Naked And Terrified: Why There’s No Need To Fear Sex After Divorce

sex after divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Let’s talk about sex after divorce. I know this woman who has been divorced for a couple of years and recently began dating. She is in her 50’s and has two children.

The first date she had was a flop-no attraction on either side. The second guy she went out with, she found out was married and cheating. And the third guy she went on a date with talked badly about his ex-wife for the whole date, so that was a turnoff.

So a couple weeks later, she meets this guy in a bar and they instantly hit it off. They have gone out twice, and the sparks are flying. I ran into her recently and she says to me, “I’m terrified because I know we are going to have sex next time we go out.”


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Ummm….huh? How can a person use the words terrifying and sex in the same sentence? In other words, shouldn’t she be excited? She seems happy and giddy, her darkness and loneliness has surely dissipated and that wonderful, surprising feeling of being alive again is ever present. Right?? Sort of.

Along with her elation, this woman told me that she is afraid that when the guy sees her 50 something body, he won’t like it. She said, “He really seems crazy about me. Will he still feel the same way after he sees me naked?”


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This woman is not alone in her fear of being naked after 50 and having sex after divorce. So many women I know (including myself) experienced that same fear, and for a variety of reasons that range from body image to fear of intimacy and more.

Let’s start with the physical aspect. This woman is not skinny. She has always struggled with weight issues, but in the past few years has lost a significant amount of weight. I would describe her as strong and bold, but also curvy and sexy. Very attractive person, in general.

But, in her mind, she is still (and always will be) 50 pounds overweight. No matter if she became a size 4, I think that “I’m fat” mindset will always be there, and I don’t think she is unique in this scenario.

I am someone who has struggled with weight my entire adult life and I can say that even during times in my life when looking back I felt very confident in my body, it was still never good enough. I was always worried about gaining the weight back, or thinking I needed to still lose more, or feeling like could always look better if I just lost a few more pounds.


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We can thank magazines, airbrushing, all the Hollywood people who have personal chefs and trainers, and a national obsession with looking physically perfect for this mindset that most of us have. But, I also think women have to take some responsibility to change how we see ourselves. That starts with appreciating what we have, focusing on health versus the number on the scale, and realizing that how we feel is so much more important than how we look.

Women over 50, even women who are happy with their weight are concerned by things associated with aging, such as cellulite, sagging skin, varicose veins, etc. and so this can cause a fear of being naked with someone and having sex after divorce. Think about it, even if you didn’t have the best marriage, your ex knew what your body looked like already, so that was out of the way. He had seen you. And, when the two of you started having sex, you were probably young, and didn’t have these things.


There are many reasons why women should not fear being naked and having sex after divorce. Let’s talk for a minute about what the guy might be thinking. First of all, he is over 50, so chances are he’s not dating 25 year olds. I mean, some men that age are, but if they are, then they aren’t going out with you.

What I’m trying to say is, if you are a woman over 50 dating guys over 50, then you’re on a level playing field because the guys are dating and having sex with women who are the same age. And, they have seen the bodies of older women. So, they aren’t expecting Nicole Kidman.

Also, think about this. Is the guy you’re dating who is over 50 a Brad Pitt double? Probably not.


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Here’s an important story that will help your fear of sex after divorce. I got an email from a guy who was dating a divorced woman, and when their clothes came off after a few dates, he said he thought she was absolutely beautiful. He said that she was a bit overweight and over 50, but that didn’t even faze him. He said he was very attracted to her, that he enjoyed kissing her, and just wanted to make her happy, and he wanted her to enjoy herself, as well.

He said the problem was, she was so self-conscious and uncomfortable, that it made things awkward and the sex was bad. He tried to tell her repeatedly how beautiful he thought she was, but she just couldn’t get comfortable. In the end, he said he felt badly, but he had to end the relationship, because she just seemed too uptight and uncomfortable.

The bottom line is, just as we like men to be vulnerable, they want us to be vulnerable as well. They want a woman who is confident and who likes herself-ALL of herself. They don’t care about saggy boobs, they care about a young heart, enthusiasm, and a loving, caring persona. In fact, many men I know feel intimidated if a woman’s physique is too perfect, and a lot better than theirs.

I do want to say, if you are unhappy about the way you look, do something about it. I don’t necessarily mean get liposuction and a tummy tuck, but rather, take steps to nurture your body with healthy food and exercise, relax your mind via yoga or meditation, and do things that will make you love yourself-volunteer, help others, engage in acts of kindness. These things will help your insides help how you feel on the outside.


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I’ll give you a good example. A few weeks ago, I got on the scale and almost had a heart attack. How could I have gained this much weight?? I went on Weight Watchers that day and I have lost 9 pounds so far. I feel amazing, but here’s the key. I felt amazing-just as good as I do now around day 4. Just knowing I was committed to eating healthy made me feel like I had already lost the weight. And that confidence came through to others.

