They might not be written in stone but everyone knows there are certain things that are ‘expected’ of them when it comes to sex – particularly if you’re a woman.

You should not wait to have sex with someone if you wish to be considered serious. It is best to choose a man at your age or older than yourself. Married bosses are more tolerant than married men.

You are likely to be judged by people close to you if your actions don’t match society’s standards.

Approval from friends and family is crucial. It’s one of many key indicators of a successful relationship. You don’t need to be outside of the box in order for your relationship to succeed.

I spoke to three women who dared NOT to do the norm…and don’t regret it for an instant.

Tracey Cox spoke to three women who've ignored society's expectations when dating and have no regrets about what followed (file image)

Tracey Cox talked to three women, who ignored the expectations of society when they were dating. They have no regrets (file image). 

Within an hour of our meeting, we had sex.

*Lara is 46 and has been happily married for 20 years

“I was raised with traditional, conservative parents. I learned very young that sex is something to be done with someone you love.

My parents weren’t ridiculous about it – they didn’t push the whole no sex before marriage line. My parents taught me that sex is something very special, and should be shared with only a few people.

At the age of 25, I met a woman who was more adventurous sexually than I. Before I met her, I had been with three different men.

She wasn’t necessarily a bad influence on me, but she encouraged me to seek sex out of pure enjoyment with other men than those I was hoping for in my life.

We went out to the pub one Friday night. There, we got a lot of laughs and were able to chat up some finance guys. He was friendly and funny and I realized that we were about to be lucky. After talking with him for around 15 minutes, the pub was closing and we went to our home. We were having sex within an hour.

I fell asleep immediately and was woken up with my worst hangover ever.

It was both a shame and a relief to feel this way. I planned to jump in a taxi and go home. Instead of making me tea and toast, he made me drink lots of cold water. He really cared about me. The next morning, I fell asleep again and felt half-decent. After that we stayed in bed and chatted for hours. We watched movies, snuggled, and then got takeout. My only reason for not going home was to buy new clothing to wear at work.

They have been together since then. It’s ironic that I married the man after I had set out to have sex without strings.

Although he claims he has never had so much sex in such a short time, he didn’t want to knock me down because why would?

Our 16-year old daughter knows all about the history of our relationship and how it ended. She also knows it was out of character for both of us, but I want to her to know that so-called sex ‘mistakes’ – things a lot of people feel ashamed of – don’t have to end badly.

Would you advise her to have sex with me the first time? Most likely not. Do they have to be embarrassed if she does. No.

Had an affair and was married to my boss

Marika, 27, works as a commercial realtor

When a new boss came in, I had been with the company about two years. Although we were well-known, the company was old-fashioned and he wanted to modernize it.

Tracey (pictured) said stepping outside the square can make for a better relationship

Tracey (pictured) said stepping outside the square can make for a better relationship

My former boss was unattractive and old. The new boss was in his mid-30s and tall. He is also very attractive. He was Scandinavian, with alarmingly large eyes and strong cheekbones. His athleticism has given him a strong body. He brought his wife into the office quite early but she was only there once. We all noticed her – she was equally as good looking – and sighed. Everyone fancied him!

He was my manager and I reported to him directly. We had lots of interactions. We quickly became close friends and colleagues because he was easy-going and friendly. He was attracted to me from the beginning, but I never intended on pursuing it. He was married and my boss and I had no intention of becoming a cliché.

As time passed, however, our relationship grew closer. While I did not admit that I had fallen in love with him, it was something I felt deep within. We were called ‘work wife’ and ‘husband’ by our staff, but most thought it was friendship.

His wife was not the topic of our conversation. I only knew that they had been married for six years without children. He had spoken about his wife a lot with love and affection. I doubt I would have done that. I don’t consider myself a monster.

There was a period when he seemed stressed and irritable – unlike him. He said that he had problems with his marriage and asked me if I was okay.

My heart leapt, I am ashamed to admit. It was a thought that I had not entertained: he may be having an affair with his wife. Although I was determined not to be involved, I didn’t know if he had ever considered me romantically or sexually. However, I did sometimes catch him staring at me.

Soon after I had finished that, I took a trip to the overseas with my friends.

Although we didn’t speak outside of work, he sent me a text while I was gone saying that he was glad I was enjoying my holiday and that I missed him.

Marika, 27, who works in commercial real estate, has built a lasting relationship with her former boss since he decided to leave his wife (file image)

Marika, 27, a 27-year-old commercial real estate agent, built a strong relationship with her boss after he left his wife. (file photo) 

My hope was that I’d die happy. I took a risk and sent one back saying I missed him too – more than he could imagine. I sent him a smile back, and that was it.

Two weeks later, I was back at the office. Never have I felt so anxious. I was greeted with the most beautiful smile by him and asked to enter his office.

I was told by him that he had never loved anyone as much and that he felt in love with me. The point of pretending not to feel that way was futile. We can all see his office so we could not hug and kiss each other.

The night we met, I had some of the most amazing sex ever. Our love was unbreakable! He claimed he was leaving his wife. However, he said that we needed to keep our mouths shut until then.

