The Huffington Post Women’s editor asked me to write this story, so she is entirely responsible for any lasting psychic trauma you may sustain after reading it. And so …
Here’s what I know about sex now that I am in my 40s:
1. If you Gain Weight Some of it will go to your Breasts.
2. You Don’t worry about your Orgasms.
People get very competitive about their orgasms as if they were climbing Mount Everest.
Did you summit, or did you only make it to base camp? Did you need an oxygen tank, the ministrations of a sherpa? Did you use grappling hooks, Cyborg crampons?
Or were you able to summit barefoot reading Holy Sanskrits in Nirvanic Bliss?
Did you enjoy summiting, or did you simply plant your flag and descend, content to have stories of your exploits rather than actually enjoying them?
My orgasms have always been like calculus.
I must stand on the big toe of my left foot, hips cantilevered toward Mecca, whilst chanting peyote-inspired Native American incantations over a burning sage bush while doves are released north by northwest into the Aurora Borealis to entirely succumb to an orgasm.
At 47, I just don’t care about them. If they happen great. If they don’t great. If they happen in a particularly mediocre, sub-par way great.
I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE!
When Henry and I are fortunate enough to find ourselves alone in our bed, anything that happens is amazing.
3. Go To Bed Naked
Henry and I have been together fourteen years. We have:
- Two children
- Two cats
- Myriad octogenarian relatives
- A high-needs 1929 Spanish bungalow
- A mini-van
- A stolen-then-found Highlander
- And dental crown bills to pay.
What we really want is to sleep. And if we’re not sleeping we want to watch Game of Thrones or see TMZ celebrity cellulite.
So, when the Marriage Maintenance egg timer goes off, we get into bed naked with an innocuous Aveeno Daily Moisturizer bottle nearby without the expectation of sex but with the mandate of a massage con lotion.
Then things evolve.
This man who piqued my curiosity and passion fourteen years ago has his hands on my body.
And this body that has had children and various age-related ailments suddenly takes on dimension.
My husband’s hands follow the curves as he massages and suddenly I have hips and thighs and belly and breasts and they are soft in places, and still hard in places and wholly human and corporeal for my brief time here on planet earth.
And for that time, regardless of my in-or-out of shapeness, I re-inhabit my body. I’m reminded that I exist. And This. Is. Sexy.
4. Sex is no longer as Risky and may, in fact, keep you Alive Longer. Which at this Point would be really Helpful
We’re in our 40s which means, unless we are Susan Sarandon or on a hormone cocktail, it’s unlikely we’ll be Teen Mothers.
Also, we’re more likely to die from irregular heart palpitations than STDs.
We could crush an STD with just one cheek of our derriere.
At our age, sex pencils out cost-effective.
- It alleviates stress.
- It boosts immunities.
- It burns calories (screw pilates — literally).
- It improves heart health. It reduces pain.
- It reduces prostate cancer risk.
- And it helps you sleep better.
Need proof? — check this out: 10 surprising health benefits of sex by WebMD.
5. Try Something New Bi-Monthly
Like having sex in the back of your minivan on Beverly Drive at 11 p.m. on a Monday night.
Because if a police officer shines his mag light into the cargo hold of your Toyota Sienna, he is going to find two middle-aged people so happy to be booked and charged on lewd and lascivious conduct in their decrepitude that he’s just not going to bother.
It’s no fun busting people who need hair plugs and dental guards.
Trying something new seems like a chore in your 40s, but it can quickly make sex better than it ever was in your 20s.
6. There’s no Need to feel Threatened by Fantasies
There is the slim chance that if you are having sex in your 40s, it might be with someone you’ve known a long time.
It might be someone who loves you, even if he’s seen your body eject an 8 lb. infant.
In which case if, from time to time in your mind, you are making love to Chris Hemsworth fully equipped with Thor’s Hammer, or your partner informs you Sofia Vergara just broke up with her boyfriend while he deftly unhooks your bra clasp, you don’t have to take it personally.
