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Childless Women & Sex: Unveiling Sexual Intimacy Realities

12 May 2023

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Beyond the Bed: The Complex Reality of Childless Bliss

When you’ve got no kids, every hour is Tops Off Now o’clock, right? No need to squeeze in a silent quickie whilst Junior is watching CBeebies — or to save all your lust for the one hour a week when Mini-You is scoring, too. (Football training, innit.) No, when you have no children cramping your style, you can have all the sex you want all the time in all the ways. Fucking exhausting. That’s your childless writer’s sex life, yeah?

Weeeell…

The hot scene Chez Bibi last night did have me sweating and dripping in bed, sure — but that was because Phil Mitchell was steaming on ‘Enders and my heated blanket’s temperature button had stuck on the ‘WHAT IS THIS HELL?!’ setting.

Being childless may mean you have more time and physical freedom for the sex life of your wet dreams, but, like everything else about being childless-not-by-choice (please do read my features on this if you want to learn the entire horror of the CNBC experience), the reality - the emotional/mental/societal reality - is way more complicated. (NB I’m writing about the childless experience and not the childfree one — where I’m guessing the same emotional issues do not apply.)

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Childlessness, Intimacy, and Self-Rediscovery

Two years ago, I took part in a webinar for Gateway Women - a support and advocacy network for childless women - on Childlessness and Sexual Intimacy. (The full video) My fellow panellists and I spoke about how childlessness had impacted on our sexual world — and the conversations were fascinating and moving. And incredibly complex.

From hysterectomies to cancer; infertility to chronic illness; scars to ‘damaged goods’; a lot of the talk was of ‘emotional and physical disconnect’ and hating their bodies. It was also about ‘getting my mojo back after years of infertility’ and the subsequent depression. It was about learning to feel desire again — after only having sex to make babies. It was about how we now view ourselves and our femininity. It was about numbing, no libido, grief response, trauma… As one participant noted: she’d not spoken to any childless woman who said her sex life had not been affected by her situation. Jody Day, the founder of Gateway Women, succinctly described her experience as ‘…reclaiming my erotic self after childlessness’.

My story, thank God, is not as painful because I have no issues with my body ‘failing’ me. I had what is delightfully called ‘social infertility’ — so I was physically able to have children, but I didn’t meet the person to have them with. (Again, please do read more of my articles on my joyful past to find out why I didn’t try IUI or IVF… As my friend Gemma said: ‘Well done on having a life so shit you made money out of it.’)

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Challenging Stereotypes

My sex life has been affected, though — in that I have way less sexual intimacy than I would like because I do not like how childless me is perceived: as affair fodder. It’s extraordinary how some men see single childless women as carefree, frivolous, not serious (so not to be taken seriously), and the antidote to their ‘boring’ lives. They want the sexy cake, they certainly want to eat it, but they don’t want to marry it.

And because I’m older - 57 - as well as childless, I can be, it seems, quite the niche fantasy: confident, experienced, no ties (so a ‘good time’), but too old to have kids now (so not relationship material).

It’s weird to me (and my CNBC sisters) that people may think all we do is date and have sex — with whom?! The married men or the ones who really really want to call you - ironically - 'Mummy'? What a choice. (A male friend once said to me: ‘It must be great dating in your 50s when you don’t have that pressure of finding someone to have children with.’ Hmmmm. A) Sure, guess it’s a ‘freedom’; albeit one that can feel totally imprisoning. B) Yep, no danger of getting pregnant… ‘Oh hai, triggering!’ And, C) It is harder to find someone when you need someone who can understand your CNBC experience and the heartbreaking fall-out.)

Aaaargh!

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Childlessness, Independence, and Unapologetic Pleasure

But please don’t think childlessness = no sex. It doesn’t at all. You can, of course, have INCREDIBLE sex (see above for ‘confident’ and ‘experienced’) — but there might be less if you’re after more than casual encounters. Playing the ‘a lady never tells’ card, I refuse to give you details about meeting a 35-year-old ADONIS in a hotel room at midnight… Or the sweet long weekend spent in bed listening to sweet blue-eyed soul with a sweet blue-eyed soul… Or the encounter at my friend’s place of work that left me with splinters and a fear of working CCTV… Stop asking! I’ll never spill!

So until I meet someone with that unbelievably beautiful emotional intelligence, someone that gets me, someone that doesn’t get hard at the sight of a bus pass, someone who doesn’t ‘other’ us childless, it’s me, myself and I. Now pass me that Hot Octopuss brochure. Yes, brochure. I’m that old.

Bibi Lynch

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