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What Baby Boomers Want In The Bedroom

What does great sex look like when you—or your sweetie—is 50 or older? Read on for the private desires of grown-up daters.

By Julie Taylor

et’s be honest: What you wanted between the sheets at 20 was probably very different from what you long for now. Maybe a sweaty, five-minute quickie once constituted a good time—now, a slower build-up to passion might be more apt to light your fire. We polled experts and seasoned daters to discover the top three things men and women over 50 desire these days. Their answers just might surprise you.

What She Wants…

1. Fabulous foreplay
Joy Parsons, 63, of Oklahoma City, OK, says more kissing and cuddling is at the top of
43% of boomer women desire more emotional intimacy
her sexual wish list. “Too many men I’ve dated recently just pop a Viagra and expect to get straight to it,” she confesses. “But I for one need an appetizer before I jump to the main course.”

“Female baby boomers need a longer warm-up period,” concurs Joan Price, author of Better than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty. “The older a women gets, lubrication becomes an issue, so extended intercourse can be uncomfortable and painful unless she’s properly primed for it.” Women need slowed-down lovemaking, she adds, not just the “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” of days of yore.

Guys should give their partners lots of foreplay (say, a half-hour) before they take things to the next level, advises Price. Try hugging, kissing, and cuddling—this will give her time to warm up, as well as pump up the anticipation factor for both of you.

2. To get their sexy back
Most women have a harder time feeling desirable now than they did back in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, says Katherine E. Chaddock, co-author of Flings, Frolics, and Forever Afters: A Single Woman’s Guide to Romance After Fifty. At this stage, you need more attention from your partner to build up your sexual self-esteem. “Women crave whispers, caresses, and, of course, compliments from their lovers now more than ever,” she explains.

“During lovemaking, I don’t want to worry about what my neck looks like,” confesses Sheila Clarkson, 59, of Las Vegas, NV. “Deep down, I still feel 19! I want my lover to make me feel as desirable and hot on the outside as I feel on the inside.” A man can make a woman feel sexy by stroking her skin, holding eye contact, or simply telling her how much she turns him on. And both sexes would benefit by relaxing their sexiness standards. Even if you’ve got a few wrinkles and sags, give yourself a break! Remind yourself how amazing you still look rather than fretting about a few character lines. (Plus: Unless you’re dating a man decades younger, you and he both have ’em, anyway, so they cancel each other out!)

3. More emotional intimacy
Forty-three percent of Boomer women desire more emotional intimacy in their relationships, according to a recent study of baby boomers conducted by Harris Interactive. “In the past, if boomers were faced with no sex or casual sex, they just might have picked casual sex,” Price says. “Now, most women don’t want to bother unless there’s a true connection. If there’s no bonding or emotional component, it’s just not worth their time.”

Francis Becker, 55, of Tacoma, WA, says that emotional bond is indeed what drives her post-50 sexual encounters. “I need to feel like I’m reaching a higher plane with someone,” she confides. “After a long and bitter divorce five years ago, I decided that before I slept with someone, he’d have to win my heart first. I don’t take sex lightly, and I don’t want my partner to, either. We need to connect on a spiritual level.”

To build intimacy, start by opening the lines of communication. Share a desire, and encourage your partner to do the same. Studies have shown that telling your partner what you want in bed leads to deeper emotional intimacy. Enjoying time together without interruptions (both in and out of the bedroom) also fosters connectedness. So be sure to schedule uninterrupted play time to focus solely on each other.

What He Wants…

1. Passionate positive reinforcement
James Franklin, 62, of La Canada, CA, says the most important thing to him in the bedroom is knowing that he’s turning his partner on. “After 60, I don’t always perform like I used to,” he confesses. “So, during sex,
Put the “play” back in your sex life!
it’s crucial for me to know that I’m still a great lover. It’s up to her to send me that message loud and clear.”

If a woman feels shy about verbalizing her erotic emotions, she can always fall back on more primal means of communication. “Moans, groans, oohs, and aahs will let a man know that he’s on the right track,” advises Price.

In fact, Chaddock notes that men prefer sweet nothings and sighs to sexual instructions: “Telling him what feels good is a turn-on. Telling him what he’s doing wrong isn’t.”

2. Less pressure to be the best ever
Men of all ages tend to pressure themselves to perform at peak level each and every time. But when the bar is set as high now as it was thirty years ago, many boomers feel they’ve set themselves up for a fall. “When body parts won’t cooperate, the sense of failure you feel is just overwhelming,” says Ben Adams, 69, of Boston, MA. “It can ruin your night—and then some! You feel like less of a man in your lover’s eyes.”

Of course, most women would never intentionally make their man feel bad when he has performance issues. However, erectile dysfunction can bring out insecurities in a woman (“Why aren’t I turning him on?”), and that in turn can create an awkward moment all around. Psychologist Joel Block, Ph.D. the author of Sex Over 50, says that the message that a “woman’s sexual role is to attract while a man’s is to perform” is embedded deep within our psyche. “A man’s biggest fear is losing the ability to perform,” he says. “Men want an accepting partner so that they can feel emotionally safe. After all, feeling emotionally safe is the best attitude for good sex!”

When and if things don’t go as planned in the passion department, it’s important for women to not make a big deal about it, says Chaddock. “Instead, take this opportunity to discover ways to give each other pleasure that don’t include intercourse,” she advises. “Give back rubs. Caress each other’s bodies. Instead of getting frustrated or saying ‘I give up,’ explore new avenues of pleasure.”

3. More surprises in the sack
After making love for 30, 40, or even 50 years, guys of a certain age can get extremely bored by the same old, same old. And many boomer men say spontaneity is their ultimate turn-on. “Men in midlife don’t want to get trapped under the boredom rock,” says Dr. Block. “They are looking for spontaneity and a bolder approach, both in the bedroom and out. Boredom simply isn’t conducive to passion.”

That’s what Ray Brown, 71, of Jersey City, NJ, found when he started dating a new woman last year. “She was only interested in one position, and she told me there was to be no talking during lovemaking—ever,” he says. “After three or four encounters, I felt like falling asleep! I need someone who’s going to keep me guessing, not someone who somehow manages to make sex boring. Now more than ever, life’s just too short.”

Want to inject some spontaneity into your lovemaking? Watch a sexy movie together such as Wild Orchid, 9 ½ Weeks, or Like Water For Chocolate. Break out the Kama Sutra. Be sexually adventurous! “Put the ‘play’ back in your sex life,” Dr. Block concludes, and you’ll see how hot things can be!


Julie Taylor is a freelance writer who frequently writes about dating for Happen. She has contributed to Redbook and Cosmopolitan, and is the co-author of How to Be a Dominant Diva.
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