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Better Than I Ever Expected
Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty
By Joan Price
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- ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD
- Trade Paperback $17.99 $22.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 26, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Price gets personal and stays positive, combining her own story with candid comments, tips, and sassy tales from sexually seasoned women. She acknowledges the gritty issues that older women confront in their sexual lives, noting that it’s not easy, but it certainly isn’t over. At age 61, Price is newly engaged to the man she’s been looking for her whole life. Her discovery of how great "well-seasoned” sex can be was the inspiration for this book. Sidebars present candid and friendly sex tips; fitness, exercise, and lifestyle information; and women's erotic vignettes (both real-life experiences and fantasies).
To my love, Robert Rice
If I were asked for the major messages of this book, I’d shout out:
1. We are having hot, fabulous sex after sixty. Society’s view of aging women as sexless is wrong, wrong, wrong. Many of us are having the best sex of our lives.
2. Yes, changes after menopause make sexual enjoyment challenging, but we’re using our creativity, our personal power, the joy and intimacy of our relationships, and useful tools of all sorts—from sex toys to a sense of humor—to tackle those challenges.
3. We’re redefining aging and sexuality. We’re the Love Generation—we practically invented sex. We’re not about to shut the gates now!
There are plenty of books and magazine articles filled with doom and gloom about midlife and older sexuality, how our tissues wither along with our libidos, and we might as well give it up. This isn’t my book.
This book is more than a guide to how to have great sex after sixty—it’s intensely personal, straight talk from my own experience and from a bevy of lusty women over sixty who aren’t afraid to tell, along with a smattering of self-help tips from experts.
Most books about sex and older women are either academic or exclusively self-help. While we Boomers and beyond do want self-help, we are hungry for the voices of women’s shared experiences. This book is warm, friendly, lighthearted, down-to-earth, often graphic, and honest.
I’m known as a fitness professional and health/fitness writer. I’m proud of the fitness books I’ve written, and just because I’m now writing about a new topic, it’s not that I believe any less in the importance of exercise. (Notice how I sneak in a chapter on that theme in this book.)
But it’s time—at age sixty-one—to expand my repertoire and dive into the subject that interests me the most at this stage of my life: ageless sexuality. Bodies beyond boundaries. From the reactions of the women I interviewed, we’re eager to talk, and we’re eager to learn from each other.
“I’m writing the book I’d love to read,” I tell my friends. Now, in my sixties, I have the great joy of writing a book on my favorite topic of all time, and in the woman-to-woman-friendly style that I enjoy. May you join me in affirming and celebrating the joy in our sensual lives!
Tale of a Book: How This Book Came to Be
History of This Book
In 2003, my book, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book: 300+ Quick and Easy Exercises You Can Do Whenever You Want! came out. I was thrilled when my publicist phoned and said, “We may be able to book you on a TV program in New York called Naked New York. It’s a cable show that discusses sex topics. Are any of your exercises especially good for sex?”
“Yes!” I replied.
“We need a hook, an angle,” she said. “Something sexy about you.”
“Tell them that at age fifty-nine, I’m having the best sex of my life!”
A month later, sitting in the studio waiting for my turn, I heard this promo before every commercial: “And coming up, Joan Price, who, at age fifty-nine, is having the best sex of her life!” I had thought this would be a minor attention-getter—I had no idea I’d sound like a freak.
During my fifteen minutes in the guest seat, I discovered that no one cared about my exercise book, though the host gave me about ten seconds to demonstrate exercises that strengthen the inner thighs and the woman-on-top push-up muscles. The major question of the evening was, “So, Joan, is it true that you’re having the best sex of your life at fifty-nine? What makes it so good?”
My three-part answer was this:
1. We take lots and lots of time for sex—I need lots of warm-up, and we both enjoy it.
2. We know ourselves and our bodies, and we have learned how to communicate at this point in our lives.
3. My lover and I are in a new relationship. We’re wildly in love with each other and feel like a couple of adolescents—but with the added eroticism that surprisingly accompanies wisdom and life experience.
