Joan Price on Sex After 50 – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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This week’s guest and I chat about navigating sex after losing your beloved, and about sex as an older person. In the studio with me is Joan PriceJoan calls herself an advocate for ageless sexuality. “Desire and Sexuality is ageless,” says Joan. “It just changes over time.”  Author of four books about sex and aging, including the award-winning Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved, seventy-six-year-old Joan wants to talk out loud about senior sex!

Connect with Joan Price:
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Speaker 1:        Welcome to smart sex, smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboos and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. I’m dr Joe court. Thanks for tuning in.

Speaker 3:        [inaudible].

Speaker 1:        Welcome to my show. Today we’re going to be talking about sex after 50 and sex after grief. This week I’ll be chatting about navigating sex after losing your beloved and about sex as an older person. My guest is Joan Price. Joan calls herself an advocate for ageless sexuality. She’s the author of four books about sex and aging, including the award winning book naked at our age, talking out loud about senior sex and her latest book, sex after grief. Navigating your sexuality after losing your beloved who are award winning blog has been offering senior sex news views and sex story reviews since 2005 at age 76 Joan continues to talk out loud about senior sex partnered or solo. She’s the co-creator of the film. Jessica Drake’s guide to wicked sex senior sex. Let’s talk out loud about older age sexuality. Welcome Joan.

Speaker 4:        Well, thank you. I’m so happy to be talking to you. I’ve admired your work for so long.

Speaker 1:        Thank you so much Joan. And then feeling’s mutual and really talking to you is the Nick of time for me because now I’m an older adult, so I’m ready to hear all your stuff. I’ve known about your stuff.

Speaker 4:        Get better. It doesn’t have to be a downer to get older.

Speaker 1:        I love that. And I know that that’s your tagline and people need to hear that because I do get people and as I’ve gotten older, of course my clients have gotten older and they worry about that and wonder, um, do I have to put up with how sex has changed for me? And it’s now mundane. What do you say to people when they say that to you?

Speaker 4:        I say that yes, sex has its challenges. As you age, your body changes, your emotions change, your responses change. Lots of things change. But that doesn’t mean we give up. It means we learn about it and we learn how we address those challenges. What can we do to make sex great again? And there are for every problem, there’s a solution.

Speaker 1:        I liked that. And you know, you talk about, um, sex and aging and of course there’s a natural grieving process because the body changes, sexuality, sexual abilities change. And so it makes sense that you wrote this book called sex after grief, uh, navigating your sexuality after losing your beloved. And I would imagine there’s a lot of myths about sex and grief. Can you talk about that?

Speaker 4:        Well, that’s right. I wrote that book specifically because we lose, people know I love her STI, our spouses die. And there, until I wrote this book, I couldn’t find anything there addressed. How do you get back to your own sexuality, your own life source yourself as a sexual being when the person you want most have sex with is dead. And this is a huge issue for so many people. And if it isn’t yet for people who are listening, it may be in the future. So I, um, I took my own grief experience, which was substantial and long lasting and profound. And I combined that with what other people sent me. I asked people who subscribed to my newsletter to send me their own experiences, their own anecdotes about what it was like to try to get back to their own sexuality after they lost their beloved. And I’ve got so many different stories, so many different ways that things people tried that worked that didn’t work their feelings about it. Because one of the main points of the book is there is no one way to do grief. There is many ways to do grief as there are people who already agreed.

Speaker 1:        Absolutely.

Speaker 4:        And we need to to accept our own natural process and that goes for how we get back to sex. Also, for some people it’s a very long period of celibacy. For others it’s very quickly into a new relationship. For others it’s not wanting a, an emotional relationship, but wanting to release of sex and then getting into more of a casual sex or hookup or, or a friend with benefits situation when perhaps it didn’t do that in the past or maybe they did. We’re all different and just because we’re getting older doesn’t mean we’re all alike suddenly.

