Sex after Divorce: Getting Naked Can Be Really Scary!

Sex after Divorce: Getting Naked Can Be Really Scary!

Divorce specialist Natalie Maximets
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach with expertise in mindfulness and sustainability. She is a published author focused on the most progressive solutions in the field of Psychology. Natalie helps people go through fundamental life challenges, such as divorce, and build an entirely new life by reframing their personal narrative.

After separation, breakup, or divorce, is completed, the idea of you getting between the sheets with someone new and unfamiliar can trigger many of your fears and insecurities.

The first sex, after having been intimate only with your long-term partner, can produce both skin-crawling anxiety and exhilarating excitement, sometimes at the same time.

What they will think of you and your body? What you will think of them undressed? What if one of you, or even both, don’t like the experience?

At that, it does not matter how much time you took for your ‘bereavement.’ Some people want to start meeting new people right after they had realized their marriage was over. Others need a longer period of emotional healing.

No matter what your approach to dating is, you will experience a range of emotions typical for all people after divorce to a larger or lesser extent.

Emotions When First Having Sex after Divorce

You feel weird: Feeling weird when having sex with a new person is especially common for people who have been in a long-term relationship for many years. Even if you had your share of wild days early on, after decades of marriage it feels like another life. All the more, if you got married young and did not cheat on your partner, it feels as if you have never done it before. All that nervousness and body-consciousness and vulnerability and unpredictability. Basically, for anyone who has been out of the game for some time, hookups or more serious dating feels awkward and strange because you are out of your comfort zone.

You feel guilty: Guilt is also very common for many people who had intended to remain with one person for their whole life. Sometimes they need time to process the realization that now they are on their own and can have any kind of relationships with whoever they want. If you’ve reminded yourself that you are not cheating and you still cannot shake off the feeling of guilt, it can be an indication that things are moving too fast. Take your time and do not hurry into intercourse.

You feel anxious: Having your first post-divorce sex provokes at least the slightest bouts of anxiety even in most confident people. Both men and women alike get body-conscious and start to wonder what the new person might think of their ‘flabby bits’ and imperfect body parts. Aging only adds more anxiety. Many think that a date, that is being interested and charming, might run away screaming as soon as she or he sees them naked.

You feel excited: Ultimately the majority of people can feel an elated excitement at the prospect of having sex after a long dry spell. It is possible to focus on positive emotions through all that negative sentiment because having sex is fun and exciting in itself.

Deal with your Fears

Apart from excitement, sex-related negative emotions stem from fears and insecurities many people have regarding their bodies and a vulnerable position they put themselves in.

It is totally natural because, first, you used to have a partner who you got accustomed to and you both knew each other’s tastes and favorite positions and now you enter uncharted territories and need to navigate your own way.

Probably it’s been ages since the last time you went on a date, not to say the first sex after divorce.

You are consumed by thoughts of how weird your body may look for a new person. You think that you may not like their body too. You feel panic at the thought of you getting naked in front of, basically, a stranger. You feel inadequate, insecure, out of your waters, etc. You realize that your marriage had shielded you from a scary world of new interpersonal experiences.

Sex therapist Tammy Nelson calls this post-divorce period ‘second adolescence’ which often happens in middle age and gets people interested in sex again. At the same time all their insecurities raise their ugly heads.

However, Dr. Nelson points out, even if getting back on the ‘market’ feels like you are a teenager again, you are not. And actually it is a blessing. As a grown-up, you will find it easier to deal with your insecurities simply because you know that you can turn to therapy or read up about an issue you are interested in, which you could have hardly done in your adolescent years.

Indeed, many of us want to redo things that were not right back than or get to do something that we missed. Yet now we are adults and we have experience and access to information and opportunities to explore and find answers to our questions.

Therefore, you can address your insecurities as a grownup and make the most of it.

Let’s start with the physical aspect of the fears associated with first-time sex.

Fear: “What if he or she will not find me attractive naked.”

