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Sex After Divorce?

Hi Chump Lady,

I’m pushing almost three years out now from the bomb my ex dropped on our marriage and by all accounts I am the “King of Meh.” I’ve worked on all my baggage and done most everything about getting my life back on track before anything else. That said, getting back into the dating world after 27 years leaves me in a unknown wilderness with no compass.

I did date a lot in the 1980s before I was married, but the rules appear to be all over the place now. Sooner than later I’m going to end up in the sack with someone, but after only sleeping with one woman for 24 years I’m not sure how I’m going to react to that, as it’s the last thing for me to let go of from my marriage.

I’d be grateful if others could share their feelings on this, it seems like a topic not often shared.

Mike

Dear Mike,

Chumps are such feeling creatures. The fact that you’re thoughtful about getting laid after divorce just goes to show that you’re a quality person. I’m sure you’ll be snarfed up and in bed with someone shortly.

Please don’t over think it. (Resisting typing “it’s like riding a bicycle!” Oops… I just wrote that…) Your ex stole so much from you — don’t let her have mental real estate around your sexuality. She certainly felt no loyalty to you, so there’s no shrine here to maintain after 24 years of marriage. Enjoy the world of possibilities guilt free, Mike.

When you worked on that baggage did you address any mindfuckery around sex? Some of the most pernicious blameshifting cheaters do is directed at chumps’ sexuality. She’s sexless. I’m not attracted to him. He’s too vanilla. She got fat. Etc.

It’s worse if you witnessed any of their salacious Penthouse letters. You know, those sexts and emails sent back and forth detailing their exploits. In their fantasy It Was The Best Sex Ever. (Blowjobs in a cramped subcompact during lunch hour? Really, how great was it?) But the true high is the deceit. That it was naughty and secret, and they might get caught! A healthy person can’t compete with that. Don’t measure your own sexual self worth against affair sex. That’s like old squidgy me comparing myself to some video game avatar. Oh God, I’ll never measure up, I don’t have tits like a druid. 

What your ex-wife had with OM(s) was a fantasy. Whatever she said to you, whatever she said about him — consider the source. Consider her character. Is this someone you respect? Does their opinion of your genitals really matter?

There are people who appreciate. You want to bed one of those people. Now you might ask yourself, how will I know until I’m naked with this person? Look for clues. Did they thank you for dinner? Do they do thoughtful things for you? Do they generally just think you’re terrific and enjoy your company? Well, they will enjoy you that much more without clothing.

As the expression goes — you know how to hammer a nail out of board? Drive another nail in.

My guess is whatever anxiety you have about intimacy with someone else after 27 years will disappear with a new person (nail). A good person, who deserves all of you.

Enjoy!

This column ran previously. I’m away for the holidays. Regular snark resumes on Monday.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hey I never commented on my exholes tic tac tiny penis, why? Because “I” cared……
    But hey I can pick & choose my package now so if I’m discarded like garbage later I at least had good sex without asking is it in!
    Happy Holidays

  • It is liberating is what it is. The last piece of rotten removed. I hated and I mean really hated that he was the ‘last one ‘.

    I was 27+ years relationship too. Dating sites at the time felt like complete failure. After 3 ish years of fending off supposedly happily married men (so shocked by this) I ended up hooking up with a recently separated teen age ex bf. It was too soon in his break up for me to consider to meet his kids and work towards moving in etc so we have an exclusive FWB type arrangement. He would prefer a bit more than that but it’s all I’m offering. We recently celebrated our first year together with a rather nice couple of rib eye steaks.

    Is he the one? Who knows. He’s kind, safe, thoughtful and respectful. Puts his kids first ( deal beaker for me as my ex couldn’t last a few months without disowning). But I’m having fun. He’s been so good for my brain.

    I was petrified the first time. Three kids and you can tell I like cake has left me with some very wobbly bits I don’t even want to look at. He took every step correctly to make me feel good. I barely think about it anymore. It’s not all about sex but intimacy and feeling desired.

    It really does take so much angst away. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

    • It felt good mentally to finally have sex again. I like sex and my ex took that away from me for too long. And it was a relief to not have him be the last person I did it with.

      I’ve got a steady FWB. I don’t want a serious relationship. I’m good with mutual respect and enjoying each other. I always enjoy spending time with him and don’t pine over him afterwards. He doesn’t cause any stress or upset in my life.

      And he’s a better sex partner too. My ex was lazy and selfish in bed. My FWB is playful and adventurous. I don’t have to be self conscious, neither of us are young and beautiful.

      I knew I wasn’t interested in another serious relationship. It was my ex who pushed so hard for commitment in our relationship. He claimed it was because he had old fashioned family values. In reality he wanted to lock me down and tie me to him. I’m done with that. Maybe forever.

  • This has been a big mental block for me. I feel like after so many years of abuse it *ahem* doesn’t worry anymore down there. I am only 27. I just feel axnious, scared, and disgusted even when I try to give myself a hand. After having so many people manipulate, force, or abuse me to get sex, I nearly hate sex. It is a shame because I used to be a very sensuous and affectionate love partner. Now it feels icky and traumatizing to even think about. Can anyone relate? I don’t want to feel this way anymore.

      • MsNoMoreKibbles, I have great respect for anyone who self corrects and edits! Thank you for that.

        I could have written your post. I’m so damaged that I can’t even make eye contact with my preferred gender. I won’t even think about sex until I’m divorced. I don’t want to sink to his level. I read posts talking about divorces that take three years and longer and that is horrifying.

        I’m giving myself time. I’m working on having a healthy body and healing my mind from decades of abuse. I sometimes wonder if I’m permanently broken. Then I remember just how far I’ve traveled in this journey. I’m not broken, I am healing.

        I think you are healing too. Do you have a therapist? Look for a therapist who says “Adultery is abuse.”
        Give yourself the gift of time. You’ve been traumatized by betrayal. You’ve survived abuse. You will get through this. It just takes time and a dedication to your own wounded
        Heart.

        Chump Nation, any suggestions for sexual healing? Can you recommend a book, a podcast, anything that helped you get over an aversion to sex.

        • Go slow and step by step. Take the sex out of it at first and just concentrate on enjoying the sensual.
          Enjoy the look, feel, smell and taste of food–and that includes appreciating it while you’re preparing it for yourself. Give yourself over to the blue sky or the ripple of rain or the smell of grass. Go get your hair cut and enjoy the feeling of someone else’s hands washing your scalp (I don’t mean sexually fantasize, just appreciate the care someone is giving you). Have a massage, so you can inwardly commune with the part of your body and what it’s feeling under the hands of the massage therapist. Get out and walk, just to enjoy the feeling of swinging your arms and the stride of your legs.
          So many of us don’t feel as if we deserve pleasure any more that I think it’s imperative–and life saving–to allow ourselves the pleasure of pleasures.

        • I also have abstained from sex during this unending divorce.
          I have declared that I will wait. 3 years is beginning to feel like forever. If I’m lucky I’ll be 64 and divorced this simmer. The possibilities of another partner look bleak.

    • I think this is a very understandable feeling considering what you have been through. I would suspect you have lots of healing to do and learning when you can feel safe before you go down that path. You deserve so much better.

    • Yes. I have begun to consider that I’m asexual. I have no interest at all. Honestly, I haven’t for a few years, but ex and I did have a regular sex life. But he was a lazy lover.
      That said, I’m 48, have 2 great teens, and am enjoying my divorced life.
      It’s only been 1 year since separation.

      My current thought is who needs sex. Or a partner. Maybe this is a phase.q

    • Totally relate. After realizing the full extent of my ex’s behavior, sex is just gross and repulsive to me. I sensed something wrong with him for years and now it all makes sense. I am in menopause and that can reduce sex drive, and if that’s part of it, I’m fine with that. I remember years ago my doctor asking how my sex drive was as we discussed my entering menopause. My drive was down because I knew in my gut my husband didn’t really care about me. I never told her. I just said I was fine. One of our last times camping I was behind the boat on water skiis and he let us drift very close into the rocks on the side of the river. I didn’t panic. His friend was wondering wth but I acted like nothing. He wasn’t going to scare me. He knew what he was doing. He knows boats. He raced them. Want sex with that? No thanks. I locked him out 4 years ago. Divorce is final. Maybe someday I’ll let someone get close to me but I will have to know I’m safe with that person. My ex never hit me but the mental and emotional, spiritual and financial abuse all there. And I’m free!

  • Will never happen for me anyway
    I’m one of the lucky ones that was left with an incurable STD !!! Ah I had a special kind of fuckwit

    No way would I ever get to the point of having sex and then saying oh by the way I have a STD . I’d never inflict that embarrassment on myself or anyone intimate .

