The Soho Sex Column: Does sex get better as you get older?

The Soho Sex Column: Does Sex Get Better As You Get Older? | Soho House

…God, I hope so, says our resident sexpert Olivia Petter – because the good stuff is worth waiting for at any age

Friday 29 July     Words by Olivia Petter    Illustration by Jiaqi Wang

Being a mere slip of a thing at 28 years of age, I would like to think that I’m not best placed to answer this question, but also being the intrepid coital columnist that I am, I’ll give it a go. 

The first thing to note is that sex when you’re single is very different to sex when you’re in a relationship, whatever age you happen to be. With regards to the former, it’s quite well-known that the more you have sex with the same person, the better that sex is likely to be. Assuming you’re in a good relationship, you probably know what your partner likes and needs (and vice versa), so it’s safe to assume that sex will improve as you get older if you stay together… and, of course, if you continue getting down and dirty on a regular basis. 

When it comes to the latter, things become a little more complicated. Consider the last time you slept with someone for the first time. Maybe it was after a Hinge date. Or perhaps it occurred unexpectedly after a day-long session at the pub with that friend you’ve always fancied. It may have happened the old-fashioned way: after a night of dancing on a sticky nightclub floor with someone now saved in your phone as ‘Sexy Whisky Sour’, or perhaps it was a 3am Grindr crotch bump after one too many tequila slammers.

However it happened, I’ll bet it wasn’t the best sex you’ve ever had. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that it was average at best, and toe-curlingly diabolical at worst, which is almost always the case if alcohol was involved and you barely know each other’s name. There will be fumbles, stumbles, and possibly even some very awkward silences – all of which can happen even if the sexual chemistry had been, up until that point, electrifying: remember Carrie and Berger? 

Tragically, this lose-lose scenario is not something that has improved with age, at least not for me. But like I said: a slip. Maybe by the time I’m 40, Elon Musk will have invented something to guarantee early sexual satisfaction, regardless of alcohol intake. It goes without saying that none of this is easier for women, whose bodies are more complex than far too many straight men have the patience to try and please – but that’s probably another column entirely.

I don’t know how old you are. But what I do know is that while sex might not necessarily get better with age, it will almost always get better with time. Good sex is worth waiting for at any age; be patient, stick with it if it works and the fireworks will come.

The quick-fire round

How to approach dating in your late twenties
The same way you would in your early twenties, but with a better radar for red flags – see last week’s column. A few more tips I’ve picked up along the way: be wary of someone who promises you the world on your second date, learn to be happy on your own before jumping into a relationship, and if someone is behaving like they’re not into you, they probably aren’t – stop wasting your time. 

How do I navigate sex as a virgin in my twenties?
Firstly: don’t worry. You’re far from the only person in this scenario. Secondly: don’t put yourself under any pressure to have sex until you feel ready. And when you do, I hope it’s with someone you feel comfortable enough with, so that you can tell them it’s your first time. You will feel much more at ease once you’ve been honest about it – trust me. 

Have a question for our columnist? Please email me at All submissions will remain anonymous. 

Olivia Petter is the relationships writer at The Independent and author of Millennial Love, which is out now in paperback with 4th Estate

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