During the last ten years of my marriage, I had zero interest in sex. Actually, it may have even been a negative amount of interest. Ten years is a long time. I chalked my disinterest up to two kids and getting older (I was in my late 30s, so I was clearly trying to rationalize and ignore the glaring fact that I was miserable in my marriage). All of this didn’t mean I wasn’t having sex. But the sex was, at best, something to check off my to-do list.
Happiness after divorce is possible for you (because it was for me)
One fear I had (and often see clients grappling with) was this: Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN? It took me several years of weighing the fear—an unlikely and irrational one—of living the rest of my days entirely alone without a loving partner against the increasingly intolerable state of my marriage. I was thinking about divorce. Was that the right choice for me? I finally took a giant leap and moved out, focusing on baby steps like finding my own apartment, choosing a paint color for my new bedroom, and unpacking boxes one by one. But experiencing true happiness after divorce still seemed out of reach.
So, it came as a HUGE surprise when I discovered that in addition to unpacking those boxes of belongings—even the metaphorical boxes of emotions I had kept hidden away—I unpacked some interest in sex. Ok, not just some interest. I experienced a sexual reawakening! Just days after moving into my new place, SEX was all I could think about. That’s not an exaggeration. I felt different, becoming very physically aware of myself and my body. I felt so different that I looked different. Friends, family, and other people in my life asked me if I had a facelift or another kind of treatment. It dawned on me that perhaps I looked different because of feelings I was experiencing for the first time in many years: hope and happiness. And let’s face it, happiness is sexy.
Is bad sex in an unsatisfying loveless marriage still better than the possibility of NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN?
Don’t get me wrong—just because I felt a tremendous rush of interest in sex doesn’t mean I wasn’t equally consumed by bouts of pure, unadulterated panic. Sure, I had lots of interest but no game plan and no potential dates in sight. Would anyone find me attractive? Would anyone see me as anything other than a middle-aged mother of two trying desperately to keep her sh*t together? I couldn’t even allow myself to fully imagine the mechanics of undressing in front of another man. It all felt far too overwhelming.
My first kiss as the “new me”
It was a few days after moving into my new home when I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize. It was an old boyfriend I had dated in my 20s. I hadn’t heard from him in years. I knew that he had separated from his wife at some point, but I didn’t give it much thought. The text said, “Happy New Year! Hope you’re well. Would love to grab a drink sometime.” Assuming he had heard about my separation, I immediately called our one mutual friend to see if she had told him the news. She had not. In fact, she also hadn’t spoken to him in a long time. I was floored. What were the chances of my Ex texting me just days after I moved out on my own? We set up a date, and every time I imagined seeing him, I felt nervous.
I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time.
When I arrived at Indochine, a sceney NYC restaurant frequented by models and celebrities, I barely recognized myself! I felt like I was 25 again: out at night, in the “real” world, with other people who weren’t parents! While eating dinner with my Ex (we’ll call him Chaz), I remembered that he could never stop himself from checking out every attractive woman in sight. And that he is unapologetic about it. This habit once drove me nuts and was the reason I ended things with him years before. I noted that Chaz clearly hadn’t changed. His eyes skipped from woman to woman, landing on a lanky and gorgeous Afroed hostess, but I didn’t care. I felt free and alive for the first time in what felt like a very long time. And I had a one-track mind . . .
After dinner, Chaz and I walked a few blocks south to a spot we used to go to together back in the day. It was dark, moody, and easy to hide in. I was tipsy by this point, and I think Chaz was too. We sat down across from one another, and he leaned in to kiss me. It wasn’t an innocent, just-for-old-time’s-sake kind of kiss. It was a lean-into-each-other, full throttle make out session. My first kiss with a man who was not my husband in nearly 16 years. It was THRILLING, to say the least.
We finished our drinks, and a cab dropped us off at our respective apartments. No, we didn’t have sex. Kissing someone new was enough for me just then. We furiously made out the entire taxi ride (which would be my first of several kissing experiences in a taxi). After leaving him, I was excited about my new life after divorce. I was single, unmarried, and free.
A lot of women think they cannot become who they are meant to be without another man.
I’ve discovered otherwise. Me.
Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. Now you can find support and learn best practices RE-creating your life after divorce with Paloma’s Group. Decide who you really are. Find IT. Create IT. Own IT.
Classes start September 26 and space is limited. Visit here for details.
Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. After getting divorced herself, Alyssa started a service to help newly single people get into the dating app world with confidence. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Meet Alyssa this fall and benefit from her personal style and dating guidance through Paloma’s Group, SAS’ post-divorce support group for women.