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Neighbours star Madeleine West, 41, has opened up about her sex life after splitting from her husband of 13 years, MasterChef regular Shannon Bennett.
In a candid chat with Mia Freedman on her No Filter podcast, the Aussie actor and mum-of-six revealed she was 'terrified' to be intimate with a new partner following her separation from Shannon in 2018.
'Never good enough'
Madeleine told Mia that she was plagued with self-doubt when it came to starting a new romantic relationship in her late 30s after leaving her marriage behind.
"I couldn't conceive that it would happen again because my immediate thought was, 'I'm never gonna be good enough,'" she said.
She admitted that she felt the pressure to live up to the sexy, adventurous characters she's played in racy TV shows such as Satisfaction and Playing For Keeps.
"I know I'm an attractive woman and I’ve done a gazillion sex scenes for work and I started to envision how to perform like a woman half my age."
Madeleine found herself worrying about a potential partner's expectations of sex without really considering what she wanted.
"If I meet someone will they Google me, see me on Satisfaction and Underbelly and the stuff that I got up to there. Is that what their expectations are going to be? 'Cause that's not what I'm into. Do I even know what I'm into anymore? What do I want? I was so confused."
When Mia quizzed Madeleine on her first sexual encounter following her break-up with celebrity chef Shannon, Madeleine admitted it 'wasn't great'.
"I was performing like a bit of a porn star and it wasn't great but that gorgeous person knew that it was my first foray back into the sensual realm," she said.
The experience helped her come to a 'really important realisation' about letting go of expectations and embracing what makes her feel sexy.
"I am my sexiest when I am just being me. I’ve birthed six children, I look after my body, I’ve worked hard in life and ever since that realisation, I’ve enjoyed [sex] ever since."
Madeleine's new romance
Madeleine also confirmed that she's happily dating environmentalist Maximo Bottaro who she met after getting involved in rainforest regeneration following her relocation from Melbourne to Byron Bay.
Madeleine said that Maximo is 'a couple of years younger' than her and that their relationship blossomed gradually over time after a chance meeting.
"There were no boxes to tick, just meeting him and getting to know him and seeing his earnestness [...] his self-belief was possibly the most attractive thing," she said.
Maximo knew 'absolutely nothing' about Madeleine or her acting career before they met and it took him a while to correlate her showbiz past with the person she is today. Not that she minded, really.
"Why would you think you'd find an actor who is associated with wealth and luxury and a certain kind of life standing on the side of a muddy rainforest-covered hill in Goonengerry wearing workboots and ready to muck in? It would never happen."
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