Quenching the frustrations and unspoken desires left lingering at the end of my marriage breakdown hadn’t just given me a newfound love of sex again, it had put me back in touch with something greater.
When I became newly single after disembarking from an emotionally taxing 10-year marital cruise, I had one thing, and one thing alone, on my mind.
Or more precisely, all the fornication I’d been missing out on over the last 12 months as the wheels had steadily fallen off our intimacy wagon in favor of platonic Netflix sessions on the couch with mumbled exchanges in between mouthfuls of shitty takeout and passive-aggressive Angry Birds battles on our phones.
It was during a particularly stressful Friday afternoon at work when the sexual frustration felt as though it might bubble over and spill out of me as I fumbled to find words to string a sentence on my keyboard – the keys S, E, X, tauntingly blinking back at me – I confessed to a younger female colleague, “I can’t take this anymore. I know I’m not supposed to dive back into bed with anyone this early on, but I need sex.”
She stared back blankly at me with the same nonchalant expression I’d expect had I told her I’d just had a particularly satisfying email inbox cleanup.
“Then why don’t you just text up a guy in your phone and ask him if he’s DTF,” she said, punctuating her sentence with an assured full-stop, rather than lilting her voice up into a question mark on the final syllable.
“You mean Down To…Fuck? Can I really do that?” I asked, suddenly emboldened with the excitement of a child waiting for permission to begin tearing open my gifts on Christmas morning.
“Of course. Men do it to us all the time when they use us for sex then never call again. Why not do it yourself back?”
Her point was almost too good to be true. I mulled the thought for a while, slowly flipping it back and forth until it resembled a well-done pancake, then I got out my phone and began scrolling through my address book.
There he was; Ryan. Cute, though not really my type, we’d had a date a couple of weeks back that had been devastatingly tiresome until he’d leaned in to kiss me and sexual electricity had ignited between us so unexpectedly we’d behaved like a couple of teenagers frantically making out behind the school sheds before calling it a night and never texting one another again.
He seemed almost too perfect for the experiment at hand – not attractive or charismatic enough that I’d end up developing a crush on him, but good enough with his lips that it was a fairly sure bet he’d provide a satisfactory catalyst for my stress relief. I shot off the text.
Moments later my phone let off a ping and a text blinked back at me.
“Sure. See you in an hour.”
It was almost too easy.
Though the sex itself was disappointingly fleeting on account of Ryan’s overexcitement at the event of being invited to an hour of NSA sex with a sexually frustrated woman on a mission to vent, I found myself sobbing hysterically afterward, prompting him to stop re-buttoning his shirt and cautiously cradle an arm around me.
“Is everything, er…okay? Did I…hurt you?” he asked, the shakiness in his voice revealing a sudden vulnerability.
“No, it’s hard to explain, but take it as a compliment. They’re happy tears,” I murmured between sobs, unsexily using my hand as a tissue to mop my mascara-strewn cheeks and drippy red nose.
It was in that moment it occurred to me that this wasn’t about sex at all.
It was about the liberation that came with it, to have desires met I’d convinced myself were insignificant in the final stages of my flailing marriage. Desires that ran so deep they hooked onto every circuit in my system, so that when I finally tapped into one, my entire system lit up like a forgotten merry-go-round in a boarded-up theme park, all at once spinning and dancing and erupting with deafening song and candescent light.
My skin prickled in a way it hadn’t before as I sat on the edge of the bed, Ryan still scanning my face apprehensively, the heat between my legs suddenly chasing through every part of me.
I felt alive. I felt like me. And I loved it. And so, without entirely setting out to, I began a seven-day expedition of sorts, venturing through each of the hues of the new sexual rainbow coming into focus at the end of a long and heady relationship storm.
Still high from the previous night’s sexual emancipation, I went out in search of more, venturing to a nightclub I was embarrassingly overaged to be in on Saturday night to meet Ted, a 20-something skater boy 10 years my junior who made me laugh all night before coming back to my apartment and giving me one of the fastest orgasms of my life.
Sunday I broke the rules and texted Matt, a perfectly-proportioned navy diver whose Facebook wall I’d become infatuated with months earlier after he’d reignited my self-confidence, cockily asking for my number fresh off the back of my marriage breakdown, prompting me to desperately check my phone in the weeks that followed in the hopes it’d erupt with his call. Despite the later discovery of his fuckboy status and the glaring potential for post-coital heartbreak, I shot him two words in a text, “DTF tonight?” to which he responded almost immediately, “Yes, come over at 6, here’s my address…”
Perhaps because I’d already resigned myself to the fact he was a Don Juan in gentleman’s clothing, or perhaps because he turned out to be a tiresomely selfish lover, I surprised myself by wishing him well the next morning and never thinking of him again.
