She's 47. He's 26. Does this cougar need a catnap? 

How to handle mismatched libidos when there's a big age gap

I'm a 47-year-old woman going out with my soul mate, a 26-year-old man. Our age difference doesn't matter, except in bed. He wants it all the time. I'm happy with twice a week. I haven't said much to him because A) I'm in love with him and B) I'm afraid he'll start looking somewhere else to get his needs met. Last night was the last straw — we did it twice in a row and he wanted to do it a third time! My friends aren't sympathetic; they say find somebody more age-appropriate. I just want to work this out. How do I do it without insulting him or driving him away?

— In Heaven (most of the time)

Dear In Heaven,

Age-appropriate? It's not like you're the one who hit the switch when God said, "Let there be light!" And it's not like you're dating a fetus. Or that you're alone, for that matter. Almost one third of women between ages 40 and 69 are dating younger men (defined as 10 or more years younger).

Mismatched libidos aren't an age-related dilemma. In fact, it's the single most widely reported complaint among same-age couples. And it tends to come as a surprise. Here's why: Nature likes to play dirty pool and her first bank shot is to elevate everyone's sex hormones during courtship, creating an artificial libidinal match. Over time, as the sexual fires turn into embers, everybody's hormones recede to their natural levels. And that's when you're left with the horrible realization (if you're the high-desire person) that your locked-cocked-ready-to-rock partner is actually a sexual camel who can go great lengths of time without drinking from the well.

But I digress. Your real problem isn't his horniness; it's your fear. Why are you so scared to talk to him? You're breaking the motto of older women who are into younger guys: "If you can't find a good man, raise one." Raise him, woman! Teach him how to respect a woman's boundaries. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out conversation. It can be as simple as saying, "I love having sex with you, but I need the chance to miss it." You can make it easier on him by following my two golden rules of sexual rejection:

1) Be affectionate. Most low-desire partners are so afraid that affection will lead to sex that they withhold physical touch. Big mistake. High-desire partners tend to interpret it as punishment for their natural desire. So do the opposite. Be affectionate when he busts a move and keep in mind my second rule.

2) Postpone, don't reject. Never say no without saying when. A postponement is easier to take than a rejection. Now, the trick here is keeping your word. You can't expect him to respect your boundaries when you don't respect his wishes.

While you're learning the art of saying NO, you also need to continue sometimes having sex when you don't feel like it. Studies show that once low-desire partners start having sex, they quite enjoy it. It's sort of like eating when you're not hungry. You force yourself to eat a few potato chips and the next thing you know, you've poked a hole in the bottom of the bag and find yourself putting the QuickTrip clerk in a headlock because he ran out of Ruffles.

So how does a low-libido person get in the mood when she doesn't feel like it? Check out some ideas here. As for your boyfriend, he needs to spend a little more time in the Masturbatorium. Sometimes true love requires self-service. He also needs to learn how to handle disappointment. Just like you need to sometimes have sex when you don't want it, he needs to sometimes keep it zipped when he does. After all, you're in this thing together. A one-person sacrifice is like a hatchet — you'll just end up wanting to bury it in your partner's back.

Mike "The Sexorcist" Alvear hosts HBO's "The Sex Inspectors," blogs at mikealvear.com and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie. Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? E-mail him at sexorcist@creativeloafing.com.

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