IN a tent deep inside a forest outside Barcelona I had my first full-blown orgasm with a man I barely knew.
We’d met at a tantric festival and afterwards my lover gave me hours of pleasure, without penetrating me, through the art of tantric massage.
You’ve probably heard of tantric sex as the thing singer Sting said allowed him to make love for hours.
Essentially it is all about intimacy, focusing on breathing and touching techniques to bring on more intense, often whole body orgasms.
That festival in Spain, several years ago now, was my first experience of tantric sex.
It was bliss. But I was amazed.
Following that deep orgasm I knew what had been missing my entire life. And my quest for better sex had finally been fulfilled.
I was 42 and although I am a curious woman who has always wanted a full life, up until that point my sex life had been tame, or “vanilla”.
At 40 I was still waiting for it to happen like it did in films. The ones where Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin united under a waterfall and orgasmed together in blissful unison.
What was this thing with orgasming together? I saw it everywhere on screen and yet, by midlife, it still hadn’t happened for me.
I’d had one regular partner throughout my thirties. We seemed great together but something wasn’t right — our sex life had petered out.
I had no idea how to fix it or even talk about it, so it went unchanged.
But when a couple isn’t having sex the sexual energy has to go somewhere, and it did. My partner had an affair and, broken-hearted, I ran away — from him, my job and my home.
I actually ran home to my dear old mother for a few months and tried to finish a novel I’d been working on.
But in all other parts of my life I had been knocked off my feet.
It was seedy yet this didn’t put me off.
My mother said: “Two years and you’ll be back on your feet.”
But it took a lot longer than that.
I went on a decade-long journey, full of ups and downs, revelation and learning, searching for the sex I’d always been curious of but only ever half-guessed about.
But ten years ago the world was different.
There was no social media, no plethora of dating opportunities now found so easily online.
Today a woman can type into Google “I think I’m kinky” and up pops a wealth of information. Not so then.
My first lead to my new sex life was overhearing a friend talk about Craigslist, an American site with a UK branch that ran a No Strings Attached Sex section. I logged on immediately.
What I found there was an underworld. Men Looking for Women, Women Looking For Men and same sex hook-ups, but only ever for sex.
It was seedy and yet this didn’t, for some reason, put me off.
I was curious and, after months of sadness at my split, I suddenly perked up. Now I had a mission.
I met about 15 men on Craigslist and it was a fun and sexy experience. I didn’t sleep with all of them, only a handful.
It was like a precursor to Tinder, which I’d never use, a more innocent time.
Some of the men, when you got to meet them, wouldn’t know what to do and could be very English and awkward about it, so we wouldn’t have sex, but 90 per cent of the experiences were fun.
I had lots of courage, which I needed when I then decided to explore the subgenre known as Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism, or BDSM.
I hired a professional Dom to guide me through my first encounter. He cost me over £100 but he was with me for the whole afternoon.
He was in control and I played the submissive, like Ana did to Christian in Fifty Shades Of Grey.
The Dom tied me up and had unique skills with his hands and tongue.
I also explored the heights which can be achieved with an endorphin rush from the impact of anything from a simple slap to a good thrashing.
Most people are either Sub or Dom but I found I could switch.
I loved that the new me was a versatile lover. After BDSM I explored swinging.
In 2009 this led me and a group of friends to a resort in the south of France called Cap D’Agde — the most famous swingers’ haven on Earth.
We found groups of people who wanted to play and swap partners. There were clubs full of dungeons, filled with writhing groups of naked people. It was sexy and we joined in.
I had my first group sex in those dungeons, with many people watching. I found I was happy to pleasure myself in front of an audience.
My adventures led me to try tantric sex — it was through tantric workshops that I met the people I went swinging with — and that festival deep in a forest outside Barcelona.
After my mindblowing orgasm following my first tantric massage, later that night I headed to the communal dining hall.
There, on a plinth, a chef was covered with fruit chocolate mousse and whipped cream.
Us women at the festival descended on him like a pack of wolves — and that night my life changed for good.
In 2011 I published a memoir of my experiences, With The Kisses Of His Mouth (Simon & Schuster), which has a cult following among those who are as curious as I am about the world of sex.
I’ve recently finished a fictional novel, The Tryst, about a couple who love each other dearly but are stuck in a sexless relationship.
Today, aged 52, I am different to that woman I was a decade ago — and glad of it.
Thanks to being part of an ongoing and long-term tantric group, I am single but not celibate.
I have good massage skills and can always find a person with whom to share or swap.
I live in London and any night of the week I can find a sex party, a cuddle party, a tantra workshop, a kinky play party.
The people I go to swinging parties with are generally aged between 34 and 54, and single.
And they are all very good-looking. Better looking than me, which is clever thinking on my part.
I use them as bait! My new life includes sex-positive friends who think like me and play respectfully.
I’m in no hurry to have a relationship. I haven’t had one for 18 months and I’m perfectly happy.
I love the new me and my new life. Today people have so much more opportunity to be sexually fulfilled.
Seek and you shall find.
The Tryst, by Monique Roffey (Dodo Ink), is on promotion for one week on Kindle, £4.99, and is out in paperback, £8.99, from July 6.