Why too-soon midlife sex is like non-fat food

A guy I started seeing a week ago and I were discussing the lessons we’ve learned about jumping in the sack too soon. I shared what I reported in “What women need from a man before having sex” — that women need to have an emotional connection to make the physical part satisfying. He asked why I didn’t think sex with a guy I’ve known just a week wasn’t satisfying. (He was teasing me, since we’d only been seeing each other a week.) I said:

It’s all just physical at that point, so early in the relationship. You don’t really know each other. I know, you’re saying, “What’s wrong with that?” It’s mechanical. While it can feel nice, it isn’t nearly as fantastic as when there’s an emotional connection. When you know what it feels like with the latter, the former just isn’t really worth it.

non-fat milkIt’s like non-fat milk after you’ve had whole milk. Or soy bacon after pork bacon. Or non-fat food after the real thing. Or imitation anything. You know what the real stuff feels/tastes like, and the other is just too far off to really make it worth it. If you have to partake in the fake stuff (because you’re on a diet, the real stuff isn’t available, or digestion problems), then you learn to tolerate — and in some situations even like — the substitute. But when you have no restrictions, you will only go for the real thing.

While I know there are exceptions when you’ve felt fantastically close to a guy within a few hours or dates, generally it takes a while to create a bond. And for some, albeit few, women that connection isn’t necessary. But from DG readers’ reports as well as the studies I’ve read, sex too soon is commonly unsatisfying for most midlife women. Even if you think you’re connected before going down that road — to the bedroom — you often exit the hay-rolling highway not feeling entirely happy. Something was missing.

One of the great things about midlife dating is you have more lessons from your history that inform your current decisions. You know how you felt in the past when something didn’t turn out like you wanted. You can now more easily delay gratification — at least presumed gratification — because you know what needs to be in place for you to feel the way you want. You can control your urges (at least let’s hope you can) much better than when you were younger. You have different motivations and can apply your hard-won wisdom to your behaviors.

In other words, you can wait until you have what you need before progressing. There’s no need to jump into bed just because you are hot for each other. You know there are other considerations beyond physical, sexual attraction. You are wiser and can dial back your animalistic desires for the benefit of longer-term payoffs.

What are the lessons you’ve learned about midlife sex before there’s been an emotional connection? What are the signs of that connection for you?

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40 responses to “Why too-soon midlife sex is like non-fat food”

  1. C Avatar

    What’s wrong with enjoying the purely physical, and then if the emotional connection follows, all the better. The comparison to fat-free doesn’t work for me, because I just don’t like fat-free. BUT, let’s look at it a different way. Getting to have a pizza with everything on it does not negate the fact that I’ve enjoyed cheese pizza from the same restaurant in the past. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?

  2. Mitsy Avatar

    I am not a woman who sleeps around nor do I view sex as something “casual”. It certainly is not for me. However, I did sleep with the one guy “Mark” WAY too soon (guy I was seeing over a year and a half ago). I did not wait for the “commitment” like I should have probably because he claimed he was “committed” way before he should have & in reality was not committed as he’s the guy who left town in May ’06 without bothering to even tell me. I beat myself up for letting myself get so enthralled with him before I should have. I think, at that point in time, I had not had sex in literally YEARS, and I really did think this guy and I would be together a very long time–I even had illusions of marriage at some point in time. However, I think it was partly that he was the guy showing me interest and I thought he was kind of good looking (was not the typical guy I’d go for as he was overweight). The sex, quite honestly, was not very good. This is the same guy who told me a couple months later that he was “too young for Viagra”.

    Let’s just say he was in denial about some of his problems. For starters, he was pretty heavy which was the reason his doctors believed he was diabetic (Type II which is usually weight related). He had virtually no sex drive from what I could see. That was AFTER telling me that he wanted it every couple days after we slept together the first time. Sex is certainly NOT the priority for me like it would be for some women and with that in mind, I felt very awkward and strange that he did not want me more often than every 7-10 days. It did not seem “normal” by any stretch of the imagination. I started to feel unattractive and not very important. Looking back, it really was HIS problem though. He DID need Viagra and he needed it big time. Need I say more? I think that was the reason he didn’t want sex more often–because he simply was not up to the job. But I cared more about him than about a hot sex life; I kept thinking that would get better once his diabetic condition got better. He got angry when I mentioned walking or exercising. I look back and regret wasting so much time on this man who eventually didn’t even have the guts to tell me he was going back to the estranged wife from hell.

