Two years ago I was on a writing and yoga retreat in the States. (Do not get the wrong impression – this retreat was far less “ooommmmm” and more “OMG, pass the wine”.) Anyway, as part of the exercises we all had to write down what we wanted more of in the next year. On paper my list was basically: “More sleep. More work. Love.” But in my head my first thought was SEX! OH-FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-GOD-MORE-GREAT-SEX!!!! but I didn’t think that as a single mother, surrounded by lithe sexy strangers, that would be acceptable. So I let out an audible ‘YES!’ when the gorgeous, smart brunette next to me said it first.

Sex. It’s good, right? Or it should be. Well it can be. Well, sometimes, right? Right? But after having a baby things can be… different. See when I was married, after having my daughter, I wasn’t so self-conscious about my naked body. I mean, I carried my husband’s child and therefore, by my logic, it was basically his fault that things weren’t quite the same anymore. Plus there’s nothing like mooing like a cow totally naked on all fours in a room full of medical students to lose your hang-ups about thigh cellulite.

But the thought of getting naked in front of someone else? Someone who wasn’t as impressed by or emotionally connected to my fertility? That was terrifying. After having sex with the same person for a long time, climbing into bed with someone else felt weird. It was like losing my virginity all over again. (With less cider and a better understanding of anatomy.)

After having sex with the same person for a long time, climbing into bed with someone else felt weird. It was like losing my virginity all over again – with less cider and a better understanding of anatomy

My first forays into post-marriage sex were… OK. Lets say perfunctory. They weren’t bad, per se, but it was probably too soon and, at the time, it was akin to ripping off a plaster rather than a Jilly Cooper style romp fest. Shortly after that disastrous dating period I took a break to get my head together.

The thing about being more emotionally together? It’s sexy. Sure we all like to get it on with a hot mess once in a while but someone who walks into the bedroom and knows what they want? Hot. Stuff. I woke up to that reality when a guy friend was rendered speechless when I admitted I couldn’t think of anything except my belly when a man was undressing me. I told him I was so afraid that my date would be turned off by my naked body that he wouldn’t be able to perform.

He looked at me incredulous for a minute before imparting a simple nugget of wisdom that has changed sex for me forever: if a man is undressing you he definitely wants to f&%k you. “Also”, he continued, “you do know that clothes aren’t some sort of force field right? We have a pretty good idea of what you look like underneath them before we take them off“. Mind = blown. I mean I’m sure I knew that on some level but with my post-separation confidence at an all time low I had convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule. From that day on, I stopped apologising for my body (to lovers, anyways) and whenever I start spiralling into doubt I take a deep breath and try and exude confidence. After all, faking confidence is far better than faking orgasms.

More in Regulars

Writers Bloc #1 Val McDermid

By , 25th September 2018
Features, Regulars
From imposter syndrome to plotting, in a new series for Marie Claire authors give me chapter and verse on how the writing process works for them - starting with multi award-winning crime writer Val McDermid, who has written 32 books in as many years

The Lives of Others #6

By , 23rd July 2018
Education, Features, Regulars, Travel
Georgie Higginson moved from the UK to Uganda 14 years ago. After losing their daughter to stillbirth, she and her husband were inspired to build a lodge on the banks of the River Nile, overlooking Murchison Falls National Park - an area once occupied by LRA rebels

Global Village #6

By , 9th July 2018
Design, Features, Regulars, Travel
Designer Kate Pietrasik lived in London, Edinburgh, New York and Byron Bay before moving to a town near Biarritz when her daughter was four years old. She reflects on life as a 'blended family', running her own business, and the joy of being rootless

Global Village #5

By , 21st May 2018
Regulars, Travel
When Rosalind Miller's daughter was born, the medical student was determined having a child wouldn't stop her moving to India to carry out her PhD field work. She reflects on swapping London for a local community in Bangalore with a toddler in tow

Global Village #4

By , 14th May 2018
Education, Regulars, Travel
From Scotland to Costa Rica (via East London, New York and Mexico). Mother-of-four Abigail Pilcher talks multiple relocations, opening – and closing – a guesthouse, and how a holiday to Turkey inspired the move of a lifetime