Reinventing Romance: Sex After Divorce

Over 40 dating expert Sherry Amatenstein gives advice on finding the confidence for sex after divorce

By Sherry Amatenstein, MSW

First-Time Sex After DivorceQ. Here’s a toughie: the only man who’s seen me naked in 18 years is my ex. Back then, "cellulite" was something that sounded like "celery." Where can I find the nerve to calmly take off my clothes in front of a stranger? — LisaA. Unless your bed partner is Brad Pitt or George Clooney, what do you have to worry about? Sure your body is a little more — well, lived in — than it was two decades ago, but likely so is your potential sex partner’s. I take your cellulite and raise it by the hair in his ears and nose. The guy is also self-conscious — and the odds are that twentysomething uber-hotties aren’t beating a path to his door. An unknown sage said, "When you’re the only woman in the room you’re gorgeous!" Or consider the blunt statement of Sam Davis, a 46-year-old Boston technology manager, "Since very few women are perfect, if men expected perfection no one would ever have sex."The key, though, is not that he finds you sexy but that you feel eminently beddable. Now 55, Heather Estay recalls, "When I got back into the dating game in my late 40s, I was extremely self-critical about my body." The California-based author of It’s Never Too Late to Get a Life found several methods that helped her channel her inner vamp: "Go through your lingerie drawer (out with the ripped white cotton panties, in with the silk bikinis), feng shui your home (especially your bedroom), and read books on sex to build up your confidence and give you new ideas." Estay registered for a cardio belly dancing class ("belly dancers are not reed thin but are very erotic"); others have honed their seductiveness by taking strip tease classes and/or wearing a "talisman" on dates — like red boots or a black camisole — that made them feel sensual. At 86, Mae West wouldn’t have been invited to pose for Playboy‘s centerfold, yet she possessed the chutzpah to portray herself as the love object of six men, including Timothy Dalton, in Sextette. You don’t have to go that far, but hasn’t it been way too long since you’ve allowed yourself to connect with the desirable dame living beneath the fears and doubts? It’s not about a few extra pounds or slightly less elastic skin. Speaking of — slather on that $100-a-jar moisturizer; splurge on that libidinously expensive new scent. Sexiness involves all the senses. And if you’re with a man who suggests that you don’t measure up, get rid of Mr. Toxic. Find someone who can appreciate that sex appeal isn’t about age or width but rather heart and spark. Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?E-mail Sherry at and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.Email Sherry About Sherry AmatensteinSherry Amatenstein is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and The Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VHI, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with Sherry Buy Love Lessons from Bad Breakups Buy The Q&A Dating Book Originally published on, April 2007.

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