How the free lovers turned fuddy-duddy

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The Independent Online

As part of the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, and Pill-taking generation of the Sixties and Seventies, you'd imagine today's middle-aged to be pretty sexually liberated. As an agony aunt in the early Seventies, I received hundreds more letters about sex than I do today.

As part of the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, and Pill-taking generation of the Sixties and Seventies, you'd imagine today's middle-aged to be pretty sexually liberated. As an agony aunt in the early Seventies, I received hundreds more letters about sex than I do today.

But if they let it all hang out when they were young, they're certainly stuffing it all back in now they're middle aged. Our forty-to-sixties were a bit on the fuddy-duddy side, sexually.

Of course, their parents were probably quite hung-up about sex, and these lasting inhibitions can often stay with us, exhibiting themselves more clearly as we grow older. Two-thirds of our group weren't allowed to share a bed with their girlfriend at home, and a quarter of them had their first sex between the ages of 21 and 25. They were the most conservative group when it came to whether women should always take the initiative in sex. And they were the biggest group to think that there's too much sex in the media. They also feel most inhibited talking about sex to their friends.

Three-quarters of them, too, never have one-night-stands. And middle-aged respondents were least likely to think about experimenting with people of their own sex just to see what it would be like.

However, little blips of extraordinary sauciness came popping through in our survey. An astonishing 19 per cent have had over 30 sexual partners. True (and oddly), a greater proportion of them were likely to have had sex on a train or sex with a stranger, and have become more involved in fantasy sex and sexual photography than any other group.

There were also just as many homosexuals and bi-sexuals in this group as in the under-twenties - around one in six.

The middle-aged have had quite a few sexual problems - impotence, premature ejaculation and so on. But one respondent found the solution. "As a 51-year-old who was finding it more difficult to sustain an effective erection, I have found the availability of Viagra an amazing boost to my own and my partners' enjoyment of sex."

Very few mentioned the menopause as a source of problems. In fact one man complained: "Why is it that women heading into middle age have greater zest and pep for sex and men get less and less enthused?"

But the middle-aged attitude to sex can best be seen in the fact that most declared that sensuality is the most important aspect of sex. And they clearly value love and affection. A single man wrote: "As I get older I find I'm becoming happier by myself and though I miss love-making, I wouldn't want it so much just for sex, outside a loving relationship."

And, like every single group in our survey, they again were convinced that they, above all others, enjoyed the best sex ever.

"It's interesting how the young still seem to think they have the market cornered when it comes to sex," wrote one man rather smugly. "Like the best wine, it improves with age and there's no substitute for casting off youthful inhibitions."

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