What’s it like to have sex after leaving a long-term relationship? Three women share their experiences
When 41-year-old Alice* left her 15-year relationship, she described her next-level sex as an “otherworldly” experience.
“Rather than just feeling the orgasm as a surface thing that happens around your clitoris, it [was] more like constant waves of pleasure through your entire body,” she tells ABC podcast Ladies, We Need to Talk.
But sex wasn’t always this good for Alice — in her previous relationship, it had become routine.
“We just lost the passion,” she says.
Alice started having ‘life-changing’ sex a year-and-a-half ago when she fell in love with a woman during lockdown.
‘I’m never going to be the same’
Before her current partner, Alice was living overseas with her ex-husband and children.
Without a working visa, she found being a stay-at-home mum an isolating experience and seeking affection from her ex-husband “emotionally exhausting”.
“We just were like ships in the night really trying to avoid one another,” she says.
“I don’t think proper beautiful, passionate kissing had happened for about 10 years.”
As Alice’s desire for love and passionate sex was ignored, their connection faded.
“We had a little routine and [would] do the same thing because we were so exhausted as parents … there was no spontaneity, no caring and loving, it was just like a job,” she says.
“It got to the point where he would want to watch porn to get himself turned on and there wasn’t a connection. It didn’t feel like two people coming together to share this amazing, intimate, loving experience.”
When Alice separated from her partner and moved back to Australia with her children, she started connecting with one of her good friends during COVID lockdowns in an unexpected way.
“She was a really good friend, and it was obviously more than that, but I hadn’t quite come to terms with it because I’ve never been interested in women before.”
Naturally, as feelings started to develop, so did their desire to have sex — and in their first kiss Alice felt the passion she’d been missing all this time.
“It was just really beautiful and there was so much passion and energy behind it.”
Alice says her ‘next-level’ sex comes down to the connection she shares with her partner.
“Our bodies just merge in this oneness that I’d never experienced before … it’s very deep, it’s very loving, it’s a very equal playing field, and it feels very safe for me to be as open, honest, vulnerable or kinky as I like.
“I’m never going to be the same and I’m so proud of myself for making these really tough decisions that have led me to be able to experience this level of joy and pleasure, because it’s very hard to leave a marriage, even if you’re very unhappy, especially when there’s kids involved.”
‘Our chemistry was just so intoxicating’
Carrie’s* big leap in sex happened after she left her husband of 13 years.
She describes her old sex life as being ‘perfunctory’.
“[I had] precisely zero [orgasms] with him and some by myself. [Sex] was solely for his pleasure,” she says.
“I knew I was missing out, but I was also on a path with my career and mainly just wanting to have children and get set up. So I thought, this is just how it is.”
After her divorce, she decided to give online dating a go and that’s when she met John* — the guy that took Carrie from mediocre to ‘mind-blowing’ sex.
“[Our] chemistry was just so intoxicating that everything felt on fire,” she says.
“We weren’t going towards a goal of an orgasm for either of us, it was just the pure enjoyment of each other’s bodies and paying me attention.”
They were together for six years and that perfunctory feeling never returned.
“The sex, the kissing, everything got better,” Carrie says.
“We would do it at least two times a day, that was a minimum, if not three. No-one was ever doing it out of duty to the other, we were both always 100 per cent in.”
Before John and those six transformative years, Carrie realised she was having performative sex.
“I [was] following a script trying to make the right sounds, trying to look the right way. I wasn’t particularly confident about my body and neither of us were good at communicating either.”
‘I can identify different types of orgasms’
Before meeting her current partner Mark, Mel* says sex in her 15-year marriage had faded and she became responsible for her own pleasure.
“I was conscious of trying to make sure that [sex] didn’t die off, [but] the sex we were having was entirely dissatisfactory for me,” says the mother of two.
“It wasn’t pleasure-focused and it wasn’t something I looked forward to … it was like two people focused on their own outcomes; it certainly wasn’t a group project.”
When Mel would hear her friends talk about their sex lives, she assumed they were “having this version of sex”, not realising their experience was a lot different.
“I just assumed they liked it more than I did,” she says.
“I assumed that should I not be in this marriage; I would have this same [version of] sex with the next person and the next person.”
Mel eventually separated from her ex-husband, and when she did, she says she was happy to remain single.
But after being with the same person for over a decade, Mel was curious about the great sex her friends were talking about. Like Carrie, she tried online dating.
“I looked in the mirror and thought, you know, maybe it was too early to retire and that I might like to have sex again just to check that I hadn’t missed what all the fuss was about,” she says.
After two terrible dates, she found Mark. There was electric chemistry at first kiss — one she felt “in every part of [her] body”.
Mark gave Mel a whole new experience of sex and after being with him, she realised what she was missing out on.
“The difference is having someone else focus on you.”
“I can [now] identify different types of orgasms and they start in different parts of my body,” she says.
“You don’t know what you don’t know, and there must still be a plethora of experiences and options out there left to explore and I find that all very exciting and delightful at the same time.”
And the dynamic wasn’t just about their chemistry in the bedroom, but the role Mark plays in other areas of Mel’s life.
“When we’re together, he absolutely carries more of the mental, emotional and even physical load in my house than most men I see in other heterosexual relationships.
“I feel very taken care of in this relationship, and so I have room in my heart and my body to initiate sex or to receive his initiation of sex.”
Names have been changed for privacy.
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