As human beings, we are prone to the confines of familiarity. Routine. Schedule. Institution. It helps us make sense of the world we live in, and while some of us go through life living in the moment and thriving on spontaneity, the rest of us take comfort in solid structure. Knowing exactly what to do and what to expect when a well-thought out plan is made, stuck to and properly executed is the closest thing to perfection we're ever going to achieve. With such specific goals to attain in something as short as a lifetime, there really isn't much time for the unexpected curve ball, especially when ones goal in life is to be as normal and consistent as possible...
When you enter a marriage for the first time, all you can think about is love and being set for life. At last; a life of stability and comfort. No more dates, no more "getting-to-know-you" and no more awkward first times. You've found your penguin. Yes, when you're a newly wed, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of divorce but just like shit, sometimes it just happens. After spending a lifetime getting to know the ins and outs of another individual, accepting their flaws and their faults and loving them exactly the way they are...SURPRISE! Irreconcilable differences. The marriage along with all the other creature comforts in a relationship suddenly crumbles and you find yourself right back at square one. No wonder they call it bitter.
As if the process of separating from your supposed happy-ever-after wasn't painful enough, we soon find ourselves being pressured into getting back into the saddle. We begin to worry about things such as dating and dating admin, getting to know someone from scratch, trusting someone enough to allow them into your naked space. Suddenly dying alone in a bachelor flat full of stray cats and microwave dinners for one doesn't seem so bad. There really are far worse things in life.
While post-divorce and rebound flings are always exciting, bright and new, it also means having to adjust one's routine in order to accommodate their newly single lifestyle. It means making the time to put yourself out there in a reality where the majority of decent men are already taken or on the prowl for veal...not aged, mature sirloin. The competition is stiffer than a frat boy's penis, and while online dating may assist in terms of convenience, it still means having to put in the hard yards to make yourself appealing. This entails going to gym, eating right and doing whatever it takes to look less like the emotional train wreck your previous relationship left you in.
Most people require a fair amount of time to get over their ex but when you're in your mid-thirties, divorced and horny as hell, that "half-the-amount-of-time-you-were-together-before-you-can-start-dating" bullshit simply doesn't fly. "I need to get laid before this thing between my legs falls off!" There's nothing like a little nookie with a perfect stranger to get one out of their routine and comfort zone no matter how daunting it may be at first. Just ask Laura, my 33 year-old divorced friend who has been flirting up a storm for the past year with any hot blooded, semi-decent guy she could get her hands on.
"Maybe it's the fact that Jon and I hadn't been intimate for a long time before our marriage ended or maybe it's the fact that I'm constantly on heat, but most of the post-divorce sex I've had really wasn't as difficult or awkward as it's made out to be. Of course crying and running out of a room the minute another guy lays his hands on you is something to be expected, and hopefully never repeated, but once you get over the insecurities that your previous relationship left you with, and the reality of being with someone else other than your husband sinks in, the sex can be very stimulating."
Was post-divorce sex like being re-virginized? Touched for the very first time by someone who wasn't your spouse? Was Laura suddenly born again? And what about the psychological implications of having unfamiliar sex? Should we see it as validation and a way of feeling good about ourselves, or is it the necessary release required to bring closure to the previous relationship?
"Retraining oneself at being single again wasn't easy. For starters, I found myself shaving my legs more frequently, but apart from the physical and mental efforts, I found myself enjoying the freedom of not giving a fuck. All that meticulous planning around having this perfect relationship or this perfect life no longer seemed relevant. The pressure lifts and finally, you find yourself enjoying life again. The first couple of dates were weird as fuck, especially the ones where you run out of things to say before the first round arrives. What's worse is when you slip into conversation about the demise of your marriage making you look like a sad, angry, erratic nightmare. Funnily enough, these were usually the dates that ended in surprise sex. Forget rejection. Vulnerability is the ultimate aphrodisiac!"
Whether you're looking for that next meaningful relationship to fill the void or a ride into rebound valley, first dates post long-term relationship are never really smooth sailing. The manner in which we begin again varies from one person to the next, and while some people may live in hope of reconciliation, others are simply doing what comes naturally in this specific circumstance...moving on. If change is as good as a holiday, why not enjoy the vacation while it lasts?
When it comes to post-marital sex, how do we liberate ourselves without feeling guilty?