    • I can imagine this would be terrifying, but this is a reality for many people out there, and protection is an option. I would guess that some losers would freak out and back away, but some realistic caring people would take a deep breath and just sit with the fact. I just read/heard some advice to not think about having sex until at least two months into dating, which at my age (52) makes tons of sense. Let the affection grow, and if that’s there hopefully it will make a difference. It’s not my experience so I’m just speculating, but I would hope I’d be thoughtful and kind if presented with that circumstance.

      • I will be 52 in 3 months, my ex left in 2016 & our divorce was final January of this year. I’m ready for intimacy, companionship & someone to hangout with…it’s been 3 long years.
        STD’s are so common and my ex married me knowing about it. There’s hope!

    • Karenb….. I can relate but as a person with HSV, it turned out that my BF also had it so no big deal at all. So many do. My best girlfriend also has it, and she is a Young widow (10 years now) and dates a lot. She has never once had a partner make her STD a deal breaker. Another long-time very close girlfriend has HpV and the only partner that had an issue with it was a guy she dates who had a compromised immune system— they used condoms. Last year she married a man she loves— he clearly had no problem with it.

      Sending love and courage😘😘😘

    • My friend is a female and has herpes. She used to panic about telling the men she dated and she dated a lot. I can tell you every single man she dated, except for one, and honestly he was the biggest toad of them all with the worst breath ever., was fine with it. All of them, and I mean A LOT, did not care. Two even had it themselves. I’ve never forgotten that. I think many people handle herpes with grace and care more about the person they are with. I know two women who longed for a man with known herpes. One married him. He had the pick of the litter with women.

  • After years of abuse I do not even care! And sexual abuse by a husband is REAL! I too do not know if I will ever heal in that area of my life. I was told that a woman cannot be raped by a husband. Sometimes it is our leaders who doesn’t give a shit! I left no stone un-turned but I had no support. Today I am free from the dick. And most importantly – happy and at peace. Hugs to all!

  • Hi Mike
    I hear ya. I was married for 26 years to the only man I ever had sex with. Having said that I met a nice man a few months ago. I was terrified the first time but he was great about it so I feel very lucky that he was the man I ended up with because he put me at ease.

    The problem is that he has told me that our sexual intimacy is not doing it for him even though we share a terrific emotional connection. We are looking at working on this but I find it is so difficult now – it is a different world out there in my mind.

    Everyone says it is “like riding a bike” but many people are watching porn and wanting someone who acts like that.

    I know this may seem like a red flag but the fact that he was honest about it and willing to work on it I feel is a good sign. The problem is how do I (or anyone in my boat) learn to be a better lover at middle age. Suggestions people?

    Best of luck Mike!

    • “Better lover” is COMPLETELY subjective. He’s got to tell you what he wants, not leave you to magically figure it out.

    • If a man I was dating told me I wasn’t doing it for him sexually, I’d dump his stupid ass and find someone who actually likes me for ME. Act like a prize and you will be treated like one. I don’t dance for any pornsick dudes.

      • Yes, Edie. Exactly. This is dangerous territory. My Narc Ex said this sort of but never gave me any specifics. He actually said: “you figure it out.” And it was just a means of making me pick me dance. It’s one thing to say to your partner: “I want to do “x”” but to generically say it’s not good enough is really shitty and unproductive.

        • Exactly! A healthy attitude is when both are informative, guiding, and love to cautiously explore; both taking pleasure in discovering each other’s likes and dislikes.

          Unhealthy people are vague, selfish, demanding and condescending.

          It’s a joyful dance of pleasure for both, not a way for one person to get what they want.

          After my ex-wife was pleased, that was it. She had got what she wanted. Zero input after that. It was like she completely checked out. She was ready for me to hurry up and finish. Didn’t care to motivate me in any way at that point. Would get angry at me if I lost interest. Sometimes she’d cry and ask if I thought something was wrong with her. When I explained that she stopped being affectionate after she finished, she looked at me like I was crazy. Started questioning that something was wrong with me because “men don’t have to have that to finish”. SMH

          • I’m sorry she treated you this way. Women are not all alike in this, in fact, we love to give pleasure in return. Don’t lose that hope, I’m sure the one you are meant to be with is out there wondering where you are! Take time to heal so you can have her for the rest of your life. Life is still great! Xo sweet

    • I don’t know if it’s ED your man has and/ or sexual motivation that is hindering your situation? But I just want to put this out there if that is the issue or not. With my guy he has diabetes. He has a hard time staying hard and it frustrates him to know end, literally feel emasculated because of it. Honestly it doesn’t bother me but it bothers him a lot. What worked for us was talking about it, trying new sexual things to do, feeling close kissing, cuddling and everything in between. We shower together and that is hella sensual for me and him. We have tried something that didn’t work for either one of us and talked about it. I think this is key. Being intimate with someone isn’t all about sex. We share our life and love together which makes it more comfortable and sensual when we discover new things that work for us. I hope this helps. I’m a very private person but felt compelled to tell you to not lose that little spark of connection between you both. Xoxo sweet

      • Thank-you Sweetchump
        He has had a hard time staying firm enough and he says he feels confused as he usually knows what he wants. He did share that he felt I wasn’t into it so I guess I wasn’t showing what I was feeling. I am hoping with clear communication we can work on this as we seem a great match in every other way. I also believe it is easier for him to think it is something with me rather than maybe something with him. Thank-you for your advice – this is something people often won’t talk about.

        • Definitely communicate and talk to him about getting his testirone checked. He shouldn’t project onto you this issue. Hopefully you can squash that right away and tell him this is a “us vs problem”issue. No blame thrown around between 2 loving adults. I wish you lots of love and happiness. Love is, afterall, supporting one’s happiness xoxo

        • He’s blaming you because he is getting impotent. It will be an age or health issue on his part. But his ego makes him imply it’s your fault.

    • I think it also may help to think of the dynamic you have when you are together. So… when you and he are together do you usually let him take the lead? Or are you in charge? If so… maybe you could try switching that. Tell him what you like, but let him take the lead, or vice versa….

      I have started seeing someone and he is always concerned about one bit or another. Generally it gets better when I slow things down and talk about how much I love him. when I talk about everything I’m doing out loud and make sure he knows how much I want to do it, it makes him feel sensual and confident and loved. And then we have fun together, his worries go away. He tells me similar stories when I’m in rough shape but verbalizing is something I didn’t do with my ex, we had been together so long we knew things. We were used to each other. And that also hangs heavy over people we are new with. Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with these new folk, and you will get there.

      If this man you’re with is looking for something more- Something that classified as dirty or weird to some folk- and he doesn’t know how to talk about it because he’s not sure how you would take it… I say also be open. It sounds like you guys are working hard on being a team. Being a little rowdy or fun can be freeing. Toys or role play can be exciting, and build a lot of trust. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with but think about that carefully. Are you just saying no to something because you think it’s for ‘someone else’ or are you actually thinking about whether you wouldn’t like it? Allow yourself to be a bit adventurous and try things and don’t get in your head about it. If you still prefer vanilla that’s totally cool but it’s nice to try some sundae toppings every once in awhile.

    • sounds like you are in good enough territory for now (for him), but not healthy. If the chemistry isn’t there sexually, he should move on- but to put it like, ” you aren’t doing it for me” makes it a blame game. gross.

  • Mike, based on your letter to CL you seem like a thoughtful, levelheaded guy (a yeti; sought after, always just in the periphery) 😆
    About two years out myself after 26 years married and mulling over the prospect of dating, I find myself feeling overwhelmed when thinking about the how to’s much less about how I’ll feel once I’m face to face with a real live person.
    My guess is the success or failure will be all about communication – use it well/wisely and eventually you find gold with some lucky lady. The physical stuff will come naturally if you invest in learning about who you’re with and sharing with them the same about yourself.
    (🤔 But secretly I think we all wish there was some sort of manual to guide us through).

  • My divorce was a long time ago. I made many mistakes in the first couple of years afterward. My perspective is hindsight-driven, so take it with that grain of salt.

    At this point in my life, I view sex as an integrated part of the whole of what’s true in my life, not as a standalone event. I have come to believe that if two quality adult humans share an interest in sharing sexual pleasure together, many of the usual concerns become somewhat irrelevant.

    For example: if I want to be that close with a person, it’s because of how the person IS, not because of how the person looks or specific predetermined preferences of what the person does. I mean, we all have boundaries, and those should be honored, but also I don’t feel like sex is any sort of failure or bore if a person doesn’t like doing a thing I like doing. I figure we’ll just do something else we both like. I realize fantasies are common, but they are also somewhat childish in many respects. In real life, want to share with a person who is
    is real and authentic, not some media-designed humanoid plastic doll.

