5

votes

Why would/do old people have sex?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 07, 2011 at 12:23 AM

What evolutionary advantage would it confer? Can't the sex drive just sputter and die? Is the need to keep sex in ones life culturally driven? Why would/do old people have sex? I ask, oh people of the Paloehacks oracle.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on February 23, 2012
at 04:13 PM

If they did when there was the possibility for reproduction then that's true, but if they take place when there isn't a possibility for reproduction then they wouldn't, 4 year olds aren't generally pair-bonders, because they can't reproduce yet. But my guess was just that it did serve a purpose before and there was no selection pressure to suddenly deactivate it after the children were independent, it was the wrong sort of question to be asking...the "why didn't this happen" when there was no reason for it to happen.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on February 23, 2012
at 07:39 AM

Activities that promote and maintain pair-bonding serve an evolutionary purpose, period--even absent any possibility for reproduction...

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on February 08, 2012
at 02:34 AM

I agree with that. There's just no reason why it would change unless for pathological reasons, so the mental willingness doesn't. But the hormones that tend to facilitate it decline with age, maybe a little bit in the healthy and definitely a lot in the unhealthy.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 08, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Stabby, I remember from my intro to psychology class that my professor said that old men think about sex the same way young men do except that old men are not as physically able as young men. His point was that there was no such thing as a dirty old man, just dirty minded males in general.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:09 PM

There's also an evolutionary advantage to living long enough to raise your own children to reproductive age and strong social-bonds between men and women help accomplish this. Child-birth can be dangerous and also takes a great toll on a woman. At some point it's got to be better from an evolutionary standpoint to put your energy into caring for the kids and grandkids you have, not having more.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:06 PM

Yes! Easily the best answer here.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Reproductive success is not only tied to your own reproduction but to your offspring's reproduction. Also, reproduction takes a much greater toll on a woman's body. Perhaps a woman's ability to care for the children she has and make sure they reach reproductive age (and possibly care for grandchildren) diminishes in her 30s and 40s because of other aging factors, so it's better for her reproductive success at that point if she doesn't have any more children of her own.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on September 07, 2011
at 01:52 AM

Even better -- try it. ;)

149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

(3202)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:45 AM

WOW...are you related to Jim Thorpe? Man, you lay it down like Hemingway. I had to +1 you.

C0fcb48d7da4f76fac17318efd2cd6b8

(4069)

on August 16, 2011
at 02:04 AM

Plus one for curiosity and your question: "More curious still is why nature would have selected for the end of fertility in women, but not men." Does anybody have any theories, I wonder?

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on August 11, 2011
at 11:35 AM

My parents are in their 70's and have sex on a weekly basis. I think it's amazing and fabulous and know, because my damn mother is way too sharing sometimes, that it still feels good, they love the closeness, no issues with orgasms, and her being on top is not as easy as it used to be. We can all hope to be this way I think so I'm not going to question it :)

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 09:43 PM

Related: Why are there old people at all, and have we "always" had grandparents? http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/08/old-mans-culture/

B1859f696e88d25460a6b8a333412ea3

(837)

on August 07, 2011
at 07:52 PM

I agree wholeheartedly!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:01 PM

I disagree. There are evolutionary advantages for a child to have grandparents, so anything that makes you healthier during the time when your children's children are growing could be selected for. In fact, I've heard of a study that showed that the best predictor of time of death is age of your grandchildren, though I haven't seen the study myself.