Definitely modern women have lived under more pressure to have perfect bodies than men. For the majority of women, excruciating self-critique has been a habit of many years and divorce only exacerbates it. Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, hormonal therapy, yo-yoing weight, and aging are merciless on women’s bodies. Airbrushed media images and media-generated pressure not to have totally normal cellulite, wrinkles, and healthy amounts of body fat makes women’s self-esteem difficult to sustain through different stages of life.

However, men feel self-conscious too. Sedentary jobs, lack of exercise, and divorce-related stress do not help in getting positive body attitudes.

Therefore, the advice is two-part. For one, it makes sense not to focus on your physicality that much. When two people get attracted to each other, their looks are important to a certain extent but that initial attraction should usually be supported by engaging conversations, and mutual interest, and a willingness to give pleasure to each other. Human bodies are great for deriving pleasure and physical beauty has nothing to do with that skill. In other words, focus on pleasing each other’s sensory organs rather than the visual ones.

On the flip side, being sexy depends on your attitude rather than on anything else. If, however, you cannot forget about your pouch and sagging body parts, do something about it. Enroll in a gym, start jogging and doing yoga, and reconsider your eating habits. As soon as you see at least the slightest improvement, there are odds you will feel better about yourself.

Here is some gender-specific advice too.

Women need to remember that men usually do not share their critical views of female bodies. Research shows that men perceive women generally ten pounds thinner than they are. Besides, there are many men who are not picky. If they feel a connection to you, they will be happy to lay their hands on the female form you have. Those men who are dads cannot be taken aback by your body changed by pregnancy and childbirth. They have seen the changes in their wives too. Again, our sense of seeing is ruined by staged and doctored media images but our sense of touch still enjoys all things soft and full to the touch. So simply dim the lights and feel sexy with no regrets.

As for the advice for men, they should hardly rely on Oscar Wilde’s witty observation that women love with their ears rather than with eyes. Any female will definitely like to feast her eyes on a fit and muscular hunk of a man but if you find yourself – with all your lack of musculature and pasty white legs – in bed with a woman, she is most obviously aware of what she’s gotten herself into. Men have notoriously fewer contraptions to trick others into thinking they have bulkier shoulders or narrower hips, the way women can pull off. Therefore, do not think that your new woman will be shocked to see you naked. She has already ‘seen’ you with her mental eyes the way you really are. Thus, the advice is to focus on your performance rather than your looks.

Fear: “What if she or he does not like my performance.”

As the pressure to perform is harder on men, let us discuss their situation first.

Men have a number of concerns before sex with a new person: they are fearful to climax too early; they are afraid not to make the woman orgasm; finally, erectile dysfunction is showing up earlier in the male population due to stress, unhealthy lifestyles, and untreated health issues. These all are viable concerns but you need to remember that anxiety is your biggest enemy. If you feel very nervous, take your time and do not pressure yourself to have sex right now and climax at the same time. Your goal should be to have fun and enjoy the moment you spend together. Go slow, if you need it. Flirt and tease each other. Build up to the moment you get naked. It will warm you both up and create tension that will help you both enjoy the process to the maximum.

As female orgasm is notoriously more elusive than male pleasure, women, you should literally take it into your own hands. Do not expect the man to make all discoveries about your erogenous zone on his own. Guide him and show him with gestures, sounds, and/or words where and what you like best. The best approach is not to focus on reaching an orgasm too hard. When orgasming feels like an obligation it can kill the vibe. However, when you let your bodies take the lead, you can be pleasantly surprised by where it can take you. ‘Turning off’ the prefrontal cortex greatly helps reach an orgasm, remember dear ladies about it and do not enter the bedroom with rational approaches.

Finally, we come to moral dilemmas.

Fear: “I am afraid I will have regrets afterwards.”

There are all kinds of people. Some can get close to new people easily and quickly; others do not see the concept of a one-night stand comfortable for themselves. Anyone has the right to their own approach to life. However, interpersonal human relations are something that is difficult to plan. You may have all good intentions to get to know the other person but you need to take him or her into consideration as he or she may want something else. Therefore, it makes sense to take one step at a time and see where it takes you.

