middle-aged sex and the middle ages
so i sort of wrote meet death sitting partly based on my moderate annoyance about how fandom handles the concept of a character not being Nebulously In His Mid-Twenties, so it’s not like I haven’t ranted about this before, but I just saw somebody’s exhaustive headcanon post about yet another character, whose age isn’t specified anywhere in canon, and who is sort of (waves vaguely) Not Young, and they had bent themselves in absolute knots including setting some of his early life events at improbably young ages just to make sure he was no older than 33 in the present day of their storyline, because, and this is as close to an exact quote as I can come, “I want his dick to work good”, and like
*drags hands down face* I just want all of you children out there in fandom to understand that you don’t suddenly Become An Old Person when you tick over from 34 to 35. Right? Like, Age doesn’t Suddenly Descend Upon You. (And when Age Hath Descended Upon Thee you’re not immediately Barred From All Fun.) It’s a gradual process. Some things that are usually considered age-related are actually health-related. Certain things happen at wildly different stages in one’s life than in others’ lives. Some people go gray early, some late. Some people’s dicks work differently when they start having heart problems or something, it varies widely. You don’t suddenly wake up unfuckable. Your joints don’t totally fall apart all at once. None of it is linear. [And honestly for like.... a lot of people (of my acquaintance, so, anecdata, but, data) your thirties are a time when due to experience and some hormonal shifts and usually, I think, finally just self-acceptance, for many of us, your sex life is going to be fantastic and you can finally actually really enjoy shit you spent your twenties nervously thinking you were missing the point of. (You were. It’s okay. Don’t sweat it. It’ll make sense as you get older. I promise it’s nice, surviving your youth. It really is. I swear to fuck that’s not just me being condescending even if it sounds like it is.) Or even finally just accepting yourself enough to try stuff you were too self-conscious to ask for before, that can be huge. But-- I have digressed.]
There’s a stunning amount of diversity in the human experience. I understand that it is difficult to write something you have not yourself experienced. There’s a terrible fear of getting obvious things wrong and getting ridiculed or, worse, accused of malice in your Incorrectness. The easiest way to conceptualize non-firsthand experiences, and therefore write them into your own works, is to read accounts by other writers. But this does tend to echo-chamber some things. It’s why, for example, sex between two people with penises can be so formulaic, in fic, because it’s often written by inexperienced writers who do not themselves have those kinds of bodies, and so have no idea how penises really work beyond the basics, have no idea how prostates work at all, and no easy way to find out for themselves, relying on accounts by other writers who similarly don’t have bodies like that and are relying on accounts by others etcetera. And it’s definitely why older characters are so often very rigidly defined into occasionally-wildly-inappropriate behaviors or tendencies, or why many writers are reluctant to write them at all-- for fear of getting it wrong, the writer avoids unfamiliar territory. And then everyone writes precisely the same story, for fear of Getting It Wrong.
Fair. So I am here to tell you, babes, from the right (as in, I have survived it) side of forty, that it’s okay. Getting older isn’t that bad. It happens very slowly.
Your perfectly unexceptional human character’s dick can perfectly plausibly “work good” well through their thirties, through their fifties, and on upward (heh) if it suits your story for it to do so. That’s not unrealistic, there doesn’t need to be magic, they doesn’t need to be part elf or something, that’s a perfectly normative human thing. No one who “knows better” will question you. A 38-year-old, 48-year-old, 78-year-old can have as much sex as you want them to. They can have erectile dysfunction if it suits your fic, but so can your 22-year-old character; that sort of shit has tons of causes, and age is only related to some of them.
It is genuinely not true that cis males* hit their sexual peak at 20, which is a figure I’ve seen bandied about a fair bit. Yes, often a younger person’s circulatory system is better, and their interest in sex greater, but the reason Youths get such frequent and sometimes-inappropriate erections is not that their dicks work better, but that they don’t have experience at controlling themselves mentally or sexually. The ease with which a person with a penis can attain an erection is not based primarily on their age, but on a number of other factors. And with age and experience comes better control, and overall-better function. It is literally the same with young people of all genders of that age-- as they become sexually mature, they are wildly curious about it, often inappropriately horny, don’t really know how their genitals work, and don’t know how to understand or control their own appetites. It’s not a Dick Mystery, it’s a perfectly normal part of being very young.
Something far more likely to correlate with youth is premature ejaculation, actually. Your 20-year-old Dick Novice is likely not going to take you on a really fantastic ride; it’s probably going to be a bit bumpy but rather abrupt, and not of great duration. Maybe they can get it up again quickly after that, but not quickly enough to make it not a problem; their sexual partner is going to have to find other ways to amuse themselves in the meantime. Meanwhile, your 40-year-old knows how to control themself, is much more likely to know what their sex partner actually requires, and can pace themself, and is likely going to have an approximately similar refractory period as the 20-year-old, but less patience for bullshit. The 40yo is vastly more likely to have both given you what you wanted, and taken what they wanted, the first time, and not really need a repeat. But if it’s something they really want, their age is not going to be any particular hindrance so much as their body’s own non-age-related limitations, and they will generally know their own body and be able to call upon it for whatever purpose they require, with far more ease than they could when they were young and inexperienced.
If you gave me the option between a 20-year-old dick-wielder and a 40-year-old one, all else being equal, I would literally never choose the 20-year-old, for many reasons but the preceding paragraph chief among them.