C0fcb48d7da4f76fac17318efd2cd6b8

(4069)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:32 PM

"Retaining sexual activity would have retained the mutually dependent relationship between man and woman." This rings true, and is observable in animals, too.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:37 AM

shall i rephrase? its typical, not uncommon, not unusual, normal, etc. for womens sex drive to decline after menopause. surely its not the *norm* that womens libido increases as they enter older age. obviously we are talking in general terms here.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:31 AM

good question. also i wonder: do old people find other old people attractive?? (i sure hope my taste in dudes catches up w/ my age pretty soon b/c i'm about to enter cougar territory, and i am not really feeling that role.) (furthermore, since men stay virile - do they ever lose their preference for younger (fertile) women? why would a (healthy) older man shack up with a woman his age or older?)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:20 AM

Excuse me . . . I've been post-menopausal for like 20 years and I think I may be hornier now than I was in my 40s. I suspect those with strong genes retain their vigor in all things, including sex, and since humans have extended families this may have benefited the survival of some families over the generations.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:28 AM

Thank you Mrs. Human.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:10 AM

Thank you Mrs. Flower.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:55 AM

Very well put, Mr. Raccoon.

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Exactly - agree 100%

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:57 AM

This is, IMHO, the technically correct insight. Past reproductive years, natural selection doesn't operate. Sexual behavior continues because bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. ;D

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17 Answers

29
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:16 AM

The obvious non-evolutionary answer is that it's still enjoyable. But if we're just talking evolution, the question becomes "why is sex after reproductive age still enjoyable since it has no evolutionary purpose?", that would be the clearer question. The answer is that a cessation of libido didn't evolve. There's no selection pressure for it to. Our sex hormones are still quite useful in other ways and changing their functioning so drastically would be costly and pointless, not something that natural selection works towards.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:28 AM

Thank you Mrs. Human.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:10 AM

Thank you Mrs. Flower.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:55 AM

Very well put, Mr. Raccoon.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on February 08, 2012
at 02:34 AM

I agree with that. There's just no reason why it would change unless for pathological reasons, so the mental willingness doesn't. But the hormones that tend to facilitate it decline with age, maybe a little bit in the healthy and definitely a lot in the unhealthy.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 08, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Stabby, I remember from my intro to psychology class that my professor said that old men think about sex the same way young men do except that old men are not as physically able as young men. His point was that there was no such thing as a dirty old man, just dirty minded males in general.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on February 23, 2012
at 07:39 AM

Activities that promote and maintain pair-bonding serve an evolutionary purpose, period--even absent any possibility for reproduction...

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on February 23, 2012
at 04:13 PM

If they did when there was the possibility for reproduction then that's true, but if they take place when there isn't a possibility for reproduction then they wouldn't, 4 year olds aren't generally pair-bonders, because they can't reproduce yet. But my guess was just that it did serve a purpose before and there was no selection pressure to suddenly deactivate it after the children were independent, it was the wrong sort of question to be asking...the "why didn't this happen" when there was no reason for it to happen.

21
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:45 AM

I don't think it's just about having fun, as a person married for almost 20 years, it's about closeness, intimacy, and showing love and caring for each other. I think people, especially in long term relationships want that no matter their age.

Edit: grammar

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Exactly - agree 100%

B1859f696e88d25460a6b8a333412ea3

(837)

on August 07, 2011
at 07:52 PM

I agree wholeheartedly!

16
A141571ee2453db572c9d3222657bf6b

(756)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:32 AM

evolution doesn't care about anything after breeding age. the programming carries on. sex = fun, age doesn't change that.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 09:43 PM

Related: Why are there old people at all, and have we "always" had grandparents? http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2011/08/old-mans-culture/

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:01 PM

I disagree. There are evolutionary advantages for a child to have grandparents, so anything that makes you healthier during the time when your children's children are growing could be selected for. In fact, I've heard of a study that showed that the best predictor of time of death is age of your grandchildren, though I haven't seen the study myself.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:57 AM

This is, IMHO, the technically correct insight. Past reproductive years, natural selection doesn't operate. Sexual behavior continues because bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. ;D

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:09 PM

There's also an evolutionary advantage to living long enough to raise your own children to reproductive age and strong social-bonds between men and women help accomplish this. Child-birth can be dangerous and also takes a great toll on a woman. At some point it's got to be better from an evolutionary standpoint to put your energy into caring for the kids and grandkids you have, not having more.

