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The Problem with Online Dating After 50

problem with online dating over 50

A picture of his what? The number one problem with online dating.

Online Dating After 50? There’s a Problem.

I’ve been thinking about penises. More specifically, why men send pictures of theirs to relative strangers. Last week I wrote an article on “dick pics.”

I expected more article views than normal; it’s a tantalizing term. What I hadn’t expected was the male responses, which generally fall in the category of mansplaining.

My regular readers should know I’m a sex educator and author—a good indicator that I know a little something about sex and masculine sexuality. I do understand, to a certain degree, the relationship men have with their penises (3 brothers, 2 sons, 1 husband and post-divorce dating).

We’re taught that sex is penetration, from a strictly heterosexual perspective. Penis in vagina, referred to as PIV. That’s what sex is, so much so that people assess the possibility of sex by the ability to get erect.

What It’s Like to Date Over 50

I had a twitter conversation the other day with a young woman, asking if sex for older adults dating after 50 was difficult. She seemed to assume couples in their golden years couldn’t have sex without Viagra. The average person defines sex as intercourse. And, I maintain that most men are thinking along those lines when they take pictures of their sex organs and send them to women.

Yes, I’m making generalizations. Often men want to see if you’re receptive, or try to impress you with their large member. For me that’s more of a turn-off than turn-on.  When we are dating, show me your intellect; show me your capacity for pleasure. Show me that you’re interested in me—don’t just show me your penis.

This whole story line sprang from a brief exchange I had with a man on an online dating site. He’s in his late 50s and in an open marriage, theoretically. As he explained, he seeks out sexually repressed women, using his term, and satisfies them (with his large penis!).

In an email he said he knew that many women were not receptive to dick pics, so instead he was sending me a picture of himself in his new sweatpants. Sitting in his office, aroused.

The photo was an erection selfie. I think I was meant to be impressed. Objectively I could see that it was of above-average length. I replied that I was not interested in what he was offering. Feelings hurt, he pointed out that he had mistaken me for someone more open-minded.

Why We Send Nude Pictures

It’s a strange phenomenon to me—this sharing of body parts photos as a part of courtship. A male acquaintance, in his 60s, reports to get similar photos from women. So maybe I’m wrong in thinking it’s just a male thing? Another man conjectures that women asking about anatomy are trying to make sure the man can perform, i.e., “get it up.”

I see this as a trading of objects. A sort of sexual bartering. Look at my big penis/breasts, now do you want me? How do you like me? Also, can I get your attention, make you look, make you desire me?

If we simply reduce the act of having sex with another person to body parts and performance we’ve lost the essential attraction of intimacy.

And if sex, as a mechanical act involving body parts, is all one desires then determining size and hardness is essential.

If what you value is finding intimacy with a partner who values giving and receiving, building trust, and connecting with you as a sexual being, then penis size is totally irrelevant.

Want to read more about online dating over 50 from Walker? Read this about the importance of chemistry with online dating.

Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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Friday 23rd of December 2016

I contend sending a dick pick has nothing to do with penetration. It's really far simpler.

If a man sends you an unsolicited dick pic, you should avoid him. It means he does not comprehend the difference in male and female sexualities. You will be going down a difficult relationship path.

Men can be sexually aroused by a simple picture, solicited or not. It takes a lot more effort to sexually arouse a women and it occurs far less frequently. That's why women don't "get" dick pics. Most healthy men are sexually aroused, to some degree, almost daily. This is due to male physiology and to all the sexual visual clues men receive from just seeing attractive women in tight, somewhat skimpy clothes, both in person, in pictures and on TV.

This guy is interacting online with a number of women. It's his Neanderthal way to offer sex to women and to see if they respond. Apparently, some have, for their own reasons.

I'm not sure why you discuss penetration negatively? Every so often, my girlfriend takes me by the hand and into the bedroom to ask for and receive penetration. We have had some very emotional feelings and closeness after a long session of sex, penetration, and simultaneous orgasm.

I have never sent a dick pic or received a pussy pic. If I received an unsolicited pussy pic, it would simply tell me a horny woman is offering sex to me. Its really that simple.

Walker Thornton

Sunday 25th of December 2016

No where in this article do I discuss penetration and certainly nothing negative. You're reading things into my writing that simply aren't there. My work as a sex educator is to give people options and thoughts about how to express their sexuality and their sexual desires--each person is different in what they seek. That's the simple part--that people feel comfortable and confident in expressing their own needs to intimate partners.


Monday 19th of December 2016

Walker, interesting post, but I think you really have more than one conversation occurring here. There's the send/receive dick pic point - which as a grown man with plenty of and varied sexual experience I've never done and don't understand. Might be some women out there who aren't offended...I haven't met them. There is the dick size point - guys who have large ones often want to talk about them and show them off. I probably would too if mine was especially impressive. There are women who like and desire larger members and often aren't afraid to ask early in the dating process if you have one (yep, happened more than once). Then there is the dick performance point - here is where I want to "challenge" you and some of the other commenters. Let's assume you're dating a man who (to excerpt some of the comments about) "understood that there is so much more to sex than our genitals," "sex is about intimacy, and size really doesn’t matter (except perhaps the size of their capacity for openness, compassion, understanding, humor, closeness, sensitivity–the list of truly meaningful attributes goes on)," and "appreciating the other person for any of their other assets," Let's assume he meets or exceeds those qualities, and is a patient, thoughtful, sensual and experienced lover and amply skilled at bringing you to orgasm or whatever state you desire...but is unable to get or maintain an erection despite all of science's best efforts. Would you or any of the commenters continue and grow a relationship? Would you or any of your followers be willing to spend the rest of their days with that man,

Walker Thornton

Monday 19th of December 2016

Yep, have been with a man for several years who had erectile issues.

Roxanne Jones

Monday 19th of December 2016



Monday 19th of December 2016

Amen, Walker! It never ceases to amaze me that, even at "our age," so many men still don't get that sex is about intimacy, and size really doesn't matter (except perhaps the size of their capacity for openness, compassion, understanding, humor, closeness, sensitivity--the list of truly meaningful attributes goes on).

Walker Thornton

Monday 19th of December 2016

Yep. some guy on FB started sending me questions about an earlier article on 'dick pics'.... I eventually stopped answering, but one of his questions was about whether size mattered. I wish more men understood that there is so much more to sex than our genitals. And, particularly for women, that the way to intimacy starts with conversation and mental engagement.

Paula Kiger

Monday 19th of December 2016

I think this parallels what is going on with teenagers too (not to overgeneralize). So much "just physical exchange" so little learning ANYTHING about intimacy and appreciating the other person for any of their other assets. And the pictures? Well, WHOA.

Walker Thornton

Monday 19th of December 2016

Yeah, I'm afraid you're right. And for me, and I think for teens, the image tarnishes the intimacy and makes the idea of pursuing something less appealing. Or at least I hope so.

Susan Bonifant

Monday 19th of December 2016

I'm with Haralee. I can't imagine receiving or sending these and then meeting for dinner and not feeling extremely awkward. But people who can, well, I can't say I'm not impressed by their boldness..

Walker Thornton

Monday 19th of December 2016

I can guarantee you that anyone who sends me a picture like that, right off the bat, isn't going to be sitting face to face with me at all. I don't know that one could even call it 'boldness'......

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