From thinking everyone else is at it like rabbits to wondering whether you’ll still be doing it when you’re old, we’re all obsessed with sex. Here six women open up about their relationships
Twice a year
Estelle Oakes, 28, is a full-time carer and lives in Bermondsey, London, with her boyfriend, Rob, 27, has sex twice a year. She says: “We may be in our 20s, but Rob and I are like an old married couple when it comes to sex. These days we sleep together out of obligation rather than enjoyment.
We started dating in July 2004 after meeting through my brother, Kieran, 26. At 6ft and well-built with dark features, I was instantly attracted to Rob. Aged 21, I lost my virginity to him after nine months of dating. I expected the first time to be awkward and painful, but at least it was with somebody I loved.
We had sex most times we saw each other, but things slowed down when we moved in together in October 2007. We started doing everything from grocery shopping to cleaning our teeth together.
Without the mystery, we were more like friends. Sex became less frequent and before we knew it, four weeks without sex had snowballed into four months.
Losing the spark
Attraction isn’t ‘controllable’. In four years, Rob has put on over 3st, going from 12st to 15st due to an underactive thyroid gland. His weight gain has left him self-conscious about his body and even though I care for him deeply, the attraction has faded.
We aren’t able to invest time in our relationship either. Rob works weekends as a decorator so we can pay the rent. My job as carer for my mum, Philomena, 50, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is draining. The last thing on my mind when I come home at 8pm is sex – we usually just crash out in front of the TV.
Rob is convinced there isn’t a problem, but I wonder if we’d be more compatible with different partners. When friends talk about sex, I feel envious. I’ve only been with Rob so I don’t know any different. But I’m still young and feel I’m missing out. Our relationship has become routine – I just hope we can get out of this rut.”
Once a month
Kelly Burgess, 35, works in PR and lives in Dunmow, Essex, with her husband, John*, 37, and their two children, who are seven and three. She has sex once a month and says: “With two children and full-time jobs, John and I have long swapped bedroom gymnastics for a good night’s sleep. We’re lucky if we have sex once every four weeks.
At first, sex was a huge part of our relationship. John and I met at a party in July 2004 and we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. At 6ft with messy blonde hair, I really fancied him.
We’d have sex at least three times a week. It was hot, fast and furious, and spontaneity was key. Then, eight months into our relationship I discovered I was pregnant. It was a happy surprise, but it meant that initial lust was cut short.
My libido rocketed during pregnancy, but John always said: ‘I’m too tired.’ It was like a switch had flicked – we’d made a baby so there was no need. Our GP told us intercourse was safe, but John was worried it would hurt the baby.
After our first child was born in October 2005, our relationship moved to a different level. As the father of my child, I found John more attractive and there was a deeper bond between us. Sex was less frequent but more intimate. We married in July 2007.
Recently, money worries have put a strain on our sex life. In 2010, we remortgaged our house so we could afford to build an extension after our second son was born in December 2009, and I’ve had to work extra hours to help pay the bills. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m too tense or tired for sex. John jokes about it, but I feel guilty for turning him away.
When we haven’t had sex for a while, we argue more. I see couples breaking up or having affairs and it’s nearly always down to a lack of sex. Intimacy doesn’t happen by magic and we need to work harder at it.”
Twice a week
Shelley Dixon, 41, is a sports therapist who lives in Colchester, Essex, with her fiancé Sam*, 45. She has sex twice a week. She says: “Sam and I met through friends when I was 13 and got together three years later. With olive skin and hazel eyes, he was beautiful, and I lost my virginity to him a month after our first date.
But while I fancied Sam, I never really loved having sex and wondered what the hype was about. It was usually a clumsy fumble under the sheets.
Desperately shy, Sam would go bright red if I talked about it. It didn’t help that I was too busy sucking in my size-12 stomach to relax. I’d even wake up early to apply make-up before he woke up.
When I was 18 we split up and I moved to Majorca to work as a holiday rep. I spent my 20s travelling and had flings. I learnt to let go and stop worrying about what I looked like in bed. While Sam and I lost contact, I never forgot him.
In August 2004, I looked him up on Friends Reunited. We met up and, after countless drinks, fell into bed. A divorced dad of two, Sam had matured and his new-found confidence was appealing. Still a size 12, I didn’t have any qualms about being naked in front of him.
While one-night stands fill a need, it takes time to learn each other’s desires. Sam and I experimented with different techniques and positions and I finally realised how enjoyable sex can be. After six months, we moved in together and he proposed last August.
Our sex life fluctuates. Sam is often away with work, and his children stay over at weekends. We’ve decided not to have kids, and when we’re alone on holiday we can have sex up to three times a day.
When Sam is away I miss the physical contact. But I think the trick to a good sex life is to stay individuals within a relationship. It’s helped keep our spark alive.”
Three times a week
Toni Byrne, 53, is a divorced property development manager who lives in Edgware, London. She has a 23-year-old daughter and has sex three times a week. She says: “My sex drive has rocketed as I’ve grown more comfortable in my own skin. In my 20s and 30s, my fluctuating desire was down to how I felt about myself rather than my ex-husband, John*, 40, a managing director.
