Dating singles age 45+ are happier with their sex lives than married couples but often do not practice safe sex, says new study.
The headline from the press release for a newly released study from AARP certainly shows a negative bias against single people, but the actual results indicate that sexual activity continues to thrive with the 45+ demographic, according to “Sex, Romance, and Relationships: AARP Survey of Midlife and Older Adults,” released on Friday, May 7, 2010.
The study found that singles age 45+ show a higher satisfaction rate and have more sex than married couples in the same age group. However, they 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. The study adds that although rates of sexually transmitted diseases are not high, they are not absent either.
“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.”
Singles vs. Married Couples
Sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction are higher among unmarried and dating (or engaged men and women) than among married couples.
- 48 percent of dating singles surveyed have sexual intercourse at least once a week, compared to 36 percent of married couples.
- 60 percent of single daters are satisfied with their sex lives while roughly only 52 percent 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 percent) and more than half (53 percent) say their relationship is extremely or very satisfying emotionally.
Money Woes = Sexual Lows?
The recession and the stress that comes from financial anxiety have depressed sexual appetite and sexual performance of the 45+ demographic. A worse financial situation is listed third — right behind health and stress — as having a negative impact on sexual satisfaction, with 26 percent of men and 14 percent of women saying better finances would improve their current satisfaction.
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 percent over the last ten years (41 percent in 1999 vs. 22 percent today). Fewer than one in 20 people age 45+ believe that sex is only for younger people.
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 percent vs. 8 percent — 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 percent versus 19 percent).
Sexual satisfaction declines dramatically with age with male satisfaction dropping from 60 percent satisfaction at ages 45-49 to 26 percent for people 70+. Women start at lower numbers with a 48 percent satisfaction rate among women ages 45-49 vs. 27 percent 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 percent of men and 61 percent of women say this is so).
Moreover, the highest single predictor of sexual satisfaction is the frequency of intercourse. More than once a week seems to be the key with 84 percent of people who have sex at least once a week reporting they are satisfied, compared with 59 percent of those who engage in intercourse just once or twice a month.