Older couple embracing passionately
Older couple embracing passionately

Why Rankin and Relate’s campaign celebrating intimacy in our later years is so brilliantly important

The famed photographer has captured older people on camera in a series of sensual images.

Katie Wright
Tuesday 27 April 2021 10:53

In a groundbreaking new campaign, relationships charity Relate has enlisted iconic photographer Rankin to help celebrate intimacy in our later years.

Called ‘Let’s Talk About the Joy of Later Life Sex‘, the campaign stars five couples and one woman who have been captured on camera in amorous and sensual poses, the images emblazoned with witty taglines.

older man and woman kissing

In one image, lingerie-clad Daphne is embraced by her partner Arthur with the caption reading: ‘The second sexual revolution. Like the first one but with a few more wobbly bits.’

In another, featuring a couple called Andrew and Mark who have been together for 31 years, the tagline says: ‘Some men discover they love golf. Some men discover they love men.’

older man and woman embracing passionately

The campaign aims to break the taboo around sex and intimacy for older couples, a subject which is rarely tackled openly.

While it is true that sex is pretty much everywhere – on our TV screens, in movies, in books, online – it usually focuses on young couples and any mention of older people having sex is often played for laughs.

older woman smiling with caption 'You're never too old to play with toys'

According to a survey by 3Gem market research, 67% of over 65s say sex and intimacy for their age group is rarely (43%) or never (24%) represented in media, compared with a fifth (20%) of 18 to 24-year-olds.

“It may seem as though it’s only young people with ‘perfect’ bodies having sex and being intimate but of course this isn’t true,” says Relate sex therapist Gail Thorne. “In reality, ‘sex and intimacy in later life’ means different things to different people: for some it’s about exploring new and different sexual experiences, and for others it’s simply about feeling able to express emotion through a gentle touch or kiss on the cheek.”

older men kissing and embracing

While there’s still a long way to go before later years sex is normalised on a wider scale, this campaign is a wonderfully empowering way to start the conversation and encourage more couples, whatever their age, to embrace intimacy, and share that if they feel able.

older couple lying naked together

So many people have been separated from loved ones for many months due to the pandemic, and it’s highlighted the huge importance of physical touch -whether that’s a hug, holding hands or making love – and the happiness it brings. As well as the loneliness it can help ease.

older couple lying in bed together

“The simple fact is that we all need intimacy now more than ever,” said Rankin, “and age, of course, really is just a number.”