Speaker 1:        So you would say to somebody who’s lost a partner over a long period of time that to really, um, take the, the, the position of try B, get back out there and, and find your sexuality. Don’t just lay back and let it just happen to you. So what you’re saying,

Speaker 4:        well no it isn’t. I’m saying whatever timeline is right for you is right for you. See, what happens is people, I have a whole chapter on the myths about sex and aging. The things that people tell us and they range from what you’re dating. Again, it’s way too soon. How could you do that? Or the other extreme is you should be getting out there by now. Come on, get out, get social. Yes, we want to know the options, but someone else pushing us to either get back into getting a sexual partner early or waiting or not waiting. None of this is really useful. What is useful is that if we can understand from other people’s experiences really how this can work. For example, we may feel I will never want to be with anyone else again because I, I am so profoundly in grief. I can’t imagine it.

Speaker 4:        I will never ever again, but understand that this is a natural feeling, but it’s also temporary that in time, because we are human beings with a natural life force that is going to push to be released, released that at some point we’re going to start to feel, and I go into great details about how this worked for me. We’re, we’re going to feel those twinges those, um, maybe it’ll be in a dream as it was for me. I, um, I had a dream that I was aroused by a new man and then I woke up. I really was aroused. There was no new man there, but I was finally feeling my body again. This will happen eventually. And if we don’t close off to that, but we also don’t rush ourselves that this is the way it should go. And also, let’s, part of what happens is that, um, that we think we’re ready and then we discover, Oh, that was the wrong thing for me. I wish I hadn’t done that, but instead of shaming ourselves for that, if we say, okay, I needed to do that to find out it was too soon. That’s okay.

Speaker 1:        This is so important because I remember even going through all my classes and my graduate programs that, um, aging and older adults and seniors were hardly talked about. I remember people were interested in, in dealing with this population and nobody, um, uh, they would say there’s nothing in this program. Or if there is, it’s at the very end and we don’t get to it. You’re really saying, we need, we need to get to this. I want to get to this. The, we older people have a right to, um, have healthy sexuality and healthy lives, right?

Speaker 4:        We, we are sexual beings lifelong. As Joycelyn elders says, we, we don’t age out of our sexuality. Sex has no expiration date. It changes. Yes. And many people will give up on it because they think religious sex doesn’t work the way it used to, that it just didn’t work at all. And I’m done. And now how sad that is. Well, we can mourn. What doesn’t work anymore, but that’s just one step towards figuring out what does work. We may find, for example, that in the past that um, penetrative sex was our go to go for sex. That was what worked for us and maybe now that’s, that’s not what we want. Maybe the penis doesn’t work that way. Maybe the vagina is not accepting as it was. Maybe there are other things that just turn us on more, even though things do work, so whatever our gender, whatever our, we will find body changes, but we can adapt to those changes and if instead of seeing this as a defect or a, or an end, if we see it instead of a chapter and then a new superpower, it takes an hour to get a Rouse.

Speaker 4:        Wow, I can take an hour to get around you.

Speaker 1:        I love that. Super power. Perfect. The total reframe and very positive. That’s really great. Now in my office, I do hear more men, at least verbalizing to me when their penises don’t get erect. And so they’re older that they feel like sex is over. And I have to work with them around that. What is the main complaint of women as they get older? That they feel sex is old, is over.

Speaker 4:        There are two things mainly. One is that they don’t feel desire. And the other is that they, um, well three things really, they don’t feel desire. They, um, their vaginas are not as welcoming to penetration. It just doesn’t feel as good or maybe that’s just not how they reach orgasm or they never did. Uh, which is, which is common, uh, among people with followers. And then the other is if they happen to be in a partnership with, with an aging man that, um, that the partner isn’t getting erect and isn’t willing to find out other ways that they can have sex. Yes. So the desire part, which is so important. I know you know about the concept of responsive desire versus spontaneous desire. But when I talk to a lay audience, they do not know anything about this.

Speaker 1:        Yes. Can you explain it so that our lay audience understands it? Yeah.