    I care about how the person communicates, whether the person cares about my well being and their own, whether the person communicates their needs and desires effectively and promptly (so I can feel confident I know how the person is feeling at any given moment), etc. I care about these things because real-time, in the moment, they seem to me to be the things that matter most in ensuring both people have a lovely time during sexual connection.

    I believe two people can have a wonderful time in bed together just because they want to, and I believe that sort of sex is substantially better and more pleasurable than some prescribed session where everything works a certain way, or happens in a certain order, or fits some other fantasy.

    I believe these things because I’ve lived them. I’ve also lived their opposites, so my contrasting experience is significant.

    This is just one person’s perspective, and I’ll admit I’m probably somewhat rare. These are just points to ponder.

    One side note: I do consider it significant whether the person likes porn. This is not because I’m judging the person specifically. However, after many experiences, a strong interest in porn appears to indicate two things to me —
    (1) a preference for fantasy as an arousal mechanism, which tends to shut the person down to reality, and
    (2) an ability to compartmentalize how likely it is that the people they are viewing are being harmed, which indicates an ability to turn compassion off for an endorphin high.

    It is my experience that when a person has a deep fear — or lived experience — that their arousal system doesn’t work well with real partners, it’s an indicator that the person’s brain may be rehabituated toward fantasy and away from being with real, realistic people. Porn isn’t the only mechanism that causes this to occur, but the research on porn bears this out, and porn is a choice while the other things that have the same result are not.

    I look for traits of presence and mindfulness in a sexual partner, not because I judge others, but because that’s the best fit for me. A person who loves being present, spontaneous, considerate about both of our feelings and needs, and focused on mutual joy as the primary goal is a person whose company I can really enjoy in the moment. Each of us has to find our own right fit. Barring extremes, most of us aren’t “good at” or “bad at” sex. It’s a compatibility issue, not an achievement test.

    This thinking won’t get you laid much, I’ll wager, but it will get you quality sex over quantity. It just depends on what you’re wanting, I s’pose. Food for thought. 😊

    • This is one of the best comments I’ve ever read about sex, its significance and the limitless possibilities between two caring people–and about the damaging role porn can play in a real-life encounter. Having just dumped a porn addict who had also slept with sex workers for 13 years when in his 30’s (details he “forgot” to tell me for 1.5 years!!), I now know just how “off” the sex can feel when one partner has over-used/become addicted to porn. I think Amiisfree identified exactly why: the essential ingredient of compassion for another (instead of only oneself–an all-too-common failing among the sex-obsessed) is missing. It took me a long time to figure this out, that a quality person is one who actually does focus on another person’s well-being, be it emotional, sexual, physical, or intellectual. A quality person understands that love is a verb, and while that’s a cliche nowadays, it’s also the most succinct explanation of what makes a relationship worth investing in or kicking to the curb. I am now very comfortable in my view that a person who claims that porn doesn’t harm a relationship is someone I can do without.

      • I love that you said well-being – it goes so far beyond the microcosm of pleasure and into the well-being of the whole person. Love this post! 😊

    • Thank you for your post Amiisfree. I never thought of people who like porn that way (my ex loved it and as part of our sex life would ask me to watch it together; it never did much for me, I did it for him). You are absolutely right though.
      As to this specific topic, I am a year and a half into separation and I am terrified of going back into dating and/or having sex again. After 30 years of being together with the same man, at 55 I really hate my body. He didn’t spare me any of it either, he even told me once that my new perfume made me smell “old”. That was said in front of his “girl”, 20 at the time, while we were out together and she was a guest at my house; they had an affair already, had sex in my house in the Guest room opposite to our then 15 year old son’s bedroom. I believe my son had a little crush on her too. Fun times! Years of abuse are difficult to leave behind.

  • I was with my X 25 years, married 22. He did a number on me and my sexuality. Porn, hookers, strip clubs, and massage parlors. He had no enthusiasm for sex with me because I was constantly being compared to the women he bought. (These men are dangerous. Got himself tested 4 times never bothering to worry about infecting his wife.) Anyway dating has been pretty dicey. Lots of men wanting sex right away no connection etc.

    Last summer on my last online date before I decided to give it a break, I met this guy and we decided to just bike together. I wasn’t sure I was attracted to him. We spent all summer biking and then having meals, and then even running errands. I know sexy right. He would bring me chai he made to run errands. One day I thought you know what this guy is honest, kind, and into me. I took the plunge and can say it’s been really positive. I’m not sure where it’s going but he’s an honest person and I had forgotten how sexy that can be. Trying scared.

    • Same here. 19 years with cheater ex-married for 17. I had no idea about his porn addiction, the hookers & massage parlors. He withheld sex and destroyed my self-esteem. He was so into the porn/fantasy that he could even function the few times he would try to have sex with me. But of course, he blamed me. Once I finally caught him and we split up. I didn’t think I would ever be interested in sex again. I was terrified. I was thinking are all men like he was?

      I did re-connect with a Mr. Nice guy from my past. We have been together for awhile now. He is so patient & reassuring with me. He tells me I’m beautiful and talks things out with me. He makes me feel safe. Physically, he always puts me first and it feels amazing. I can’t ever remember ex making me feel like that. He also tells me that there is more to intimacy than sex. I don’t know if it will turn into anything but he has given me hope that there are still nice guys out there.

      But if I ever met another guy who said he watches porn-I would run like my hair was on fire!
      Been there-DO NOT want to do that again!

      • After my divorce I hooked up with two old boyfriends from my past and now I realize that the reason the sex was so weird was because all they did is watch porn. I’ve been married twice and neither of my husbands was into porn, even the cheater so I didn’t know how to spot a porn addict.

        Gawd, the sex was horrific and I only had sex ONCE with both of them. Honest to dog, when it was all over I just wanted to say to them, ‘If you’re going to fuck me like a whore, then you’re going to pay me like one. That will be $500.’ Eewwwww It didn’t have a THING to go with ‘making love.’

        Those years were when I felt really bad about myself for getting cheated on and think I was just trying to be with someone who found me attractive. Since then I will stay celibate until I find a real man who is totally into me. Until then, I think I’ll continue having a very nice life. I like what someone said above..’Act like a prize, and they’ll treat you like one. I am a PRIZE. Thank you (~:

      • Dear Current Chump, your comment struck a chord with me when you said your ex withheld sex from you and you later discovered his extra curricular activities. May I inquire as to how you discovered his behaviors?

        • Hi Dazed-
          I have no problem sharing what happened. Although my name is Current Chump, it has been a few years since D-Day, split & the cheater ex’s passing. I don’t get time to post much but I have been here for a few years and know that finding this blog saved my life.

          The iPhone was the beginning of the end for us but it allowed me to finally catch him & rip off his mask. There is an app called “Find My iPhone” and both of our phones were linked. He was supposed to be at his father’s birthday party on a Sunday afternoon. We were waiting for him to return from golf. He called & told me he was running late & would be about an hour. Don’t know why but I had a feeling he was lying. I had not really used that app before but when I hit find my iPhone it showed that he was right down the street from my in laws house. I made an excuse to leave really quickly & followed the iPhone tracker right to the front door of the massage parlor (hooker palace) he was at. Of course, it didn’t help his case that he parked his big ol’ Mercedes with personalized plates right in front of the joint. I parked my car blocking his & waited for him to come out. In the meantime I had googled the place & was reading all the fun services the ladies would perform for a fee. He came out whistling Dixie until he saw me. He immediately tried to lie & that’s when all hell broke loose. The mask slipped, he was a rage monster and there was no going back.

          I will say that I knew deep down something was wrong for years when I was lost in the dick desert (no sex) but I had no tangible proof of his dastardly deeds. He was a master at manipulation and gaslighting. Blamed everything on me-old, tired, ugly, fat….etc. I couldn’t believe that marriage was so miserable & that other people could possibly be having sexless marriages too. I tried to hire a PI but the PI had told me if my woman’s intuition was that strong that he was cheating, he probably was and to use my money for a divorce filing. We had a very young child so I tried to eat the shit sandwich for awhile. Then I found this blog & it saved me. EVERYTHING MADE SENSE. I was able to get my plan together to save myself & my child.

          He died unexpectedly before we could get legally divorced. Once I was able to get real distance from him, it was amazing the clarity that came. There were so many red flags it could have been a parade. Things came out after he died as well-just more confirmation that he had shitty character & I never knew him at all. I came to accept that the awful things he did were his choices & his shame to bear-not mine.