How odd it felt to be disclosing intimate details of my sex life on television. Thank goodness my lover—an intensely private person—was safely across the country, where he couldn’t hear me.
But, to tell the truth, I didn’t mind talking about this at all. The fact was that I was in an amazing and intensely sexual relationship with Robert, age sixty-six at the time—who has since become my fiancé—and I was, indeed, having the best sex of my life. The glorious part is that it just keeps getting better! There’s nothing hotter than sex between people who know their own bodies, are crazy about each other, relish taking lots of time, and honor sex as extremely spiritual and physical. I just don’t think people can get there without a whole lot of life experience and a hefty dose of relationship mistakes along the way!
Me, Write a Sex Book?
When I was a young woman, it didn’t occur to me that women over sixty cared about sex, much less tingled like teenagers in the presence of their lovers. The media do nothing to give us role models (see Chapter 2, “Sex in the Golden Age,” for a discussion of this). We’re staking out new territory here. Now that I had passed midlife, sex was different, to be sure, but wildly satisfying. Why didn’t anyone tell me this would and could happen? Why weren’t we talking about it? Why weren’t we writing about it?
This idea kept percolating as I passed sixty, and I went looking for good sex books, both fiction and nonfiction, specifically aimed at my age group. I was surprised—and turned off!—by how few of these books existed, and how dry and unsexy most of them were. Some were much too academic to bring into the bedroom, many were outdated, and some were supposed to be titillating but weren’t—at least to us.
I read the beginnings of several books to Robert in bed, trying to find one that would entice us, arouse us, or give us new insights, to no avail. “You should write your own book about sex and aging,” Robert told me.
Yes, I thought. I could write a book that presents the reality of sex after sixty with all its challenges and delights. A book that celebrates sensuality, intimacy, and our marvelous bodies—sources of deep pleasures that transcend wrinkles and dryness. A book that isn’t self-help as much as self-examination and self-revelation, though with a healthy sampling of strategies that help us make friends with our retreating hormones. A book that makes us laugh at ourselves. A book that makes us laugh just because we’re happy!
We can still feel passionate about love, at any age, if the circumstances are right. Previous generations of older people would have gone into cardiac arrest if anyone had suggested such a thing; and most of us were probably brainwashed . . . to think we would become asexual zombies after sixty-five. —Eda LeShan in I Want More of Everything1
Examine the Past, Understand the Present
I started writing memoir, a process I’d recommend to everyone. You don’t have to aim to write a book—just start with a handwritten journal or a personal document on your computer and write down your thoughts and experiences.
As I did this, I gained in many ways: self-acceptance, new perspectives on past relationships, insights about my values and attitudes, gratitude for the love in my life, and deep, reverent appreciation for this stage of my life.
As we skate our way along the path of life, we hit bumps, skid on unexpected curves, and push away brambles that obscure our vision. We’re so intent on where we are and where we’re headed that we don’t always see clearly where we’ve been, or the impact a particular choice had on who we are now and how we feel about ourselves.
As I wrote this book, I found that remembering early experiences and people I had once invited into my life—and my bed—brought into vivid recall parts of my life that were truly formative. Loves budded, bloomed, and withered on the vine. I mourned, and I went on—to other loves, other blooms, and other endings.
That sounds pretty heavy. I also got in touch with the humor of my past experiences (even those I had mourned), my body, and my luscious relationship with my lover. I got to say whatever I wanted, however I wanted. I experienced great pleasure revisiting the good experiences and understanding the not-so-good choices in a new way. Often, when I returned to revise, I discovered a whole new way of looking at a particular part of my life, or the people who influenced me then.
