Over 40, Divorced, And Afraid Of Sex?
How To Get Back Out There
Q: I’ve been on several first dates since my divorce but that’s as far as I’ve gone. Getting to know someone better will only lead to sex and, at 48 with a c-section and an abdominal surgery, I can’t imagine that. What can I do to get over being afraid? I’m so lonely.
A: Some women post-divorce date a lot and are intimate quickly as a way to prove they’re still sexually desirable. Others swear off sex and vow to be celibate for the rest of their days. As is true with so many issues in life, you may want to strive for an attitude somewhere in the middle. Maybe you’re still trying to understand yourself in the context of the breakup of your marriage and not prepared for a serious relationship yet. However, when you are ready, consider that it’s a process that unfolds over time. If you think too much about sex itself at the beginning, it may keep you feeling stuck and lonely.
Any relationship that has unraveled is pretty much guaranteed to leave a person with sexual baggage. In some failing marriages, conflict is played out through intimacy, while others become essentially sexless due to the stresses of marital problems. These circumstances can have a devastating effect on your sense of self and sexual confidence. How and when you sort through the emotional issues and embrace your sexuality again is individual and subjective. Whatever path your recovery takes, reconnecting with your erotic essence will be spirit-renewing.
If you really want to change your situation, you have to be open to the possibilities in all aspects of your life. This doesn’t mean changing who you are, but it does mean entertaining new ideas about dating. For instance, why not accept a blind date, attend a ‘parents without partners’ event, or join a reputable online dating service? And while you’re at it, treat yourself to a self-image pick me up. Splurge on a high-end haircut, a massage or a new outfit. A common fear is that sexual expectations have changed since you were on the dating scene. If you want to feel more confident, there’s plenty of information available — explore the web for resources, instructional sex videos, self-help books, or talk with your single friends.
Once you’ve found someone you’re attracted to, you’ll eventually have to face the physical part of the relationship. The pacing issue can terrify people who are dating again — which can feel overwhelming if you’re already concerned about the prospect of being intimate. You have every right to put on the brakes when you begin to feel uncomfortable. Realize that, if you wait until you’re ready, things will fall into place and you’ll know when you want to take the relationship to the next level. If your partner is right for you, he’ll understand your needs and be patient.
At this point in time, your apprehension about your body is completely normal. Chances are you have led a full life, and with that come scars — both emotional and physical. But it helps to remember that your new partner will likely have wounds from his own life experiences as well. As time passes and your friendship grows deeper, you will inevitably feel more trusting and less afraid. The intimacy will then be a natural extension of the closeness in the relationship. And eventually, you will find that mature intimacy can signify hope for the future — a future filled with love.