Speaker 4:        Yes. Um, what we perceive as feeling desire is often what we call spontaneous desire, which is really a biological urge to have sex and, and, and it takes place in, I’m attracted to you. I want to have sex, let’s go. But if as we age, or maybe for some people we never did feel it that way, but particularly as we age, we don’t have that biological urge anymore. The hormones have said, ah, you don’t really need us so much anymore. And so here we are left without that spontaneous urge to have sex. However, if we find out that if we just start physiologically, if we just get going with our ourselves or with a partner, does matter how we do it with a favorite sex story. And it works that the disaster will kick in in response to the physiological arousal. Am I explaining?

Speaker 1:        Yeah. So what you’re saying is, and isn’t this true for, um, at least what I’ve, tell me if I’m wrong for female sexuality, that in general, they’re there. They have more of a responsive where they start to be sexual and desire comes from that. Is that what you mean?

Speaker 4:        Exactly, yeah. That’s what I mean. If they start to be sexual physiologically, if they just let their, their bodies get aroused, then they sever, Oh wow, I’m really enjoying this. Why don’t we do this more often? Don’t wait for the mood if, if you are in a good relationship or if you are so low, don’t wait for the mood. Just get started. [inaudible] and don’t, don’t, you know, we, we used to think we had to wait for the mood if we were going to have sex and anyone who respected us would wait for us to wait for the mood. But Hey, what if, what if that means we don’t have sex for weeks or months?

Speaker 1:        Right. That’s the cultural myth because all they show in books and movies is romantic love. Limerence honeymoon, the whole, we all want to have sex. We’re always ready. We’re always clean. We’re always everything. And that is not a relationship. That’s the beginning and it’s the shortest part of a relationship. And it’s sad that we’re always using that as the gold standard.

Speaker 4:        And I’m glad you brought that up because, um, that’s fantasy. Anyway, even in my youth, I never, ever wanted to have sex on the kitchen table for kicking the front door shut with my foot because I couldn’t wait. That is never in my life happened to me. And I’ve had some pretty good sex.

Speaker 1:        I get it. And even, it’s funny when you see people having sex in showers, whether it’s porn or erotic movies or just regular movies, I’ve had sex in the showers. It sucks the waters in your eyes. You’re slipping and sliding. You’re trying not to fall the soap. It’s like I can’t even erotically focus. I’m trying to just stay in upright, you know, even when I was young, I don’t know. It’s just not sexy.

Speaker 4:        I felt that your partner’s hair in the shower is much sexier than tried to have.

Speaker 1:        Totally agree. 100%. I wanted to ask you, as people listen to this, uh, I can imagine older people being interested in this conversation, but why should young people care about old people sex?

Speaker 4:        Oh, that’s such an important question because if we’re lucky, we all get old. If we’re unlucky, we die young. So take your choice. Which do you think would be preferable if as seniors in training, which is what I call young people, if we learn at an early age, how to, for example, expand our notion of sexuality and not have goal-oriented sex but have pleasure oriented sex and have a wider, um, more, more items in the buffet than just one particular goal. And we learn how to about sex, how to express, uh, what brings us pleasure and what doesn’t so much anymore and learn to ask a partner about what brings pleasure and what doesn’t so much. If we learned to do this at a younger age, aging is just not even going to be any kind of deterrent to good sex. We don’t have to relearn it all over again at 60 or 70 or 80.

Speaker 1:        I love that you just said rather than goal oriented sex, pleasure oriented sex. Can you say more about that?

Speaker 4:        Yes. Um, well as we’re growing up, and I think this would be true, whatever era certainly was true in my era, we thought that the only goal had to be penetrative sex. And in fact what we were taught was it had to be heterosexual penetrative sex. I hope we’ve let go of that notion then for ourselves and others and the whole culture. But you know, that’s another issue we can talk about. But we had this idea that real sex had to have a hard penis and it had to have, and for Volvo owners it had to have wet, welcoming vagina. And if that didn’t happen, then we were broken. Well, no, we’re not. We are not broken if we need to or want to have sex in many other pleasurable ways, I give a workshop that’s my most popular workshop. It’s called great sex without penetration.