I knew it was important to present the voices of many women, not just my own. So I went in search of other women my age and older who were happy with their sexuality and had anecdotes, attitudes, and insights to share. I circulated this solicitation:
Sexually Seasoned Women Speak about What They Hope to Read in This Book
I want to know how other older women really feel about sex and what they do in private, and whether their experiences are similar to mine. I see a woman who looks my age or older, and I wish I could ask her, “So, what’s your sex life like now?” (Diana, 62)
Many non-exotic tips and secrets I wouldn’t have thought of myself that I would feel comfortable using. Dressing like a Playboy Bunny and similar tips wouldn’t be right for me, but everyday ideas would be welcome. (Tana, 60)
Ideas for further enriching my sexual life. It would also be great to find out that fewer people are depriving themselves of the pleasures of sex because they think they’re too old or that sex as an older person is somehow inappropriate. (Mary Ann, 62)
Honesty about what keeps us going, the rewards of not giving up or giving in to changes in our bodies and our physical abilities, and that love and lovemaking are not just for the young. I would expect the hard truths about the reality of declining sexual appetites and abilities and the transition to a different kind of lovemaking perhaps, as well as some tools of the trade that come in handy to replace some of the lost abilities in each partner and stressing lovemaking over the “having intercourse” activities. (Ulla, 61)
Other women’s stories popping out. Some bullet points that are fun, like “Ten of my favorite sex fantasies.” (Monica, 60)
The truth, not a bunch of holier-than-thou bull. (Catherine, 65)
I’d like a lot of juicy stories and case histories. Forget the how-to. Make it frothy and entertaining. (Erica, 62)
Wanted: Interviews with sassy, sexy women, age 60+, who are willing to share feelings and experiences openly and anonymously in a candid, woman-to-woman book.
My goodness, how willing they were to talk! I discovered that women sixty-plus are actively seeking the kind of community of other women—the sisterhood—that connected and supported us in the 1960s and 1970s. Women forwarded emails containing my interview requests to their friends and to mailing lists and message boards. The anonymity of cyberspace allowed a whole new kind of networking. Women were hungry to talk about themselves and learn about each other.
The interviewing process was not designed to get any consensus of what sex is like for women after sixty, nor was it in any way a survey of experiences or attitudes. I’m no Kinsey researcher collecting data. Rather, I encouraged women to talk about topics relevant to their lives, in their own words.
Although some preferred to be interviewed by phone, most emailed their answers to me. They approached the questionnaire with candor and enthusiasm, revealing intimate details of masturbation, affairs, and special sex rituals (with or without a partner), entrusting me with their confidences with the click of the “send” button. We often dialogued after that, as I requested more information or they thought of something else they wanted to share. The process created a bond of woman-to-woman intimacy.
These wonderful women—most of them complete strangers to me until the interview—were willing, even eager, to tell me the most private details of their bodies, relationships, feelings, and fantasies. Many shared experiences and thoughts that their partners did not know. They expressed themselves creatively, honestly—and sometimes juicily.
As intimately as these women spoke, I rarely heard profanity or disrespectful terminology from these outspoken women describing their private sex lives. They spoke and wrote with dignity, a sense of reverence in their disclosures, respect for their partners and themselves, a desire to communicate nuances by choosing just the right word rather than the most expedient street language.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, we pondered our sexuality and our relationships in communal gardens, coffee houses, and consciousness-raising groups. Somehow we lost that connection as we grew up—or maybe we just grew away. Now, more than half a lifetime later, we are again sharing our thoughts, experiences, and feelings. It feels good.
What’s in a Name?
The women who submitted interviews are identified in the book by first names of their choice and their ages, and were promised from the beginning that their identities would remain confidential, locked in my files. No one else has ever viewed their questionnaires, and not even my publisher knows who these women really are.
I am real, and everything I say about my experience is real. Robert is real. To protect their privacy, and often after consulting them, I have changed the names of most of the other people I mention in my own narrative, though not the details of the incidents.
On the Other Hand . . .
I approached a woman in the gym, an outspoken, assertive woman I’ve known casually for years. She had always spoken openly about her boyfriends and once laughingly showed off her rug burn in the locker room after a vigorous encounter on the carpet. I told her about the book I was writing and asked if she’d like to be interviewed.
“Oh, I’m done with all that,” she told me. “I’m so glad that’s over. Now I have time to read a book.”
“What if 80 percent of women don’t feel enthusiastic about sex at our age?” a potential interviewee asked me. “Aren’t you skewing the survey by only interviewing women who have a positive attitude about their sexuality?”
