Ask Joan: Sex in the Pandemic

How are you experiencing sex during lockdown? I’ve read articles about how people are dealing with their sexual urges and behavior during the pandemic, but how are seniors, specifically, coping? I asked my newsletter subscribers, and many shared eagerly. 

Most wrote that they are sheltering in place with a spouse or romantic partner and experiencing stronger libido and better sex than before! This surprised me. In a large ongoing study by the Kinsey Institute of people over 18, only 14% reported improved sex life and 44% said their sex life had declined. Maybe seniors, having dealt with many decades of life changes and adjustments, find it easier to adapt. In their words:

  • “We found a lot of time on our hands, so we increased our sex life to two to three times a week. It would be nice to have the same libido as when we were young, but we’re not doing too badly at all.” —Rich, 77.
  • “Sex is a great form of entertainment and helps us sleep soundly despite our anxiety and financial stress. We schedule play dates and make one another’s fantasies come true.” —Lisa, 58.
  • “We like to look and touch each other’s body and masturbate together. No doubt we will carry this on when the shelter-in-place orders are lifted.” —Frank, 78.
  • “The saving grace for us has been a massage table and lots of coconut oil; the suggestion from your blog to try writing your own porn; and discovering, at our age, that we like ropes.” — Sue, 73
  • “Our sexual activity has increased. We schedule dates every 3 to 4 days. On date days, we’re careful not to tire ourselves out doing too much yard work.” —Dale, 66.
  • “I’ve been researching about sex during my 60s and incorporating this into our sex life. We’ve grown closer because we are faced with our mortality and focusing intently on those we love and letting them know how we feel about them.” —Paula, 65.
  • “We used to go out dancing two to three evenings a week. Now we dance together at home. I play dress-up for our sexy times together.” —Amber, 65
  • “We both find that the increased proximity has heightened our sexual awareness of each other. We get lost in our lovemaking. No fears or anxieties get in the way.” —David, 81.

Single seniors and those isolating away from their partners described more anxiety and frustration. They masturbate using sex toys, erotica, porn, and fantasy. Some have erotic communications with partners or seek online dates via chat, video, and email. All feel desperate for physical touch:

  • “The Stay in Place order has been rough. I have not been able to have any physical intimacy with my girlfriend of three years. I really crave the touch of a woman.”  —Kent, 63
  • “I’m in the ‘just trying not to think about that’ camp. I read a lot of erotic fantasy—cranking through probably more than a dozen stories a day—then pleasure myself however much I wish”  —Ed, 69
  • “We make good use of video chats for sexual interaction, but we are both craving touch. We talk about how wonderful it will be when we can finally share a kiss or let our fingers touch the other’s skin.”  —Linda, 60.
  • “I was at a store with dozens of masked people. The mystery of their hidden faces sexually excited me, as if I were at decadent costume ball.”  —Casimer, 64

For widowed seniors like Ann, 65, the pandemic reinforces their already strong feelings of isolation:

  • “My husband of 40 years died seven months ago. The pandemic has significantly increased my grief and loneliness. I may or may not have another partner in the future, but in my imagination and fantasy, I find eroticism is a true connection to vitality, hopefulness, and being in the present. It has been a life raft, of sorts.” 

Another widow, Jeanne, 67, feels that her grief has prepared her to cope:

  • “As a widow for three years, I have been reflecting on how my grief journey has prepared me for this pandemic. A lot of people are in grief right now and experiencing emotions linked to the grieving process: anger, denial, sadness. For many people, the world has been turned upside down. But I have taken this as an opportunity to tap into my inner courage, which has grown since I lost the love of my life. I empathize with those who have so much uncertainty in their lives right now.”

I heard from more seniors than I can quote here, but this will give you an idea of our similarities and differences. Whatever you’re feeling, wanting, not wanting—it’s normal. You’re not alone, as I hope these snippets from other seniors’ experiences demonstrate. 

Here are some helpful resources:

Please comment and tell us about your experience.

A Message from Joan:

I receive many more questions than I can answer. To help yours get chosen, know this:

  • I select questions solely from readers age 60+.
  • If I already answered a similar question, yours is less likely to be chosen, so do a search for your topic first.
  • When you submit a question, describe your problem, how it affects you, what you’d like to know. Your story will be edited.
  • For medical advice, consult your doctor. Change doctors if you’re not satisfied or if you’re treated dismissively.
  • I select questions for publication only. For a private answer, request a consultation. Most questions about sex and aging are answered in my books and webinars.

Send Joan your questions by emailing sexpert@seniorplanet.org. All information is confidential. Joan can only answer questions that are chosen for publication from readers age 60+

Joan Price is the author of several self-help books about senior sex including her newest, “Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality after Losing Your Beloved,” and the award-winning “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex.” Visit Joan’s website and blog and her Facebook page. For senior sex news and tips, subscribe to Joan’s free newsletter.

Articles, Health, relationships, Sex & Relationships, Sex and Relationships

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