Unless you’re actually IN bed with Chris Hemsworth and Sofia Vergara, in which case cut the carbs and crank up the cardio.
7. Sex is Funny
When I was younger sex was a serious business.
It was very Melrose Place with intense gazes and catatonic Andrew Shue repartee.
God forbid you make a sexual faux pas.
- Burbling gastric acids.
- Inappropriate body hair.
- Failed deodorant.
Last month as my husband rolled me powerfully beneath him we both fell off the bed. I’ll walk the rest of my life with a limp, but the sheer silliness of our tryst was sexy.
8. You’re Grateful to still be Having Sex
I have a friend my age who divorced several years ago and has yet to find the man she’d like to invite to bed.
When I complained about my husband’s recent spate of amorousness she took me by both shoulders, looked deeply into my eyes and said, “When you don’t have sex you miss it like a limb from your body.”
This reminded me complaints are ephemeral and sex will not be eternal.
9. Perfunctory Sex is Better than No Sex
Henry and I get in ruts occasionally. We don’t make sex a priority, but an alarm does go off when it’s been more than a week.
I think I’ve actually heard Henry sigh like Mr. Roper when I’ve seductively informed him, “We have to have sex tonight, it has to be before nine, and I have to get up and work after.”
Who can resist that delicious invitation?
And then we have some lame sex.
But the interesting result is that any kind of sex renews our bond on a cellular level. I naturally want to touch, hug and kiss him more in our daily interactions.
10. I Feel Sexier Now Than I Did In My 20s and 30s
Confidence is sexy. I was insecure in my 20s dating cruelly handsome womanizers who were critical of me.
And I was belabored in my 30s. Literally. Gestating and birthing my daughters.
There’s nothing that quashes your curb appeal than a stomach that knocks the top of your thighs while your ass arrives in a room 10 minutes after you.
At 47, married to a kind, handsome man who loves me at any size, I’m done birthin’ babies and have more time to take care of myself.
I’m confident. In the way my mind works, in the strength of my marriage, in my emotional maturity and in my enduring feminine wiles.
I’ve finally relinquished girlhood, the waif, the ingenue and have embraced womanhood.
It’s my goal to be a vibrant, sexy woman until I take my very last breath. And maybe even after that.
62 thoughts on “What I Know About Sex, Now That I’m In My 40s”
All I can say is, “Amen!”
Are you singing the Hallelujah chorus?
Yep – sex does get better with time. Thanks for the thoughts.
Made me smile with similar memories…
Oh sure, I spill all my beans and you’re just giving me “similar memories”?? Spill the beans buddy!
Um…what she said.
Yep. After 21 years the earth doesn’t always move but we didn’t move it together, so we gotta laugh, together. Love this.
21 years! I’m not worthy. Actually it’ll be here faster than I think.
You keep hitting that perfect blend of laughter and wisdom and I am in awe. Thanks for making me laugh, making me think and reminding me to be happy to be having sex after 40…
I’m in your friend’s situation. I’m just jealous. Enjoy!
Your song is not done yet you saucy redhead.
your getting on the computer, i was hoping for a full body massage my wife informed me at 12:30 am..2hrs later i am back on the computer and this is the first thing i look at..funny..oh by the way san antonio dam towards baldy still has some good “spots” to see the lights wink wink..and now the question everyone is afraid to ask, the picture in your article.”yours”? as always enjoy your writing Joe
Hello Joe – yes, as usual I’m flashing my naughty bits. My exhibitionist nature knows no end. Henry is retaliating by wearing nothing but a jock strap and a smile to Trader Joes.
I’m 34, and gave been with my hubs for 14 years now. I’m experiencing all the same things you are- the ease of comfort, confidence & pride in my own body (so what if I’m 248lbs!). I truly believe being a mom makes you realize how awesome your body is no matter the size. Also- a supportive and loving partner who loves your body like you’re still a size 8 that has been with you through it all is a bonus!!
