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Why women in their 40s are more confident voicing their desires

A new study showed that people over 35 are more confident talking about sex than their younger counterparts. Here's why

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Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
January 22, 2024
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How do you feel about talking openly about sex with your partner? Does it come naturally, or do you feel a little bit of British awkwardness when it comes to voicing your desires?

Chances are, if you're over 35 you'll feel more confident than ever talking about sex, with new research from Bloom sharing that people aged 35 to 54 are the most comfortable age group when it comes to talking to partners about sex, while Gen Z are the most unsure about communicating desires. It comes with age, we guess!

That said, Bloom also found that 48 per cent of people find it difficult to discuss sexual desires with their partners – so why do so many of us feel awkward chatting about it?

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We gain confidence as we age

Why can't we talk about sex?

"Discomfort talking about sex and the sense that it’s taboo is rooted in so many things, none of which are our fault," says Hannah Albertshauser, Bloom's co-founder. "We’re shaped by how family members speak to us about sex at a young age, by the representations of sex we see online and in culture, and by our early sexual experiences and relationships. 

"Historically, we haven’t been very good at discussing sex and desire in an open and positive way as a society. We’ve either shamed people for talking about sex too much or celebrated unrealistic and exclusionary portrayals of sex that make us mere mortals worry we’re doing it wrong.

"Each of these factors has contributed to a world where sex and voicing our desires is still stigmatised. This is gradually changing, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for still feeling unsure about expressing themselves. It can feel vulnerable and goes against almost everything we’ve been taught for hundreds of years."

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Hannah Albertshauser is co-founder of Bloom

Why do we get more confident as we get older?

Given that those over 35 feel more comfortable voicing their desires, we wondered where the newfound confidence comes from.

1. We don't care what people think anymore

"As we get older and learn about ourselves, we tend to become more confident advocating for what we want because we care less about what other people think of us. This can track across into our sex lives, too," says Hannah.

READ: How to get your fashion mojo back in your 40s and beyond 

2.  We know ourselves better

"When you’ve been having sex for a number of years, you’re more likely to know what you like and what you want. And if you’re in a long-term relationship, you might have built up a level of trust over that time which means you feel more comfortable communicating your desires.

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With confidence comes happiness

"There’s a definite element of 'life’s too short' as we get older. We want to have fun and embrace pleasure. Because why not? We won’t be here forever!"

How to talk about sex

1. Be vocal

"Being vocal about your desires and pushing past that internal barrier feels so good. It’s incredibly empowering, and it will lead to better sex," Hannah says.

"Vocalising our desires can be a powerful source of connection between partners. Sharing your deepest desires and exploring them requires a level of intimacy and trust that can only bring you and the person you’re with closer together. And we know that intimate human connection is great for our mental health and wellbeing. 

"It’s also about confidence. It’s about being able to advocate for yourself both in your intimate relationships but also in the outside world. If you can ask for what you want in the bedroom, you’ll likely feel less embarrassed asking the waiter to take that food you weren’t happy with off of your bill. "

 INSPIRATION: I changed my entire life at 54 – here's what happened 

2. Start small

"Next time you’re on a date night and you’re feeling confident, let them know that it’s a goal of yours to get better at communicating your desires to them. Start small and think of one thing you’d like to try next time you have sex. Tell them about it. Build it up until you feel comfortable voicing bigger, bolder fantasies."

3. Be patient

"Be patient with yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. It’s going to be a journey, and just because you’ve decided today that you want to be more open about your desires doesn’t mean it needs to happen overnight.

"But do keep trying and push past that discomfort barrier. You’ll have amazing sex - and bucket loads more confidence - when you do."

 Visit HELLO!'s Second Act hub for inspiring stories of women living their best life in midlife

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