This isn’t a survey, I explained, and sure, there are women (I don’t claim to know what percent) who are happy to be done with sex, like my gym acquaintance. Yes, several people told me they were not having good sex when I asked if they wanted to be interviewed, and certainly many more took themselves out of the running because of the wording I used to solicit interviews. Several women told me their intimate lives were too private to reveal in a book, even anonymously—but they wanted to read the book when it came out.
Sexually Seasoned Women Speak about Being Interviewed about Their Sex Lives
I love talking about this stuff. It’s my favorite topic. (Erica, 62)
I was surprised to find how strongly my joy in life is connected to the joy in my sexual life. It also reinforced my appreciation for the remarkable man I married. (Mary Ann, 62)
It was fun to answer this. I just worry that someone might recognize me. Gulp! (Melanie, 64)
Fun! Fun! Fun! It’s so nice to talk about these things with someone who actually wants to hear about it. My friends think I’m crazy or obsessed (or both), and my kids just plain don’t want to hear about it. Especially when I mention younger men. (Kaycee, 66)
Being anonymous made it easy to be completely honest. (My friends know how I think and what I believe, but I figure there’s no sense telling the whole world.) (Catherine, 65)
It feels nice to talk about my sex life—and it’s been a little bit of a soul-searching experiment in sticking to being honest. (Ulla, 61)
It’s kind of a turn-on to be writing about my sex life. I’m a bit embarrassed for my husband to read what I wrote, but I’ll probably let him. (Penny, 60)
What a surprise—someone wants me to talk about sex after sixty. I would be more than happy to tell the world about such joy. I can be open with you because you understand, or you wouldn’t be writing this book to hopefully wake up some folks. Thanks for being a writer in our world. (Claire, 66)
Writing about It, Doing It, Writing about Doing It
“Isn’t this better than writing about sex?” Robert whispers into my hair as we snuggle after a sunny, stolen afternoon of magnificent lovemaking.
Yes, of course, doing it is better than writing about sex! But in my mind, I’m writing about it all the time, inviting sensations and forming words that I might use to describe the experience. Knowing that my computer waits for my words is a turn-on, not a distraction, an intensification of sensation because I’m so completely focused on it.
And the act of writing about sex is erotic. I replay sensual details through my mind and decide which ones to offer publicly. As I pluck the right words to depict a sexy thought or memory, I often find myself wriggling in my ergonomic chair, anticipating the next time I close down the computer and turn my attention to my lover. It is titillating to translate sexual experiences into words, capturing snippets of conversation, whiffs of sensual detail, metaphors of touch, and verses of the songs of love.
Robert: Where Did My Privacy Go?
“Do you really have to write about that?” Robert asks me, squirming at the details I’ve revealed in a chapter I’m reading to him. “You know I’m really a private person.”
He imagines his son and daughter, the line dancers we teach, and his artist friends reading about the secret message of his nail-filing and other exchanges of sensual love that he never thought would be revealed beyond the immediacy of our two bodies. He jokingly contemplates disguises he’ll wear after the book comes out. But I know this playfulness cloaks a serious concern.
“It’s only because I love you and respect your work that I’m taking on this challenge of seeing so much of our intimacy broadcast to the public,” Robert says in one of our many talks about what to reveal and what to leave under the covers. I read each chapter to him before I submit it to my editor. Sometimes I ask his permission to include a detail I’d like to disclose. He knows I treat our private life with reverence as much as candor. He also knows when I strip the covers off the bed and show what’s going on frankly, I do it respectfully.
“Honestly, I’m not fully comfortable with you revealing so much, but I know how important this book is to you, and to your readers,” Robert continues. “As an abstract artist, I know the courage it takes to forge a new direction that may not be supported, even by friends and colleagues. You sometimes say things with a directness of language that surprises me, that’s less refined than I might want to use. But I don’t want to restrict what you feel needs to be said. At this time in my life, I feel as prepared as I’ll ever be to handle this kind of challenge. Ultimately, it’s the act of honoring truth and an opportunity for me to continue to grow. Besides, what you’re doing is important.”