Hi Renee — we’re lucky ladies. xo
compliments, very sexy..with those your neck shouldnt be an issue.. grrrr.and your hubby at least your husband needs a jock strap.. i wore a thong once and looked like a pear with a rubberband on the bottom of it..take care.
Your sense of humor makes up for any resemblance to a Bosc pear (although I suspect you exaggerate!)
I love your honesty and insight! At 38 and almost 9 years married with 3 small kids, I am never horny for hubs. I know I look great and it feels good once we get going, but I’m normally tired and cranky. I reminisce about sexy, albeit womanizing, ex-boyfriends a lot. I am so glad I spent a lot of years dating and collecting hot memories to carry me through this dry season. Tell me it gets better please…
Elle @SeeMomWorkBlog — All work and no play makes mommy a dull chick.
It gets better, then worse, then better, then worse, then good, then meh.
Once again, thanks for a greatly written blog. I’m 52 and the sex just gets better and better. Sure, we go back to the same old positions, but they are really great positions so why mess with a good thing? I find that just looking into each other’s eyes and kissing deep goes a long long way for me.
Unless you have a wife screaming, “Look into my eyes! Deeply!” Not that I would do that.
Yeah, it wouldn’t be too good if I screamed that. Also, laughing when he’s trying to be sexy. That doesn’t go over to well either. And I tend to laugh at inopportune times.
Oh no, I’m a sexy bedtime laugher too. Man we suck.
Shannon: this piece here, the stuff of what O magazines hopes to be.
Seriously. This one needs to get expounded on and sent out.
So truthfully wonderful. And reassuring.
Alexandra — I love you. There. I’ve said it.
OMG this cracks me up- Sounds like as I get older there is nothing to fear in regards to my sex life dwindling. i will take this tips and store them!
This is such a funny post! I would normally share it with Brian…but all this sex talk from his ‘new Diane Lane’ may make him too hot and bothered.
I think someone is paying the two of you to make me feel sprightly!
Love this post and can completely relate to the “after a week” thing. I’m 37 and have been in love with my love for 14 years now. Hubby and I do the same both on “going through the motions” sex and then being sated (yes, that’s a Fifty Shades’ism) about our connection. We still have our moments when we act like newlyweds but can laugh when all those really normal human things happen in the process. 🙂
I love that word “sated.” Although it does sort of bring to mind Satan!
I see you managed to get your clothes off again.
Oh my darling how you abide me I do not know.
I turn 40 in just a couple of weeks, and I can totally relate to what is said here. 23 years with the same lover and it`s only NOW that we`re getting to the really GOOD stuff!! 🙂
23 years and it’s getting better? I’m in.
I’ve just discovered your blog, and really enjoyed this post. 😀 Gives me a bit of hope for my future haha.
There’s always hope. Thanks for reading and commenting Paks!
Yes Indeed! My forties were totally liberating for me, sexually and emotionally. I am almost 50 so am waiting to see how that works!
Keep me informed.
Shannon, I love this article so much! At almost 47 I agree with everything you said. There was something very freeing about turning 40 for me that made me feel more empowered in all aspects of my life. There is something very sexy to me about being with the same person for over 20 years, a trust and closeness that actually has made sex better than my younger days. Thanks again for letting us share this post on Bonbon Break this week too! So glad I found your site, now I know where to go when I need a good laugh!
“But the interesting result is that any kind of sex renews our bond on a cellular level.” —- Soooooo true! Actually, when I start to feel distant and notice that I’m beginning to resent every single thing my husband says or does, I know it’s time for sex, any kind of sex. It always does the trick!
