BETH LIEBLING isn’t your typical sex shop owner. The Cornell-educated, 50-something mother of five was a family law attorney with her own solo practice before opening Darling Way in 2016.
Housed in a cozy Heights cottage, the business is more upscale boutique than Adam & Eve, with an approachable atmosphere. “Darling Way is the shop I wanted to shop in,” says Liebling, “but it didn’t exist. I realized, I want this, and if I want this, other people want it.”
It was Liebling’s divorce—following 25 years of marriage—that sparked her midlife about-face. She decided to learn to talk about her desires. “When I was married, I might get something from an adult store,” she says, “but I would be so embarrassed when I brought it home, it would just sit in a drawer. And it didn’t help.”
She also had to learn to date—and feel attractive—again. “I didn’t feel good about myself at all,” she remembers. “I’d had no romance or emotional connection for years and needed to try and find some place where I could even start with new lingerie. I looked around, and there wasn’t any place to go that really celebrated sexy in a respectful way.”
Enter Darling Way. Sure, the shop has a “frisky room” full of novelties of the raunchier sort, but there’s also a rack of vintage, feathered chemises and dapper smoking jackets, plus a literature section. Liebling, who now hosts a YouTube series and a radio show on love, sex, and dating (on ESPN 97.5 FM), is adamant about educating her clients—the shop even hosts regular “sexy ed” classes.
“I’ve been a romantic my whole life,” Liebling says. “Part of what I tell people is, it’s not about what you need. Nobody needs whipped cream, but damn, it makes things fun. It turns ice cream into a sundae.”
Beth’s Top 3 Houston Date Nights
Staycation at Hotel ZaZa
“I tell people to go to sexy places, and Hotel ZaZa is a really sexy hotel. Get a room there and live it up. But you don’t want to go and do the same thing—you want a little bit of something different, even if it’s just that somebody’s blindfolded.”
Drinks at Marfreless
“It’s romantic downstairs, and upstairs it’s sexier. Maybe you kiss, or maybe you just see other people kissing, and it’s a turn-on. It gets your heart going a little bit.”
Picnic at Hermann Park
“Get a blanket, go out to Hermann Park, and just lay on the grass together. Because after a certain point in the relationship, we stop doing that.”