Feeling close to a loved one and sharing signs of physical affection is more important than having regular sex for older couples, a new survey has found.
The majority still believe intimacy is important, but more than 56 per cent of people aged over 50 said having regular sex with their partner was not as vital as other parts of the relationship.
The study found that 59 per cent of those aged between 50 and 55 said sex had become less important – a figure which rose to a huge 85 per cent of people aged 76 to 80.
As a result there is a strong case for redefining sex, with some claiming it should no longer focus solely on “gymnastics” and instead on feeling deeply connected.
The survey revealed majority of women said sexual intimacy was less of an issue, with 64 per cent claiming it was not as important in a relationship – but only 53 per cent of men agreed.
Instead they rated other parts of their relationships, such as enjoying a cuddle, or a tender kiss, as more important.
Barbara Bloomfield, Relate Counselling Supervisor, said: “Sex isn’t just about gymnastics, it’s mainly about feeling that we can connect deeply with our partners.
“I would like to see ‘sex’ re-defined as including kisses, cuddles and affection. By doing this, older people can enjoy a full and fabulous sex life, right through their lives.”
Mature Guide to Relationships, love and sex
The stats come as the Mature Times, alongside relationship advice gurus Relate, releases its newest guide designed to tackle issues surrounding relationships.
It aims to help nurture and develop existing relationships or help find new ones, revealing ways to make improvements in marriage, or help singletons plan a future relationship.
Alongside it gives practical, down to earth and humorous advice about sex, love and those “bumpy bits” of relationships.
Barbara, co-author of The Mature Times Guide to Relationships, Love and Sex added: “Those who took our survey said many of them ‘give up’ on sex as they get older.
“I hope the Mature Times Guide is the start of a lot more information and help for older singles and couples to refresh their existing relationships, or to be really brave and search for a new love in later life.”
Worryingly the study, of 1837 men and women aged over 50, found that a huge 48 per cent do not talk to anyone about their sex life, despite the fact 34 per cent said it was still very important.
The figures varied between men and women, with more than 54 per cent of females saying they did not talk to anyone – whereas just 44 per cent of males confessed they did not either.
Of those who did the research, 20 per cent of males chose to go online, but the figure is trumped by a massive 70 per cent of women who said they did not get information anywhere.
Only one per cent spoke to their family about issues, while another one per cent chose to browse online forums.
It is hoped the Guide can change the taboo surrounding love in the older generation and help relieve the loneliness felt by many.
Although the survey revealed that 66 per cent of respondents had been with their partner for more than 26 years, a huge 23 per cent said they no longer had a companion.
An overwhelming number of answers also indicated that although many were unable to engage in sex, they would if they could.
The study revealed that a third of those polled no longer had sex, or made love less than once a year.
Fewer than 19 per cent had sex more than once a week. Despite the revelations however the survey found that 20 per cent of men would rather engage in the activity more often.
On the other hand just nine per cent of women felt the same, while six per cent of men and women felt they had around the same amount of sex as when they were younger.
Of those who do continue to have sex as they get older many said feeling physically close to their partner was their reason.
For men however, 10 per cent, also said ‘having fun’ was also a huge part of their enjoyment.
A quarter of women said they had sex to express love for their partner and were overall fairly satisfied with their sex life.
Barbara added: “I was delighted to work with Mature Times on this important guide to relationships, love and sex in later life.
“At Relate, we have been focusing on the importance of relationships in later life, and we know that for many people, this is a key ingredient for enjoying this stage of life.”
You can order your copy of the guide by sending a cheque for £9.95 payable to Mature Times, to Mature Times Guides, Unit 6, Railway Wharf, Station Road, Wrington, Bristol BS40 5LL.
If you would prefer to pay by debit or credit card please call 01934 864410 during office hours and we will take your payment.