LOL Chris Hemsworth and that weird fake roleplaying fantasy accent he did, plus mjolnir can only be touched by the pure of heart so a woman who likes to get freaky in her forties – as hot as that is IMO – may have to get Beta Ray Bill to move it handle-up
I’m twenty-seven, single and not looking, so when I have fun sexy times (*ahem* alone), it’s always Chris Hemsworth. Or Tom Hiddleston. Or whoever strikes my fancy at the moment. Thanks for the great article!
I don’t think you’re going to get too many people who disagree with Chris Hemsworth. Anyone who can wear that costume and carry that hammer and not seem like a complete fool is doing well.
Good job Shannon! Sex after 40 is a bit of a taboo subject. Just ask my 20 something children – they gag everytime I allude to the fact that their father and I still have sex! They think we are too old!! But I must admit that sex is less desirable to me now than it was in my earlier married life, but I’m certainly not ready to give it up completely!
We have to go down with the ship!
Sex at 58 is better than it has been at any other point in my life. A little beyond your age and life circumstances–without kids/spouse/animals/household demands, I’ve refocused my efforts on enjoying my life, my body…and it’s brought a new, sexy, exhilarating awareness to sex!
I turn 40 after July and this really made me smile with anticipation at what could be in store – I was feeling a bit down in the bumps today thinking the road ahead isn’t seeming all that rosy (my periods are here, making it worse)but your writing made me look up.
Hi Shilpa — I’m so glad. My grandma recently passed away at the tremendous age of 99 (and she did so with such a great deal of grace), so if someone said, “I’m turning 80. I feel so old.” My gram would say, “80! You just a baby!” So that puts 48 into perspective. Should I live to be as old as my grandma I’m not even middle aged yet!
Loved the article. I still have to get to loving this 50 year old body, I have to admit I miss my 20 year old body ALOT, and my confidence is not as great as yours, I have to admit , kinda of self contious, but apart from that it was nice to hear that the sex Im having is normal. I even cut and paste a section and send it to the Hubby… But ohhhhh what I would pay to find that libido that has left me…..
That fuckin’ libido betrays us at every turn!
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Ahhh Shannon, so hit that on the head, love the timer reminder idea. But think introducing, one new thing to explore together, just keeps things interesting. Coming into one’s zone of comfort is a lovely place, and I turn 50 this year 😉 My hero though is a 73 year young friend who is still having great sexual adventures (she’s a widow now, so exploring her options!)You pointed out though, the bottom line, the best physical stuff goes with an amazing emotional relationship. Here’s to having fun, great blog.
Thanks Mavmel. I feel like I’m just starting to figure things out at 48. Thank God we don’t live in the Middle Ages. I would’ve been dead 10 years ago. It’s all icing now.
you’re such a badass and I love your writing and your posture, and your ability to normalize (and make funny) all the shit that turns me out after a long day. I needed exactly this post today! thanks, lady 😉
Eileen – let’s go to Vegas! I have rhinestone g-strings.
This is complete bs! Im 41 and my sex life is a 1000 fold better than the perfunctory snore fest this article describes. Jeez, you make it sound like something awful.
Hey Bastet — Good on you for having your best sex ever and sorry I put you to sleep.
i love that porn
Great article, even for men.
Glad to know!
I just found your blog and its nice to understand that others have the same difficulties. I am 47 amd been married 22 years and together 25. I love my hubby dearly, we have amazing sex where i just want stand on my head and then other days its just nice to be beside him. He was diagnosed with a heart condition 2 years ago so its been different with some complications but I have realized that sometimes just a kiss on the back of the neck makes you feel just as sexy. It all depends on your communications and just let the feeling flow. Thanks again for letting me know janot alone. 😊
I’m in my mid-30’s but I can def join in the freedom that sleeping naked brings, and I would add that I love added comfort for sex.
Like sex furniture, wedges – knowing how much difference a simple enhanced angle makes – https://medium.com/@dainis/sex-wedge-pillows-4cfe999fb7c0
I’m also blessed to have upgraded from flings from 20’s to having a serious partner in my life…and the sex just gets better with time. Never thought it would be the case earlier…
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