          If you are married & there is no sex in your house-It’s happening somewhere else and you just don’t know it.
          If your guy wants the porn instead of you (a real partner) all the time-LEAVE. There is nothing to work with. This is a selfish person only concerned with their own wants & needs.
          If you are being blamed for lack of sex or performance issues-You are being gaslighted-RUN. It really isn’t you-it’s them.
          If you are being told no one else will want you-LEAVE. Someone else definitely will & cheaters know this-it is their actual fear.

  • I am 2 years out and have done the work and feel close to meh. My issue now is how do I would even find someone? I have no interest in online dating. I have done things to “get out there” but nothing. My friends are married so unless I want to go to a club alone.. I do things alone but I get lonely. Midlife divorce is so hard. Christmas was hard. I spent the morning with my adult children but then had to go home alone Emile they got to spend time with their significant others and their family. I don’t want to burden others with my loneliness. It tends to make others uncomfortable.

    • Dear Iron, I was divorced after 42 years of marriage. I was in a similar situation where all of my friends were married. I met my guy at a jazz concert I attended as part of a Meet Up group. Meet Up groups are awesome — I have never gone on a hike, dinner or concert and not had a good time. If you meet someone at one of these functions, you have the built in conversation starter of your shared interests. If you don’t meet someone, well you were there to do an activity that you enjoy in the first place and you still can have fun.

      Also, I would not be so quick to dismiss on-line dating. OLD is just a means of meeting people. It is not necessarily hook-up sex. The good thing about OLD is that people are usually very clear in their profiles about what they are looking for, so it is easy to identify possible matches. Chat a bit, meet for coffee, and see if there is a mutual interest. Do have high quality photos taken for your profile if you decide to try OLD.

      • Iron Butterfly,

        I can relate. I would love to find a loving long-term partner. No luck in the last several years. My husband and my last boyfriend found their partners while with me. (My last boyfriend threw me over for his young work subordinate, who is now his beloved second wife. I wish that I didn’t feel jealous and envious of my ex-boyfriends and their new wives, but I do and sometimes wonder, ‘Why do they get to have this fabulous life with a fabulous partner after being jerks to me?’) Guys I have met through work are gay or have been through rehab, which doesn’t work for my situation as I have young kids–these guys can be nice, but getting involved with a guy who had gone through rehab might cause custody problems in my case. The only guy I met through work (a couple of years ago) who wanted to date me was a guy who was homeless, trying to stay sober, and may have dropped out of high school. Tried many meetups and volunteer activities–only women and a few men who are either married or very strange/creepy and thus not dating material. Tried ‘high end’ dating services in which guys spend several thousand dollars to meet someone–men were very strange, completely incompatible, bashed ex-wives who loved them. Online dating for me has been a bust–scammers (‘I am a surgeon who works in the Middle East’ or ‘I am an engineer who works on an oil rig in some ocean 11 months per year,’ guys who only want sex (I don’t want ‘just sex’), guys who are abusive, or guys who just aren’t interested. One guy had to cancel our meeting because he had to check in with the authorities for a random drug test; another guy canceled our 3 p.m. Sunday hike because he got drunk with his former frat brothers the night before and had a bad hangover–He’s a 50+ social worker. One of my chump friends (also over 50) says that online dating options (straight men) are like a police line up! I put up a really nice photo–with long, dark hair that most guys supposedly like, slim. 50s, with some noticeable wrinkles (although I don’t smoke and don’t try to tan) and with kids still at home seem to be a dealbreaker for the vast majority of the rare decent single straight men who are over 45. I have finally given up because since my last boyfriend left the last time, I haven’t met anyone who gets even close to being a potential partner. I’m really lonely, too, but don’t know how to change the situation. Miss being touched, especially physical intimacy, having a regular someone who really cares and is invested. Friends are great but not the same.) And no, I can’t get pets as I rent an apartment (can’t afford to buy a home as I am virtually unemployed) and landlord does not allow cats, dogs, etc. Trying to throw all my energy into free activities like reading, writing, taking free online courses to financially save my family and distract me from the absence of a partner. If I could advise my younger (teen, 20-something) to not put so much money, time, and energy into finding and keeping a partner and instead put all those resources into making myself completely self-sufficient. I might at least have a career (that could sustain my family).

        However, Discarded Wife found a partner at a concert. The mother of one of my friends paid over $5K and found a partner she likes who seems to like her. I guess mileage may vary, as the saying goes. I wish you happiness, IronButterfly.

    • Please reconsider on-line dating. Bumble is the best one IMO because the lady makes the first move… which is more like the IRL dynamic, frankly. IRL, nice gentleman wait for positive, nonverbal cues—eye contact, a smile—before striking up conversation with a lady

      Also, opt in for the premium service upgrade, which allows you to peek behind the curtain who has already “liked“ your profile.

      Also, be ready to *meet* IRL ASAP. Interminable text chats are counterproductive.

      Get a burner phone # so you don’t have to hand out your real digits until you feel safe and confident. Meet in public places until you feel safe and confident.

      Also, be ready to say out loud “thank you, but *not* a match” after just the first meeting—if that seems true.

  • My cheater XW used sex to covertly bring me down and constantly made it clear that she was not interested in having sex with me and when she did it was because she was doing me a favor. I had been so beat down just the thought of having sex with someone brought about a lot of anxiety.

    Fast forward to today and I am now happily married to another fellow chump. When we started dating I was really nervous when our relationship got to the point of having sex. But her, being the loving and caring person she is worked with me to help in that department. Soon after the sex was awesome, for both of us and it still is now. Sex with a loving connected partner makes all the difference. It ends with lots of sex and lots of orgasms because you both just want to work together to make the other person feel good.

    Dont worry. When the time comes it will be easier than you think.

  • I was in a 25 year marriage that I thought was exceptional. We had a lot of great sex— so I thought. Now every memory is suspect…..

    I met my significant other at the YMCA when we were both going through divorce. We spend a lot of time getting to know each other exercising in a group setting, then we went on a few months of dates running, kayaking, lifting weights in the gym, and hiking before any physical intimacy. It was terrifying — neither of us had kissed anyone but our spouses since the 1980s! I cried the first time we kissed. It took time to get comfortable but now it’s wonderful— I only wish we had more time for intimacy but with two busy professions, 6 kids, two dogs, daily exercise and a household to run, and both of us in our 50s, a lot of nights we fall asleep exhausted. We are emotionally intimate every day with a morning prayer and meditation, though. In a few years all the kids will be grown and we hope to reduce work hours, so hopefully then we’ll have more energy for more fun in the bedroom. I will mention also that viagra is really great— it works and takes the pressure off— when you are in your 50s or older that can be an issue. When I’m feeling frisky I will ask my BF if he wants to take a ‘Lil “somethin’ somethin’” with a wink wink 😉😉. It takes a half hour or so to kick in so this helps…. for those of you guys worried about ED — don’t! I think it’s sexy when my BF uses the blue pill to take care of things🥰

    • Couldn’t agree more!!! I just love the connection we both share. Makes a huge difference in real life and the bedroom!

  • My story may be inspirational, I hope. I re-entered dating, thanks to Bumble, about 1 year & change after my divorce was final, and also after >3 years of largely involuntary abstinence. Met someone I liked—a lot—and dated a few weeks. I saw a lot of thoughtfulness and reciprocity in his behavior. And he was a good kisser, too. When I decided to take him to bed, I told him my kinks and turn-ons, and he replied joyfully “Well, we are going to get along famously!”

    And he was right… He took my suggestions and ran with them. Masterfully. Who’d have guessed that I’d start having the best sex of my life in my late 40s? Who’d have guessed I’d find a lover who acts with gratitude, like he worships the ground I walk on?

    That was almost 3 years ago. Situation is still very hot, though settled down from the *exhausting* pace we kept up for the first year-ish. We bought a house together about a year ago and plan to be married in 2020.

    So, tell your lover what you enjoy and observe how she carries that out. Does she demonstrate *reciprocity* in that department, too? Over time? If so, maybe she’s a keeper.

  • When I asked my ex-wife if I didn’t please her enough, she exclaimed that sex was never an issue; I always pleased her. Then she spouted out the nonsense about her low self-esteem and how she never “went looking to cheat”. However, this was when she was playing the self-pity card. Other times she’d be in rage mode and have a cocky, stonewalling attitude. In charm mode she’d just pretend nothing happened and life was business as usual.