You cannot know beforehand everything that you will regret later. By being too cautious you lose great opportunities because you do not let your life simply go unobstructed. You cannot predict all your reactions and prevent any misfortune. Besides, many events in our life are simply facts whereas your attitude to them can change in time. Therefore, do not be afraid of doing something. If it is a mistake, you will learn from it. Simply let yourself be and see if you feel great after having the first post-divorce sex experience.

Fear: “By having sex after divorce I let my children down.”

Some people have trouble combining their role as parents and as human beings with sexual needs. The moral dilemma ‘Good girls do not want sex’ or ‘Good guys cannot have a one-night stand’ reveals conflicting desires. Divorced people indeed need a lot of time and energy to be there for their children. They want their children not to feel negative repercussions of the divorce and often think that they have no right for a personal life. They really may have little resource to get into a long-term relationship but it is not reasonable to deny yourself sexual satisfaction.

For one, there are many people out there who have no intention to start a relationship. What’s the point of your celibacy if you can have your cake and eat it too: both have pleasure and take care of your children? Also, think of that fear as a limitation. You consciously bar yourself from a significant part of human life. People definitely can live without sex. Sex is not food or air for the body. However, feeling wanted and feeling a desire towards someone is a great source of energy and joie de vivre. Remember that each of us has multiple roles and we do not end with being moms and dads. Keep your personal life private and your children do not need to know about it.

Sex over 50

We all know that theoretically people can have sex well into their advanced years. Neither menopause nor erectile dysfunction can really put obstacles on people’s desire to be sexually active. However, they definitely affect sensual response. Sex after 50 is not the same as it was in your 20s and 30s.

Apart from all concerns related to the physical shape, people over 50 also have purely physiological issues, such as vaginal dryness and flaccid penis. These issues, however, can be deftly addressed by knowledge and willingness to find solutions.

Use medical achievements. Dr. Nelson says that medications like Viagra help men keep their potency ready at all times. In many cases, anxiety is responsible for erectile dysfunction. It creates a vicious circle where a man is too anxious and cannot get a steady erection. Next time it occurs again and it forms a pattern. However, a Viagra pill gives a positive experience so the man develops a pattern of successful attempts. Viagra, Levitra and Cialis help men lead sexually active lives well into their 80s and 90s. In some cases, medications should be supplemented with joint replacement though.

There can never be too much lubrication. Forget about vaginal dryness by using plenty of lube at all times. After certain age you probably should not approach another person with sexual intentions not being equipped with a tube of lubrication.

Get accustomed to changes. Dr Ruth Westheimer reminds older people not to expect to have the same experience they used to have when they were younger. She says, “Don’t expect the same intensity of your sexual response. Engage in sex in the morning, when the testosterone level is highest and after a good night sleep for her. Have a little breakfast, take the phone off the hook, go back into bed.” Treat your age with respect and you will be able to get the most of it.

Protect yourself. STDs are rampant among the over 50 demographic. Often the elderly are not in the habit to use protection. By having the prospect of conceiving a child out of the way, older people do not even think of sexually transmitted diseases whereas they should. Keep yourself safe at all times.

