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London - Believing you have more sex than your neighbours is a crucial factor in making couples happy, according to new research. Here, five women - from the ages of 29 to 64 - lift the duvet on their sex lives. So who’s in the middle of a four-and-a-half-year intimacy drought and who had sex only last night? Their confessions may surprise you.
BUSY WORKING WIFE... NIGHT BEFORE LAST
Gemma Daniels, 32, is a marketing manager and lives in Sheffield with husband Ryan, 31, who runs his own web design company, and their daughter Megan, six.
We might be parents to a young daughter, but my husband and I still have sex two or three times a week.
The last time was two nights ago in our bedroom. It was mutually initiated, starting out as a kiss and a cuddle under the covers, and lasted a good 30 minutes.
Even though it was late, we lay chatting for a while afterwards. I feel so close to Ryan after we’ve made love and find it breaks down any tension that may build up as a result of life’s daily stresses.
We met ten years ago and have been married for three. In the early days we were like most new couples, having sex as often as we could, more than once a day at times.
Inevitably, though, there have been a few lean patches along the way, usually at times of stress, such as moving house or if Ryan’s feeling the pressure of running a company.
Since 2009, I’ve also had an ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages, each followed by a few months without sex while I recovered.
As soon as my bump started to show, when I was three months pregnant with Megan, Ryan didn’t want sex because he was worried about hurting me or the baby.
I thought: ‘That’s very sweet, but, come on - I need sex!’ He eventually relented, but took some persuading.
Then, after the birth, I suffered post-natal depression. To make it worse, during the pregnancy I’d eaten for two and gone up to 11st, which was far too heavy given that I’m only 4ft 11in. I didn’t like myself at all. Fortunately, Ryan was very understanding, and three months after having Megan, when I’d lost the weight, we tentatively started having sex again.
If we do have a lean patch, we get fractious with each other. The minute we have sex again, it’s like the release and renewed closeness resets the mood in our relationship. Once more, there’ll be a spring in our step and we’ll enjoy stolen kisses whenever we’re in the same room.
As parents, we have to grab chances to have sex when we can. We can’t just seize a moment of passion in the kitchen or on the sofa like we used to, although there was one occasion recently when we did end up making love on the stairs.
SINGLE GIRL ABOUT TOWN... Four-and-a-half years ago
Simmy Wilson, 29, is a music producer. She’s single and lives in London.
The next time I have sex will be on my wedding night. I’m not seeing anyone, and I’ve no idea if that wedding will ever happen, but until then I’m going to be celibate.
I’m not doing this for religious or moral reasons, but I want to abstain from sex to protect my very bruised and fragile heart.
I only wish I could go back in time and erase my last sexual encounter: it was in December 2008 with a man who promised me the world, then dumped me as soon as we’d slept together.
On our fifth date, we went out for dinner in Manchester. There was so much chemistry fizzing between us that, caught up in the moment, we booked into a posh hotel for the night where we had sex and lay talking till dawn.
When he kissed me goodbye, I yearned for our next night together. But when we spoke on the phone later that day, he mocked me for being keen to see him.
After that, he became increasingly difficult to get hold of. Then he stopped returning my calls.
I felt humiliated, hurt and furious. Obviously, all those sugary words were just bluster to get me into bed.
Rather than be duped again, I vowed that the next man I would have sex with would be someone who loves and respects me enough to make me his wife.
Believe me, I’m no prude, nor am I particularly religious: I lost my virginity aged 18 to my first boyfriend after we had been together several months.
I’ve had eight sexual partners and every one of them - my longest relationship lasted three years - broke my heart.
I think sex itself is overrated, but giving it up hasn’t been easy because I miss the cuddles, kisses and emotional intimacy that accompany it.
Being an attractive woman has only added to the challenge because I do get a lot of male attention.
But although I’ve been on dates with men in the past four years, once I tell them my intention to wait till I get married to have sex again, I don’t see them for dust. One man in particular was lovely but grew tired of waiting.
Sometimes I question whether I’ll meet anyone with this level of patience and commitment, but I won’t have sex again until I have.
GLAM MID-LIFE DIVORCEE... four years ago
Trisha Moss, 59, is a PA to a company managing director and lives in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. She is divorced with two daughters, aged 36 and 34.
Oh, what fond memories I have of the last time I made love - one balmy evening in spring 2009 at my home on the Algarve, where I’d lived for 30 years. My lover was a gorgeous American businessman.
We’d met several times at the golf course where I worked as PA to the managing director. On the third occasion, as the chemistry buzzed between us, he invited me to dinner. We ate under the stars at a romantic restaurant on the beach, then went back to my house.
We slept together several times over the coming months, whenever he was in Portugal, but I knew when we made love that final time four years ago that, sadly, it would probably be goodbye. My move back to the UK was imminent, making our paths unlikely to cross again. What I didn’t imagine is that my sex life would cease altogether.
Since losing my virginity at 14, I’ve had 50 sexual partners, four of them before I met my husband, a property developer, whom I married in 1974.
Five years later, we moved to Portugal, bought a ramshackle farmhouse and renovated it.
Sadly, my marriage broke down when our daughters were very young. After a traumatic birth with my first baby, sex became incredibly painful. It was the beginning of the end.