Speaker 4:        And I’ve put it, I, I’ve made it into a webinar so that you don’t have to find me in your city in order to experience that workshop. Joan Christ’s dot com has all of that information. It’s my most popular workshop and people come in often looking as if they’ve been dragged there because of the death of a cat or something. They just come in with, Oh my God, this is the last place I want to be, but I think I need the information. And then within a few minutes they’re smiling, they’re laughing, and by the end of it they’re saying, wow, okay, I’m going home and using this right away.

Speaker 1:        I am absolutely going to recommend that and I’m going to watch it because in one of my podcasts I can, I come out admitting that I have never had penetrative sex. I’m not into it. I’m not, doesn’t interest me. A lot of people think just because I’m gay, I’m having all kinds of anal sex giving, getting, and there are plenty of gay men that never want and never have anal sex. And people say to me, well then how do you have sex? I don’t get it. What do you do as if there’s only that one thing. You know what I mean? It’s so ridiculous. And so I think I would love to watch it just to see if there’s, we could make a gay male version of what you are or maybe not. Maybe be amen.

Speaker 4:        I would love to that

Speaker 1:        because you don’t have to be older. It doesn’t just have to happen to you. It may be a choice. And I like that. Um, for some people who have erectile issues or a vulva pain or whatever, it might be the body saying, I’m not, it’s not me. I don’t want this. And there are plenty of other ways to be sexual, just like you’re saying.

Speaker 4:        And let me tell you all as, of course, you know, and in your personal life, but I will also tell you I’m a superpower of not having penetrative sex is that you take turns and, and that makes sex even better because you’re concentrating fully on one person’s pleasure and then you’re concentrating fully on the other person’s pleasure. And my goodness, that makes twice sex twice as good, doesn’t it?

Speaker 1:        Yes, it does. That’s really well said. I love the whole super power idea. I’m going to use that and credit you of course. Um, can you talk about your film, a Jessica Drake’s guide to wicked sex senior sex and what role you had in it?

Speaker 4:        Yes, happy to. I was a co-creator and I’m the narrator of that film. Jessica Drake as probably most of your audience knows, is known best as an adult film star, a porn star. But she also has this really important role as a sex educator based on the, the clear understanding that porn is not sex education. Porn is fantasy and yes, she makes, she makes porn, but she also makes an educational series with wicked pictures called Jessica Drake’s guide to wicked sex and then colon, whatever the specific topic is. She’s made a number of these and she decided that she needed to have one on senior sex and that I would be the one to collaborate with her. Well, we had such a strong connection and such an exhilarating collaboration really. We discussed this project for many months before actually doing it and then, um, then got together and naturally filmed this wonderful, wonderful movie, which includes my tips and advice.

Speaker 4:        The kind of information that I give in workshops and in my books, but the differences that then on camera you see two older couples who are taking their clothes off and having great sex. One of the couples has been together a long time and their sexual interaction is really tender and beautiful and based on knowing each other really well full of communication. The other couple met for the first time on set and this is wow. Really? They were both very happy to do this. They liked the idea of having sex with a stranger in order to, um, and, and having the camera going in order to show, I mean this was, this was one of the things I wanted from this film. We’re not all in longterm relationships. We’re not all in committed relationships. Many of us are trying to date and having sex with new people.

Speaker 4:        How do you negotiate that as an older person? So, so we potentially wanted one couple that were new to each other. How do I figure out what you like, how do you tell me, how do I ask you things? So both of those couples have very different couples are um, are having sex on this film. So it’s an explicit sex. I mean, I’m sorry, it’s an explicit film. Yes, it’s explicit sex in this film, but it is also educational. It’s not fantasy sex. They’re having the kind of sex they really do have and it’s, um, it’s a very exciting film for people who are in the United States. I have it for sale on DVD from my website, John And uh, from wicked pictures you can get, you can get it, you can buy it streaming or you can buy it, uh, in other countries.