    I’m sure his life is still miserable, but I am so thankful that he moved to a town where I would not be running into him. Strangely enough, it is his sister who I have become good friends with and still do things with. Her and her brother now are estranged and their family has been forever changed by some of his stupid and selfish decisions (some of which involved his daughter who was a sweet girl). I pity anyone who might get tangled up with this man should he decide to divorce the wife for good.

    I should have figured out sooner rather than later that if the sex doesn’t get better and they find reasons NOT to have it, that is a huge red flag. I did not want to see it in the beginning, but I should have been seeing the writing on the wall before I did. I do regret sleeping with this guy, but I have forgiven myself for the most part.

    It has made me appreciate my current guy a LOT more. Our intimate life is 100% better than anything I could have had with Mark. You live and learn, but I’d say it is better to wait on sex if what you really want is a committed relationship. Time will tell about the commitment. It isn’t what he says, but what he does (or doesn’t do) that is important.

  3. Dating Goddess Avatar


    You’re a guy, right?


  4. C Avatar

    Nope. I’m a 42-yr old woman, recently divorced from a man who, it turns out, had been cheating on me for 10 years. We’d been married for 14 years.

  5. C Avatar

    I wasted too many years with nothing to show for it, and now I want to live life to the fullest.

  6. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    I’m with C on this one. I used to feel as you did, but that was before I wasted 8 long years on a man who swore over and over that he wanted to make a commitment, he was going to make a commitment, and, eventually, he did – to someone else. I refuse to waste anymore time on men who say one thing and do another. I’ve spent the better part of the last 25 years being used and lied to by man after man, lived through heartbreak after heartbreak, until finally I realized, enough is enough.

    If I do wind up in a solid, fulfilling, monogamous love relationship, I do, (which I seriously doubt at this juncture, as most of the men I know are either married pigs who run around on their spouses, or single pigs who think the world owes them a humdred different sexual partners under the age of 30), but if I don’t, then why should I miss out on all the fun?

    At my age, I don’t have anymore time to waste waiting for the Prince – either his horse died or he lost the directions to my house a long time ago.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  7. C Avatar

    Bookyone: I think my prince must have been killed in a freak equestrian mishap.

  8. Gray Ghost Avatar
    Gray Ghost

    Hey DG,
    K, here’s one of the guys siding a bit with you. While I will freely admit that I’m not the most experienced guys out here, it seems that the majority of the relationships I’ve been in over the last 15’ish years (after my separation/divorce) started with sexual fireworks, but then petered out after 6 or more years when we found that we really didn’t have much in common and ‘fell out of lust’ with each other . Currently, I’m seeing a couple of different people when I can (LIFE is being very interesting at the moment in a “let’s keep Ghost out of the dating world for a while” kinda way), but really wanting to get the emotional/spiritual connection before going much further with them. Actually had a relatively deep conversation with each of the Ladies on that topic when I first met each of them. Later!!
    The Ghost

  9. C Avatar

    I don’t understand why “early” sex is preventative of a future satisfying relationship with the person. What I hear you guys saying is that its one or the other. Why can’t that relationship that starts as a physical attraction bloom into the love of your life?

  10. Dating Goddess Avatar


    You are describing me and my ex. We slept together within days of meeting each other. Our lust lasted 20 years. But it wasn’t enough to keep him around forever, as he felt there was a connection missing.I never fully understood that, since it was there for me.

    So I/we aren’t saying it *can’t* happen — just that for many of us now dating, we want more than just the physical connection. Yes, that part is important, but so is the emotional, intellectual and/or spiritual connection as well.

    Unless, of course, you both want just a booty call buddy. Which is perfectly fine.


    «Actually had a relatively deep conversation with each of the Ladies on that topic when I first met each of them.»

    This is so great! I love it when two mature adults are able to talk about this early on.

  11. Lulu Avatar

    Some men and women would rather be single and celibate than have an inappropriate sexual relationship, and by inappropriate I mean ‘not right’ or unsuitable.
    Sex is just sex, without emotional involvement and caring. While just sex feels OK as sensation, it often doesn’t bear much thinking about afterwards. Just sex isn’t really fun, because it is loaded with sub-texts – for instance, it can lead to an unfair judgement on women by men, the very same men who wanted a roll in the hay with you will deride you to their mates behind your back, because it’s still OK for men to be promiscuous and sexually free, but not for women. Let’s not forget as well that, at whatever age, women still hope for a love connection, while men can detach this need from the need for sex, in general. A man might groom a woman for sex by appearing interested in her long term, but quickly lose interest after having sex with her. This is not good news for women’s self esteem. Think carefully, C and Bookyone, because sex without affection and respect can leave you feeling lonelier than before.

  12. Mitsy Avatar

    I totally agree about feeling lonelier than before if you have sex without affection. That is why I’ve only slept with three men total in all my 47 years! Granted, one was a very long-term relationship, but I’d like to think that I saved some heartache because I refused to settle for casual sex when I wanted the caring, love and all the other things that go with a committed sexual relationship. Sometimes you fall in love before the sex and sometimes afterwards, but if it is not in there somewhere at some point, then it will end up being a heartbreaker for sure unless both parties know it is sex and sex only.

  13. nysharon Avatar

    I am one of those people who wouldn’t delay in hind sight often meant I jumped in too soon. Therefore I am happy this time around dating in midlife because I have a daughter. It is a built in safty net for me since I have an excuse to get home and helps me to say no a lot easier–to keep things in perspective. This time around I have learned that if I sleep with a man too early before I get to know him, I will sometimes make allowances on those yellow and red flag issues. I have also learned that men really do respect that much more. It is fun to either have a one night stand with no strings (fun and free) and not expect anything; or a sexual relationship that happens when it’s with someone I care about and know its real. I haven’t been good with anything in between. The “real thing” is better but its nice to have fun for one night, feel good about my sexual side and never think about it again.

  14. Lulu Avatar

    Mysharon, I’ve had the same experience of sensing red and yellow flags, but ignoring them in order to rush ahead with sex in a relationship. I hope I have learned at last to respect my instincts – there really is a still small voice we should listen to.

  15. Ally Avatar

    I think having sex without attachment is ‘missing out on all the fun’ and a waste. It’s not cheese pizza; it’s hardtak with cheez whiz.
    The other problem with having sex too early is that women have a release of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, during sex. So, even if you think the sex is just casual, your body betrays you into thinking afterwards that you might really like this guy.

    I have had sex like a man. I thought it was very liberating at first. At least I could see the appeal of it. But like I said, eventually my body said, ‘I want something more significant, and I’m not getting it by wasting my time with this.’

  16. nysharon Avatar

    btw: I have had a lot of experience and have had 30 plus lovers in my life. Some where shortterm, and some where long term relationships (married for 15 yrs). I guess those experiences brought me to the above insights. At this age, I feel better about sex and my body than I did at 30 or 20 something. It feels good to be in that place.

  17. Mitsy Avatar

    “…..but its nice to have fun for one night, feel good about my sexual side and never think about it again.”

    I guess that is not something I can relate to. I’m not a man and could never pretend to never think about it again. Maybe some men can and maybe some women can, but I have not met too many women who thought that way and had a lot of self-respect.

  18. LA Avatar

    I don’t understand the fuss over non-committed sex. If one can a willing partner and he/she is good at it, why not?

  19. Dating Goddess Avatar


    The point is to be clear on what satisfies you. If casual sex makes you happy, do it. But for many women, there needs to be some emotional connection to be fully satisfied. And without the connection, it is just an imitation of how great sex can be with someone you mutually care about. That was my point. But perhaps you’re someone who is fine with just the physicality.

  20. hunter Avatar

    to goddess,

    you two were lusty for twenty years? I know we prefer permanency, but, I would say, you good a fairly good run…….

  21. Rod Avatar

    This might sound strange, but I dont think I could ever engage in sex that didnt involve a serious commitment because I really believe that when you have sex, among other bonds you bond with that person on a spiritual level, whether you feel it or not… I think that a part of your ‘soul’ stays with every lover and you never really leave a lover completely. There is a part of them that is always with you and you with them. Every split, whether its an overnight stand or a long term marriage, involves a tearing of the soul, some shallow and some very deep.

    I think if I would jump in quickly just for gratification, it wouldnt just be unsatisfying, but that soon there wouldnt be a lot of my torn up soul left to give.

    Call me naive, but I also think thats why theres a lot of ‘non fat’ sex these days. People have given themselves away so many times that there’s not much soul left to give, and thus the loneliness and inability to feel truly satisfied.

    Sex is something special and its not just women who need a commitment to feel satisfied.

    (Geeez, I just reread what I wrote and I sound like a nun at a convent *violent head shake* Gotta change that up… ) SO, Miss Thirty Lovers, watcha doin’ tonight? *nink, nink, wudge, wudge*

    There. That’s better. *grin*

  22. Mitsy Avatar

    Rod, you sound like a great guy! Too bad I haven’t found more guys like you here in the mid-west! :0

  23. nysharon Avatar

    Rod–How sad to think of it that way.
    I have a lot of soul (more soul in fact) and it has been enriched by the people that have come into my life not torn it down. I am happy and not lonely, and yes I have great self respect. Having sex with someone you love is always better. I think the people that are lonely are the ones who engage in casual sex and hope it will lead to something more.
    BTW: I am not doing anything tonight.*grin*

  24. Cosmos Avatar

    Sex takes place in the head, not elsewhere! Human sex has all to do with emotions on both sides.

