Sex and the (older) single girl: experiences of sex and dating in later life

J Aging Stud. 2015 Apr:33:67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2015.02.002. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


This study explored the sexual subjectivities of older Australian women. In this article we present findings from 15 qualitative interviews with Australian women aged 55-81 who were single at the time of interview. The majority of these women were single following divorce or separation, with a smaller number of women who were widowed or never in a long-term relationship. We found that these women's sexual desire and sexual activity were fluid and diverse across their life course. Although some participants desired a romantic or sexual relationship, they were also protective of their independence and reluctant to re-enter into a relationship in later life. Our findings indicate that these women's sexual subjectivities were shaped by dominant norms of ageing, sex, and gender. At the same time, older women are challenging and resisting these norms, and beginning to renegotiate sexuality in later life.

Keywords: Affirmative sexuality; Ageing; Desire; Older women; Pleasure; Sex; Single.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Australia
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Single Person / psychology*
  • Women / psychology*