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The Only Rule Divorced Women Need To Follow

Because life after divorce can be bewildering.

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illustration of woman on boat surrounded by swans on pond
María Hergueta
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Getting back into the dating world during midlife can feel intimidating and scary. It doesn’t matter how your marriage ended or how wonderful you feel about yourself. The second time around can leave you wondering how much things have changed since your younger years.

The biggest questions my friends and I had when we started dating again were: What about the sex? Is it true we should wait for a certain amount of time to pass before sleeping with someone? Do we need to be in a relationship first? Will men lose respect for us if we do the deed too early? Is it bad if I only want a friend with benefits? If he tells me he doesn’t want a relationship right now, but I do, should I still sleep with him?

Full disclosure: I’ve been divorced and dating for six years now, and I’ve found myself in all these situations and then some. I’ve waited a month to sleep with someone and had a talk with him beforehand because I wanted to make sure I was the only one he was dating.

On the flip side, I’ve slept with a man on the first date because I really wanted to, even though the voice in the back of my head was telling me I should wait because that’s what I’ve always done.

Both instances led to an exclusive relationship (the man I slept with on the first date was ready to commit to me sooner than the one I waited a month to sleep with), and I was glad I did what I wanted to do in the moment instead of trying to live by some rule society set for me.

Right after I got divorced, I started seeing someone from high school whom I’d known for over 20 years. He told me right away he wasn’t looking for a relationship, and I slept with him after a few dates, thinking I could change his mind, though I knew it probably wouldn’t end well. Guess what? He didn’t change his mind, and it didn’t end well, and I was angry I didn’t listen to my instincts, because deep down, I knew if I slept with him, I’d get attached, which I did.

I recently met a man I didn’t feel an instant attraction to and wasn’t even sure if I was going to see him again. But after a few dates, I felt a slow burn and wanted to find out if there was more there. I slept with him because I wanted to explore the relationship and see if that made our chemistry blossom. It did. By a lot.

I’m telling you all this because, as women, we can get in our heads about the rules that society says we should play by. I’d like to think of myself as an independent woman: I pay my own bills, I’ve raised three children, I do most of my home repairs by myself, and I usually am good about making decisions and being vocal about what I want. However, I used to get hung up on the rules about having sex. Not anymore.

You hear a lot of people say someone will lose respect for you if you sleep with that person too fast. Shouldn’t a woman be allowed to test the waters and see if she’s sexually compatible with someone before committing to that person if she wants?

With all these regulations swirling in our heads, it’s easy to second-guess ourselves. But I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned from my own experiences: The only rule you need to follow when it comes to sleeping with someone is to do what you want.

In our 40s, 50s and beyond we’re much wiser than we were in our 20s. We know what we want, and we aren’t afraid to ask for it. We know what doesn’t feel right, and our intuition can spot a red flag from miles away. Some may want to sleep with someone even if they don’t want to commit to that person. Some may only want to have sex if a commitment is in place. Just be open and honest.

If you’re a woman dating during your second chapter in life, block out all the noise you hear about the rules you should follow when it comes to sleeping with someone. Remember, you’re allowed to do what you want, and you don’t have to answer to that friend who told you to wait at least a month to sleep with someone.

Every situation is different. You might realize it feels right to be intimate with someone a lot sooner than someone else might feel in the same circumstances. Deep down, you know what the right answer is, and when you listen to that instead of all the outside talk about sex, that’s the only way to make a decision that suits you best.

Have any of you dated after divorce? How did it go or how is it going? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships