Men: How has your sex drive changed over the last decade?
January 10, 2022 3:42 AM   Subscribe

Roughly how old are you, and how has your libido changed over the last several years? How do you experience your sexuality at this stage of your life and how does it differ to (up to) ten years ago?

(Answers welcome from anyone, but I’m personally interested in hearing from people who have now and were born with a penis and testicles because this is closest to my experience. I hesitated to put “Men” in the title because not all men have a penis and testicles, and some people who aren’t men do have them, but I decided to include it and write this explanation here. Feedback on this choice is welcome.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: I'm 38.

At 28, I was married, and did not really ever want to have sex. It was something I did to please my partner. This (understandably!) upset her a lot, and I think was a big part of why she was ok with us breaking up (I wanted to leave for other reasons). I wasn't the kind of person to cheat, and sex with that person felt... incest-y, somehow, so I just - didn't really think about sex at all.

At 30 I divorced, and from 30-36, I discovered sex I really liked, and partners I wanted to have it with. I learned to embrace my sexuality (I'm into an, um, "primal" dynamic) and not to feel ashamed of it - it was strange learning that something I'd always seen as strongly at odds with my feminism was in fact a majority-female interest! But I still experienced libido as a burden in other ways - I spent a lot of time chasing sex, and new partners to have it with, in ways that weren't at all compatible with my values. I'd spend 3 or 4 evenings every week going on first dates with people I found quite dull, trying to make them laugh, telling stories I'd told a lot of times before, drinking alcohol which I don't enjoy and touching shoulders which I don't condone, because what they had (a body I hadn't seen naked) was to me in that moment unbearably valuable. After a year or so, I didn't even enjoy the actual sex that much, but being desired was so compelling and irresistible that it became the core of my life pretty quickly. I try to love all the parts that make up me, but my libido was the least charming and most tyrannical by a long way, and I found it hard to forgive it sometimes - it refused to co-operate with anything else that I cared about, esteemed or wanted. But I *was* desired, and that did feel wonderful, I shouldn't deny that - despite everything, this was a happy time.

Towards the end of that period, I met someone I couldn't have a conversation with at all, and whose values were totally opposed to mine, and who found me as compelling and upsetting as I found her, and for two years we made each other very upset and confused, and we never got bored of sex at all, and we tried very hard to be kind to each other and failed completely. I miss it. I think that's the best I've ever felt about sex. Sex was what we had - in a way it was all we had - and we talked a lot about how we were ruining each other for other people, and were right, I think.

After that there was another relationship in its shadow, and the pandemic, and there was some more sex I didn't want to have, mostly in mini-relationships to please the other person but sometimes with strangers, to feel desired, and then I decided I was done with it, and for the last 4 months I've done a decent job of sticking to that.
posted by wattle at 5:25 AM on January 10, 2022 [20 favorites]

(Reading this question back, it's embarrassingly possible that I've written this essay in response to a prompt that was just asking "how often do you masturbate and has it changed as you've gotten older?". It basically hasn't, for whatever that's worth.)
posted by wattle at 5:33 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 38 year old man here.

I think my sex drive has remained similar since I was younger, but now I have much more experience and confidence in what sex means and can be for me. So i enjoy sex a lot more now, and have a lot more sex, and a lot more satisfying sex.

I think my sex drive was somewhat supressed when I was younger, and in a long term relationship. Long story.
posted by 0bvious at 6:01 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 53 y-o cis male here.

In terms of libido, I don't find myself less sexually interested than in the past, but I don't have the patience, desire, or physicality to have marathon sex sessions anymore. Like seriously, ten minutes is good. But the desire to has not waned over the decades. I expect it will as I add on another decade or two.
posted by archimago at 8:57 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 64 year old here.

This is a really hard question to answer without writing a novella. I suppose the short explanation is, the older you get, the more you come to understand the truth of "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." I can't say that my desire has waned. It's just that my mental and physical vitality has seen better days.

Age visits myriad insults to your body and mind. The small aches, pains, stiffness, worries, concerns, etc. add up over time. And, there is also your partner, who has their own checklist of accumulated weaknesses and concerns. Combined, you find yourselves deciding to simply retire and read a book or watch tv rather than engage in an experiment of "which position hurts least for you?"
posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2022 [20 favorites]

46 year old cis-het male. Married for 23 years. No sex for the last 4-ish years. Not a great marriage and intimacy and physical displays of affection are the victims. For now it is easier to be un-desired and un-sexed than un-married.

How do you experience your sexuality at this stage of your life and how does it differ to (up to) ten years ago? As a never-ending, deeply frustrating, absence. My body and mind are just as or more willing than 10 years ago, just nowhere to focus those desires.
posted by sp_w at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

42yo CisHet male...married almost 12 years.
My libido hasn't changed much at all. My wife's libido, on the other hand, is almost zero now. We have sex maybe once a month if I get lucky. I don't bother trying anymore and just wait until she's in the mood and makes the move...I utilize the "manual override" method to get my needs met otherwise. This is the path of least resistance to maintain an otherwise great partnership.
posted by schyler523 at 10:10 AM on January 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Early 50s, recently married - with the same partner going on 6 years. Serial monogamist for many years before that.

Things are good and frequent in that department, though I've definitely noticed less... urgency? Intensity? when it comes to my libido, overall. Like, in my 30s or 40s if a week went by without any intimacy, especially when unpartnered that was sort of at the top of mind. (Not as bad as my teens or 20s, though. My sex drive was just ridiculous.)

Things are still flirty and fun, though we're not like... trying every page in the Kama Sutra or whatever. I'd say (and hope my wife agrees) that we are well-matched, libido-wise, and have a satisfying romantic life. Probably a bit less spontaneous than we'd both prefer since we're not alone in the house much (parenting + pandemic add some complications to things) but that's not related to age or libido, really.
posted by jzb at 10:46 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Male, 61, married just about five years, partnered for 9 1/2.

My libido hasn't changed substantially in the last ten years. I'm lucky enough to be well-matched with my partner both emotionally and physically. Some minor issues related to age, but I think of myself as having a satisfying sex life.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 11:28 AM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Cis-het male who will turn 50 years old in about 45 minutes, as luck would have it.

I'm still as horny, on average, as I've ever been but probably having a little less sex than when I was younger, simply because both my partner and I are more tired after a day of work. However, we are both very lucky in that our chemistry is extremely good. So at least once a week, we have the kind of sex that some people might only have once or twice in their lives. We met in 2008, and while the frequency has diminished, the quality has not. In fact, we often choose not to have sex because we know we'll both be zombies the next day.

Contrast that with the lady friend I had before that, where the sex was terrible, I'd last ten minutes. That relationship lasted way too long considering how miserable we both made each other.

In my 20's and early 30's, I wondered if I might have a sex addiction problem sometimes, but came to realize I'm just a very horny person most of the time. I sure hope things go on like they are now for as long as possible.
posted by vrakatar at 11:47 AM on January 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: 33 year old queer trans guy here for the non cishet perspective.

Before I began my medical transition, I had a fairly moderate-low libido. I was into things but I didn't mind much when I had a dry spell. After starting T and my second puberty, I have, well.. the libido of a teenage boy. During the first 6 months or so it was actually physically inconvenient. Even now I find myself thinking about sex pretty much constantly. It's both a little alarming and really fun, though it's also created some new stresses with my long-term partner (cis guy in his 30's) who has a pretty low libido due to his medication. I'm also starting to see the beginning of the "spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" phase (how I wish I'd started transitioning in my 20's when I had energy).
posted by fight or flight at 12:09 PM on January 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: 60-year-old cis guy here. Recently married, but in a relationship for the past four years, single for about five years before that and a 17-year relationship prior. I don't think my sex drive has changed all that much over the years, although I find I'm inclined to not think about sex for periods of up to a week at a time, then can't stop thinking about it for a while. Ten years ago I thought about it all the time.

Now that worries about pregnancy are gone, though, I do find I enjoy sex a bit more due to not having to think about the risk.
posted by dg at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I’m 47, a cisgender male married for more than 20 years.

If there’s a theme to the changes in my libido over the past ten years, it’s that I’ve become far more sensitive to the world at large outside my relationship. That’s been almost universally deleterious to the quality and frequency of our sexual relationship.

