Dr. Ruth Westheimer is, at a sprightly 88, still doling out her take on love and loving. (She tweets regularly at @AskDrRuth to her 88,400 followers.) We spoke to her recently about online dating, sexless relationships and getting frisky during the golden years.
Read on as the high priestess of hanky-panky — currently in Los Angeles to speak at the Sexual Health Expo Feb. 4-5 — talks about everyone's favorite topic.
So, how many times a week should people have sex, anyway?
I can only say that I hope that anybody in a good relationship has caressing and hugging in their lives every day and is having sex as often as both partners want.
What if that's not happening and the relationship is sexless?
There's really no answer to that. People have different needs. But if I hear about a relationship that has absolutely no sexual component, then I would like them to go see a sex therapist to find out what the problem is. Especially if it happens for a long time, then it probably shows that something is not right in that relationship. Most people in a relationship would like to have that sexual satisfaction and intimacy.
What's the state of sexual understanding and acceptance today?
We in this country have the best scientifically validated data about sexual functioning that has ever been available. I do believe that, in most relationships, sex does and ought to play a large role. One of the reasons I do these lectures is that, although we talk a lot about sex, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. A lot of people still believe in a lot of myths.
What kind of myths?
Somebody recently asked me whether sex always has to be simultaneous — because people who love each other must always want to have sex at the same time. Not so. Heterosexual or homosexual partners should provide satisfaction to each other. They can provide that satisfaction without being sexually involved — they can use vibrators or positions or just hug and kiss and go to sleep.
OKCupid, Match.com, Tinder — would you use them?
I have nothing against the Internet meeting places, as long as people use them intelligently. I don't want people to be lonely. I would like them to find partners. But they have to use their brains, never meet in a secluded place. Otherwise, I'm all for it. I don't have scientifically validated data, but once two people have found each other and found interest in each other, my hypothesis would be that the relationship has a good chance of being successful.
You have a book called "Dr. Ruth's Sex After 50." What are some key misconceptions about sex and aging?
Older people have to be sexually literate. No sex in the evening when they're tired. The best way for older people to engage in sex is after a good night's sleep. There's a whole body of knowledge that older people need to know, like how important it is to caress and be caressed.