    I really struggled with wanting to have a revenge affair. Quite honestly, what stopped me was the amount of effort on top of all the guilt involved. All these resources expended for a little bit of kibble…it just didn’t make sense. The only thing that made sense was to divorce. That way I’d have the resources and wouldn’t have to play such a stupid and convoluted game. Maybe this was why I was eager to try dating once I had filed and gotten my own place.

    As a teen I was paralyzed by any woman I felt attracted to. Before I met my future ex-wife, I had gotten over that almost completely. After divorce I felt paralyzed again, but knew I could change. I remembered what I learned those years ago. I have to be willing to mess up and make mistakes to learn. Also, not being focused on the outcome is a good idea too. My only goal is to enjoy being in the presence of a woman.

    I haven’t been in a relationship yet and I still don’t know if I want to. I have been intimate, in varying degrees, with a few women. Honestly, it did seem weird afterwards. Not between the two of us, but just as a self reflection sort of thing. It felt like I didn’t feel as close to them as I should have considering. I’m sure it’s just more baggage that I didn’t realize I was carrying. Sigh…getting to a complete and nirvanic state of “meh” is such a weird and multilayered process.

    • my ex completely cut off sex. he even refused on our wedding night. that’s an area I feel extremely stunted in. It scares me that men my age will expect way more experience than I have. these crazy people keep us even from exploring a fundamental part of our very nature.

  • It terrifies me, I’ll be honest. Was married for 20 years, haven’t been with someone new since I was 25, when my body was VERY different. Dating scares me too and I’ve been divorced now for 2 years. Otherwise life is fine.
    I’ve been spending a lot of time with a single friend with a horrible romantic history – never married, no long term relationship for 15 years, messy family history, has a history of unavailable crushes, likes porn and strippers. Textbook unavailable. So what does my attachment to him say? Obviously I’m unavailable too. I want a relationship but know I can’t trust anyone and I’m not sure I can trust myself. Seriously considering therapy (again) just to understand how to have a relationship with someone where I’m not a doormat.

    I feel your pain. I’m only 51 so I don’t want this to be my swansong.

    • It won’t be your swan song. I was married for 20 years and it is actually amazing to be with someone else who knows me. Be friends with them first, see if there is chemistry and relax and go with the flow. I have no doubt that you’ll be just fine. Fear keeps us from going outside our comfort zone. Just go with the flow and it’ll be amazing.

  • Here’s what helped me.
    A firm talk by my therapist pointing out that I seemed to be finding fault with every guy.

    Shahida Arabi’s chapters on chemical bonding and oxytocin. Made it apparent to me that I needed to break the bond by establishing it with someone new.

    Turning dining room into private bedroom a week after break-up so it would be ready and I’d have a safe place that’s already in my fantasies.

    A guy that worshipped my body and before the first time going in with no expectations (but boy was I surprised) and a few gin tonics. Uhh and I also pre-staged the dimmer setting of the lights and saved it in the position best suited to my little post-pregnancy muffin topping.

    I didn’t do online dating but a long-term single friend told me that if so I should let slip that I had a c-sectio. Seems a little too low to emphasize on tightness that way but she says it works. Just in case anyone would want to go that track.

  • I’m 66, and I haven’t been with anyone sexually in a long time, not because I’m not interested or the men I meet are not interested, but because I have not found anyone I am attracted to and that I trust, and who is available. The door is not completely closed, but I am ok if it doesn’t open again. I am glad I do not feel the drive or the need I felt when I was younger, but one of the good things about age is that desire and needs change.

    When I was a girl in the fifties, my Mother definitely did not want me to date or have sex, until some magical moment in the future when I found the perfect husband and wanted children. I did not want to wait until all that happened (I am pretty sure perfect is not out there). I have dated a variety of men over the years, had sex with a few, and married more than once. None of the men in my life have been perfect, some were more attractive to me than others, but I did learn over the years not to be in too much of a hurry when I made sexual choices. Undue speed led to bad choices for me, not dating for a long enough time led to bad marriages. I wanted that unrealistic image my mother, and every fairy tale I ever read, had planted in my brain, and I now know that I set an impossible standard, and then tried very hard to make it work, long after it obviously was not going to work.

    When I was looking for love in all the wrong places I did learn a few things that seem to work for me. I carefully listen to what people say, and take the time to see what they actually do, before I invest in friendship. If I find myself attracted to a man, it is rarely because he looks like Adonis. It is a shame, but most really handsome men I have met seem to be in love with themselves, and feel very entitled to be served. If men express interest in totally inappropriate women (due to age, unrealistic beauty standards, or pornographic interest alone) I find it very easy to run away from them like my hair is on fire. I completely agree with what Amiisfree says about porn, above. If someone believes I need tits like a druid princess avatar, or my sexual parts should be interchangeable, or that I am ever going to be as flexible as I was at 18 again, I laugh and run away. Incidentally, I find that men who seem obsessed with the physical are often oblivious to the fact that time has made its mark on their bodies, too. Again, running away from these guys is easy.

    I want real companionship, mutual interests, evidence of long term financial well being, and truly considerate behavior in a partner. I offer all these same things, and don’t want someone who only responds to my physical attributes. I find these things very sexy. If I meet someone who is on the same wavelength I am, I am sure intimacy will follow. If I don’t meet this person, I am content with the good friendships I have found with like minded friends I have established over the years.

    The real secret to being happy is that you do not need to have a sexual companion to share your life 24/7 to be happy. Being alone is not necessarily lonely. Find activities you enjoy, and allow yourself to be in the moment. Don’t constantly scan the horizon to see if Perfection is finally being delivered to you. Choose to be content, and make decisions which will likely lead to your contentment. It really is that simple.

    • Portia,
      You sound really balanced and content, even without sex. Some of us ‘older’ (over 50) ladies DO really miss sex, though. Not saying that sex is the only thing that makes the world go round, but not having sex for years when one wants to have sex with a loving partner feels like a life only partially llved. (Some Maslow’s Hierarchies even include sex as a basic need.Also many studies show that people who are in (healthy) sexual relationships are generally healthier, happier people who experience less stress than their sexless counterparts.) The thought of never having this type of love for over most of a lifetime (last time I had anything close to a mutually beneficial, loving relationship was in my 20’s) is depressing and distressing. Also, tough when you have no money and are trying to support kids on virtually no money even closing in on 60. Current roommate is great but not physically, emotionally, financially the same as a good long-term partner.

      • Portia,
        I agree that Perfect does not exist, but some of us never have looked for Perfect–we would have been content with decent-very good, which I thought my last partner was. He may be very good to his current wife, but he was overall awful to me. Activities and friends can be great, but they don’t take the place of a good long-term partner. What do you recommend to those of us who, unlike you, DO want a long-term healthy physically intimate relationship but cannot find one (for years)?

          • Thanks, Mitz. It’s just that I have gotten tired of looking (also tired of NOT looking). Over two years ago, I accepted that a healthy, happy long-term relationship quite likely would not happen in my life. As looking has proved to be expensive, very time-consuming, and draining with no positive outcome, I think that I may permanently shelve it. Didn’t Kenny Rogers sing, ‘Know when to hold ’em; know when to fold em.’ I think that it’s high time I folded.

      • If you are in your 50’s and haven’t had a mutually beneficial loving relationship since your 20’s, you have really lived without satisfying sex for longer than I have. It is not that I do not desire sex, it is that my desire does not control me, or make me seek partners who are not what I want. When I was young, I wanted different things, and I confused some of my wants with needs. I did marry, and I did have children, and some of my years as a wife were good — I think I was oblivious to things I cannot be oblivious to now. You cannot unsee what you know you have seen. You cannot undo a bad decision, but you can take steps to get your life back on track and try very hard not to make the bad decision again.

        What works for me may not work for you, and some time along the way I grew to understand perfect was not really an option. So I stopped looking for perfect. What I was trying to say was control what you can control, and stop beating yourself up if you cannot find what you want. I have a friend from college who wants sex so much she puts herself into bad situations to have a man in her life. Over all the years and bad situations she has not learned that sex is not love, and you cannot make someone love you. I believe she makes herself unhappy, and she will not give up on her methods, even though they have never worked. Chump Lady would say she hasn’t taken the time to fix her picker.

        You don’t have to give up on the desire for true companionship, but you do have to decide if settling for less than what you really want will really make you happy. Having loving friends and enjoyable activities does not take the place of a true loving companion relationship, but it is much more satisfying to me than trying to make an unsatisfying relationship work. If a man only desires me sexually, or merely finds me useful economically or as a housekeeper/cook, I can tell you I would much rather be alone for the rest of my days. I may live alone, but I am not always lonely. There are many things I may want, but very few that I need. Learning to tell the difference between want and need was part of fixing my picker.

