Featured in Capital #42 Subscribe to get the real thing here.
We collabed with Melody Thomas, host of the popular sex positive podcast BANG!, and spoke with three Wellington women about how their sex and sexual desire has changed over the years.
Sarah* is a 26-year-old Wellingtonian who works in communications and has been on and off dating in the capital for almost a decade, moving from congregating at the food court in Courtenay Place in large groups, to pashing guys (and sometimes girls) at Establishment, to meeting strangers from Tinder.
I was 16 when I lost my viriginity and was the second to last in my friend group – the last girl was Christian. I would describe it as virgin on virgin awkward, on a single bed during a school night and my Mum was home. Weirdly enough, I was on top. The guy was kind of my boyfriend, but nothing was official on Bebo or Facebook. He didn’t invite me to his ball and I didn’t invite him to mine so I wouldn’t class it as an official relationship. We were both keen to not be virgins. I think we thought we were under pressure to not be inexperienced. I genuinely thought I was ready and he passed my three rules – I had to know his name, I had to not regret it and we had to be sober. Strict criteria – I don’t know how anyone made the cut.
My parents were supportive and not strict, but sex wasn’t something that was discussed often. My Mum had to drive me to get the morning-after pill once after a regrettable drunken encounter. I was 17. She even paid the $35 for the pill before dropping me off to work, where I was a part-time fairy for children’s birthday parties. If there was any judgement, she never told me and she never held it against me.
I’ve used Tinder a bit. It gives you more chances for meeting someone you might possibly never run into. Some think it’s unnatural, but it enables people to make more genuine connections through a wider pool, rather than potentially settling for less in a smaller circle. I think it’s very closed-minded for people not to use Tinder based on archaic mindsets. But I also appreciate and accept those who don’t want to filter their future boyfriend or girlfriend through an app. Tinder is what you make of it. You get to direct this and make up your own mind.
If I compare my sex life now back to my mechanical sex encounter when I was 16, I’d say it’s dramatically improved. I think sex has and will continue over time to become less taboo to talk about. There’s no shame in having sex if you’re in a safe and comfortable situation; and even more so, there’s no shame in enjoying sex. Whether it’s with a partner, an ongoing fling or a one-night stand. I’ve been able to orgasm through the clitoris for ages and recently I discovered that I could orgasm vaginally through intercourse. I was so, so proud. It was almost as great as getting a degree except I get more personal satisfaction out of it.
Hannah* is a 30-year-old sales rep and mother of three young children, who’s been married for five years. For Hannah and her husband, starting a family changed their sex life – but perhaps surprisingly, it was for the better.
My sex life started at 14. If I think about my kids doing it at this age it makes me super uncomfortable and a bit sad.I would be mortified. The whole experience was as you would expect, awkward, making sounds you think you should make because you’d watched a few movies. I was more doing it to say I did it than anything else. It was with my childhood neighbor. I didn’t even like him, but he was popular so I did it with him. I remember thinking he had a really thin penis, like a pencil. That’s actually the only defining memory I have of my first time. I haven’t said a word to him in years – we aren’t even friends on Facebook. He was only 14 too; dicks are still growing at that age, yeah? I hope his dick grew.
When my parents found out I had done it for the first time it was completely by accident through a letter mum found in my uniform. I was usually so careful with letters so maybe I left it there subconsciously so I could talk to her? I dunno. Anyway she told dad and they sat me down and had a massive talk to me about how boys think about sex at this age, and what they really want. It was a really awkward open conversation. It would have been so uncomfortable for Dad, I can’t believe he did it. I didn’t appreciate it back then. But I so appreciate it now.
My enjoyment of sex has changed so much. Thinking about it now, I really wish that I could go back and tell my young self to wait until my husband came along! I used to give sex out willy nilly and the only person I waited with was my husband….is there something in that?
When I was pregnant I didn’t want to be touched… Everything repulsed me. Except porn. And not just any porn, women on women porn. I have never been a watcher of porn – it actually makes me a little bit uncomfortable. But when I got pregnant I used to watch it on my phone all the time, I’d hang out to be home alone to watch it. I have not watched porn at all since, the urge has just disappeared.
Sex massively changed after I had kids – I don’t know what it was. I think possibly because my husband had seen every part of me through childbirth and I lost all self-consciousness with him. Or that everything was stretched and more sensitive. I actually had a proper porno orgasm about six months after my first kid. It was mind blowing. It’s gotten better and better and better.
I’m so excited about the future. I can’t imagine what it will be like to have sex without the fear of waking anyone up or someone walking in. Or having enough time to do it in the day! Each phase of our sex life has come so naturally. There has been no expectation of it to get better – at each phase I really have thought, can it get any better than this?! We’ve been through so much together and I think that adds to our sex life. Our kids, the family that we have built – what we’ve been through to try and make everything work all contributes to that connection.
Janis* is a 56-year-old flight attendant who grew up in Hawkes Bay, but has spent most of her adult life in Wellington. The mother of four recently became engaged to a man she met through the dating app Tinder.
I lost my virginity at 15 to a boy I met on holiday at Mahia… I’m sure his parents must have known but nothing was said to either of us. After that, I moved overseas so we lost touch.
Sex education was diverse. I had a mother who had no trouble whatsoever informing me (and most of my friends) about how you did it and what an amazing experience it was. In fact, I now think she went a little too far. What teenager wants to know how her mother took it up the arse by mistake one night when she and her partner were doing doggie? I remember having the “sex information evening” at intermediate school but can’t for the life of me recall any of what we were shown.
I met my partner on Tinder. One night my friend took ahold of my phone and downloaded the app. I was amazed at how many men were on there. I think in my age group it isn’t so much a “hook up” app, and I liked the decisiveness of it. If I liked the pithy and succinct sentence they had written and they looked okay, then I swiped right. Most dates I went on were for a coffee or a drink at a bar. I found this easy – within five minutes I believe you know if you’re attracted to someone or not. I’ve never used Tinder for looking for a sexual partner, although I did have men asking me if that’s what I wanted. They were upfront and knew what they wanted and respected the fact that that wasn’t what I was looking for. My partner and I met for a coffee one Sunday afternoon and it was obvious to both of us that there was chemistry. By the following Saturday we had spent the night together. He immediately deleted his profile and Tinder, and I did the same. We became engaged in April.
My sex life now is satisfying and fulfilling. I think sex can drop off when you have a young family… but once I got to my 40s it took off! You’re more relaxed, you know exactly what you do and don’t like and you don’t feel embarrassed expressing yourself. As for your partner, as men get older I think they mature enough to realise it isn’t all about them getting off and they are more considerate of ensuring that you are finding it pleasurable as well. We both have the same sex drive, which I think is important and we both enjoy sex together immensely.
I can’t imagine my sex life changing much in the future. If health issues prevent either of us from fully engaging in intercourse, I think we both are very creative and would work around it. I know my grandmother was enjoying an active sex life well into her 70s – hopefully I’ve inherited her genes!