Monday I pushed the boundaries further and bedded Lisa, a beautiful executive 30-something who worked in the city nearby me and radiated sexiness and femininity at the same time as maintaining a cutthroat edge I both admired and found arousing. She treated sex like a tantalizing meal best enjoyed slowly and purposefully, her soft hands finding their way to long-forgotten crevices of my body – the goal, she’d informed me, wasn’t to have an orgasm, it was to enjoy each other. And so enjoy each other we did into the early hours of the morning, when the sun began to stream through my blinds.
Tuesday I decided to take things one step further with Charlie, a handsome carpenter who’d been wooing me for weeks with several impressive dates and turned out to be my sexual soulmate, fulfilling fantasies I’d previously been too timid to voice and introducing me to new realms of ecstasy that danced delightfully over the delicate line between pleasure and pain. The sex was so good we did it as many times as the night would allow. I left on a high, craving his confident touch again and wondering if it was perhaps a sign I should get a little more serious with him after all, but after a couple of unenthusiastic two-worded responses to my texts I realized he’d got what he needed and was no longer interested, so deleted him from my phone with the aim of thwarting any future drunken attempts to text him again.
Wednesday I had a date with Steve, a cute army guy who revealed over whiskey sours he was boarding a flight back to the other side of the country the next day, and so made the tipsy decision I might as well make the most of our rendezvous that would likely never be again and see how far the smooth muscles peeking out from between the open top buttons of his shirt went.
He was almost too perfect. So much so, that I felt the need to keep pausing after we’d undressed so I could take another few mental snapshots of his Grecian godlike body. He was both soft and rough, teasing me with featherlight strokes and gentle, passionate lip-locking before towering over me with his hand roughly grasped around my throat as he plunged inside me forcefully, bringing me to an eye-rolling climax.
Thursday I was exhausted, but had a date planned with a handsome English guy, Ben, whom I’d met online. He seemed too sweet to cancel on, so I wearily applied my lipstick, fastened my sexiest push-up bra, and jumped in a cab to meet him at a hip new bar we’d both agreed we wanted to check out. Mentally, I committed not to sleep with him and get to know him in the hopes of lining up another date at the end of the evening. But two cocktails and an hour of listening to his irresistible accent later, the idea of delaying what could be a genuinely pleasurable night of sex in the mere hopes of securing an elusive second date began to appear futile, especially given all the hours I’d invested dating Charlie the carpenter before bedding him, only to be treated like another conquest in the days that followed. It also seemed fitting that it was Ben who rounded out the end of my week-long sexual spree.
He was far less inhibited than the other men I’d been with, openly sharing details of his past relationships with me and readily declaring his affections toward me without the usual prerequisite fear that doing so would spell my immediate falling in love with him and terrify him out of ever having anything to do with me again. I was also less inhibited about myself by the time Ben and I fell back onto the tangled sheets of his futon bed underneath a gargantuan poster of The Beatles, their eyes staring characteristically poignantly into the distance and yet somehow also looking directly down at us.
I told Ben how I wanted to be touched, the speed at which I wanted him to move, even where and when I wanted to climax. I wanted Ryan’s eagerness and Ted’s sexual confidence, but with Matt’s detachment and Lisa’s soft, sensual touch. We finished the night enacting fantasies Charlie had given me the confidence to voice, with the same intensity Steve had ignited in me; and as we flopped back onto the flimsy mattress beneath his all-seeing Beatles poster, glistening in sweat and heaving audibly from the passion of it all, I found myself crying again. Not sobbing without abandon this time, but wiping away a couple of tears escaping from the corner of my eye as I turned on my side to face him, knowing full well I’d never see him again, and feeling somehow strangely empowered in that knowledge.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, suddenly noticing the wobble in my bottom lip.
“Actually, it’s better than okay,” I smiled.
Though I ached with exhaustion as I closed my eyes to intensify the sensation of Ben’s tired fingers lazily tracing circles over my naked body, my spirit felt paradoxically invigorated. Quenching the frustrations and unspoken desires left lingering at the end of my marriage breakdown hadn’t just given me a newfound love of sex again, it had put me back in touch with something greater.
Letting go of everything I knew about love, lust, and sexual gratification in the strange security of transient lovers who knew nothing of me or my history allowed me to find my way back to myself – before I was a wife, a girlfriend, or even someone’s fling. And that was the real pot of gold at the end of my sexual rainbow.
This originally appeared on SHESAID. Republished here with permission.