Several months after we separated in my late 20s, I started dating again, rediscovered the pleasure of sex and never wanted for male attention.
There were men I slept with once or twice - and others I could have slept with but turned down - plus several long-term relationships lasting between two and six years and a mischievous fling with a British man 17 years my junior. My daughters were at boarding school in England, so I was able to ensure they were never exposed to the brief sexual encounters I enjoyed between my long-term relationships.
Now I’m almost 60, my priorities have shifted, and I’d dearly love to settle down for good with one special man.
I don’t miss the sex for its own sake any more, despite having a high libido. Giving up sex is like quitting sugar: once you get over the initial craving, you learn to live without it.
TIRED MOTHER OF TWO... two weeks ago
Vanessa Powell, 43, is a part-time receptionist in the leisure industry and lives in Croydon, South London, with husband Stacey, 37, an architect, and their daughters Jessica, ten, and Violet, seven.
This winter, our sex life has dwindled to once a month. Recently, I’ve just been too cold to think about making love.
Ours is definitely a seasonal sex life - the minute the sun shines and the air warms up, I feel instantly sexier.
We last had sex two weeks ago, initiated by my husband Stacey in the bedroom, which is where it tends to happen since the kids have got older.
It’s a far cry from making love under the stars in the Caribbean Sea as we did on honeymoon in Jamaica a decade ago. But we still try to make the most of occasional nights a deux in classy hotels, so sex feels more special.
When we last had sex it would have been all too easy to snuggle down under the duvet and reject Stacey’s advances. But I’m aware how important sex is for emotional intimacy in a marriage, too - we always cuddle and chat afterwards. Often the thought of it is more exhausting than the act itself, and I really enjoy it once I’ve made the effort.
Losing my virginity at 21 with my first proper boyfriend made me quite a late starter in the sex stakes. One-night stands were never my thing, and I had several relationships - each lasting a year or two - before I met Stacey when I was 32.
Within two years we’d got married and had our first daughter.
When I became pregnant, I was so scared sex would damage the baby that I avoided it for the first trimester - the longest Stacey and I have ever gone without. Even though my husband loved my bigger pregnancy boobs and curves, there weren’t many occasions over the next six months when I was in the mood.
Friends warned that having kids would sound the death knell for our sex life. But I got my figure and self-confidence back quite quickly after the birth, and made it a priority to resume our sex life within a few months.
Whatever your circumstances, you have to find ways to make it work.
Stacey prefers sex to be spontaneous, like it was when we met. But 11 years and two children later, a certain amount of planning is required - not least waiting till the kids are in bed.
Through any barren patches, such as this winter, we remain tactile, frequently sharing kisses and cuddles.
I’ve reassured Stacey that now it seems spring is finally in the offing, romance will well and truly be back on the cards. He has cheered up already!
SINGLE GRANNY AGED 64... yesterday afternoon
Diana Banks, 64, is a retired Marie Curie nurse and now works as a personal trainer and dating columnist for an over-50s website. She lives near Bedford and is divorced with three children, aged 39, 34 and 32, and one grandchild, aged ten months.
Yesterday morning, I slipped into some gorgeous lingerie and my favourite pair of figure-flattering leather trousers, ready for a lunch date with a lovely man nine years my junior. We met on a dating site a month ago and have spent hours chatting on the phone between our four previous dates.
He arrived to take me to lunch bearing a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers, and as the mutual attraction and conversation gathered pace during our date, it felt natural to invite him back for coffee afterwards. One thing led to another and we ended up making love for the first time.
It was fun, electrically charged, and romantic. We spoke of our hopes that this may lead to a lasting relationship and reluctantly kissed one another goodbye in the early evening as I’d arranged to meet friends to go dancing.
I’ve had more sex in the past decade than I did in my happy but virtually sexless 30-year marriage, which ended 11 years ago. In fact, I’ve only properly discovered sex since then - and I told my ex-husband this when I saw him last year when we met up for a coffee and a catch-up.
There have been periods in the past ten years when I’ve been in a relationship and had sex two or three times a day.
Divorce turned out to be a blessing, because my life since has been about making me happy - and that includes in the bedroom.
My sex life died the moment I got married when I was 22 and my husband was just 20. He said that although he loved me, he didn’t fancy me. We had sex only half a dozen times a year.
Getting back on the dating scene was the most frightening experience of my life. I needed six months of counselling with Relate to address my low self-esteem before joining a dating site a year after my marriage ended.
When I finally slept with the third man I dated, the prospect of revealing my fiftysomething body was utterly terrifying. But I needn’t have worried. Here was a man four years younger who was as concerned with pleasing me as he was with his own sexual needs. It was a revelation!
I have rules, though: I don’t date men more than ten years my junior and I don’t do one-night stands, although I have had a ‘friend with benefits’ with whom I last had sex eight weeks ago.
We met through our dance class in 2010, flirted outrageously and ended up in bed together during a dance weekend away in Southport 18 months ago.
As we lay there laughing like teenagers afterwards, we agreed it had been great fun and have had around half a dozen sexual encounters since, both of us knowing that we don’t have enough in common for a relationship.
But in my new beau, I’m full of anticipation that I’ve found a man with whom I’ll be able to share much more than tantalising sexual chemistry. - Daily Mail