8 Things You Should Know Before Having Sex After Divorce

  1. You should not, if you do not really want to. There is no rule for how quickly you should delve back into the dating pool and start having sex. Although now achievements in gender equality make it more socially acceptable for women to lead promiscuous lifestyles as much as they please the same way men do, there are many people of both sexes who do not find casual sex that much fulfilling. If you belong to that category, do not pressure yourself. Being horrified at the idea of having first-time sex after divorce will result in a great experience. Give yourself time and space to absorb what has happened to you.
  2. You can stop at any moment. Now, when the concept of consent is widely known and discussed, people are more aware of the need to rely on their feelings and emotions when they get between the sheets. If you are already naked but you start feeling awkward, it is totally okay to change the pace or even stop the intimacy altogether. It can happen to both men and women. You process your emotions at your own pace. As soon as something feels too weird and uncomfortable, pull out and regain your balance.
  3. Respect yourself. These are not empty words. Many men and women try to rebuild themselves after divorce by getting into casual sex whereas in fact they want person-to-person connection. Out of their own despair and need, they agree to have a relationship they do not really want. Either they settle for being summoned any time by one of their love interests, or they hold on to someone indifferent and uninterested only not to be alone after divorce. Value yourself and work through your issues in order to live the most fulfilling life.
  4. Do not think that the first-time sex after divorce will lead to a committed relationship. It is possible of course but it would be a mistake to expect it. Not only are women evolutionary prone to this type of behavior, as many people like to believe, but there are many sensitive males who want to attach emotions with sex and are willing to find someone to connect rather than only to have sex. The wise line of behavior for everyone is to go with the flow and see where it takes you. However, do not bring up questions of getting married and having children on first dates. And do not introduce them to your children just yet.
  5. Sex toys are helpful at the lonely stage. No matter how long ago was the last time you had sex, you should not look too ‘hungry’ for it. It is a great warm-up for a date to show your excitement and your eyes sparkling because of that particular person. However, you should not let your date get any idea that sex is expected of them. Even if you want sex badly, there are many ways out there to satiate your lust so that you would not give a vibe to the person you are meeting up with that you want to get to the finish line at any cost. In fact, post-divorce loneliness is a great time to explore your own body and its responses to various stimulation. There are so many sex toys and kinds of pornography now. If you are female and you think you do not need it, just go online and google. If you feel lost in the abundance of marketing offers, subscribe to sexologists and sex bloggers on YouTube and Instagram who explain how to use devices and contraptions you never even knew existed.
  6. Get more open-minded. Due to technological advancement and information, many people are now more open-minded. A lot of anxiety about sex with a new partner stems from our insecurities and fear not to live up to expectations. However, if we remember that sex is an extremely versatile act that is not restricted to vaginal intercourse only, it gets easier to derive some kind of pleasure wherever the course of events go. As soon as two people get naked and are trusting each other, they are united by a willingness to give pleasure to each other and self. And the human body can get pleasure from a wide array of things and actions and motions. So if you see that things are not going the way you intended or expected, simply relax and make the most of it. If you are male and you are shocked not to get your penis fully erected, take a deep breath and focus on pleasing your sex partner. If you are female and you do not like what the partner is doing right now, gently suggest them to change the position. Use positive reinforcement. Do not say: I don’t like you going to the left. Say: I like you going to the right. After all, men are willing to please their partner in bed. They want to know what you want. You have to give them that information so that they can be successful.
  7. Sex with your ex. Many divorced people find dating so frustrating that they prefer to get back to the safety of sex with their ex-partner. Having sex with your divorced partner indeed feels like a secure sexual environment – you both know each other and your bodies well and remember how to mutually please each other. However, psychologically it is not safe at all. You cannot move on and get your life back on track unless you get out of your ex’s bed. Besides, one of the ex-spouses definitely thinks that it will eventually lead to them getting back together, whereas the other definitely thinks nothing the sort of. If it is you who are being naïve and fearful of your single status, get a grip on yourself and start therapy, if you cannot snap out of that relationship on your own.
  8. Sex gets better with age. By getting older you are getting more experienced. Even if your sexual experience is limited by one-two long-term partners, it does not mean that it is limited. Quite the opposite, you developed a deep understanding of self and your desires and pet-peeves. Most probably your communication skills have gotten better too. So now you are eager to explore the sexual landscape with a new partner and navigate them in pleasuring you.

The Most Important Piece of Advice for Pre-Sex Trepidation

Have sex only with those who really want you.

The least of what you want in the moment of vulnerability is to feel that the other person is lukewarm towards you. Things get much easier and go more smoothly when both of you are eager to please each other.

If the person you are to have sex with is thrilled by you, neither the body of yours nor your imperfect performance would put them off you. Your desire sparks your partner while their desire proves to you that you are not making a mistake. Thus by mutually sending signals to each other, you create a safe space to explore and relish each other.

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