15
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:29 AM

well, men can father a child until the moment they die. even after, technically speaking (gross). and frankly, womens sex drive DOES diminish significantly after menopause.

i think that older humans probably just have sex because it still feels good.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:20 AM

Excuse me . . . I've been post-menopausal for like 20 years and I think I may be hornier now than I was in my 40s. I suspect those with strong genes retain their vigor in all things, including sex, and since humans have extended families this may have benefited the survival of some families over the generations.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 07, 2011
at 03:37 AM

shall i rephrase? its typical, not uncommon, not unusual, normal, etc. for womens sex drive to decline after menopause. surely its not the *norm* that womens libido increases as they enter older age. obviously we are talking in general terms here.

14
093c6dcb3125989945d8f90ba47fcce9

on August 11, 2011
at 04:57 AM

We have sex 'cause we know what's actually attractive - and you don't, not yet.

'Cause most of what you think is "hot", we know isn't hot at all - from sad experience over a lifetime, friend.

Shallow good looks and a venal personality turn us off, not on. Unlike you, who haven't been betrayed by that succubus (or satyr) yet. Come talk to us soon, when your grief seems unfathomable and you can't understand why any young person would have sex, if it leads to so much pain. We won't mind your tears. We know there are many better nights to come in your life, when you're old enough to appreciate them.

We love to have sex because we that know youthful narcissism is far uglier than a gentle wrinkle forming by fifty years of kindly smiling, and we also know that ignorance of the self makes you far more unattractive than being absent one or two of your natural teeth.

Poor youth: what you see in a face of the opposite sex only what a photo of that person when they are unconscious would reveal: symmetric bone structure, skin tone, and that's about it. We see who they really are in the details of how they use every part of their face every split-second. Gorgeous. Which means we old folks get to have sex with actual people, while you're stuck with humping a very vague idea of what a person of the opposite sex might or might not be like, but actually isn't like at all.

And the icing on the cake is, we still remember the vivid illusions of our youth, and can savor our memories of those youthful fireworks, too, without having to suffer the consequences of that craziness anymore.

149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

(3202)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:45 AM

WOW...are you related to Jim Thorpe? Man, you lay it down like Hemingway. I had to +1 you.

10
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 07, 2011
at 12:42 AM

Because it's fun and it feels fantastic. Duh!

9
84f2d294dd48aa8fabc6ce9774d2722b

on August 07, 2011
at 10:32 AM

It may well have evolutionary advantage. It keeps the grandparents pair-bonded so they are better able to help rear their grandchildren, so helping their genes to replicate successfully. Evolution is driven by genes, not their carriers.

But maybe the question is why fertility in women ceases in mid-life. Again, this is because it leads to greater success. Human children need a prolonged period of dependence and, because of evolutionary changes to the birth canal and the size of human babies, giving birth before the advent of modern obstetrics, was almost uniquely dangerous for human females.

Children whose mothers died would have been far less likely to reproduce themselves. This would have provided evolutionary pressure for women to reduce the number of children then have and to spend the time rearing their fewer children so ensuring greater ultimate success.

Retaining sexual activity would have retained the mutually dependent relationship between man and woman. Besides, what evolutionary advantage would there be in losing it? Change doesn't occur unless there is something to be gained by it.

C0fcb48d7da4f76fac17318efd2cd6b8

(4069)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:32 PM

"Retaining sexual activity would have retained the mutually dependent relationship between man and woman." This rings true, and is observable in animals, too.

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:06 PM

Yes! Easily the best answer here.

6
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:14 AM

I didn't even need a book to learn this, but I did hear it in a movie. Everything a man does, he does to get laid. EVERYTHING. Now I could be far more PC about that and put it in scientific terms, but why bother? And yes that old guy flirting with the nurse...he knows its a 1/100000000 chance but he's still giving it a go :)...Not sexist, female versions do apply. But as has been pointed out men can procreate until the day they die....

6
8c75fd947f7cece22c0770fa80549cbe

(222)

on August 07, 2011
at 01:06 AM

If you want to learn about the evolutionary history of human sexuality, I highly recommend reading Sex at Dawn.

