The Sexless Life of a Single Parent.

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Jose Manuel Rios Valiente

Warning: Adult language ahead!


It might surprise some people to know that I have not had sex since my marriage ended over 12 months ago.

In fact, I have not been masturbated, kissed, caressed, fondled, massaged, fellated, groped, molested, licked, tickled or even stroked in that time.

Not being very well versed in the practices of other single dads, perhaps this is considered quite normal, though I highly doubt it. I recently saw a film called, “40 Days and 40 Nights” where the main protagonist chose to be abstinent for just over a month. This is, apparently, an incredibly long time and warrants a film to document the difficulties inherent in such an extreme undertaking.

It made me want to throw a brick at Hollywood’s smug, collective face.

The truth of the matter is that I am really not ready to have sex yet.

When I say that, what I actually mean is that I am terrified by the very idea.

You may be asking yourself why a person would feel such fear and the answer I offer is a simple one of self-worth. When my relationship ended. I walked out of the debris with very little self-esteem, the previous few years having been ones devoid of much affirmation and echoing only all I could not do right. Having committed myself body and soul to my family and the responsibilities that come with such an undertaking, I had lost any concept of who I was and how I existed outside of them.

I was a parent. I was a dutiful husband.

I was not much else.

I walked back out into the single world a shell, a husk I could not possibly imagine attractive to anyone, least of all myself. Although I allow myself the concession of admitting that I am not the most hideous creature to ever walk the face of the earth, I am also able to admit that I have no idea why anyone would wish to fornicate with me in any way shape or form.

In actual fact, I believe that my complete and utter lack of female physical contact over the past twelve months is starting to turn me a funny shape. This will, of course inevitably turn me into the most hideous creature to ever walk the face of the earth. I’ve seen an awful lot of horror films. I know what I’m talking about.

I look at images of sex, whether pornographic, in a movie or on the back of public toilet doors with my head tilted slightly to the side, as if trying to understand a particularly badly drawn diagram. My face becomes screwed up in an unspoken ‘huh?’ as if I were deciphering some alien language or ancient hieroglyphic. I am becoming so detached from my body’s own basic needs that even the idea that people are involved in such ritual is mind blowing to me—so detached, in fact, that I am even going to refrain from any “and that’s all that’s been blown of late” type comments, as witty and high brow as they are.

What does remain of my sexuality has regressed to a primitive, almost pre-teen state.

The sight of two people indulging in the simple act of kissing has become like pornography to me, so naïve has my sex drive become. It’s not the usual type of porn reaction either—it is emotional porn, a deeply felt stirring of your emotional nether regions which whisper to your inner soul, in deep rich tones: “I wish I was doing that.”

It is also far more devastating than your standard porn need, as no quick wank is going to scratch that particular itch. The most cruel of blows (no puns here) is that even though my base sexuality has become downsized, my emotional needs have not. It is as if my penis is trying to leave the building but my emotions keep creating compelling arguments to stay.

In between is me and emotionally, unfortunately, I am still as raw and open as I ever was.

I still need to be wanted. I still want to desired. I still desire to be loved.

And as much as I deny it or am denied it, sex, fucking, making love is a part of that desire.

Sex, it seems, is an inevitability of romantic love and to court one is to court the other.

And that is what terrifies me the most.

As if the eventual arrival at sex will somehow unmask all that has gone before, debunk the courtship as I am revealed for the unattractive, ugly charlatan I really am. I wear my heart on my sleeve but am terrified to reveal the skin beneath. I am aware that the longer this continues, the more embarrassed and ashamed I feel. I am becoming a born again virgin and, as one might imagine, this is not how I saw myself at 40.

As a Steven Carrell film, it may be a delightful romp, but as a life choice, it is considerably less so.

I have not given up hope though, of change, of finding a way out of this space I have placed myself within. I don’t feel broken, yet. I don’t feel wrong. I am simply on a course and it leads to an unknown place. I am a traveller on this road. I am a normal person in abnormal circumstance.

I am a single parent.

A single man.






Relephant Read: 

Sex(lessness) & the Single Mother.



Author: RW Adams

Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Renée Picard

Image:  Jose Manuel Rios Valiente / Flickr

The Elephant Ecosystem

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RW Adams

RW Adams is a doting single parent employed in the aged-care industry, runs a chaotic and constantly-astounding music program through his local youth club and is currently the reigning Jenga champion of his household (although his five year old is looking for a rematch). He also is the creator of 40 And Flailing, a blog where he documents his manic fall into that other world known as ‘your forties’ as well as being a regular columnist for Project-Nerd.

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anonymous Mar 14, 2016 10:20pm

Thanks for putting this into words, man. This echoes my feelings really, really well. My situation is similar: my girlfriend broke up with me and my daughter went off to college, pretty much on the same day. I feel like all I've been for the past 18 years is be a good father and the best partner I an be: first to my ex-, then with two long-term girlfriends.

I also feel like an empty husk – unlovable, undesirable, and inconsolable. It's hardly hyperbole. I'm right there with you.

Best of luck, man.

anonymous Feb 9, 2016 3:45am

Thank you, Alexis. Very much appreciated.

anonymous Feb 7, 2016 10:10pm

It's funny, because when I looked at my future I never saw this happening to me. But here I am still in a marriage that seems to be heading that way and I don't even want to with her anymore. It's funny to go from abnormally active to being so destroyed by somebody that you can actually push them off of you. I have a feeling if my life goes that direction I will be in that same spot for a few years after previously thinking I could never go that long without anything. On a side note, thanks for sharing… hit home some so means a lot more than you just assuming you shared too much.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2016 3:51am

    I was only being tongue in cheek with the 'sharing too much' part. You can NEVER share TOO much! 🙂
    I'm glad it connected with you though, and i'm sorry to hear that you feel your relationship is heading that way though. It's hard, but for me, despite the feelings i describe in the article, it was the only choice to make, same for the Artist Formerly Known As My Wife. I am glad of the decision we made.
    I hope you find your way through your decisions.

anonymous Feb 7, 2016 10:15am

The first year is the hardest-kind of like a death. You soon get used to it and it becomes the norm. I tried dating when my child was really young. All I was able to attract were partners who belittled the pair of us. Since I couldn't bring someone of quality into our lives, I chose to remain single. Next thing I know, it's been 16 years since I've dated. Speaking from lots of experience, there is so much more to life than sex. I never felt so loved and at peace with myself than I do now. Maybe that's a signal that it's finally time to look for a partner again.

    anonymous Feb 9, 2016 3:47am

    For me it doesn't feel so much like death, Kelly, more like walking away from a terrible car accident; you're alive but you're injured, traumatised and you don't ever want to step inside a car again 🙂
    I admire your journey and the place you have found yourself at.

RW Adams Apr 17, 2017 2:16am

It does get better, Vawn. Trust me. Life is a surprising turn of events :)

Vawn VC Jan 11, 2017 12:20pm

The traumatizing car wreck is perhaps one of the most accurate descriptions so far. Starting out year 3 now. I wish I were in the position to say "it gets better", but I still have quite a bit of healing to do still. :/