Why do midlife daters have sex?

lovers sculptureNo doubt you’ve heard of the study released a few days ago from University of Texas at Austin psychology researchers David Buss, Ph.D. and Cindy Meston, Ph.D. on why human beings have sex.

However, upon closer examination, I see that the study was based mostly on undergraduate students (1500 of the 1900 subjects were students; approx. 400 were from a separate study of men and women aged 17-52). It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that college students have sex for reasons that, hopefully, don’t exactly parallel people over 40. Only a PR person would universalize the results into the headline of the release, “Why Do People Have Sex?”

midlife lover sculptureThe Texas psychologists identified four major factors and 13 sub-factors for why people (e.g., college students) have sex:

  • Physical reasons such as to reduce stress (“It seemed like good exercise”), feel pleasure (“It’s exciting”), improve or expand experiences (“I was curious about sex”), and the physical desirability of their partner (“The person was a good dancer”). While we could agree with “It’s exciting,” are midlife daters comparably curious about sex? I doubt it. And I doubt they commonly have sex with someone because of their partner’s dancing prowess. Possibly, but probably not frequently, otherwise midlife men and women would be stampeding Arthur Murray dance studios. “It seemed like good exercise”? Please. This reasoning is for those who hate to pump iron, but think they can boff to get buff.
  • Goal-based reasons, including utilitarian or practical considerations (“I wanted to have a baby”), social status (“I wanted to be popular”) and revenge (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”). All of these examples are immature. Hopefully no reasonably intelligent and psychologically sound midlifer would consider these adequate reasons. If you are sane and mature, you know that getting pregnant with someone you don’t desire to be with long-term, or haven’t discussed their co-parenting, is asking for a heap of hurt. And while I know that sex has brought people social status by sleeping with someone in a higher social strata so they can assume that person’s lifestyle, it is often short lived. And anyone who purposefully transmits an STD should have the parts involved with this transfer removed. Without anesthesia.
  • Emotional reasons such as love and commitment (“I wanted to feel connected”) and expression (“I wanted to say ‘thank you’”). Emotional reasons, yes. I wanted to say “thank you”? Send a card!
  • Insecurity-based reasons, including self-esteem (“I wanted the attention”), a feeling of duty or pressure (“My partner kept insisting”) and to guard a mate (“I wanted to keep my partner from straying”). Yes, even midlife daters can suffer from self-esteem issues. Yes, some have sex for the same reason as these college students: “I wanted the attention.” Or perhaps “I was afraid if I didn’t have sex with him he’d stop calling.” Same with duty or pressure: “We’d reached the third (or some arbitrary number) date and I knew he expected it, or had ‘earned’ it.” And yes, to try to secure someone’s loyalty seems a reason without age limits.

Why do you think midlife daters have sex? Which of the above reasons correspond to midlifers and which reasons are different for us?

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2 responses to “Why do midlife daters have sex?”

  1. Barry Avatar

    The billing of the study as “Why . . .” makes me laugh and, of course, DG’s review makes me smile. I figure, if there are two people having sex together then there are probably more reasons, some they are aware of and some they are not, than I have fingers, toes, and various other appendages, etc. Did the study mention anything about expressions of power (this kind of goes in the self-esteem/insecurity group)? Other reasons that might have been listed include, “Why not” or “We didn’t know what else to do and this was pretty natural” or “I was drunk and didn’t feel like making a scene” or “What else do people do” and so on. From what I have seen, age has little to do with the reasons just as age has little to do with maturity, which I am not sure is monolithic. Some people are pretty “mature” in some areas and less so in others – oooooooo, this just leads into a nasty diatribe (whatever that means, though it sounds good).

  2. Gatti Avatar

    A male friend of mine says that women give sex to get love and men give love to get sex, but this may be a wee bit simplistic…