Benjamin Franklin’s Advice On Sex, Marriage & Older Women

by Sherry Riter in Aging,Self-Development  

By now you already know that one of my favorite people in history is Benjamin Franklin. Well today I am going to share something a little different. In 1745, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter filled with advice which also ended up being praise of the older woman…in a round about way. He was telling a young man how to choose a mistress, but while doing so, he talked about the wisdom of marrying and the qualities of older women. I also find his writings a bit humorous.

old couple love sex

Benjamin Franklin, Advice to a Young Man

June 25, 1745

My dear Friend,

I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness. Your Reasons against entering into it at present, appear to me not well-founded. The circumstantial Advantages you have in View by postponing it, are not only uncertain, but they are small in comparison with that of the Thing itself, the being married and settled. It is the Man and Woman united that make the compleat human Being. Separate, she wants his Force of Body and Strength of Reason; he, her Softness, Sensibility and acute Discernment. Together they are more likely to succeed in the World. A single Man has not nearly the Value he would have in that State of Union. He is an incomplete Animal. He resembles the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars. If you get a prudent healthy Wife, your Industry in your Profession, with her good Economy, will be a Fortune sufficient.

But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these:

1. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their Minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreable.

2. Because when Women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their Influence over Men, they supply the Diminution of Beauty by an Augmentation of Utility. They learn to do a 1000 Services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all Friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old Woman who is not a good Woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much Inconvenience.

4. Because thro’ more Experience, they are more prudent and discreetin conducting an Intrigue to prevent Suspicion . The Commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your Reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the Affair should happen to be known, considerate People might be rather inclin’d to excuse an old Woman who would kindly take care of a young Man, form his Manners by her good Counsels, and prevent his ruining his Health and Fortune among mercenary Prostitutes.

5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement.

6. Because the Sin is less. The debauching a Virgin may be her Ruin, and make her for Life unhappy.

7. Because the Compunction is less. The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy.

8thly and Lastly They are so grateful!!

Thus much for my Paradox. But still I advise you to marry directly; being sincerely Your affectionate Friend.

This letter was even funnier to me because Benjamin Franklin misspelled words that I restrained myself from correcting. I have this thing with words spelled or used incorrectly. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my mother or daughter.

Ignoring the spelling errors, I still find this letter funny. What do you think about Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom about marriage, sex and the older woman?

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ralph February 22, 2013 at 9:33 am

Thank you for providing this, it was fun reading, with some valid points. I certainly agree with you about misused or misspelled words. Just as people change over time so do words. Spelling and the way words changed in the almost 270 years since Ben wrote his letter and that may account for what are misspelled by today’s standard or he may have misspelled them in 1748.

Have a nice weekend.


2 Sherry Riter February 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm

That’s a great point! I wonder if he spelled them right for 1748 or if he was like my Mom and daughter! LOL I didn’t just say that! LOL


3 Joan February 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

Well, if I really told you what I thought you would have to ban my comment! LOL 😉


4 Sherry Riter February 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

LMBO!!!! I don’t doubt you one bit!


5 Joan February 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Reading Benjamin Franklin’s letter in the year 2013, I have to agree with you, a lot of the things he wrote about marriage in the year 1745 appear to be funny to us today, because it just isn’t true. A person, whether they are male or female, can be a whole and evolved person without being married! Thankfully we have come a long way in our thinking since the time Benjamin Franklin wrote that letter 268 years ago! 🙂


6 Sherry Riter February 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Yes, we have come a looooooooooooooooooong way! THANK GOODNESS!!!!! I would have been burned at the stake for being a redhead back then since they thought redheads were witches! LOL


7 Joan February 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

However, Benjamin Franklin was right and wrong about older women! He was right that the older a woman gets the more wisdom and compassion she has acquired merely by the fact that she has lived and experienced more of life than a younger woman has. However, let’s face it, there are a lot of older women who never evolve and remain stuck in their own fears.

And as far as an older woman being grateful that a man might take an interest in her, I think it is just the opposite. It is the man who should feel grateful that an older woman might deem him interesting enough, stimulating enough and attractive enough that she would choose to spend whatever precious time she has left on the earth with him! 🙂


8 Sherry Riter February 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

“I think it is just the opposite” 😉 Oh yeah!!!


9 Skip_D February 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Ben Franklin was my first idol, when I was a young lad, & he remains one of my very favorite people – wise, inventive, & ohh so witty! 😀

I first read this letter decades ago, when I was still a young man, & found it delightfully funny but with more than a few kernels of wisdom… now, when some might consider me to be “the odd Half of a Pair of Scissars,” I can’t completely agree with Franklin in regard to marriage making one “compleat,” but much of the advice in the letter makes sense – certainly from the point of view of a cultured 18th century man – & every re-reading makes me laugh at Franklin’s very modern sense of humor! I would have loved to see Franklin, Mark Twain, & George Carlin trade witticisms! 😀


10 Sherry Riter February 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm

😀 I would love to be in a room with Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin!!! I love brainy people. LOL


11 teresa vett February 24, 2013 at 12:49 am

Well your mama saw no misspelled words and I have not gone back to see, lol.

As for the letter, it seems to me he had a lot of experience to be able to go on with so much knowledge. I agree with him that marriage adds to each of us and makes us whole. We experience things married that singles do not. We can not be whole without a mate for this enables us to practice everything together and have no sin involved. God made it this way, in his words he said woman is not without the man or man with out the woman. Now you may argue with God but not me.

As far as older woman and sex go, we never change. We are like the pink rabbit with the batteries, but men, well do I need to say more? Soft is good in most things, but not that. lol


12 Sherry Riter February 24, 2013 at 12:57 am

I know you didn’t see the misspelled words because you misspell just as atrociously. LOL I obviously love you anyway.

I argue with God all the time. Sometimes being married is actually BAD for a person and I don’t think being single means less happiness. If God expected me to stay married just so that I could say I was married, then he would not be the God of love that I know Him to be. Also, if the mate is not good, even the sex is bad!!!

The Energizer Bunny? Oh my! I’m never going to get that picture out of my head now! My mother = The Energizer Bunny. My brain is forever warped! 😉


13 Skip_D May 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm

LOL!!! your mother is so funny – even if I disagree with some of her statements…

she reminded me of a bit of Scottish verse I learned years ago (to be said in a broad Scots burr):

Ahhhh, fer those days I weel remember,
Those goolden days when I were yo’ng,
When a’ me limbs were soft an’ tender.
Did I say a’? Weel, a’ but one.

Alas! Those days from the present differ!
Gone are a’ me days o’ fun.
Now a’ me limbs are soft an’ tender.
Did I say a’? Weel, a’ but one.



14 Sherry Riter June 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

LOL Yes, Mom is funny sometimes.

You’re verse is funny too! 😀


15 Jean February 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Loved this letter. And I must say I agree with him for much of it. The grateful part, I’m not so sure! But the rest, spot on, Ben, baby. Older women rock.


16 Sherry Riter February 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

😉 Yes, we do rock!!! I’m glad you seemed to enjoy it as much as me!


17 Cindy March 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Ha, ha..I think lots of older women are not so “good” in this day & age..bah humbug to waiting on a man & confounding one’s self to be pleasing to him.. I also suppose good ole Ben never heard of vaginal atrophy… to read..


18 Sherry Riter March 6, 2013 at 8:24 am

LOL LOL LOL Cindy!!! LOL I hope you have a great day!


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