Here’s the thing about sex. Sex is a way for a couple to connect on a deep, meaningful level. It’s about intimacy and knowing and appreciating and enjoying things about your partner that no one else gets to do. It’s about cuddling and holding and feeling warmth and love and closeness. It’s about feeling deeply loved. What sex over 50 IS NOT is about a flat tummy or six-pack abs. When you’re with the right person, he makes you feel like you are young and beautiful and sexy.

Remember, if someone truly loves and adores you, he will love and adore you with and without your clothes on. In fact, he will love you MORE, after the sex, as sex connects people on a deeper level. And, if he doesn’t, then he isn’t the one. I know it is really scary to put yourself out there-especially naked, but life is about taking chances, learning from the past, and having faith that things will work out the way they were meant to work out.

Like this post? Check out, “There Are No Buts In A Healthy Romantic Relationship”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    8 Responses to “Naked And Terrified: Why There’s No Need To Fear Sex After Divorce”

    1. Alita Arnold

      Amazing article. You are so eloquent, inspiring, and wise. Keep the articles coming!

    2. Michael Watson

      I guess that only a woman over 50 with their own past experiences knows how they feel about their body and themselves. Your arguments however make complete sense to me. But then I’m a man.
      I do think it’s important for men and women especially as you get older to keep in good physical shape , but I also believe that what’s inside us is far more important than what we look like on the outside.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        true, and it’s also a lot more about health than physical beauty. In other words, eating healthy and exercising should be done not so you can be skinny, but so you are healthy and maintain a better quality of life.

    3. Deanna Kunkel

      I think for many women it was the rejection of the man who said he would love them forever, but then as they aged, grew restless less interested, and left for “greener” pastures. I know my history with a husband who cheated repeatedly, even when I was at an ideal weight and looked the best I had in my life left a permanent scar on my self image and view of my sexual worth. He even started telling me I was unattractive and repulsive to him while trying to justify his affairs. So the baggage isn’t just sagging and weight gain, much of it comes from the damage from years of emotional abuse and sexual devaluation from the most important sexual partner a woman has had in her life.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        You are so right. Its great that you realize that. People like that are just very selfish. I don’t understand why he couldn’t just take ownership of the cheating and not being happy, instead of placing it on you. Awful.

    4. Dawn

      Deanna, I went through something similar. I’m starting to realize that none of the comments my ex made were really about me, they were in fact a reflection of how he felt about himself. Being able to see that his devaluative comments were said to make him feel better about himself has definitely helped me in the recovery process. Why I tolerated it related to my own history. Now that I have insight and wisdom, its time to “nurture” myself.

    5. Shana

      I think there are a couple of dimensions here:
      – I agree with Deanna that the fear comes when you have been in a significant sexual relationship in which your partner devalued you for your body and appearance. And that creates a lot of anxiety about having sex and being vulnerable with someone new. It creates long-term damage.
      – I think that there are still unrealistic standards for men and women at the same age. For some reason, men in their 50s are judged by different criteria, not looks alone, whereas for women physical appearance still is a primary criteria. I am 52. I hear feedback from many men my age that they are simply not attracted to women their age. In dating profiles, the age range within which they are looking is 35-49, as if at 50, you turn into a pumpkin. I disagree – I do think men care about saggy boobs, no matter how good you feel about yourself, no matter what is on the inside.
      I don’t mean to be unkind and generalize men as superficial jerks. But I am a size 8. I don’t think that is overweight. I run marathons, half marathons, and keep myself pretty fit. I do aerial silks. I can climb 20 feet into the air, no matter how much I weigh. But in the four years since my divorce, I have been on 3 dates, all of which were men my age or older, who very clearly stated that I was a “wonderful person” but they just didn’t feel sexually attracted – I was just not thin enough, they felt that sex would be a no-starter. And these weren’t hunks – just ordinary 50+ year old guys just like I’m an ordinary 50+ year old woman. So I’m confused. And I feel that by stating this, I’m going to get a response that is suggesting all the things I’m doing wrong, or I’m attracted to the wrong men, etc.
      This feedback makes me reluctant to “get naked” with anyone or even go out on a date, and I just don’t bother anymore with even trying. The truth is, I do my workouts, I eat what I need to, and I stay healthy. I feel like my body looks OK and I like it, but yes, it is the body of a 52 year old woman who has had children. I can’t change THAT. And I don’t hold out much hope for a guy with a mindset willing to accept that. I wish I could take inspiration from this article, but I just don’t believe that men “aren’t expecting Nicole Kidman”.


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