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The Moment I Knew I Hit My Sexual Prime

The changes started slowly but my husband noticed everything.

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gif of lady revealing her lingerie by michele rosenthal sex article
Michele Rosenthal
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It’s not like I’d never had an orgasm before. I was 46 years old and had been married for over 20 years. If I didn’t know what an orgasm was by then, I would have sought medical intervention. It’s just that the few orgasms I had experienced were rather ... well ... boring. A lot of work and a lot of psyching myself into the act, only to produce a pleasant yet unremarkable signal that it was over. I figured that the explosive, head-spinning, quiver-inducing climaxes I’d read about in romance novels were as fictional as the characters having them. And honestly, I was just fine with it.

I lost my virginity in college, like lots of women. I had a boyfriend, and our two-year relationship felt as “forever” as anything I’d previously known. He thought I was smart and beautiful, although I never saw myself as a great beauty. I played tennis all year, and thanks to the game I was able to keep in shape. I never felt amazing about myself, but I had a nice boy who thought I was attractive, and it kept my self-esteem at a tolerable level until we broke up shortly after graduation.

When I entered the workforce, I stopped playing tennis and started going out more often. It didn’t take long for the pounds to pile on, and though I was never extremely overweight, it took a toll on my confidence. Having three children only exacerbated the issue, so that by the time I was 40, I pretty much couldn’t stand myself. And let me put this all into perspective for you, since hindsight is 20/20: I was, at most, 20 pounds overweight at my heaviest. I had a wonderful husband who loved me, three terrific kids who frustrated me while completing my life in the most beautiful of ways, and a career that fulfilled me. The only missing piece was any love for myself, and I can’t really point to a specific reason why. All I know is that I wasn’t happy with how I looked, and by 45, I had given up. I wore dark clothing all the time and tried to just ignore everything about myself below the neck.

I was unhappy with my level of attractiveness and out of touch with my own body. No wonder I’d never experienced anything better than dutiful sex and a perfunctory orgasm.

It was my husband who suggested I try therapy. We’d gotten dressed up for a friend’s wedding and I spent the entire evening dodging the camera because I felt embarrassed about how I looked in my dress. In the car on the way home, my husband explained why he thought I needed to speak to a professional.

“It’s a shame you don’t see what I see, because when I look at you I feel happy. But you don’t feel the same way, and it’s starting to make everyone around you miserable.”

That’s when I started talking to a social worker who did private talk therapy once or twice a week. There was no great revelation or suppressed secret from my childhood that addressed my stunted self-esteem. But talking about how I felt about my body made it less real. As I heard myself speak, I started to develop a new sense of myself. It wasn’t some crazy new confidence or a magical change in the image I saw in the mirror. What I gained from talking about my body image was self-acceptance. What I felt wasn’t so much confidence as it was relief. I never realized how much work it had been, all these years, trying to ignore my own body while making excuses for my lack of perfection!

The changes started slowly but my husband noticed everything. I started paying attention to my clothes and taking a little pride in looking cute for work or for a night out. My posture changed as I stopped stooping in a vain attempt to hide my body from others. But the most amazing change took place one night, just three months into therapy … I experienced an explosive, head-spinning, quiver-inducing climax, for the first time, at age 46. And it wasn’t a one-time thing. I started enjoying sex with my husband. I was looking forward to it, and even initiating! (Something I had never done before.) It was clear to me that this was what the romance novels were talking about.

People talk about a woman’s “sexual prime,” and nobody really knows when it’s supposed to happen. For me, I hit my sexual prime at 46, when I started accepting the body I have and allowing myself to feel proud of how I look and feel. If I had known about this earlier, I would have started therapy years ago. It’s fabulous to have great sex at any age. I’m in my sexual prime, and I hope it never ends.