        Since your past relationships are over, I think you would be better off not worrying whether or not those men have changed, or their present partner is having the life you wanted. My guess is they haven’t changed, and the new partner may have something different from what you had, but it is not necessarily better. I believe you may be happier if you stop scanning the horizon for a new relationship, and instead start doing other things which bring you joy and reflect your interests. Maybe a partner is out there somewhere for you, but live your life for you, not some possible new partner. I believe it is better to have a pleasant surprise than a constant sense of disappointment.

        • Thanks for your wise words, Portia. I would just add my two cents as a cancer survivor: I have had to work through the fact that “you can’t always get what you want.” (Cue the Rolling Stones!) As CL often says, we can’t control anyone/anything but ourselves – and that includes not just our cheaters, but ALL people and situations. We have to learn to be content in ourselves, and reach out to others from a place of wholeness. Just because the data suggests that it’s incrementally better overall to be in a healthy partnership, doesn’t mean that we’re therefore entitled to healthy partnerships, or that something is seriously wrong with us if we don’t have one. People tend to be healthier overall when they have more financial resources, too, but we are left to deal maturely with the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees (and wouldn’t be worth anything if it did!).

          I will resist the urge to go off on entitlement in our society generally, but I think that a lot of us who live in the modern first world really don’t understand how easy we’ve had it, relative to all human generations who have come before us. (And our entitlement is not sustainable, either personally or for the world around us!) In my humble opinion, given what’s likely coming down the pike in terms of climate change and other impacts, it’s time for us to be grateful NOW, to make our peace with ourselves NOW, to learn to live with what we have NOW. It’s impossible to have healthy, sustainable boundaries for ourselves or for our planet if we are constantly looking for the better thing or person outside ourselves. Loneliness *is* hard, I agree, but mature adults have to be able to deal with hard things. In the grand scheme of things, I can think of even harder things over which I have little or no control.

    • *Applause* Portia, I have always loved your considerate writings. I feel exactly the same way you do. I could have written it. Not as well, but every word reverberates to me. Thank you.

    • I feel very in harmony with you, Portia. And I L-O-V-E sex, a LOT! I just happen to love my well-being a lot, too, and it’s a priority for me over having sex with someone else just to be with someone else — which, for me, is antithetical to my well-being nowadays. Wasn’t always, is now.

      I appreciate your words, great mind food.

      • One of the things I love about chump nation is how thoughtful and supportive we are of each other. We are all different, but we have lived through similar experiences. We don’t believe we all have to be the same, or fit into the molds we once believed were designed for us. Learning what we need, and what we can realistically achieve will lead us to a happiness/contentment we have not known in our previous life. It is a different kind of love and support than I have ever known before.

        Maybe it is sad that we have to walk thru the fire, and survive it, to learn how good it is not to be set on fire by someone we thought would love us. (But that seems to be the case.) We learn to give others compassion, because we realize we need it so badly. We learn to trust our own ideas, and make our own choices, because it is the only reasonable thing to do. Others may love us, but we have to be responsible for our own well being. Learning to be mighty is a self rewarding experience. Happy Holidays Chump Nation! Happy Life Choices!

        • Thank you for the interesting and important discussion, Portia and others. I am going to try to be completely self-sufficient and just give up trying to find and hoping for romantic love. Really trying to drastically change my outlook–to one in which being permanently single (celibate) is a DESIRABLE outcome. A lot of women (and a few men) end up alone, being widowed by their older spouses, divorced young and never re-married, or never married. I’m going to tell myself that I just got a head start on permanent ‘singlehood’ through divorce and abandonment. I hope to someday be strong like so many people here who are perfectly content to be permanently single or even HAPPIER for it! It’s just tough to change one’s outlook 180 degrees. Financial security might help–if I had a permanent full-time job and my kids were grown, I would probably fret less. I worry about my/my kids’ financial not-so-distant future. Is anyone else scared this way, or I am the only ‘welfare’ parent here?

  • Since this was previously published:

    Mike – If you’re still with us here, could you provide us an update with any tips or advice that you learned in the interim?

  • This is the hard subject for me.

    I spent almost 25 years with my XW. I hadn’t dated anyone else since I was 21 years old. Started dating my XW when I was 21, married when I was 22. So being intimate, let alone kissing another woman worried me. Was foreign to me.

    My XW systematicly destroyed my sexual self esteem. She love bombed me while we dated and the beginning of our marriage. How good a lover I was, kisser, etc. THEN she started telling me what a bad kisser I was. Then how bad a lover I was. One stretch of our marriage we made love for a whole YEAR and she didn’t touch me once… I didn’t know it yet, but I began the dance for her.

    When her affairs began the sexual abuse really began. She would keep the kids in bed so “that we wouldn’t have sex”. Sex became increasing all about her and her needs. I started calling it “her servicing”. She wouldn’t say”I love you” or ANY compliments. I was told I was unchristian and selfish if I had any urges to make love to her WITHOUT her permission. She weoponized sex. She EXPECTED me to be romantic when she was as cold as ice. Even ruined anniversaries by having me do all these Romantic anniversary things for her and then say “don’t expect sex from me” and go to sleep when we got home. I felt so used.

    When she got older and no one (that I know of) wanted to have an affair with her she let herself go. She gained 150 pounds and said that I was suppose to be aroused by her no matter how she looked. She wouldn’t exercise and sat there eating candy, etc for hours at a time. Still she acted cold and mean…

    She wouldn’t make love to me unless I took Viagra so I would be so hard it hurt. Her kink…

    After I found out about her affairs that lasted years during the beginning and middle of our marriage. I filed 3 1/2 weeks after DDay.

    I was scared to kiss another woman, let alone to be intimate with a woman. I didn’t date during the separation. I worked on my self-love, self esteem, improving my parenting skills, etc. Went to therapy (still going).

    When I was ready to date, I dated casually my first love from high school and an old friend since I was one years old. They reminded me what kind of person I was before my XW. Kind, loving, affectionate… I got my sea legs underneath me.

    Then I met my wife. We got to know each other as friends first. So when I started dating her I was SCARED even kissing her. But she was wonderful. Has said since the first time she kissed me that I am the best kisser she has kissed, not because of technique, but because of the feelings behind it. How tender I am with her, how safe I make her feel. She was married to military men (one KIA, one divorced her). They would come home and treat her harshly in a “I am the big military man, you are the woman. You are here to service me” way. She WANTED a kind, tender man. When it comes to sex, she has told me that I have made her love it again. She didn’t even know what foreplay was.

    Anyway…I am very damaged sexually. I can have panic attacks just having the thought of having sex. When my wife asked me what I liked sexually, I couldn’t answer because I had NO idea what I liked or wanted. My therapist has since taught me it is OK to tell others what you want. You won’t die from it. My wife and I are working our way thru it. I have to use Viagra to help out because of anxiety. But I have learned that there is a lot more to sex then intercourse. I have become a better lover. I have rediscovered that I am a sexual being. I still have to learn to be kind to yourself.

    I told this story to help other men out. I know quite a few men who have been damaged sexually by their XW’s.

  • I was just thinking about this issue this morning—about how making someone feel unsexy is pretty much one of the cruelest things you can do. We are all supposed to want sex and like sex and yet some of us are made to feel like “good” sex requires this intangible skill that we may or may not possess, that a healthy marriage involves a constitutive level of lust, and that we may or may not possess the qualities to continue to elicit this lust. Maintaining an interest in pleasing a partner, who makes you feel like you have to prove you are good enough to please him/her, turns sex into an exasperating, ego-crushing puzzle with a constantly changing solution. It tricked me into thinking I didn’t like sex… and that made it really scary once I was divorced from a cheater. I felt like I failed at sex and now I have to have it with someone else, but I’m older than I was when I last went on a date. It’s so fucking confusing feeling like your marriage failed because you were bad at sex and sexually unappealing, and to have a successful relationship, I need to somehow have a lot of sex. I must be frigid because the idea of sex is frightening. I can’t initiate it and get rejected. It’s hard to get out of that cycle. The whole thing is abuse that keeps hurting you even after the abuser is gone.

    • ^^Yes, this! And also, a couple of chumps above have noted rightly that our bodies and energies change over time. I went through menopause prematurely at the age of 23 after cancer treatments, and my libido really declined. So I haven’t really been noticing people outside my marriage for a number of years now. But I think I would have had more sexual energy within my marriage if STBX were not constantly expecting more from me than I could comfortably provide – if she (we are both women) had been more willing to meet me at my level, instead of making me feel, even implicitly, that I was not enough for her. Her affairs were just the ultimate symptom of her inability to be satisfied, and that reflects far more on her than on post-menopausal me. I have no interest in ever again being with a partner unless they’re able to take care of their own needs first, and reach out to me (sexually as well as emotionally) from a place of wholeness, for mutual enjoyment on equal terms rather than for filling some bottomless pit of need.

