Home » Online surveys and product tests

Survey: sex and relationships in later life

Older couple in bed

We teamed up with Relate to explore the secrets of good long-term relationships, and give a true picture of sex and love in later years. From trust to laughter, to a good imagination, we spill the beans on gransnetters' secrets to a happy relationship.

Highlights

Asked which factors make a relationship last over the long term, Gransnet users (with an average age of 64) shared what works for them:

 

  • Trust ranked highest, with 98% rating it as important
  • Mutual support, kindness, good communication, and friendship were close behind - each rated as important by 97% of respondents
  • Love came a close third, on 95%, tied with humour

Only two thirds (65%) of respondents rated sex as important, and half (52%) agreed that "people don't like to think about older people having sex - I feel I have to keep quiet about it with family and friends".

A third (33%) of respondents report having sex once or more each week, while 2% report daily occurrence.

Tips for good long-term relationships and sex

  • 98% recommend love
  • 96% suggest communication, and remaining attracted to your partner over the years
  • 95% say it helps to be comfortable with your own body
  • "People don't like to think about older people having sex - I feel I have to keep quiet about it with family and friends."
  • 92% say it’s important to laugh (they didn’t specify at what point)
  • Two thirds (67%) advise the use of products such as lubricant and Viagra
  • Three quarters (74%) stress the importance of having a good imagination

40% of those who have been in relationships for more than a year - with an average relationship length of 32 years - said that the sex they have with their partner has improved over the years, while 33% disagree.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those in long-term relationships report zero sex: of those, just under half (43%) miss it, but 57% say they are happy about it.

"While passion is undoubtedly important for most people, it turns out that the glue in successful long-term relationships is compassion, kindness, generosity and friendship."

The impact of the menopause on sex seems to be mixed, with 44% agreeing that it had a big impact on their sex lives, while 39% disagreed.

37% said they would be unwilling to discuss sexual problems with their GP, but 47% indicated that it would not be a problem.

Single grandparents are also taking to dating sites, with 34% of those who said they'd found love after the age of 55 reporting that they met their partner via online dating.

Gransnet editor Cari Rosen said: "Lots of younger people don't like to think about older people having loving relationships and good sex, which is odd when you consider that for many of us it's the best case scenario. While passion is undoubtedly important for most people, it turns out that the glue in successful long-term relationships is compassion, kindness, generosity and friendship - which is advice that people of any age can use." 

Survey of 634 Gransnet users, conducted 25 Jan-8 Feb 16. The data is not weighted. Read the full data here.


To find and make connections with people in your local area, try Find Companionship.

Irritating personality traits haven't softened - do friendships change?

Needed but feeling left out - do others feel the same?

Where were you on this day? - moon landing