many seniors are more into sex now than when they were younger.
For some reason, television and movies like to focus on seniors as friendly advice-givers with health concerns and leave sex to young folks. But scientists had to know the truth, so they downloaded about 700,000 posts written over the course of a year from popular online senior forums in Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. The researchers scanned them all for the topic of sex in a new joint study out of the University of Illinois and Ben-Gurion University in Israel. Here's what they learned:
Seniors don't talk much about sex, but they sure like to listen to other people talk about it.
Less than 1 percent of the conversations the scientists downloaded were about sex. But a lot of the posts about sex had massive readerships.
"Even the posters ... commented about the large number of 'lurkers' – members who followed the online conversations but did not post," write the study's authors, who were lurking on the lurkers.
Seniors like sex.
No kidding, right?
"I don’t think it’s really surprising," Galit Nimrod, a professor at Israel's Ben-Gurion University and one of the study's co-authors, told From the Grapevine.
Granted, this shouldn't be news, but the media doesn't often show a lot of sex-loving scenarios. Surprise, Hollywood isn't a great representation of humanity.
"I could croak today and not feel at all cheated, but since I'm stuck here I might as well enjoy myself," wrote one poster.
Some seniors are more into sex now than when they were younger.
Some people posted about how, after issues like work and pregnancy became things of the past, sex took on a "renewed luster."
“Well, I ain't bragging but my libido is actually better now than it was at thirty [and] I shall be eighty next month,” wrote one poster. "We are all simply older not DEAD," wrote another.
Society has it all wrong.
Media often makes it look like seniors aren't into sex. Some seniors complained that sex is overemphasized in culture, and that society sensationalizes senior sex lives.
But there was cause for optimism. As one poster put it, "The world is changing and I think the increasing number of people becomes more acceptant of the fact that we are sexual beings too."
Aging's not the worst.
In 'What’s Your Secret to Long Life,' by Eszter Janka, 13 elderly animals give you tips on how they managed to live for such a long time. (Photo: Toronto Student Film Festival)
As scared as people are of aging, lots of seniors don't see it as such a crisis.
“I've worked hard for every wrinkle and I'm comfortable with the face I've ended up with," wrote one poster. "I look like some fat old nude in an art show [but] I'd rather draw someone like me than a pretty girl. I'm interesting," wrote another.
Experimentation is on the table.
The seniors weren't just talking about vanilla sex either.
"There was an adventurous spirit among them," Nimrod told us. "It was interesting to see how open people were to innovation." They discussed using toys and trying out new, unexpected partners, for instance.
"It was nice to see how easy it is for them to talk about such sensitive matters," Nimrod said. "They were very supportive of each other." Nimrod thinks that the anonymity of online conversation probably made it easier to have such open discussions.
"Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time," wrote one poster.
Not to mention some heartwarming moments.
"Life isn’t about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain," wrote one poster. "You are only as old as you choose to be," wrote another.
Perhaps it's comforting (or terrifying) to know that, whether you're an abstinent teen, a senior swinger or a foodie with a thing for aphrodisiac cuisines, sex will probably always be on your mind.
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