After three kids, Rebecca’s* marriage turned sexless, and eventually ended in divorce. It was 7 years before she had sex again—this is what it was like to dive back in.
When I was in college, I was always the first of my friends to try new things, and that included sex. I was the one who lost her virginity the earliest, and when friends needed relationship advice they always came to me. I guess in a way I was more curious than a lot of my friends, and a lot more confident in my looks. Being petite, blonde, and having a bubbly personality meant I never lacked attention from the opposite sex (and in a few instances, members of the same sex). (Looking for more ways to live a happy, healthy life? Order Prevention—and get a FREE Yoga DVD when you subscribe today.)
Our marriage ended without a lot of fighting or fanfare. We were still friends and still wanted the best for our kids, we just weren’t a couple anymore. At first I was a little sad, thinking that Jon would be out there dating other women, but a bigger part of me was relieved. The expectation to have sex was no longer there. I was sleeping better and I felt at peace being by myself for the first time in, well, forever.
One afternoon over coffee, we were discussing a short story I wrote when Keith reached across the table, put his hand on the back of my neck and slowly leaned in and kissed me, right there in the middle of the coffee shop. It was like volts of electricity being sent through my body. He whispered to me that we needed to go back to his apartment, which was conveniently right around the corner. At first I said no, not because I didn’t want to but because I hadn’t shaved my legs that morning. It had been weeks, maybe months since my last pedicure, and my pubic hair definitely looked like a wild, untamed forest. I didn’t know if he’d be able to find my vagina. I didn’t know if I even had one anymore! (Here are 8 things you should know about dating after divorce.)
Right away my girlfriends encouraged me to try online dating. I did, but it was a total miss. The guys were nothing like their profiles, and I just didn’t feel like a sexual being. After one particularly horrible date I deleted my profiles and decided just to live my life. I started cooking more, walking more, and getting more involved in the activities I enjoyed before kids, like writing. I even enrolled in a creative writing class, something I had thought a lot about over the years but never actually had the courage to do. On the first day of class, I sat down at a table full of women (the class was comprised entirely of women) and felt a little disappointed that there would be no male energy in the room. Then the teacher walked in. Keith was handsome, rugged and in his late 20s, but spoke like an old soul. He talked about the works of Henry Miller and Anais Nin and I found myself getting turned on just listening to him speak.
When he asked me why, I confessed. “I haven’t done this in a long time,” I said. He gave me a look and I realized he was probably thinking weeks or months. Nope. It had been 7 years. It was crazy but true. The formerly up-for-anything girl hadn’t been gettin’ any in a long, long time. Not at all since baby #3 was made.
“It’s OK,” Keith said to me as we walked together. “We can take it slow.”
And even though my body was excited, mentally I was freaking out. Was it like riding a bicycle? Would I remember what to do? Would he even fit inside me? I thought about my best friend telling me over drinks, “You gotta use it or lose it, honey.” What if I had, in fact, lost “it”?
When we got up to Keith’s apartment, I went to the bathroom and did a little mental prep. Whatever, he’s attracted to you! I told myself. And I was old enough to know that great opportunities, like a hot young writing professor waiting in the next room to pleasure you in every imaginable way, don’t come around every day.
Although our relationship was only a fling, being with Keith taught me a lot of things about myself, like that I am actually comfortable with who I am, and that I’m really good at sex. I’m not sure why I doubted it for so long. These days I have a pretty active sex life for a single mom of three. My lube (we like this one) and my vibrator have become indispensable! What I now know is that the best thing about a dry spell is that when you finally end it, you get to remember just how incredible sex can be.
In retrospect I’m glad that I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for that first-time-in-a-long-time sex. I would have totally overthought it. But in the moment, I just went with how I felt. When I opened the door to the bathroom, Keith was standing there with his shirt off, and I could see the bulge in the front of his pants that I’d felt under the table in the coffee shop. It was like I was suddenly transported to my college days, when sex was exciting and new. And in that moment it was new. We didn’t actually take things slow; all I remember is a frenzy of us getting each other’s clothes off, and Keith bending me over the side of his couch. Toward the end of my marriage sex was uncomfortable, painful even, but not now. I suddenly realized that the difference here was that I was extremely turned on.
In fact, for the last few years of my marriage, we stopped having sex altogether. We were teammates and coparents, and in a way we felt more like friends than lovers. We shared a bed but it was really just a place to sleep, not a place to make love.