That was so sweet! He found out that his wife had sent him a message two weeks earlier and ran into my office in search of me. She accused me of having slept with her husband. It was not convincing, but I did deny it.

My boss raced out of his workplace and led her outside. Her sobs were so intense, it made my stomach hurt. It made me feel ashamed and embarrassed.

Evidently someone told the bosses, and we were taken to the HR department to answer our questions within the hour. Knowing it could cost us our jobs, we had agreed to speak the truth. But it happened, and I was not bothered. We don’t know how much time it took him to get away if we weren’t caught. He is a good man who hates to hurt her.

This was our first Christmas as a couple, five months ago. Our companies are different now so we don’t know how we met.

Although I am not proud of the things I did, I know we are in love and our relationship is built on friendship instead of sex.

A man who is 20 years younger than I am has me in his arms

Jackie, 51, is married to 31-year-old partner.

I was bitter and uninterested in a relationship after my divorce. However, I was open to having sex. I had just come out of an unhappy marriage that ended in sexlessness and I wanted to make amends.

Since I had never met any single men, I decided to go online. Although I had little to no hope, I tried a couple of dating apps and was surprised. At 48, I looked pretty young and received lots of attention. They were all younger men – not one man my own age ever showed any interest.

Is it possible to love despite the odds? These are the secrets to winning over skeptical partners.

It takes time to get it right before you involve others. You will have more success in overcoming criticisms and judgments if your relationships are stronger when you say you’re an object to people.

People shouldn’t be punished for having concerns about you. All of us want happiness for our family members. They may be more protective if they feel the relationship poses a great risk.

Acceptance is better than approval.It’s important to let them know you are confident in your decision. You can ask them to keep their minds open until you get to know each other and to see how it goes.

You can also see your ‘difficult friend’ family members separately.Some people will never accept anything outside of the normal. It’s better to keep them close than to force them all to move on.

Be gentle with yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship failed. Relationships don’t always last. Enjoy the journey, let go of all expectations.

They were great to me and I was able to have sex with them. What a beautiful young body can look like. The men I was with were funny: they had no agenda and just wanted to enjoy sex. Although one man claimed that older women didn’t know how hot they were, I disagree. Although I knew that I was appealing to younger men I didn’t intend on getting into a relationship with them.

Although it was enjoyable for a while, I became bored and stopped going on the applications for many months. One night I was craving sex, and I found the man I loved. The man was Indian and handsome. His smile made me want to spend my life with him. For sex, I presumed we arranged to meet in a local pub. We ended up talking for hours about wine and sex as we arrived at the pub. It didn’t end in sex. We instead arranged to meet again.

The first weekend was a great one. We didn’t even leave our bed. However, this time I was more interested in him than the great body or sex. There was a twenty-year gap in age between us. But it didn’t feel that way. We are both an older person in a youthful body, while he is an old soul in an older body. They were not dissimilar in any way. His departure was Monday morning, and I felt his absence from me as soon as he left.

The ease and comfort of our relationship attracted me to them. We competed, but he wasn’t looking to prove anything. His job was good, but not exceptional. He cared more about me and my job (which, I must say, is quite remarkable). There has never been anyone I met who was more interested in me and gave me compliments on myself.

It was starting to bother me how I felt about him. He started feeling more like a boyfriend rather than a romantic partner. With such a large age difference, how was I supposed to take the relationship seriously?

People would look over us when we ventured out. You could see the mix-race and age differences, and they would start to scribble. Is it mother and son, or are they lovers? I did not hold hands with them or display any affection to anyone in public. I did not want to be judged by the faces of others.

As we were walking around our neighborhood one day, he grabbed me by the hand and then I grabbed it back. It was my first encounter with him, angry and frustrated. He then asked me why I would not hold hands in public. I also wanted to know if I was embarrassed of myself.

When I explained to him my age difference meant that we would never be able to work long-term, he turned around and looked right into mine, asking, “But, why not?” There has never been a time in my entire life when I had more things in common than with someone else. I’d love to spend the rest of life with someone else. “We are perfectly together.”

I then told my closest friends about the situation. Although most people were not shocked by my confession, a few were hesitant and concerned that I would get hurt. He was introduced by me and we all got along well.

My daughter was married with children, so I got up the nerve to say it to her. She eventually agreed to go to see him. This was tough for me as they are nearly the same age. It was hard for me to imagine if she felt ashamed or strange about this, but I did.

Although it took her longer than my friends to convince, we are now at two years and she is happy we are so happy.

Privately, we are the most happy and relaxed couple I know. They rarely disagree and enjoy all of the same things. I feel awkward when people stare at me and try to ignore it. I’m surprised at how many people stare at me. It is an ageist society that we live.

One would not blink an eye if they matched up an older man and a younger girl. Maybe that isn’t true any more. Even then, people might be judging: It is not “woke” for an elderly man to date a much younger woman.

People don’t care if there is a difference of less than 10years. However, I believe that once the age difference is over 10 years people will judge. Jealousy perhaps?’

(* Names have been changed.) 

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