Do you remember those first months of dating your husband when all you could think about was sex? Do you remember how many times you did it? Fast forward several years, has your sexual confidence and libido gone into hiding?
Sex is hugely important in a relationship. I wanted to find out about sex after becoming a mum. Were we still doing it? If in long term relationships, were we mourning the loss of our sexual desire or still on fire between the sheets? And if we had lost it somewhere along the way, what could we do to get it back?
Here’s a snippet of what I found out and tips on how to feel more confident in bed
Having Babies and Long-Term Relationships
Many of the ladies I talked to found that pregnancy and having young children had seen the flames of passion peter out somewhat. We weren’t sure though whether it was down to the exhaustion of juggling work and family or more down to the predictability of being in a long-term relationship.
Some commented that ‘having kids’ had affected their sexual confidence. One friend explained that she was referring to how she felt after gaining weight during pregnancy and that this had impacted her confidence in a negative way. Another explained it as ‘lack of time and lack of energy’. ‘I spend so much time running around after the kids that I don’t have any time to myself. I’m so knackered on a night that I really don’t feel like having sex – all I want to do is sleep.’
From Mum-Mode to Sex-Goddess-Mode
Another lady commented, ‘once over I was on fire sexually, couldn’t get enough of it and felt very confident about sex, my body, what I liked etc. Since kids, my confidence has gone down or at least my libido has; actually it’s pretty non-existent. I don’t know how to switch from mum-mode to sex-goddess-mode anymore.’ Another friend sheepishly commented, ‘sometimes I just fake it so I can get it over with!’
Some thought that being in a long-term relationship had had a positive effect on their sex lives; a closeness, a bonding, a willingness to try new things, feeling more comfortable with our other half etc.
Others felt that the length of time with a partner had reduced the sexual chemistry and made sex boring or predictable (‘stuck in the same old patterns’ – one friend said). One friend commented, ‘I don’t think I want to face the reality which is I don’t really have much of a sex life, and have very little sexual confidence. Maybe it’s to do with being with my partner for 15 years. I suppose we are in a bit of a rut. Some days I don’t even know if I like him.’
Someone raised the question of when to do it. ‘The older your kids get, the later they go to bed. At some point, they must end up going to bed at the same time as you. Then you have the ‘are they going to hear us’ type of scenario.’
Do You Have To Like Your Body To Have Good Sex?
Sexual confidence isn’t about having a great body, it’s about loving the body you have and feeling comfortable with who you are. But how many of us are comfy with our bodies? A younger, tauter body doesn’t necessarily equate to feeling good about yourself sexually, as J, 43, pointed out, ‘I was looking in the mirror the other day, things were sagging a little, a few stretch marks, bingo wings, but if I stripped off and went into bed with a man it wouldn’t worry me now.’
S is a similar age to J but confessed that, ‘when I feel fat, I don’t feel like having sex’ and E, who is in her late 20’s doesn’t ‘feel confident in taking off my clothes.’
Another commented that her confidence had ‘slightly decreased’ as her husband had remained very fit and sporty whereas she felt that her body had ‘declined somewhat’.
Interestingly, recent research (July 2016) by Weight Watchers* revealed that just over a quarter of women (27%) said that they had sex with the lights off or avoided sex altogether because they lacked body confidence.
Does Age Effect It?
Many agreed that age had had a definite positive effect on our sex lives. ‘As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed more confidence and acceptance of who I am.’
We know more about what we’re doing, what we like (and don’t like – important!), more about our own body and how it responds.
We’re happier to discuss what we want sexually or to say no to something that makes us uncomfortable.
K, summed it up as, ‘I am much more aware and knowledgeable about my own body plus my partners. I’m less stressed about “knowing what to do” or “being good”. I now prefer to talk about it more and ask’.
What Things Impact Our Sexual Confidence?
Here’s what I heard:
‘Chemistry with a person, general mood.’
‘Body confidence, exercise habits.’
‘If I’m having a ‘fat’ day!’
‘If I feel bloated/full up or ugly for any reason.’
‘Lack of communication with the other person or feeling I have to ensure the other person gets what they need irrespective of my needs.’
‘Having children has changed my body somewhat and this has had a negative effect on my sexual confidence.’
‘Not being compared with the stereotypical woman (boobs, legs, long blond hair).’
‘Negative comments affect me negatively.’
Having An Understanding Partner
There were overwhelming nods of approval when a friend said that having an understanding partner, who you felt that you could communicate with, was really important. ‘Yes a new partner has really brought out my sexual confidence.’ ‘I now prefer to talk about it a bit more and ask for what I want.’ And as another lady pointed out, ‘it’s less about body image and less about purely satisfying a man’s needs. It’s more about the closeness and bonding of two people.’
How To Put The Fire Back Into a Relationship
So, if you want to get more sexually confident and find that libido again, here are some suggestions from the ladies I talked to:
Forget about your body
‘OK, so we’re all getting a bit older and our bodies don’t look quite what they used to but I really don’t think men care about that. I think they want someone who is excited to be with them and who doesn’t give a stuff about the size of her bum….! Forget about how your body looks.’
The biggest aphrodisiac
‘Your mind is one of the best aphrodisiacs! When I was first with my partner, I used to think about sex all the time, now I think about who is cooking dinner and when the washing will be done – no really going to get you in the mood! So, try to spend some time getting your mind in the mood. Think about how sex used to be, what you used to feel like etc.’
‘Not sure if I’m supposed to encourage this but I find I’m much more up for it when I’m relaxed and that usually involves having a glass or 2 of wine. Not enough to make me fall asleep but enough to make me feel a little sexier and less uninhibited!’
‘I’m embarrassed to say it but we were at that stage where we gave each other a peck on the cheek when we went to work and that was it. Boring! Felt like my Mum and Dad! I decided to spice things up a bit and one day gave him a bit of a snog before he went to work. It felt rather nice….’
Connect and be nice
‘Sometimes I think you just need to connect and that doesn’t always mean having sex. Maybe have a kiss and a cuddle, maybe massage each other. Sometimes we forget to be tactile and save it for sex. I think you need to be more tactile generally – give each other a kiss when you are making breakfast, hold hands when you go for a walk with the kids.’
‘Be nice to each other and give each other compliments. If you’ve been with your partner for a while and the compliments have stopped (it goes both ways remember!), then him telling you you look beautiful can feel really great. Tell him how gorgeous he is.’
What makes YOU feel sexy?
‘Do what makes you feel sexier. Get your nails done. Get exercising. Wear some sexy underwear (your off-white, baggy pants ain’t going to do it!)’
‘Go on date night. You have to put aside some time to work on your relationship. I’ve got friends who never go out together. You need it. Put time aside, get a baby sitter, go out and be a couple.’
We’re For foreplay
‘I’ve found that length of time with my hubbie correlates to length of foreplay – the more time with him, the less foreplay! And I think you need more foreplay if you’re in a long-term relationship to get the engines going. Get him to give you a massage etc. Make sure he doesn’t skip foreplay and go down there straight away!’
Keep doing it
‘Keep practising to know what works for you both. Talk to each other about what you want and what you like. I remember a friend telling me that her friend had had sex with her husband every night for a month (another friend commented, ‘oh you’re such a good wife’ which made me laugh). Anyway, the point is that the more you do it, the more you want it.’
For tips on how to love your body more, click here.
*Weight Watchers surveyed 3,000 British adults in July 2016. Respondents were aged 16+ and a total of 3022 were surveyed (2018 women and 1004 men). The research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Weight Watchers and all data is MRS compliant.