Though my parents were liberal Jews, I grew up surrounded by conservative Christian peers who viewed sex before marriage as the worst possible sin. This greatly impacted my values in high school and served as effective birth control. But college, with all its newfound freedom and influences, changed the game. Sex was everywhere and the prohibition was lifted, though I continued to abstain not because of the fear of eternal damnation, but rather because I was holding out for the right guy.
I met that guy my junior year abroad, and I shared the big news with my mom the morning after. I had no regrets then nor do I to this day. Adam was super cool, and the men I dated in the years leading up to my marriage often resembled him in basic ways.
Post-divorce, I am trying to figure out the guidelines regarding sex yet again, but I am struggling, and it feels like freshman year of college. Sex is everywhere, but when is it right for a divorced mommy in her fourth decade of life?
While I seek answers to this question, I’ll share the observations I have made in the brief time I have been back out there in the dating world.
1. Mommies Are Hot
My kids’ happiness and health will always be my first priority. I socialize only when the children are with their father. I assumed it would be years before I would have a personal life again. To my surprise, I have found that mommies with responsibilities do not repel men. In fact, most men I meet are juggling family and work as well and understand the challenges. I have also discovered that single (often younger) men aren’t shy about pursuing mommies either.
2. Everyone Sexts
At some point while I was married, people started having sex through their phones, though I only recently learned that there is a term for this. My first experience at sexting was one of the hottest sexual experiences of my life even though I was technically alone. But while it can be fun, there are clearly risks and drawbacks to this activity, although they are nothing compared to the dangers of real sex. Ultimately, there must be trust between sexting partners, particularly when pictures are exchanged. Sexting can also grow stale quickly. I mean, how many ways can you describe the same acts? (I occasionally borrowed some lines from bad romance novels truth be told.) And of course, sexting can hardly compete with real human contact, though every man I know seems to be eager to engage.
3. An Open Mind Is Key
I had a very specific picture of the man I hoped to marry and the family we would create together. I got everything I asked for, and it bombed. Now I am trying to be less judgmental about factors that once seemed important such as political and religious affiliations. I’m trying to see beyond the physical exterior that typically appealed to me before, too. Perhaps my age and maturity have something to do with this. Professional aspirations are no longer as critical either, although I will likely always find higher education in a partner appealing. (Poor grammar during sexting, by the way, is a major turn off if you ask me. And while on the subject, selfies should be erotic, not obscene.) The point is, I am trying not to limit myself as I did in the past.
4. Married Men Are Dangerous
I can’t help but look for that ring whenever I meet or see a man of interest. I think it’s natural for everyone to flirt on occasion or seek cheap thrills here and there. We long for reassurances about our aging bodies and our shortcomings. But for whatever reason, I have discovered that many married men find divorced women intriguing. I, however, see absolutely no reason to go there and highly advise against it. Somewhat related, I have found that married women are not the least bit interested in me. I think they fear divorce might be contagious (but that is another article).
5. Love Your Body at Every Stage
While at the gym recently, I observed two college-aged girls scrutinizing their backsides and tearing down their appearances. I had an urge to slap them both and my 20-something-year-old-self as well. How much time did I waste agonizing over my body? Three healthy kids and two C-sections later, I am grateful for what others might consider my imperfections. The kids poke me in the belly regularly and tell me how mushy it is. What they don’t know is that my heart has also grown soft over the years since they entered my world. And after the last few years of battling with my ex, my heart could easily have turned to stone if I had allowed it. I am happy with my body, and when I choose to share it with another, I will make no excuses about how I look.
There were many days during the divorce process when I thought I would not survive. I am still recovering a year and a half later. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I can say that I no longer find the future scary. Love, relationships and life exist post-divorce. It is taking me some time and soul-searching, but I am making my way.