Age and Sex …

I had an interesting thought this morning – what is the correlation between the age at which one tends to “stagnate” (i.e., stop developing psychologically and developmentally as a result of trauma or marriage or having a child or chronic illness or one of the many reasons for such a thing to occur – in fact, I personally believe most of us are emotionally “stunted” at an age “younger” than our biological, chronological age … but that’s for another post!) and his or her desire for sex when it comes to the notion of “love?” For me, personally, although I do believe I stagnated around age 27-28, my age 27-28 is a more “mature” 27-28 than what is “normal,” necessarily – those 27-28 years were not “healthy, normal” years – they were years filled with illness and near-death experiences and pain and happiness and opportunities beyond the wildest dreams of most people, &c. &c. I have not lived anything near a “normal” life in any sense of the word. But I can tell you that the correlation between “sex” and “love” is very strong when one is younger – in that early-to-mid-20s period of time.

Of course, from this perspective, I also only speak for “abnormal” (no pejorative connotation implied here) women; I also come from a slightly “jaded” perspective having seen several long-term relationships not only come and go but go without notice and in a very passive-aggressive manner (for example, a 4-5-yr-long relationship goes from “I love you, I can’t live without you, I will move here.” to “I’m never talking to you in my life ever again.” in a week or so. Yeah. Try dealing with that mind f*ck!). With all of that said, I can say that although I see sex as part of a relationship (romantic, that is – I suppose the days of “friends with benefits” have passed, sadly), it is far from the forefront of any relationship I think of or even “fantasize” about. This is not to say it is not there, it is just not front and center. And what is even stranger about this is that the element of physical attraction is still absolutely at the forefront of what relationships I could “imagine” being in. Perhaps things works differently for men – but I have noticed that as I have gotten “older” (I really hate using that word! I really believe that age is all in your head and you have so much more control over it than it has control over you if you allow yourself that control! Still, I do not know of words with comparable meanings and insinuations as “older,” “younger,” &c.), my idea of a relationship becomes more about overall compatibility – intellectual, emotional, psychological, social (insofar as compatible political and economic, &c., views are concerned – these are important traits to consider because I can also speak from experience that two people coming from absolute opposite “demographics,” so-to-speak – and not racial because that has never been an issue for me personally, and I have dated people from all kinds of backgrounds – simply cannot reconcile their opposing viewpoints when it comes to their “core values” – and this is absolutely critical in being with someone and staying HAPPY with that someone in the long-term, at least in my opinion) and similar compatibilities. There are people who want to be with people “like them;” I am not one of these people. But I do believe that you have to have very similar “core values” as the person with whom you claim to want to spend the rest of your life; physical attraction rivals this but is highly, HIGHLY subjective to the individual (so I say if you find someone to whom you are physically attracted and to whom you have similar “core values” and share similar intellectual capacities, empathetic capacities, similarities in kindness, &c., you GRAB THAT PERSON AND DON’T LET GO! Even if it happens later on in your life – which is such a mistake a see far far FAR too many people making! Again, that’s for another post! My apologies for going off on so many tangents here!).

What I am getting at is that it seems that the older “we” get, at least as women, the less “important” sex per se becomes to our “primary relationships.” That doesn’t mean we want people to stray from our primary relationships in order to satisfy their sexual wants and needs – far from it! But we are no longer the equivalent of the “horny” high school boys (and girls, let’s even the playing field because it needs to be!); at least for me, I find someone “attractive physically” but the thoughts that first enter my mind when thinking about the physical attractiveness of someone are not inherently sexual in nature. Someone can be “objectively” (which is a cultural / social construction, I realize) attractive, but I might not find that person attractive just based on what I find attractive – physically attractive and emotionally/psychologically/mentally/&c. attractive; and although “sex” is implied in such a discussion, it is not at the forefront of my mind as it was in my teenage years and even in my 20s. I still have a “type” I find physically attractive, but my thoughts do not wander off to kissing or anything “further” than that. Perhaps that is just me, but it is something I have noticed over the last six or so months with the person with whom I have become “interested.”

It is also interesting to note that even in couples who meet the above criteria (physically attracted to each other, “morally” and intellectually compatible, &c.), one or more partners frequently seek sexual attention outside of the “primary relationship” (although, from my observations, it does seem that although the individuals in such couples are physically attracted to each other and have similar core belief systems, they ALSO tend to have married and/or started dating at an age before reaching full neurological maturation: these “couples,” therefore “stagnated” at an age before full developmental maturation – perhaps this is the cause for seeking “sexual” gratification when those who have had the time to develop fully find “gratification” in more abstract qualities). An equally interesting aspect of this is that the partners in such relationships tend to “forgive and forget,” either moving on with their former partners or just moving on. Perhaps this is a “side effect” of being with another person for a long time – the fear of being alone, the fear of “wasting time,” &c. &c. &c. It is a very interesting subject to me and certainly one I will delve more deeply into in the future.

At any rate, I hope that was at all coherent (I’m working on a lot of pain and very little sleep!). I’d really like to hear from those in long-term relationships (I’m talking like … committed relationships, we’ll say at LEAST 3+ years) as well as those NOT in such long-term relationships – how has your “sex drive” or your “libido” affected your attraction toward your partner or those you find attractive in general? Do you find yourself also broadening the distinction between sexual attraction and overall physical attraction as “time goes on?” And if you are in a long-term relationship that is “absolutely” committed, do you sense the feeling of stagnation in your relationship and within yourself? At what age do you feel as if you have “stagnated?” How do you cope with that within yourself and within your “partner?” – what progress do you try to make and how? – and how do you reconcile these issues in both your romantic relationships and your “non-romantic” relationships? These are fascinating questions to me, and I would love to get as much feedback as possible on this one! Thanks much for your time and as always, I hope you have a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world!

❤ Beth


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