If I was having a ‘fat day’ I wouldn’t feel in the mood – and sex was mostly limited to the missionary position as I tried desperately to hide my size-12 body.
I used to worship John, but after the birth of our daughter in July 1989, my baby became the focus of my attention. We stopped sleeping together, our relationship broke down and we divorced three years later.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that, while a man can make you feel good about yourself, it also needs to come from within. In my 40s, I started exercising three times a week. My inhibitions vanished as I became proud to flaunt my svelte new size-8 figure.
When my daughter left home for university in September 2007, I started internet dating and had a string of one-night stands. These days, it’s more acceptable to experience different partners before settling down and I refuse to let age hold me back.
Still, I’ve had better sex in committed relationships. Sex can be messy, painful and embarrassing and these issues are easier to address if you’re in a loving partnership.
In January this year, I met my current boyfriend Peter*, 57, a property developer, online. As I’ve got older, sexual chemistry is more about personality than looks. Peter has a real air of confidence, which I find attractive. Opening doors and surprising me with dinner dates makes me feel special. Romance and sex go hand in hand. When we’re out, Peter will say: “You’re the most beautiful woman in this room,” which adds to the build-up.
We have sex about three times a week and never restrict it to the bedroom. I always wear beautiful lingerie and make the effort to wax my legs. I’m not in a rush for us to move in together – a little distance between us keeps things interesting.”
Once a week
Jackie Darnell, 64, a retired secretary, lives in Colchester with her second husband, Roy, 80, a retired taxi driver. They have six children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren between them. She has sex once a week and says: “Growing older in a committed relationship doesn’t have to mean a slow slide into celibacy. My husband Roy and I have more sex now than when we were coping with two children and full-time jobs.
I met Roy at a taxi depot when I was 32, a year after my first marriage ended. He was tall, with a strong build and jolly personality. The attraction between us was so strong, I caved in and had sex with him on our third date. A year later, we moved in together, then married in September 1986.
In the early days, we had sex whenever we could. But it was difficult to find time running around after my twins Paul and Jane, then 15, while working full-time.
During my 40s, spontaneity became the key to our sex life. In 1990, I had a hysterectomy and we no longer had to worry about contraception. The freedom of being alone for the first time when the twins left home in 1992 was a real aphrodisiac, too.
No slowing down
W e’ve had sex pretty much every week since we retired in 2007. It’s more relaxed than when we first got together as we no longer worry about work stress or financial matters.
Our longest dry stretch was the two months after Roy had a knee replacement in May 2010. While the ageing process slows everything down, it hasn’t stopped us. Sex is slower but more tender and we make up in style for what we lack in stamina.
I’ve just bought the Fifty Shades Of Grey books to inject excitement into our sex life. But technique is secondary to deeper intimacy, and being in love is the most important factor of good sex.
We’ve been together 32 years and know each other inside out, but there’s no complacency. I still get butterflies if I haven’t seen Roy for a few days. He’s always telling me he loves me and takes me away for our anniversary every year.
Last September, we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary with a two-week cruise around the Med, which couldn’t have been more romantic.
Retirement isn’t the finishing line. Sex now means just as much to us as it ever did, and I hope we’ll continue well into our old age.”
Jean Brooks, 78, a retired dance teacher lives in Chingford, London with her husband Ian, 72, a retired salesman. She has three children from her first marriage and hasn’t had sex for six years. She says: “As the elderly couple who demonstrate sex positions on ITV’s This Morning, you’d be forgiven for thinking my husband Ian and I have an active and enjoyable sex life.
It couldn’t be further from the truth. Friends may see us as the ‘perfect’ pair, but we’re not as happy as we look.
We met 32 years ago after we’d each been through a failed marriage and our children had left home. With his dark hair and warm smile, I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Ian asked me out. After we married in July 1976, we’d have sex a few times a week but, six years ago, Ian stopped wanting to be intimate.
I tried everything to reignite his interest. I bought sexy underwear and, in 2010, signed us up to ballroom dancing in the hope the physical contact might help repair our flagging sex life.
Nothing worked. He’d say he was too tired or some other excuse. I gave up because the rejection was too hurtful.
We’re told that women have ‘headaches’ while men have urges, but the ever-turned-on male is a myth. I want sex and need the reassurance that I can still function. While Ian’s in good health, he’s not motivated, watching TV or playing bowls instead.
His lack of libido could be linked to many things – old age, anxiety or depression – but he refuses to talk about it, so I take it personally. While I don’t doubt Ian still loves me, I’m afraid he no longer finds me attractive. Sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. We holiday abroad now with friends and sleep with our backs to each other.
It’s ironic that, dressed in pyjamas, we act out sex positions for the over-60s on TV. It caused a furore among viewers who think pensioners are too old to have sex. But as long as you’re fit and able, age shouldn’t hold you back.
I’d love to know how many women in their 70s and 80s are sexually active, but it’s a taboo subject with my generation. It’s a lucky couple who feel the same passion for each other that ignited their love. Now my marriage is about companionship.”
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