(This is not to say any of this is set in stone. Some people with dicks never get very good at controlling them. That could be interesting to explore, in a fic. What do you do then? Human sexuality is, as I said, super diverse, and many different things are possible. And if you have a 40-year-old dick wielder, let’s smack some hypothetical he pronouns on there for this example, who doesn’t have great control over how fast he orgasms, he’s probably gotten really good with his hands, I’m just saying, because at that age he’s likely to have had the time to practice and figure out that that’s what he ought to do about it. And it may well turn out his similarly-aged sex partner has figured out that’s what they prefer, too, when it comes right down to it.)
All of this is to say, don’t be afraid of writing older characters, but more importantly, don’t be afraid of writing diverse characters. Don’t feel you have to write formulaic sex. Look it up. Let your characters have “bad” sex, and see how it plays out. Let your characters have unusual sexual experiences. Don’t feel like you have to write the same exact sex scenes as everyone else. Not everyone has to be a hard-bodied 23-year-old porn star with a monster cock. Let dicks be small. Let them be limp sometimes. Let sex not just be inserting Tab A into slot B the same way every time. Let nothing get inserted anywhere, once in a while! Let something else happen. Let sex be different. Let people be more like real life.
(*I’m specifying cis male up there because that was the original context and is where I see these fossilized echo-chamber Facts getting crusty. I’m not specifying anywhere else, really; I started to, in my first draft of this post, but the more I think about it, the more I realize not all penis-havers are male, and I’d bet there’s even more diversity in how all this works if you take that into account. There’s not really a wrong way to have a body, friends.)
The part that really distresses me, though, in all of this, is thinking about all these very young writers and how there’s nothing in their lives that gives them any reason to think there’s anything to life if they’re not themselves 23-year-old porn stars. Babe it’s okay. Survive your youth, hit middle age, find out it’s not that bad. Live. It’s all right. I promise. It doesn’t have to look like the movies. I wish the movies looked like more different things, instead of always the same; the same gets really boring, compared to what’s really out there. Imagine things not always the same. it’s so much better for you. You’ll have really good sex in your forties, probably; if that’s a thing you like now, you’ll probably still like it then, possibly even more. It’s not any more inherently gross than any other sex. Again, you will not suddenly wake up Unfuckable. There’s not an expiration date on your life. There’s cool stuff ahead of you.
... relatedly, life expectancy-- if you’re writing in a society with a low life expectancy that does not mean your characters age more rapidly it means the average age of death is dragged down by very high infant and child mortality, a 45-year-old in medieval Europe is more rare but is not actually older, to gaze upon, than a 45-year-old in modern Europe, he just might have more wrinkles on his face if he works outdoors, but his dick will work just fine probably, and if it doesn’t that’s a separate plot consideration now isn’t it, oh my god it does not mean he looks 80 at 50 and will die peacefully white-haired in his sleep on his sixtieth birthday. that’s not how that works that’s not how any of this works
edited to add I forgot, but meant to say, sometimes you reach A Certain Age and realize that it wasn’t that you were doing this sex thing wrong but rather that you are in fact not suited to it at all, and that is also perfectly valid, and it is super fine and normal, I did not mean it to come across as You’ll Like It When You’re Older at all! Aces are valid and sometimes age and experience helps you stop worrying so damn much and just enjoy your life the way you are and that is so valid!!! And if you’re sort of questioning that and you’re young and it all seems terrible, just know that it’s often easier when you’re older and know yourself a bit better to stop worrying about that shit, that was the point I meant to make!
So I’ve landed on a name for my husband’s newest partner. She will now be referred to as Bella.
My husband shared her contact information with me so I’ve begun communicating directly with her which is lovely. She’s got fun, bubbly energy and in her messages she let me know she thinks of me and cares about how I’m doing / feeling and she’s looking forward to meeting me.
Honestly the first connection could not have gone better. I’ve been having a crazy amount of anxiety about Bella and for some reason almost all of it has washed away after reconnecting with my husband last night, getting her very thoughtful gift and connecting directly with her today.
It sounds like her and her husband have been practicing kitchen table poly for many years. I think we’ve more or less landed on that being our vibe when it comes to doing poly too. I’m very much looking forward to meeting her and her husband. It sounds like we might all attend the Halloween event on Sunday ( @charlottehurtz included) and meet up. Our little polycule is growing and I’m so happy to welcome more connection, love and passion into our lives.
Going forward I’m going to have to weigh how much I will be sharing on my blog. Out of respect for both of his other partners and their separate private relationships I will likely be sharing less intimate details unless there’s something particularly juicy to share that specifically involves me. @charlottehurtz as a sex worker has always been comfortable with me sharing details but I’m not sure how Bella will feel or if I even want her to know about my blog.
Just know my husband has two other partners that he’s thrilled about. He fucks one of us (almost) every single day. Sometimes more than one of us in a day.
My identity as a cuckquean is evolving by the week. I believe I likely will always be the more monogamous partner. I think that I will always have compersive feelings to his intimacy with his other partners but as we get deeper and deeper into this poly lifestyle I’m just not sure if “cuckquean” is the best label for my role in this.
I’m happy and bit proud of myself regarding this evolution. Initially I took on the title of cuckquean to work through my feelings of my husband opening up our relationship. I dealt with a lot of insecurities and self hatred when this journey started about 4 years ago. I worked through that by using kink. Over time I’ve learned to give up control by throwing out a lot of the rules I put in place to “protect” our relationship. I stopped needing to be across / present for every message, every conversation, every meeting /date, every moment of intimacy.
I think this is the better place to be. The journey ahead of us is very long and I know that throughout our marriage partners may come and go. Some partners may never leave. Some relationships may crash and burn, others may fizzle out. But I will always be by his side supporting him and loving him through it all.