0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on September 07, 2011
at 01:52 AM

Even better -- try it. ;)

5
B1859f696e88d25460a6b8a333412ea3

on August 07, 2011
at 08:21 PM

I think there are two kinds of sex drive:

One is the drive to reproduce; I associate that with feeling horny, and it's not really very picky. (Are Porn & Vibrators the industrial fast-food of sex?)

The other is a soulful desire to connect in a uniquely intimate and deep way with another person.

I only have 8 more years of practice before I get to the coveted SEXagenarian title.

5
16a83c62c4650896080a9d3d94159059

on August 07, 2011
at 12:45 AM

Now this might be almost a no brainer. Sex=fun. If you're not having fun, why are you still living? All this paleo way of life and healthy eating means nothing if you aren't enjoying every moment to the fullest. Sex is one of those nuggets of fun, whether they are one night stands or with your wife of 50 yrs. May sound preachy but live every moment like its your last.

4
F46d472ee4e097afd7e0081ed6f6ab21

on August 15, 2011
at 10:22 PM

I just skimmed through the answers, but nobody seems to have asked the obvious question:

-what constitutes "old age?"

We have a longer average life span now then we ever did in history, despite the fact that most of us are shoving absolute crap down the pie hole.

So, just because most of make it past menopause and such, doesn't mean that most of our paleolithic ancestors did.

More curious still is why nature would have selected for the end of fertility in women, but not men and how nature would have selected for this if those women were no longer reproducing. Perhaps it was an accidental mutation that occurred along with another, more beneficial one...

C0fcb48d7da4f76fac17318efd2cd6b8

(4069)

on August 16, 2011
at 02:04 AM

Plus one for curiosity and your question: "More curious still is why nature would have selected for the end of fertility in women, but not men." Does anybody have any theories, I wonder?

B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on January 17, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Reproductive success is not only tied to your own reproduction but to your offspring's reproduction. Also, reproduction takes a much greater toll on a woman's body. Perhaps a woman's ability to care for the children she has and make sure they reach reproductive age (and possibly care for grandchildren) diminishes in her 30s and 40s because of other aging factors, so it's better for her reproductive success at that point if she doesn't have any more children of her own.

4
149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

on August 07, 2011
at 06:56 PM

Because someone needs to teach you silly, know it all young people how to do it...

4
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:49 AM

How old is "old"? I mean... for women, past mid 40s gets real dicey for making paleo babby. Some women lose the edge they had as a youngster and 'being hot' takes a back seat to other priorities in life. It's sad to see that happen. But let me tell you, a lot of women still have the goooooooods in their late 40's and even much older, especially if they take care of themselves as well as they are able to.

Guys? Well... guys are like the energizer bunny. Men can reproduce till the very end (and believe me.. some do. I've just recently heard some pretty crazy stories about that). Even old cranks in their late 70s can get it going pretty good. Some guys get a big belly and fear baldness and stop grooming and just let themselves go. But if they get sick and tired of being out of shape, they hit the gym, and look better in their later years than they did in their mid 30s. They get more suave and sophisticated as they get into their 50s and 60s. That's why many young women dig older guys. And the consensus seems to be that the males don't really put up much of an argument with that part of the equation. Although the older cougars usually want to claw the girls' pretty little eyes out. lol

I read in a book once (Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill), that, at least for a time, sex drive is behind almost EVERYTHING. Every single significant behavior or effort. Without that drive lurking in the background, there would be almost no motivation to do anything in life.

Old people have sex because sex makes the world go round, and not just for reproductive purposes.

4
71af94295988d55cd3b8340e619729d0

(255)

on August 07, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Social bonding.

3
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 07, 2011
at 08:02 AM

Because the more I have the longer I will live.........its third grade math.

2
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 07, 2011
at 07:41 AM

I think it's cultural. It's all around us that we should be having hot sex as much as possible. If it were socially acceptable we probably would just let it fade away. Instead we buy Viagra and try to keep it going as long as possible.

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