  25. greendaze44 Avatar

    Ok, I was molested by 5 different males before the age of 13. I became a promiscuous as a teenager, mistaking sex as love and then ended up marrying someone who was a child molester. (Who has been in jail for 15 years now. And I divorced after a 1 1/2 of marriage.)

    I had sex with many men before I remarried 7 years later. The man I ended up marrying for my second marriage, we slept together after dating 3 weeks. We dated for a year, live together for a year and then married. We’ve been married 10 years. When we were dating, he was good in bed. Over time he got to where he couldn’t even keep a hard on for very long before he had orgasm. He also did not meet my emotional needs, so I became very lonely, and didn’t even really want to have sex with him anyway. So it was fine, that it didn’t last very long.

    I knew this one girl that said she wanted to get married b\c she was tired of being lonely. I told her it is also very lonely being married to the wrong person. It took several years for me to finally leave my husband. Which I just did in August. And for the first time in my life, I want to have sex to gratify me, not to gratify someone else. I was always trying to get someone to love me with giving them sex. I’m 45 years old and am tired of pleasing everyone else. It’s time to please me!

    So I’ve said all this to say this, First of all, where all in different places in our life emotionally. And what’s good for one person, isn’t good for another. Right now, I just want some GOOD sex and no commitments. I want to have fun and not worry if I’m sweet enough or good enough or anything else for someone else. I just want to be me. And I’m finally ready to do that. But at some point I may want to get remarried, but I don’t know if it will be with someone I will have sex with quickly or take our time. Things happen as we need them too, I guess. I figure that’s what we learn everyday.

  26. Lulu Avatar

    Greendaze44, how about no sex at all? What about taking time for yourself and trying to understand how the sexual abuse you suffered has affected the adult you? Your emphasis on sex instead of love might be saying a lot about the state of your heart and your more profound needs. I don’t think you’ll find the answers in more sex.

  27. Mitsy Avatar

    Quite honestly, a one night stand is not what I’d call “good sex”. If a woman does not want to be viewed as a slut, why even talk like that?? I mean really..if it’s a good relationship a person is seeking, being slutty isn’t going to help you find that person. And what decent guy wants a woman who sleeps around? Can you say “ho”?

    What is in the past is in the past and learning from those mistakes should not mean making the same mistakes over and over again. There’s a difference between doing things for yourself in order to build yourself up and there’s living your life throwing caution to the wind. Reputation should matter to a woman of substance, but if it doesn’t, the very least you should be thinking of is perhaps, AIDS among other various STD’s around. Your life is not worth gambling for just a roll in the hay.

  28. hunter Avatar


    While at a recent seminar, the word slut, was mentioned. According to the female therapist,,,, men don’t call women sluts,,,,,,,,, other women do. She went on to say, because some women, never sowed oats,(in their youth),,,,,,,,,,, they may have a need to get out and learn their lesson later in life…….

  29. Lulu Avatar

    I feel there should be a word to describe promiscuous men which has the same connotation as the word ‘slut’, which is a harsh, cold description and I’ve heard more men use it about women than women use it about women.
    I believe men are far crueller in their use and abuse of females for sex, than vice versa, but this is not acknowledged as readily by society as a whole. There are many lessons to learn, and it doesn’t get any easier.

  30. Mitsy Avatar

    I’ve heard both men and women use this word in describing women who think one-night stands are A-OK but also pretend that they will find a decent guy later in spite of their juvenile and irresponsible behavior. But, then I would also not want a guy who had previously slept around a lot either. I’m sure there are double-standards, but in my book, being promiscuous is never an option and those who subscribe to that being OK will have to live with whatever “label” society wants to give them.

  31. greendaze44 Avatar

    Oh, I thought we were mid-life adults, not high schoolers. I certainly didn’t expect to be judged as a slut. I didn’t put my thoughts here for you to judge me, because what I put on this blog are my thoughts of Too Soon Mid-Life Sex. You don’t know my whole story, it is but a condensed version of what has gone on. But I also don’t have hang-ups about my sexuality. Women can be strong and aggressive without being thought of as sluts or bitches. I think that is a lot of what our society has a problem with – what our roles as men and women are in these days and times.

