Sex & Relationships

As AARP's sex and relationship expert, Pepper Schwartz aims to improve the lives of the age-50-plus audience by enhancing their relationships and offering counsel on everything from sex and health issues to communication and dating.

No Long-Term Relationships (Yet)

Q: I am almost 65 years old and have never been married. My longest relationship lasted 10 months, right after I turned 40. Since then, I’ve done some online dating, and like the prospect of finding a partner.  But I’m wondering if it’s possible to find a long-term relationship at this stage of life?  (You should also know that I’ve had five years of therapy that has made a huge difference in my life, and that my two sisters have …

A Renewed Sense of Self After Cancer

Q: My wife lost a breast to cancer. Chemotherapy took six months, during which she basically lay on the couch and had no energy. It’s now 16 months after chemo and she’s still on the couch. I can’t get her to get up and do much of anything, including sex. We have no money to do any traveling since Social Security is all we get. Any ideas? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: She sounds as if she might be depressed. It is …

Making Sex Enjoyable Again

Q: My husband is 50. For some years he has been unable to have an orgasm during intercourse. He can get and maintain an erection for a reasonable amount of time, however. Neither of us get much pleasure from sex as a result, and avoid it because it ends with disappointment. Is there anything we can do to facilitate the orgasm? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: Yes, but you need to go to a doctor to find out exactly what is causing …

Breaking Up, Boomer Edition

Q: After my wife died three years ago, I reconnected with a woman I’d known in high school. I gave her a ring on Valentine’s Day 2009. Three months later, she died of a massive stroke. That came on the heels of my my father’s death three months earlier. Since then, I have been having extreme bouts of loneliness.  I’m now dating three women, one of whom I especially like. But I’m not sure the feeling is reciprocated. What should I do? I …

How to Handle the Anti-Cuddler

Q: I’m in my 60s and still want to snuggle up to my wife. She doesn’t want any part of it and says she’s not in the mood. What do you say about this? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: Is she always not in the mood? Or just sometimes? If it’s always, that’s very serious, because the 60s are no time to cut out sex and cuddling altogether. Married people have every right to assume that the pledge to monogamy includes sex …

How to Talk Honestly About Sex Over 50

Q: I’m a 68-year-old widower and have decided to start dating again. I use a vacuum pump to achieve an erection since I have erectile dysfunction caused by long-term diabetes. When do I tell a prospective partner about this? Surprising her with this when things are about to get “hot and heavy” doesn’t seem like a very good idea. My deceased wife was my only partner using this device. She was fine with it, but I have no idea how …