Assisted Loving: It's never too late to learn something new

By Ginger Manley | Posted: Friday April 5, 2013

Ginger Manley | Apr 1, 2013, 11:28 a.m.        

Dear Ginger,

I recently started a relationship with a man I have known all my life. It feels great to have someone whose story is as familiar to me as my own, but there’s one tough part – he is not as good a lover as I wish he were. I am actually a little surprised because he says he has had many partners in sexual experiences. I would be a lot happier if he knew more about foreplay. I don’t like the idea of teaching or directing him, and I even considered finding a prostitute to do the teaching, but I’m pretty sure I won’t do that. Can you suggest a book or something else that could help us? I have dated two men who have lived 69-plus years, one with three marriages, who have no idea how to stimulate a woman. I mean things like kiss me like you want to eat me up, stroke and fondle breasts and other areas. Both kissed okay but would stop and just look at me with googly eyes and think that was showing “passion.” My experience has been once you start, I want it to build like he is on fire for me. Am I wrong?


Dear Velma,

I am so happy to hear that you and your friend have discovered a lovers’ relationship at this age. The fact that you have known each other for so long bodes well also, since you do not have so much need to fill in the gaps in your life stories with unfamiliar people and places.

It does not surprise me that you are rather more sexually enlightened than he. You came of age just as the sexual revolution was gearing up. The result is that women who are now in their 70s are among the first group of seniors to have benefited from good adult sex education (remember the funny scene from “Fried Green Tomatoes” – “everyone get a hand mirror, and we will now take a tour of your private parts”) and who understand very well what they like and need from a sexual experience in both a physical and an emotional way. Men of this age are often not nearly so enlightened, particularly if they have not partnered with a woman who speaks out and directly asks for what she wants. Some men have just continued to do what seemed to work for them in their 20s and beyond, believing “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

As difficult as this may seem to be initially, the truth is that he is lucky to be with you – someone who knows how her body responds and what enhances these responses. While some men are reluctant to learn, my experience as a sex therapist and educator is that once they realize they will have a lot more fun and also bring more pleasure to their mate, almost all men are interested in learning.

I’m really glad you have not gone beyond considering hiring a prostitute to teach him. Teaching is not what prostitutes do best, and there is danger involved with hiring a prostitute – danger of sexually transmitted illnesses and danger of conflicting with the law. For a number of years, sex therapists and educators have pondered how a person might learn not only the social skills but also the techniques of lovemaking in the absence of a skilled partner to teach and support the person. In a few cases, professional sex surrogates have been used, with varying success. Currently, “The Sessions” movie, with Oscar-nominated Helen Hunt in the role of a sex surrogate who initiates a man with polio into his first sexual experience, has generated new discussion in professional and other circles. Surrogate Partner Therapy (SPT), as the practice is now known, is highly controversial and not well understood both within and outside of sexology fields. From my point of view, SPT is one type of Assisted Loving that makes tons of sense in the abstract but is practically impossible to implement in reality, especially because of legal risks of being mistaken for prostitution or other illegal sex work.

Therefore, Velma, my advice is that you begin engaging your fellow in conversation about the possibilities of ramping up your joint sexual experiences. I call this True Oral Sex – using our mouths and our ears to communicate mutually about what might be changed, enhanced, or eliminated. This needs to start with clothes on and no pressure of performance. Make a list yourself of what is good and what needs tweaking. Ask him to do the same. You may find that there are activities he has wanted to incorporate, but maybe he has been reluctant to speak up. Get a good book – “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex” by Joan Price is one example – and take turns reading it aloud to each other, then discuss what you are reading. In the book, Ms. Price is able to describe some techniques in far more detail than I can do in this column, and I think you will both learn some new maneuvers. If you need even more detail, try “The Guide to Getting It On” by Paul Joannides, an almost 700-page paperback that covers everything from parenting issues to seniors and sexuality.


Sex for seniors requires more planning, more knowledge, and more touch than sex when we were all younger. You have the advantage, Velma, of years of experience coupled with the knowledge of what you need for a better experience. My guess is that your man will love to learn when he sees the benefit of the happy homework you two can devise. Keep me posted.




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