Newly Divorced: Discovering sex as a single woman

sex after divorce, aging, woman alone

Newly Divorced: Discovering sex as a single woman

When I started dating, post-marriage, I have to admit it was both exciting and terrifying. The dance of flirtation, getting to know someone, the anticipation of a kiss, the wondering about sex–it’s heady. But, if like me, you’ve been without sexual intimacy for months or years, it can be terrifying.

I didn’t know how to negotiate sex as a single women in my 50’s. Having sex in the context of a longterm marriage was no guarantee that I could smoothly transition to the brave new world of singles and sex and spaghetti dinners. On my first official date we went to dinner and a movie–I ordered a pasta dish. Never have pasta on a first date–how awkward. Getting a complete strand gracefully in your mouth is a challenge. Though, nothing like the challenge of seeing a “stranger” naked after a couple of decades of old married life that’s lost its fizzle.

We did not have sex that night. But we did eventually strip down under soft lights and soft jazz music; the most clichéd kind of sex–on a sheepskin rug in front of a fake/roaring fire.

Back to my point.

I think my experience is one that some of my female readers will relate to and I’m sure male readers have a somewhat similar version of this. I found myself ill-equipped to create the lovely, graceful and orgasmic sex scenes depicted in movies and novels. It’s not that way in real life.

For starters I felt awkward about my body and about the whole sex thing so I rarely had the kind of pleasure one expects when having sex. I was so eager to meet a nice man that I often ignored my intuition in sorting out likely versus unsavory men to meet. So I had a lot of bad first dates. My fault for the most part.

When sex did present itself I often acted from cultural conditioning rather than following my body or heart. What do I mean by that? I let him lead. I didn’t talk about what I liked or didn’t like, what I wanted. I was silent. I acted more excited than I was. I assumed he would know what turned me on. I learned to fake the enthusiastic kind of murmurings that get men aroused (a nod of heads here?). And I felt guilty and flawed when I didn’t orgasm. And I often didn’t. If I shared that orgasms were often elusive during first time sex some men would either tell me what was wrong with me, or boast that all of their past partners orgasmed (which means that some of them had to have faked it!).

Because… what woman can orgasm when she’s being that passive? Letting the wrong kind of touch occur without speaking out. Rushing into something that could have waited a couple of more dates. Not having conversations prior to sex about desires and expectations. Realizing half way through the process that the man lying on top of her is pursuing his own pleasure without realizing or caring that sex is a party of two.

There are plenty of books and dating sites full of advice on how to successfully date. Or how to please a man. What was missing was information for women on how to ask for, and receive, the kind of sexual touch and connection they desired. Sex education for women isn’t really about technique–though if you want to give better blowjobs there is plenty of information out there for that. Including this horrifyingly funny video (NSFW, turn down the volume!)

What we, what I needed, was a pep talk of sorts. A wise female mentor.  I needed to hear that I could voice my desires and choose to pursue pleasure for myself.  I needed to understand that my fear about seeming too ‘harsh’ or ‘demanding’ was absurd. And that the man who wasn’t interested in my thoughts wasn’t the kind of man I wanted to invite into my bed or my life.

With time I learned to voice my needs and think about what I wanted as opposed to being content with whatever came my way.  I learned that my right to pleasure is important and deserves to be nurtured. By me, primarily.

I learned a lot in those early years. I made plenty of mistakes and I also met some delightful people during my journey. Now I want to be the resource for you that I needed some ten years ago. This is part of the motivation behind the work I do and the project I am embarking on.

I want to hear your voice. I want to know what matters to you, what you need more of, what keeps you from experiencing the pleasure you want and deserve.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

11 Comments
  • Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
    Posted at 09:26h, 11 January Reply

    Yes, that first time….always interesting. Thanks for helping women in our age group and older navigate what can seem like rocky shoals.

    • Walker
      Posted at 10:31h, 11 January Reply

      Absolutely, I think it’s important to talk about this and open the doors for other women to see they’re not alone in their experiences!

  • Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)
    Posted at 18:12h, 11 January Reply

    I’ve been married for over 40 years and haven’t dated (anyone else) in over 45 years. If I was suddenly single, I honestly don’t know what I would do re even starting to date again. It is terrifying to think of.

    • Walker
      Posted at 07:48h, 12 January Reply

      I understand. And it is a bit terrifying to think about it–but if one is seeking some sort of companionship it could be a way to find that. I had been married about 27 years. The thing about dating is one’s expectation. I’ve met some men with whom I’ver remained friends over the years and that has been quite nice–so I don’t want to paint a (totally) negative picture. And, thank you for reading.