    I am into the “no sex at all” stage. Yes, most of my life I have always been with someone and it is very refreshing to just be ALONE in my house, being totally control of me and my time and where it is spent. And spending time with my 2 wonderful daughters. Yes, I have been screwed over by love many times and it is time to love myself before I am ready for a relationship again. Right now a realtionship is the last thing I want. I want my freedom! By saying I’ve been screwed over by love, I’m not trying to play the victim part, I’m saying that my dad even to this day is not a loving person. I never do anything right, his way is always better, never tells me he loves me, even though I tell him. All through my childhood, men and boys used and abused me sexually and then I was the one called the slut and whore in school, not them. I was moved every year or two as I grew up, so I was always the “new kid”, which meant I usually ended up with the bad crowd. And YES
    I have heard the word “ho”. And I will practice “safe sex”, when I feel like I want to have sex with someone. Jeez, lighten up!
    At 45 years old I have come to terms with a lot of things in my life. I still have many things to learn and stages of life to go through. It took several years of being unhappy in my marriage to even leave my husband, but it was very empowering to take control of my happiness. And I choose to be empowering to other women too. Women have been judged and put down and left in awful positions in life and I want to be a part of women supporting each other through love, sexuality and life.

  32. Lulu Avatar

    Greendaze44: I think it was brave of you to share so much about your life. Words like ‘ho’ and ‘slut’ are male judgements about women, and women should have more respect and self-esteem than to use them against their sisters.
    What you shared with us about your history was powerful stuff, and most people reading it haven’t acknowledged it, and don’t know how to deal with it. You have a history of sexual abuse, and this needs to be acknowledged and helped, not just for your own self-esteem and development but so that you can pass on to your daughters the ability to find love, and not to expect ill-treatment at the hands of men. I hope you are able to find some counselling, to help you understand what happened to you, and i hope you can find a decent man to love – but as you say, to love yourself is the first target, for all of us, and I think you are on the way to achieving that. Good luck with all this, and thank you again for being brave, and vulnerable, enough to share your history with us.

  33. greendaze44 Avatar

    Thank you, Lulu, for being supportive! I feel that positive reinforcement is always the best form of motivation and support! I think we’ve all heard enough negative, it’s time we be more positive.

  34. nysharon Avatar

    Misty, remember me, 30plus? You said “pretend that they will find a decent guy later in spite of their juvenile and irresponsible behavior”. Well I am in a relationship with a guy (very decent) that is great. He adores me for all that I have brought to our relationship, including the full life I have lead and the passion I bring him. I am a 50 year old seasoned woman who can die tomorrow and feel like I have lived life fully. It is more juvenile and irresponsible to be critical of others. Actually it is sad that you believe that your way is the only way and usually reveals that there is envy since you aren’t free to do what others can do because there is no gray areas

  35. miraladiva Avatar

    It took me 25+ years to figure out that there is a definite difference between physical sex and the mind-body connection kind of sex. I still have 40+ friends that talk about “getting laid”. I feel sorry for them. Even though they explain it away as at least they are getting “some”, I see the confusion and frustration of trying to turn a roll in the hay into something meaningful. I’ve yet to see it work. In the process of trying to be like many men, I see some of my 40 + sisters confusing being sexually liberated with being emotionally satisfied. Women are just not wired that way, unfortunately.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it, more than I care to think about. But there came a point where I had to admit, that I have too much to offer, intimately and personally. And yes, i felt like I was serving a chocolate ganache for dessert after a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. Something was missing.

  36. hunter Avatar

    to miraladiva,

    …..not knowing(at an early age),, ” a difference between physical sex and a mind body connection kind of sex,” isn’t that one of god’s biggest jokes, just to keep this place populated?………..we almost have to think that way, just to maintain our sanity…….

  37. hunter Avatar

    to miraladiva,

    …..whatever your 40+ sisters do, with their bodies, is very personal….

  38. miraladiva Avatar


    What any of us do with our bodies is personal. But again, that doesn’t negate how it sometimes gets translated by our minds and emotions.

    One of the reasons, BTW, that I’ve been very clear with my own teenage daughter, about the emotional consequences of having sex at a young age and too casually. At least, these are my observations and conclusions.

  39. hunter Avatar

    to miraladiva

    …I agree with you ,,,, however,,,, I would not be here now, had it not been for teenagers living together 50+ years ago….

  40. lilybeth Avatar

    Well, dg bloggers I’ve been reading your ideas. Some are quite insightful. I agree with Greendaze 44. Hey girl. You are brave. I like that. A woman being called names i really don’t care. I will do what pleases me and nobody has to know it. Our values whether moral or otherwise changes overtimes. And at this point in life judge by others are no credence to me.
    Some of us are wired differently and has different life and moral values in some point in our life. As long as you know what you want and draw the line what is acceptable to you and know what the consequences are why should we feel guilty about it?