Before we do—talk about sex—I need to issue an advisory warning to my oldest: Honey, if you’re out on another date and she wants to read another of your mother’s blog posts, you might want to skip this one. That said, let’s continue. To be honest, I did deliberate whether or not to do this post. Maybe some topics are more TMI than FYI? In the end, however, I decided “What the hell!” This blog was intended to be a forum for women starting over. Right, wrong, or indifferent, ladies—sex is a major step on that journey.
But first a bit of background . . . I belong to several closed groups on Facebook: one for flight attendants, a ladies’ only venting group, a couple 40+ divorce and separation support groups and even a 50+ friendship circle I believe is in Australia. (Hello and thank you to my 77 Aussie viewers! BTW, I love your posts that show how our lives are so very different and yet so damn similar!)
In the beginning (and I’m only being honest), I was looking for readers for “sucks.” Anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning knows it was originally started to prove a point to the agents and editors who didn’t see a market for the book I wrote about online dating. I was convinced they were wrong. In my heart I knew there were thousands of women 40 and over, starting over, who would relate to WINK. But to my immense surprise, I soon realized it was I who related! No, not to every post and comment. Cheating husbands, contentious child custody battles, acrimonious assets distributions are subjects to which I personally (thankfully!) have no experience. But being lonely? Wondering if I will ever find love again and wishing it all could have been different . . . yeah. I’ve been there. I’m still there. Sometimes.
We women always have the tendency to think it’s just us. Knowing there are many, many others who feel exactly the same is a source of immeasurable comfort and strength. But in addition to finding women with like issues, doubts and emotions, I also found a wellspring of inspiration. Many topics discussed in these groups resonate so deeply, I am compelled to respond. This touchy (pun intended) subject “sex” is one such instance. A woman wrote and asked if anyone had had experience with sex after divorce. Toward the end, hers had been a sexless marriage. She’d lost all desire. Now, starting over, she’s fearful. “Does it come back?” she asked.
Talk about déjá vu! Now comes the TMI part . . . It is no exaggeration that in the last 5 years of my marriage we had sex less than a dozen times. (The last year not at all.) Many issues were at play. I’d never been particularly into “it” during most of our marriage. (In defense of my “low” sex drive, I had 3 kids in 3 years—with no help from family or spouse. I was freakin’ exhausted!) Still, it was a subject we often argued over. Then, too, there was the matter of lubrication (mine) and a total lack thereof (early menopause?). The other factor was his increasing inability to get it up—and keep it up. Of course, he blamed me. Toward the end, it was not just unpleasant, being rubbed raw while he strove to do the deed, it was downright painful. In my year of resultant celibacy, I truly (as one woman said in her response to Ms. Fearful of the paragraph above) could not have cared less. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Since I’d never liked it all that much when I was in my 30s and 40s—what was to miss now that I was 57?
And then I met a man. In Zurich. Exotically handsome with long black hair and a beard. Especially in profile, he reminded me of a Spartan warrior from the movie 300. (Not much off the mark since he was Turkish). And 38. (Yes, you read that right. It’s not a typo.) When he took me for a midnight swim in a moonlit Alpine lake and kissed me, it was the first time I’d been touched by a man other than the one I married in 37 years! I pulled back. Tempted, yes. But also terrified. I couldn’t wait to call my sister. “I don’t think it even works anymore,” I told her. She laughed. “Yes. It does. You’ll see.” But I couldn’t. I couldn’t see myself with a man twenty years younger–because I could see what I saw in the mirror. The ravages of time are not kind to a 57-year-old woman who’d had and nursed three kids. In the end though it didn’t matter, and my sister was right. It did still work. Moreover, the desire I thought had died decades ago . . . hadn’t. (Ladies, repeat after me: dormant is not dead.) I turned 58 in the Turk’s bed and continued to see him another seven months. Eventually the relationship ran its course, the 20 year age gap between us not so much a factor as was his desire to find a wife and have children. We parted friends.
The next couple years brought a couple casual encounters—but no return of diminished desire or capability. I still liked “it,” I just wasn’t so enamored with “them.” Then, the night of my 60th birthday, I met a man who proved the best was yet to come (pun intended). Believe me. Had anyone told me at 40 that the best sex of my life would occur at 60, I would have called them bat sh*t crazy! When I told him my ex used to call me a “desert,” his eyebrows shot up. “You?” He laughed. “That drought’s long over, babe.” Indeed, there’d been enough wet sheets and couch cushions over the previous 8 months to prove a serious point. One of them knew what the f**k he was doing. (TMI but FYI, Rug Doctor has upholstery attachments.)
Which brings me back to Ms. Fearful and her post. Over 50 women responded and/or commented. While a few did proclaim to have no desire or drive, most repeated experiences such as mine. The monotony of marriage, a lack of romance, absence of attraction and attention, hurt and blame, resentment and broken trust are dams. Depression, hormonal imbalances, the weight gain of stress, too. Is it any wonder the creek goes dry? Many of the comments rang so true I could have written them.
- “All our insecurities critique us to the max,” said one woman.
- “Don’t assume it’s you,” said another, “it’s not a low sex drive, it’s the wrong partner.”
- “You might think it’s dead–until you meet someone you can’t get enough of.”
- “Once you’re happy, what you thought was dead, will reawaken.”
I couldn’t agree more. When the right one comes along, what was dead, dormant or dry, will surge. In the meantime, it’s ok to be afraid or doubtful. Fear of the unknown—or at least the not known for a long time—is normal. Nor are emotional, mental and physical factors to be discounted. They do matter and they do effect—until they don’t.
Now as far as what “the right one is” . . . well, that’s a matter of personal taste—and choice. Since Turkey was followed by Tunisia, Israel, Italy and French Canada I’ve had a bit of a United Nations theme going on, with a definite run of young—38, 37, 42 and 51—thrown in for good measure. Lest ye judge, I’m not alone. One woman offered that she had “cougared her ass off.” Works for me. I just draw the line at younger than my oldest. See, honey, I TOLD you . . . you should have skipped this one!