The aftermath of Sandy Hook was when I gave up hope that the United States would pass meaningful gun control legislation in my lifetime.

Donald Trump and his coterie of grotesque lickspittles and failsons reinforced for me the pervasiveness of racism and misogyny in American culture. I’ve internalized a lot of misandry during the Trump years, as I’ve seen men who look like me lead the country on a ruinous path. That has translated to low self-esteem and self-regard, which translates to poor self-confidence and, in my case, a dramatically lower interest in sex.

During the pandemic, the experience of being cooped up 24/7/365 with my spouse has been counterproductive to feelings of spontaneity, novelty, and desire.

My spouse is in the midst of perimenopause and is experiencing some physical challenges and discomfort with sex that weren’t present earlier.

We’ve been dealing with normal midlife issues, such as assisting our aging parents - one of whom narrowly survived cancer treatment - and parenting our teenage children - one of whom has come out recently as transgender.

It’s all been overwhelming in a way that it wasn’t 10 years ago. Maybe things really are worse now, maybe not, but they certainly feel worse. As the quality of my mood and overall life have dropped in recent years, I don’t find it surprising that my interest in sex has waned substantially as well. I’ll hope for some sort of rebound once I start to exit the bottom of the Jonathan Rauch “U” curve, but I’m not holding my breath.
posted by cheapskatebay at 4:12 PM on January 10, 2022 [11 favorites]

48, cis het, my wife is also a MeFite, so this might spark some interesting conversations at home!

Great marriage and massive amounts of respect and love. Not a lot of sex, especially for the last couple years, and that's mostly with me but at least partially due to a mutual interest in going to bed early, and slightly divergent night schedules -- my wife is usually in bed 20-30 minutes before me. If we were madly into sex this wouldn't be an impediment, but strongly in the category of "we're not determined so it's an easy excuse."

The key issue here is I was quite fit until about a decade ago, broke my foot, couldn't run, put on a ton of weight and have been dealing with a lot of physical self-confidence issues. It's really done a number on my bedroom confidence, especially as I lurch toward 50.

Getting our groove back is actually a 2022 not-a-resolution-but-kinda for us. Coupled with some better approaches to both food and fitness. I'm confident we'll be rebounding this year.
posted by Shepherd at 4:26 PM on January 10, 2022

Best answer: 41 year old guy, cis/gay/asexual here.

My libido has always been fairly low, but sex has changed a lot for me over the past 10 years. In my 20s and 30s I would try and make myself “be normal” and enjoy sex, which led to me feeling pretty resentful about the whole thing and only reinforced my lack of desire.

The past few years have seen me go back to square one and think about what I do enjoy about sex, and despite my asexuality there are a surprising number of things — I like the close physical contact (I’m very tactile in general) and the associated emotional intensity, as well as seeing my partners…well…have a good time. So by letting go of trying to enjoy sex on “normal” terms, and being honest with myself (and the people I’m with) about what I actually enjoy, I’ve found sex to be way better now than it was 10 years ago. This in turn has made me want it more, so I sort of have an increased libido.

It does require having some slightly-awkward conversations with people, explaining that I won’t react with the usual enthusiasm for sex, but assuring them that I will be enjoying it regardless. Some people find that to be incompatible with their sexual needs (usually if they are very much into pleasing the other person during sex), but for some it meshes really well. Not sure if the OP can relate to any of that, but there you go.
posted by rtfmf at 4:28 PM on January 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm 40 and single. My perception of my libido is that the underlying drive is about the same as when I was 30, but it's more affected by external factors, similar to what cheapskatebay describes in his comment. I have a more stressful professional life than I did when I was 30, and there are also family issues (mostly an aging parent with a lot of problems) that up my stress level as well and diminish my interest in pursuing any kind of sexual pleasure. (I also feel like having "too tired to masturbate" days is a life milestone I'm not thrilled about hitting...)

During the low-stress ebbs, though, I can still feel a pretty decent sex drive. I masturbate every other day on average and I feel like that's been true since early adulthood, just with periods where that's lower (due to stress) or higher (due to being more relaxed).
posted by Kosh at 4:48 AM on January 11, 2022

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