A Review of the Literature on Sexual Development of Older Adults in Relation to the Asexual Stereotype of Older Adults

Róisín Kenny


There is a prevalence of an asexual stereotype in regard to older adults. This paper reviews sexual development later in life from three different vantage points to explore why and how this stereotype exists. The vantage points are changes in social life, physical development, and psychological development. Older adults are often less engaged in society due to retirement, hence they have fewer opportunities to meet new partners. However now the internet is used a forum for older adults to meet new partners, so social barriers are easily overcome. Furthermore, the pervasive social influence of the media, reinforces and perpetuates the asexual stereotype in society by narrowly portraying older adults as asexual. Normative physical changes that come with aging, such as menopause and erectile dysfunction, are frequently assumed to lead to asexuality. This is not necessarily true- those that see physical changes as natural adapt their sexual lives accordingly. Psychological factors that effect sexuality in later life are the internalization of societies prescription of what ‘normal’ sex life is for older adults. As a result it is common for older adults to deprioritize sex as a means to conform to ‘norms’ regarding sex later in life.

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Canadian Journal of Family and Youth / Le Journal Canadien de Famille et de la Jeunesse
2008-2014 | ISSN 1718-9748