Speaker 1:        Yeah. It’s great cause right. People would get confused. Is this porn or is it sex education? What you’re saying? Is it sex education?

Speaker 4:        It’s sex education and it’s explicit.

Speaker 1:        Yeah. I love that. I remember

Speaker 4:        good bodies and sex education.

Speaker 1:        Yes. I remember for whatever reason, I just flashed back to this where I was 22 getting my master’s and we had a human sexuality class and we saw videos of all different things, paraplegics having sex, you know, gays and lesbians and heterosexuals. But I remember older people having sex and they were like in their sixties and I remember thinking, watching their bodies, you know, they hit an aged body but their genitals and their breasts were like, I remember this is the word in my head. Normal. You know, like, Oh, my case isn’t going to look cold, or my, her breasts don’t look old. I don’t know what I read. I just remember being struck by that and not understand, like when you said, well, what could young people get from old people sex? I got something to know that while my body might age, my genitals aren’t gonna. I don’t know. I just had the premise of my genitals aren’t going to age like that so much. I know they change a little bit.

Speaker 4:        They change a little bit. They’re changing how they feel and how they respond. They don’t necessarily change in how they look.

Speaker 1:        Right. That’s what I noticed.

Speaker 4:        Yeah. Yeah. Wonderful that you remember that from age 22

Speaker 1:        yeah. I don’t know why I remember that. But then later I heard that your penis shrinks as you get older. So that’s a little disturbing to me. I just have to admit that. But whatever, you know, if it’s drinks, it drinks, I hopefully I won’t notice it too much. What else would you want people to know from your, um, work?

Speaker 4:        Oh, there’s so much. Um, I want people to, if they are listening to this and they go, that’s information. I didn’t know all of that before. There’s so much more that you don’t know. Please do. Do the work, get the books or, um, it’s hard when you go online to know what’s real and what isn’t. You know, what’s helpful and valid and what isn’t. But I try to siphon a lot of that through my website, my blog. I review other books that I recommend and interviews. Um, flex story reviews. Very important that, uh, if you are not yet using sex choice as part of your, your, uh, sexual expression, I hope you will start exploring that because as you get older, you may find you need a lot more sensation than in arthritic risks can give you. So it’s, it’s really helpful to already have, um, some, some knowledge of sex stories and some experience so that you don’t have just again, learn that from scratch when you’re older.

Speaker 4:        And I think young people, seniors in training already haven’t been exposed to a lot more, well, tons more than my generation was for sure. But that doesn’t mean, and I say this to seniors in training with great affection. You don’t know at all. You may think you know it all because sex works just fine for you right now. But explore other ways, other things, other, um, other techniques, other kinds of experiences and also other points of view. Please don’t say this is what I believe in. Nothing will ever change for me because guess what? It will,

Speaker 1:        you’re really one of the only voices out there that I know of talking about sex and getting older. Right? Isn’t that the case? It seems

Speaker 4:        there are others who do that. Um, there weren’t, when I started 15 years ago, I was a voice in the wilderness at that time, but I guess, um, because I do talk out loud so, so much and so loudly and so frequently that people often hear my voice when they’re looking into this subject and I’m happy about that.

Speaker 1:        Yeah. And it’s the up and you have great, great information. Where can people find you online? I know. Well tell, tell them where they can find you.

Speaker 4:        Joan. is my website and across the top there cabs to take you to my blog, my speaking, um, events, webinars, and all the other things I do. My books are all there. Um, you can order anything from me if you’re in the United States and if not, uh, however you usually buy your books and I’m just so happy to have had this talk with you. Joe. You’re marvelous.

Speaker 1:        Thank you so much. And now you’re marvelous. Two year, just so people know, you’re also on Twitter and you’re also on faith. Facebook, you’re very easily accessible not only to find you, but the information you’ve given. I really appreciate you being part of the show. Thank you, Joan.

Speaker 4:        Thank you.

Speaker 1:        Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex, smart love. I’m dr Joe court and you can find me on Joe that’s J O E K O R

Speaker 3:        See you next time.

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