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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea,

My boyfriend is 30 years older than me. I am in my late 20s and he is in his late 50s. We are very much in love and the sex is pretty good. (We have both had many partners before each other.) I don't have a father complex or anything like that. We both come from standard middle-class families. He has never been married and has no children.

We have been together a while and are thinking about getting married. But I have two concerns. How much longer will he be able to get it up? And, if we get married, we would want to have children some time in the future. I have heard that the father's age counts too when calcuutf8g the risk of birth defects. He is very healthy and youthful. What do you think?

Thanks,

Older and wiser?

Dear Older:

I am far from a hopeless romantic, but I do believe in love, of course, and I cheer on the occasional blind leap of faith as long as I'm not the one who has to do the leaping. I have to admit that I'd tend to wonder why, exactly, a man in his late 50s has never been married, and I'd wonder just how many new tricks such an old dog is going to be willing to learn. Particularly about having children. He knows about the sleep deprivation and the postponement of personal gratification and the mess and the noise, right? And that's just the baby years. I'm hoping you've also discussed the hard part, that is, the possibility that he will not be around or, if around, not up to participating much when your baby is contemputf8g grad school. I'm an older parent myself, and believe me, I have all the sympathy in the world. But 60 is hella older — too old for any of this blind leap of faith business. You've got to talk about this stuff.

Assuming you have, and that the built-in risks are A-OK with both of you — and that you've worked out your contingency plans — I wouldn't let visions of future flaccidity stop you. Most men slow down a little as they age (this is probably already in evidence), and nearly all will require more stimulation. A lot of men are going to need some fairly aggressive physical interaction where once a peek or even a thought was enough. But so what? You want to touch him, right? Anyway, he isn't a cyborg designed for planned obsolescence — i.e., he isn't going to shut off at 65 and force you to buy the new model. Our declines tend toward the gradual.

I know the expected thing here would be a long discussion on how much better older men are, what with the increased patience and the focus shifting from themselves to you and the fingers and the tongues. And all that is true, but I figure if you were asking specifically about the hard-ons, you had a reason (beyond hoping he can knock you up) and you don't necessarily want a future of patient, sophisticated fingers and tongues and no penis. Some women like the penis! The penis is good! If he's in decent health and doesn't have to take beta-blockers or anything, though, you shouldn't have to worry about going without for a good long time. Sixty-ish is old for a new dad, but it's extremely young for an old guy. How's that?

But what if the inevitable slow down does turn into a total shut down? Luckily, there is really remarkably effective medical intervention available, but you might want to make sure he'd be on board for that. You should both remember that Viagra and friends don't always work, and there are drugs he could be on that contraindicate them. None of this is pleasant to talk about, but I somehow doubt you're the only one in this ménage who's wondering what will happen if (when, really) he can't get it up. He might like to know that you won't turn him out to pasture the first time and take up with the next young stud who jumps your fence. You won't, right?

The worry about the birth defects: well, that's real.

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