Between the Covers
I continue to devour other writers’ books about sex in general and sex after menopause in particular. I don’t find much about sex after sixty. I want to be able to recommend other books to you if they’re especially good, and of course I want to know what else is out there.
Not long ago, I was notified that fifteen books I had requested from my local library had arrived. Realize that Sebastopol, California, is a smallish town, and I’ve been frequenting the local library for thirty years. Most of the librarians know me by name. I felt I owed the fifty-something librarian an explanation when I hoisted fifteen books with “sex” in the title onto the checkout counter. “I’m writing a book called Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty,” I explained.
“Good!” she exclaimed. “I knew by the time I got there, the book I needed would be waiting for me!”
Redefining This Aging Stuff: Are We on TV Yet?
I take a break from writing and channel surf. Three different television talk shows feature the sexiness of older women! One teaches women to pole dance and strip for their husbands. Another performs a clothing makeover, trading in sweats for La Perla lingerie. A third presents a discussion of a book featuring “cougars”: older women in relationships with younger men. You’d think that our society is finally ready for us sassy older women!
Sexually Seasoned Women Speak about What They Wish Other Women Understood about Sex after Sixty
Sex after sixty is not only okay, it is critical to your balanced well-being. Sex is something you are, not just something you do. (Kendall, 69)
I wish women knew to keep loving their own bodies, to keep expecting to be treated like a sexy, beautiful woman. What we expect, we get. (Monica, 60)
Don’t let this life pleasure get away from you—work at it. It’s worth it! Keep your partner primary in your life. Stay in touch with his sexual interests as well as your own, let him know what you like and how you like it done, and listen to him as he does the same. (Mary Ann, 62)
It’s a matter of getting ourselves to a place where we think we deserve to be sexually happy. Getting that self-esteem thing going and having it apply to sex as well as to everything else in our life. When people bloom, their sex lives stay good. (Nina, 67)
Looks and age are not so important. Who we are is vital. I look at my birth certificate, and I’m a realist. I won’t pretend to be what I’m not in order to have a man in my life. But if the Goddess should be so kind as to put one in my pathway, then I will enjoy him and celebrate him and worship God in him as best I can. If you’ve got a reasonably attentive partner, rejoice and give thanks. If not, rejoice in the simplicity of your life. (Rachel, 62)
Younger men are turned on by us. Experience and a free-spirited attitude are very important. (Phoebe, 64)
What joy a good and kind sexual partner brings into our lives. At this age, we all need to own those desires, be grateful for them, and be so happy that our bodies are healthy enough to want to have sex. Zelda Fitzgerald once said that “looking for love is like asking for a new point of departure in life,” and looking for sexual pleasure is a good thing to take on that journey. (Claire, 66)
Keep an open mind. Remember that there is always something new to try and so many men out there. Sex after sixty could be the best time of your life if you play it right. (Kaycee, 66)
The second part of our lives begins at sixty, and it is better than the first part. (Lily, 60)
After sixty, it’s not downhill. It’s still uphill when it comes to sex, only just like a car, it slows down just a little and the hill may seem a little steeper sometimes. (Ulla, 61)
Too darn much emphasis is put on age when it’s only a number. You are still a hot woman, and you don’t need a man to validate you. If you’re feeling horny, think sexy thoughts and stimulate yourself. If you see someone you want, go for it, but please use safe sex. (Catherine, 65)
Listen and look carefully, though, and you see that the “older” women teaching these lessons to the rest of us are probably in their forties max! “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” I yell at the midlife women who think they’re experts on sex and aging.
Of course, it’s hard to tell how old these women really are, with their lean, hard bodies, tight facial skin, and absence of wrinkles, all of which reveal little about age these days, thanks to exercise, cosmetics, and the prevalence of “procedures.” After all, many of us sixty-something women have legs as youthful looking as the ones on this book cover, thanks to step aerobics, hiking, and dancing.
Still, I’d like to see women who admit that (and look like) they’re over sixty on these talk shows, rousing other older women to assert their sexuality—as the women I interviewed have done. Perhaps we’ll do that together.
- On Sale
- Jun 26, 2009
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Seal Press