I’ve been with my wife since 2003 and have stayed monogamous. About 10 years ago, she started taking medication which destroyed her desire for intimate contact. About 4 years ago, she told me, that my seeking sex outside our relationship would be OK with her. However, after the both of us had drinks with polyamorous friends and we talked about loving relationships with other partners, she decided she didn’t want me loving anyone else and put the brakes on me seeing others. A little over a month ago, I found out through these same friends and my stepdaughter that she was having an affair. We have an open relationship. I’m just the last to know about it.
As you can imagine, I have several problems with which I’m trying to come to terms without dissolving our marriage. First, the relationship she’s having isn’t ethical – I won’t get into details. Second, I’m having a hard time moving past the obvious integrity and honesty issue. And lastly, even if we can move forward together, how the hell does an ethical, 62 year-old man find love without joining seedy and/or expensive dating websites, especially during the present health and social climate? I’d really appreciate your input. Thanks very much.
Holy moly! that is quite an ordeal that you have been through. I have so much empathy for your situation and what you are struggling with right now. I hear the sense of betrayal, sadness due to loss and the breakdown of trust, the pain of new shocking information. It’s real. And it hurts. I am so sorry that you are going through that. My first bit of words for you, are to give yourself permission to grieve the loss of what once was. I assure you that allowing yourself space to grieve is part of the healing process. Often this is not a linear path, so practicing some self-compassion and empathy for that ebb and flow is a necessary form of self-care. Breathe, cry, scream to the wind. It’s ok. Let it out. Certainly, don’t suppress it or ignore it. That’s counterproductive.
Know you are not alone. I am sure many of our readers can relate to your story. Why? Because what I have found time and time again in the work that I do, is that many people find it “easier” to cheat than to come clean about their desires and inclinations. That doesn’t make what they are doing ok. Yet often we can start to move to a better place if we can see situations from additional perspectives.
Here are some reasons why people cheat (there is no judgment here as I am a former cheater myself):
• The thrill of it – New Relationship Energy (NRE)
• Thinking that cheating is their “only” choice
• Emotional needs not being met
• Physical needs not being met
• Irresistible opportunity
• Rebellion – Revenge
• Laziness – Cheating is easier
Since I don’t know the details of your situation, I don’t know what is at play in why your wife cheated. You shared that you don’t want to dissolve your marriage. So, I am hearing a desire to move through this together as a couple, to heal, to forgive. One way to think about forgiveness is that it is a gift that we not only give to someone else, it is mainly a gift we give to ourselves. One quote that may resonate is, “Not forgiving is like you taking poison hoping the other person will die.” One way to move towards forgiveness is to create a deeper understanding between you and your wife. You can take a deep breath, when ready drop the gavel (to “hit her on the head with” as the judge), and have an authentic conversation. One way to do this is to ask open-ended questions, staying curious. When you think of curiosity, you can add some playfulness to it, thinking of your wife as a magical unicorn that is about to tell you something absolutely fascinating that you have never heard before. What magical words are about to fall out of her mouth! (thank you, Melanie Moseley for that gem of a concept).
If you find each of you judging each other in that conversation (or in general), keep in mind that judgments are simply a tragic expression of a need. It is “tragic” because it almost certainly ensures that we will not get that need met (because we are then creating a need to protect oneself from feeling attacked, for example). What needs was your wife attempting to meet? From what you wrote, it is clear that some of your needs and values are honesty and integrity. I got it! You may be at a level of 8, 9, or 10 for those values. Others may have different values that are important to them with honesty and integrity lower on the scale. As we walk around in the world working to get our needs met, our behavior can be destructive, constructive, or neutral. How can your wife move to more constructive ways of getting her needs met, making space for your needs as well? I know that it might seem challenging right now, but you CAN move through this. There is no shame in reaching out to a professional to help you both as you heal.
DATING AT 62
In terms of your last question, “How the hell does an ethical, 62 year-old man find love without joining seedy and/or expensive dating websites, especially during the present health and social climate?” I invite you to open your mind and your heart and take a good look at that belief. When you hold that belief as absolutely true, how do you feel? Sad? Stifled? Defeated? Frustrated? In that emotional state, do you think you would come from a resourceful place with positive energy to meet amazing human beings? Or do you think you would be un-resourced and contract your energy?
Is that belief even true? I can assure you that it is not true. Let’s debunk that thought. I have clients and folks in our community, who are rocking their open relationship love lives at every age, including into their 70’s and beyond. Also they are having amazing sexual adventures! They are not going to “seedy” or expensive websites to do it. And they are enjoying this right now in this new COVID reality that we find ourselves in. Do you see the resourcefulness there? You can have that too! It is inside you right now. Who would you be if that belief above never even entered your mind? Would you feel freer? Lighter? More ready to take on the world and meet new exciting folks?
I invite you to try on for size the belief that in this world of 7.5 billion people, there are many enticing, awesome folks who would be thrilled to date you, no matter what your age is! Why? Because you are unique and beautiful, with a big heart, an open mind, with so much love to give to the right people who you allow to be in your intimate circle. Never forget how spectacular you are! So often we forget the greatness within us right now in this moment. How can you own and claim the identity of that superhero inside of you? I believe in you and your pleasure discovery!
In terms of where to look, there are sites such as, open (totally free), fetlife.com (totally free and only “seedy” if you choose to judge it that way – I think it’s perfect for those who are into it), OKCupid (I met my current partner there and started on the free plan, then paid a modest fee for three months), Bumble (one of my clients found her partner there during the pandemic within the first two weeks of being on the site). In terms of age, it’s all a matter of perspective and what we each find beautiful. One of my mentors is 56 and I think he’s hot as all get out! I’m 51 and took up pole dancing in my 40s, because why not? What can you do to help you feel more alive, vibrant, and sexy in your own skin?
Lastly, feel free to join our amazing community on Facebook at facebook.com/lovingwithoutboundaries to see how others are rocking their lives at any age. You got this. See you on the other side!
With love and gratitude,
* Question provided through the Shameless Sex Podcast (www.shamelesssex.com).