Americans 45+ Continue the Sexual Revolution into the Second Half of Life without Taking Precautions About STDs; Dating Singles Age 45+ Are Happier with their Sex Lives than Married Couples; Sexually Active Adults Increase Chances of Living Longer
WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sexual activity continues to thrive with the 45+ demographic according to a new AARP sex survey, Sex, Romance, and Relationships: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults, released today. However, older adults are not necessarily practicing what they preach to younger generations, with results showing a low use of protection among sexually active dating singles with only one in five reporting use of condoms regularly. Though rates of sexually transmitted diseases are not high, they are not absent either. Additionally, contrary to what one may think, singles age 45+ show a higher satisfaction rate and have more sex than married couples in the same age group.
"Older Americans are staying sexually active, showing that you don't have to be young to have a great sex life," says AARP's Love & Relationships Ambassador, Dr. Pepper Schwartz. "What is worrisome is that aging Americans are endangering their health by not practicing safe sex so reinforcing that the use of protection is important at any age is critical."
Money Woes = Sexual Lows?
The recession and the stress that comes from financial anxiety has had a deflationary effect and temporarily depressed sexual appetite and performance of the 45+ demographic. A worse financial situation is listed third—right behind health and stress—as changes people say have negatively impacted their sexual satisfaction, with 26% of men and 14% of women saying better finances would help improve their current satisfaction—up from 17% of men and 9% of women in 2004.
Sexual Attitudes, Thoughts, and Behaviors
Respondents ages 45-59 are generally more sexual than those ages 60+; these younger respondents have sexual thoughts more often and engage in sexual activities much more frequently than their older counterparts. Attitudes towards sex have also changed with opposition to singles having sex decreasing by nearly 50% over the last ten years (41% in 1999 vs. 22% today) and fewer than one in 20 people age 45+ believe that sex is only for younger people. However, overall sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction with this same demographic have decreased slightly since 2004.
Men vs. Women
Men still trump women when it comes to the prioritization of sex in their lives
- Men think about sex more than women (Men are more than five times as likely as women—45% vs. 8%—to say they think of sex once or more every day; men also rank sex higher on the list of what makes for a high quality of life.
- Men have sex more often, more men than women have partners, and single men without partners are less satisfied with their sex lives than women in the same situation. (27% versus 19%).
Singles vs. Married Couples
Respondents who have a regular sexual partner have vastly different attitudes than those who do not have one—not only about sex but also toward their outlook on life. Partnered respondents report dramatically higher overall quality of life at the current time as well as both in the past and in their expected future. Sex plays a more critical role in their relationships and quality of life. Sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction are higher among unmarried and dating (or engaged men and women) than among married couples.
- 48% of dating singles surveyed have sexual intercourse at least once a week, compared to 36% of married couples.
- 60% of single daters are satisfied with their sex lives while roughly only 52% of married couples hit that mark.
- In general, about half of everyone with a partner reported that their relationship is extremely or very pleasurable physically (51 %) and more than half (53%) say their relationship is extremely or very satisfying emotionally.
Sexual satisfaction declines dramatically with age with male satisfaction dropping from 60% satisfaction at ages 45-49 to 26% for people 70+. Women start at lower numbers with a 48% satisfaction rate among women ages 45-49 vs. 27% at age 70+.
The Bottom Line
For a majority of midlife and older adults, sex is a necessary component to living a happy and healthy life, and sexual satisfaction plays a critical role in relationships and overall quality of life (85% of men and 61% of women say this is so). Moreover,
- 57% of those with a sex partner reported they are at least somewhat satisfied compared to 15% of those without a partner
- More than half of the people who reported that their health was "excellent" or "very good" were satisfied with their sex lives, and 36% said they were "extremely satisfied".
- The highest single predictor of sexual satisfaction is the frequency of intercourse
- More than once a week seems to be the key with 84% of people who have sex at least once a week reporting they are satisfied, compared with 59% of those who engage in intercourse just once or twice a month.
On behalf of AARP, Knowledge Networks surveyed 1,670 adults ages 45 and older in August of 2009 via a telephone recruited online panel. The survey was administered in both English and Spanish, and included an over-sample of 500 Hispanics, for a total of 630 Hispanic respondents. The Knowledge Networks online panel is the first online research panel that is representative of the entire U.S. population. Panel members are randomly recruited by probability based sampling, and households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed.
This is the third survey that AARP has completed on this topic over the past 10 years, with earlier surveys in 1999 and 2004. The complete report is available at: http://www.aarp.org/research/surveys/life/lifestyle/relations/articles/srr_09.html. Additional information on love and relationships from Dr. Schwartz is available at www.aarp.org/relationships.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, AARP's Love & Relationships Ambassador, has written 16 books on the dating habits and sensuality of couples and singles. Her mission is to improve the lives of aging boomers and the 50+ audience by enhancing their relationships and offering counsel on everything from sex and health issues to communication and dating in midlife and beyond. Pepper is a professor at the University of Washington. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Washington University and received a master's degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University. Dr. Schwartz is available for interviews upon request.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.