      • Both of you thanks for how you worded this. I had both in my x husband. Ever changing needs and not meeting my level. I did when I was tired. I tried to figure his needs out. He demanded and was always frustrated, giving me instructions for the next time what to do.
        I’d never do that. I just wanted to share it with him. And I couldn’t understand how. Why was taking his shirt off 3 minutes in as opposed to 5 minutes in such a catastrophe?
        Because he was the catastrophe.
        It’s so freeing to learn its them, not us.
        I don’t want to be alone the rest of my life, but I’m sure going to choose carefully who I share me with. Alone is better than it was with him.

  • Very appreciative of all the honesty here on this re-post!

    I had no idea until this cheater experience, how much my sexuality was interwoven with 2 key themes: self-esteem, and my ability to really get the concept of healthy boundaries. I’m 41.
    Who cares how long it took me to understand it, I get it now.
    I just recently jumped back into the pool with sex-and it’s NOTHING like the past experiences with that sick bastard.
    What a great reward for all of the work we do around here.
    I say what I need. I say “no”. Real adult discussion about what I want, and it’s loving, safe, nourishing and real. And no, there’s no U-Haul, or pressure, or skeezy behaviors.
    And he’s not some guru, he’s just not an asshole!
    But I had to get in the pool, first.
    Can’t emphasize this enough.
    And I was afraid. And it comes with more to learn.
    I can’t hide out forever.
    You’re mighty- in the sack too! Go check it out!

  • I did wonder when the twat ran off with his fat-ankled skank. I was 51 to her 39 but still way better looking. He didn’t move in with her for her looks, but rather for her ability to down a bottle of whisky in one sitting. My friends egged me on to online dating (Swissfriends.com) and I wrote a really silly, tongue-in-cheek profile and got LOADS of answers from men who were, I suspect, seriously sick of looking at someone who was “sensual, romantic, loving long walks on the beach”. And I decided to go for it. I had a menopausal woman’s body but what the f!!! I was still hot. I had sex just for the hell of it and loved it. I’m not saying I was the local bike but I enjoyed a few encounters and ended up dating 2 guys, both younger than me. And now I am enjoying a FWB relationship with a colleague 13 years older than me, who I love to bits, love his hairy chest and love to throw my arms around him in bed. Sex isn’t all about sex, it’s about that closeness that snuggling up to that hairy chest brings. Enjoy!

  • gotta jump in on this thread — I like sex!

    I’m rounding to year 2 of divorce and here’s what I’ve found: its good to meet people and, yes, have sex. its good to feel all those great feelings. And if you can find someone who really likes you, then have more sex with them.

    I put way too much value in the emotions of sex that I end up “loving” people more than they love me. Because we made out: it means more to me — perhaps too much.

    I think chumps need a rebound, but dont look for another rebounder; even now, my brain is mushy from the 20+ years w/ X. Its still rewiring. I’m not ready for what I really want; true love; a best friend (first) who I can make crazy love with.

    So, I stopped a great, amazing post-divorce relationship b/c I knew I wasn’t ready. It hurt, but it was right to do. And the sex was great!

    So, then I thought, I should put myself in a time-out and “heal”. Then I thought, “no… go make friends, have little makeout sessions and JUST LET IT BE WHAT IT IS TO BE. ”

    So to the Mikes out there; you are a catch, tiger…. Your lovemaking skills are beyond BECAUSE you care, you listen, you try, you aim to please…. So go have a little fun. Show the ladies why you’re a catch. But think long game; clear the head, rewire your brain….

  • My ex said the sex was amazing because cheating on me was amazing. He said he knew it was wrong and that is what made the sex better. Sex in a car, or at his work in a dirty lunch room on the dirty floor. Sex at the beach, with all that sand and salt water… yeah sounds amazing to me /s.

    Mine was never good at sex, but I didn’t care because I loved him, until he cheated. After I kicked him out I saw in our search history that he googled how to make a woman climax… guess he should have un-linked our accounts before googling that, but it did prove the sex wasn’t that amazing for her either.

  • I know this is an old post but reading some of the responses gives me PTSD over my dating experiences. Mike, and the other men out here, the best advice on dating, sex and finding a partner starts here:

    https://www.chumplady.com/2018/08/how-do-i-fix-my-picker/

    Fix your picker. Don’t confuse sex with love, like or friendship. The times have changed and unfortunately so have attitudes. If a woman says to you she doesn’t want anything serious, believe her. If she says she isn’t ready for a relationship, believe her. If you meet her online then you need to expect her to remain online regardless of what she says, especially if she jumps into bed with you in the first 2 or 3 dates. If she tells you she did not date anyone beside her ex and it is her time now to see what dating is like, then she is not for you even if she seems like it. If she cheated or was cheated on then you better know what your own boundaries are because trust is at the bedrock of all relationships. If she doesn’t trust, or you aren’t sure you trust her, believe your gut. If she has to drink 3 glasses of wine or smoke marijuana just to be with you or enjoy your company, then she isn’t for you. Finally, if she is separated and waiting for her divorce to be final don’t even go out with her, you simply do not know if she is telling you the truth; you do not need to be her “friend” either; she is either totally available or she isn’t and that is something you need to find out at the beginning.

    I can absolutely assure you that if you don’t fix your picker and know what you are wanting you will be very disappointed. We chumps tend to see silver linings where there are none. We listen to people who tell us “she likes you” or she just “needs a friend” or “you need to give her a chance”. Having sex is a big deal and there was a time when it meant something. But in this day and age when women’s porn is rated PG13, or a reality television show, you can be assured that many of the women you will meet now will not think sex is a big deal at all.

    That said, after finding this website and reading that article on fixing my picker, I spent a year not dating, getting rid of the unhappily married people I was “friends” with (who gave me really bad advice) and discovering my own boundaries. I embraced the idea that I was fine in spite of being betrayed 4 times on the dating scene and that I just wasn’t meeting “my people.” Then I finally got up the nerve to ask someone out from my health club who’d I’d seen on and off for 3 years. Single, available, “my people.” She said yes, we started dating and wow. Just wow. She checks all of the boxes for me. I’m not a quitter, maybe a cynic, but I learned some terrible lessons applying my old school morals to the modern dating scene. In the end, though, I learned that I can still apply my old school morals to dating and I couldn’t be happier.

  • At some point in the future, around on a Tuesday probably, I’ll be ready for the whole dating thing. So I’m concerned about sex. (I’m also concerned about a mould smell coming from inside the bathroom vanity, I’ve emptied everything out, can’t see it anywhere, I think its up under the sink- any ideas CN?)
    My concerns about sex are many, as I was never “good enough” at it according to XHole. Which was the least of the derogatory comments he made. So of course, I’m concerned about if sex with me will be satisfactory or a deal breaker for a future imagined partner.
    But I am most concerned about this whole rating sexual performance thing. How does anyone get to be able to rate sex? I can understand that you would either enjoy or not enjoy, be turned on or turned off, but without being a prostitute or a gigolo, how can you actually rate someone’s performance? Is there some technical manual with a tick a box list or sliding scale questionnaire to be completed?
    And when is the rating conducted? Is my sexual partner going to start the rating system at the very beginning and do checks at certain stages or time frames? Or is the rating only conducted in retrospect? Is there an ideal time frame post orgasm to apply the rating system, to ensure objectivity?
    Lots of more questions, but I’ll finish, climatically, with this question: Where does genuine intimacy fit in?

    • Also, there’ s the question of if, when and how to tell my sexual partner how I have rated them.
      Luckily we have Esther Perel to answer such questions. I just heard a radio interview with EP. When
      asked “how do I tell someone I don’t like the way they kiss?” EP said: write it in a letter!!!
      #can’tmakethisshitup #redflaglist

      • You know that scene in Dumb and Dumber where Jim Carrey ridiculously kisses the girl?
        He got mad at me for not liking to be kissed like that. Suffocating is not romantic!!!!

        • Happily Free,
          My XHole was the same, while criticising my every move according to some imaginary play book, my needs like being able to breathe while kissing were minimised. And when I tried to express my needs or desires they were shut down by the rage channel or mocked. Weirdly, I remember really enjoying the kissing during the Hoover after DDay1, and thinking this is wonderful and how it used to be. The kissing quickly got more and more suffocating along with the escalation of other mental and physical abuse up until the discard.

