Dating sex after a mid-life divorce can bring unexpected emotions. For me, after the divorce I was consumed by the unanticipated onslaught of a tyrannical sex drive. At times I felt like an annoying cat in heat, often miscalculating when to even mention the topic of sex. When first divorced, it was easy to ignore warnings about beginning a relationship with sex. I mean: isn't it possible to have “just sex"? Don’t men supposedly do that all the time? Especially at my age, I should be able to negotiate the connection between sex and love with the skill of a lothario. And yet, while dating sex's newness can bring excitement and immediate gratification, it also has left me nostalgic for those sometimes awkward, often exhausted times in bed with my ex-husband.
Understand, I am not nostalgic for sex with my ex-husband. I am nostalgic for the way "just sex" changes into the "making love" of married sex. That distinction brings a certain level of acceptance with it. When the marriage isn't going well, the curiosity and want of "what might be" or "what is no longer" spawns daydreams of dating sex. When the marriage is going well, though, married sex is a forgiving and warm activity.
At its best, married sex doesn't involve worrying anymore whether one’s breasts sag and have stretch marks, or whether the chin has begun to show signs of multiplying, or whether the lower abdomen has the tautness of a pair of old cotton granny panties’ sprung elastic. With married sex, the familiar bulge of a husband’s softer belly often feels more satisfying than any imagined younger man’s board-hard six-pack abdomen. Even the caresses, while maybe taking on a certain amount of sleepy fumbling, create a contented sensuous response. There isn’t the pressure to do it or lose it no matter how one feels because the opportunity will be there tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, and the routine feels comfortable. Watching sex scenes in movies and wondering if one could move like that – or even wonder how it is one does move like that – isn't anxiety-producing because “doing it like that” isn't important.
It isn't that dating sex isn't fun; it definitely is, and often because one tries those moves and learns new language for them. Dating sex also has an important role in discovering what and who I want to be. One of the discoveries is that I can't be that lothario who can have sex that doesn't lead to love, but also that I want to keep in that love the fun of just enjoying sex. It's a both/and more than an either/or in terms of positive and negative qualities. Dating sex can't replace married sex, and vice versa, but it took my divorce to realize that.