  • Susana Espiritu
    Posted at 23:02h, 16 January Reply

    My partner and I are together for over 25 years now. We are strange with each other for over two years now as far as sex is concerned. We’re not legally married and for some reason (which I prefer to keep it to myself) i fell out of love. I’m looking for a new relationship which I hope be my last and I can say “he’s the right guy that I want to grow old with and stay with him for the rest of my life”. The idea of a new partner excites me but terrifies me at the same time. My partner is the only guy whom I have sex with. I do not know how to react when the new guy comes. Pls. advise. Thanks.

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:33h, 17 January Reply

      Susana,
      With a new guy I think the key is to take it slowly and talk about your concerns and your hopes. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed and be prepared to say the things that feel important to you. If a man isn’t interested, or willing to take the time to talk about intimacy and sex then maybe he won’t be the right one.
      Be sure to discuss sexually transmitted infections–you should get tested and ask him to do the same. And, or use condoms. That’s really important these days.

  • Sylvia sylvester
    Posted at 00:16h, 17 January Reply

    Wow, I feel like my mother. . . I guess I should I am 70 after all. . . My husband died four years ago, and the thought of going to bed with those crusty old men is a real turn off for me. I havn’t thought about sex in a while now, seems like if I let the beast calm down it goes asleep. I am a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother. Sex was created to create a child. . . Oh don’t think I don’t know the wonder of great sex. . I sure do. But there comes a time in our lives that WHO GIVES A DAMN about sucking some guys …….. well you know. I guess I am going to be one of those women that is perfectly happy without a man in my life. I have had four long term relationships (more than 10 years) and when I look back on each relationship, they were all detrimental to my life. . . Great sex but spent all my money on motorcycles, or cars, or airplanes. When each of them left my life I had to start over again.. . . Luckily I am good at creating financial security. Most men by the time they are my age can’t get it up anyway, so what does a man offer me at this point. A reason to get up in the morning, (so I can get his breakfast) when I would rather turn on a light and finish the book I was reading.? That I had to stop reading because he wanted to go to sleep, and then he lays there with restless leg all night, so I can’t sleep? Then when we get up, he grabs the remote and watches a football game when I would really rather turn on HGTV looking for an island paradise. . LOL. I don’t know, I think you need to ask yourself you don’t have to tell anybody else, what i it you are really looking for, Sex or money (security) Someone to be with you when you die? Believe me you have to die alone. . . It is something you have to do alone. . . Yes he can sit beside your bed, but in the long run you are doing it alone. My husband died while I was out of the house, many people live their whole lives with someone they really don’t want to be with, but don’t want to die alone, and then he is at work when you die. . . It is ok not to have a man in your bed. . . . . I know if you are only 50 that is not good, go for it, and hurry because after 60 men fall apart, and then you can be a nurse maid. .

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:30h, 17 January Reply

      Sylvia, it sounds as if you’ve had some challenging relationships in the past.
      Of course we each get to decide how we want to live our lives. You seem clear on what you want. But I do want to add that not all men at 70 are “crusty old men”–there are some delightful, bright, interesting men out there we can enjoy as companions, occasional dinner partners and more–or less. There is something nice and healthy about surrounding ourselves with friends as we age.
      Best to you in your journey.

    • Stephanie
      Posted at 00:14h, 09 April Reply

      I was married 21 yrs together 28… Started dating a fantastic guy!! Our sex is good but I haven’t had an orgasm. He said to me..”we have been together long enough….what do you need or want to get off’
      ..I honestly couldn’t answer??!! The last 6 yrs of my marriage was about laying there letting him get off to keep the piece??!! I’m so lost!! Don’t get me wrong..I can please myself when needed .no toys..
      Shoot haven’t even gone there??!! I’m 46 help!! I really like this guy and it’s obvious he likes me to want to please me!! We have been dating 5 months.

  • Danny
    Posted at 14:06h, 20 June Reply

    Hi Walker, I just wanted to thank you for putting yourself and this resource out there for the many people who will benefit from it. I’m a 37 year old male, sex educator of sorts, in the adult retail industry,.. I see an extreme lack of honesty and information out there for the oh-so marginalized group of sexual people who happen to have vintage bodies. It’s very important what you’re doing here! Cheers!

    • Walker Thornton
      Posted at 11:14h, 01 July Reply

      Thanks.

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