    • the mold…you may have a leak in the wall behind or under the entire thing in or under the floor.

  • As mentioned , this is a repeat column— but an important topic that was only occasionally brought up in the old forums.
    Also, a topic of interest as fellow Chumps work through the timing of their D-days, reaching meh, and moving onward.

    I do not have too much new advice, take your time, fix the picker, etc.
    So I will briefly mention how it worked for me.
    23 yrs with high school sweetheart, he had been my literal one and only. Got left for the younger woman, more than a decade younger than me— sure made me feel great (not!). I tried dating off and on via online dating, difficult with kids, one suicidal, plus ex moved away and started family #2.
    I really think it is about timing.
    Guy contacted me online, bit of a dorky comment, one kid having problems, so I was not into it. Stopped the dating attempts. ( I had gone out with 8 or so guys over five years)
    Two months later tried again, tightened my search topics, and there he was. Finally met in person two months later. We closed down restaurants twice with our chats. Two months later, I am wondering if we will ever hold hands, and he was wondering if he was just in the friend zone because I have not let him come to my house to pick me up. Talk about some crossed wires there. I had never really dated, plus I had kids. So I was being cautious.
    finally, 4.5 months after our first date, while walking the dog, I mentioned I might be missing cues since I had never really dated before, and what were his thoughts on holding hands?
    Things progressed rapidly after that point, though I admit I was really worried about being intimate.
    But it was fine I think, as we waited until it was clear we really liked one another. And he agreed to STD tests once I explained that I trusted him, but I did not trust his previous partners. And I will echo what was said above— having a caring partner makes all the difference in the world. I truly had absolutely no idea what I had been missing while married.
    Next month is the two year anniversary of my asking to hold hands. Life is still full of surprises with my Sweet Guy.

    So, it takes some work (on yourself). It takes some patience. It takes a bit of luck. It takes some perseverance. And it sometimes requires some conversations. I sometimes lament the extra months it took to get serious since there were some misunderstandings (amount of previous experiences, etc). but we got to know one another better in that time.

  • I am no where near ready to date as I am still a complete mess in a lot of areas. I have two young sons, need to build a future first, etc.

    On the subject of sex and dating though I think it’s imperative to know where you stand as an individual without the ex taking up that real estate in your head.

    I have NO IDEA how to date. That is something I never wanted to do. However I’m the one who put the moves on my ex, asked him out. So I know I have it in me to do again one day. I also know I really enjoy sex, the physical act, the release, etc. I may have mistaked it for love the last year of my marriage because I did enjoy it so much. With that knowledge I have chosen to stay off birth control (I don’t want anything hormonal again because it messes with my depression I think, also I don’t want to have kids again) because I know that keeps me from making decisions with the wrong body parts LOL

    My ex used idealization the best in the bedroom, hence it’s where he hit me with the devaluation the hardest too. But I do know that the last year when he was having a hard time being with me, keeping himself aroused, etc it had nothing to do with me. It was because he was watching too much porn, using too much jacking off, and finally taking part in an affair at the end. I also believe that the times I was able to reach orgasm when his performance was less than stellar was because orgasm is more mental than it is physical. I loved him no matter what and I wanted to please him by showing how much he pleased me. I never faked it, but he did start getting upset at the end when I couldn’t. Looking back it was my mind and body realizing something was off.

    This is a hard subject for me to tackle. I feel very sexually traumatized by how he treated me at the end. I feel like I’ve lost a big part of myself. I hope it comes back eventually and part of me wonders if it’s because he’s my one and only, will it get better once I do have sex with someone else? I know right now that wouldn’t be healthy for me though. I’m not healed yet though I don’t ever see me wanting to put the energy into a serious relationship anytime in the near future. I do foresee the urge coming back sooner than that and have no big objections to FWB type of thing to fit my busy life once I finish nursing school. This is a good subject I’m glad was posted.

    • I feel sexually traumatized and plan on getting divorce finalized before even thinking of dating. I was married for 13 years and we were together over 20. The last year of marriage he blamed his sexual performance at times on newly started anti depressants. When in fact, he had been having an affair and even had sex with me 2 nights before he discarded me. I’m going to focus on myself and the kids for a bit and put any dating on the back burner for awhile.

  • The day I decided to venture out since he was never coming back was interesting. Worked out eventually. I was the chump. All I can say that after 31 years of marriage it was hard to live without it. Glad I went ahead.

  • This hits me hard. After nearly twenty years with the second dday just 10 months ago, I really cannot imagine being with another man because I just don’t want to hurt again. Two marriages, both husbands cheated on me. Realize now that the narcs out there can literally hunt me down and I have been blind. Also just realized in therapy that I had a serious narcissistic father and that has a lot to do with my inability to find a good person. Shell shocked with serious PTSD …..I’m hoping with time this may resolve. Funny damn thing is that there has been quite a few male “friend” that are expressing interest in me and it not only freaks me out but for the first time in my life, I am revolted by their interest, by sex, by intimacy. All of you in CN give me hope…but it so scary. Never mind the freaky dating scene out there. So I am taking advise from here and working on just me. But that damn STBX keeps dragging out everything. and trying to make me miserable.

  • Wow!

    This is my first time posting at this forum. It is weirdly reassuring to know so many women and men are going through what I am going through. In a nutshell, I was “left” by my husband after twentyish years of marriage so now I am single woman in her late forties with grown children.

    The reason I am writing here is, at least tenish of the twentyish years of my marriage were sexless. My husband’s lack of interest in me left me with body image issues, low sexual confidence, and an extremely painful sense of being rejected.

    A yearish after my divorce, my self esteem is in great shape. It became considerably easy to get over him after I found out about his ongoing cheating during most of our marriage. I know I am pretty, intelligent, successful, and pleasant to be around. Friends, and sometimes even strangers, tell me that I am beautiful. And yet, I still wonder if I am attractive as a woman or not.

    My ex was the only man I have been with. When I look around, there seems to be a shortage of available, reasonably nice, non-shallow, past their midlife crisis, appropriately aged single men. Online dating scares me. And while I am finally fine with who I am, physically and as a person, a part of me is still scared of rejection.

    Right now, I am enjoying being free of the stress of coming up to the approval of a person who had already decided they wanted something else. I am focusing on my children, my career, and real friends I have been blessed with. I am also operating under the belief that if I run into someone who can value me for me, great. If not, I value me.

    Thank you Mike, and everyone else for sharing your stories and letting me know that I am not alone, and that the concern is not restricted to women :).

    I wish peace and happiness to all of you!

  • Oh man. I feel for you all because I felt the same way in the early days of my separation and divorce. But what I found in my case is that sex is so much better once you leave the cheater and find someone that respects you. I remember reading a comment on one of these CL posts a long time ago where someone said that divorced sex is wonderful because it is free of all the hangups and issues from a bad marriage. At the time I thought it couldn’t possibly be true, but whoever wrote it was spot on.

    After 13 years with my cheating, abusive, narc husband who put me down all the time, all of my sexual experiences/ partners (3) since my divorce have been so much better than I experienced in my marriage. I realize now that my ex did his best to keep me around by making me feel like I was never good enough for him in many ways, including sexually. He was very manipulative and wanted to make me feel like he was the only one that would want me long-term. He reinforced that through a cycle of putting me down and complimenting me so that he would make me feel like I was never quite good enough in many ways, but that he appreciated me on some level. Now I realize how sick that was. For example he would make comments that my body was not what it was when we met (I was 20 for gosh sakes), but that he still looked at me the same since he met me at my best and he still loved me. this would kind of screw with my head because I am generally told I’m very attractive and I am very fit, so this just made me self-conscious about what is actually wrong with my body when I hadn’t found anything to worry about. He would also make similar back-handed comments about my sexual skills and various other things. Due to the cheating and abuse and disrespect I had experienced I had a very low sex drive while in my marriage. At one point I was on hormone treatments due to this.

    It’s been two years since my separation and my divorce was just finalized a few months ago, but I’ve had positive relationships and sexual experiences since then. As a woman in my mid-thirties, I didn’t realize till after my divorce I’d never had an orgasm and I always did what my ex wanted to do and that he never cared about my pleasure And I was never able to assert what I wanted. Even what I thought was occasionally good sex in my marriage I realized in retrospect was not good at all. The bar has completely lifted. I’ve learned so much about myself and my body and what I want, And I have a great boyfriend who is incredible and respectful and treats me well inside and outside the bedroom. Without going into too much TMI detail the sex is absolutely incredible now, in ways I never thought possible.

    I have a strong suspicion that most of you will have similarly good experiences, and I hope you do!

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