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TEARS Factor

Joe Newton

I’m the other woman in a non-ethical, non-monogamous marriage. His wife doesn’t know. I think my lover’s wife married him to have a family and because they got along well. When I met my lover five years ago, he talked about how he had a platonic marriage, and his wife was his best friend. He had every reason to expect a sexless marriage, and until recently she refused to see a counselor. They started therapy and are now having “scheduled sex.” When he told me that my first question was, “Is your therapist a man?” Sure enough, he is. I cautioned against this approach but didn’t call it what I think it is: consensual rape. He and I are not having sex now, as I had to draw a line: If she was putting forth such an effort, I would not do anything to undermine her.

I know what it...

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...dermine her. I know what it is like to have sex with someone I don’t want to. Thanks to Brett Kavanaugh, I came to realize that my first time at age 16 was rape. It was a boy I’d met at a party a few weeks before, I thought he was cute, and I wasn’t afraid when he walked into my room. (We were at boarding school.) As my therapist says, I was expecting adolescent smooching and was raped in my bathroom instead. It never occurred to me to tell anyone because I knew I’d get in trouble, and I never thought of it as rape. After that I had indiscriminate sex, often in bathrooms in a drunken stupor. I didn’t have sober sex until my early 30s. After getting therapy in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court, I’ve come to realize I’ve never allowed anyone to love me. Surprisingly, I fell in love with my lover. Why I seem to feel this way about him baffles me. Until him, I thought sexting was stupid. I was wrong, it is exhilarating and exciting. When I see a text coming in from him, a wonderful warmth courses through my body and I feel loved. I’ve never felt this way before. I haven’t had much of a love life so I’m not sure I know what love feels like but this sure feels nice. He says he feels a similar excitement, melt is the word he uses, when I text him, but he is emotionally unavailable because he “loves the wife who won’t blow him.” My lover actually loves his wife and the only reason I got into the relationship is that I don’t think she loves him erotically. My lover is in the same situation as your reader TEARS: trapped in a sexless marriage. It was actually your response to TEARS that prompted this letter. From the outside they look like a lovely, happy family and he wants to keep his family whole. I am conflicted. I love him, I don’t think she does loves him, and I know he loves her. What kind of love triangle is this? He says he just wants someone who wants to have sex with him. They’ve been married less than 10 years and have three young children. I am older than he is. So, what is my point in writing you? I wanted your readers to hear from “the other woman.” Also, in your experience, has scheduled sex ever helped a sexless marriage? The Other One P.S. Stop the presses! I sent my lover the link to your column with your advice for TEARS, and he asked his wife about an open marriage. He said she “cried bitterly.” At first, I felt sympathy for both of them, but then it occurred to me that she might be manipulating him. I am now thinking about starting things back with my lover physically. I’d love to hear what you think. If you wanna start fucking this dude again, TOO, you can start fucking this dude again without constructing self-serving rationalizations or casting aspersions on his wife. Okay, so your lover’s wife burst into tears when he asked about opening their marriage — something he’d already done unilaterally, which she may suspect (hence the tears), and something many people take as a sign their marriages are about to collapse, which she may fear (hence the tears). Being asked to open a marriage can be an upsetting conversation, TOO, particularly for someone with small children. So, I think you should give this woman you’ve never met, a woman who has done you no harm, the benefit of the doubt and see her reaction as emotionally raw, not emotionally manipulative. As for scheduled sex… Scheduled sex can be good, it can be great, it can be awful… just like spontaneous sex. One thing scheduled sex isn’t, TOO, is “consensual rape.” Just as there are good reasons a person might choose to marry (and creating a family with someone you like is a pretty good reason), and just as there are good reasons a person might choose to seek sex outside their marriage (and making the mistake of marrying someone who doesn’t wanna fuck you is a pretty common reason), there are good reasons a couple might choose to have sex at a set time. Lots of sex therapists and marriage counselors, both male and female, recommend scheduled sex to couples whose marriages have drifted into sexlessness, and scheduled sex has helped many couples reconnect sexually. And come on, TOO, I shouldn’t have to explain to you, someone who’s been sleeping with a married man for five years, that scheduled sex can be consensual sex and good sex. While sex with an affair partner might happen spontaneously the first time — an opportunity seized — spontaneous sex is extremely rare in ongoing affairs. To keep an affair going for five years you have to create opportunities, e.g., you have to make plans to get together for sex, you have to synchronize business trips for sex, you have to meet up in hotel rooms for sex. Affair sex is scheduled sex. While scheduled sex can revive a sexual connection for some married couples — and while scheduled sex makes ongoing affairs possible — scheduled sex can’t work miracles. If there wasn’t a sexual connection to begin with, which seems to be the case with your lover and his wife, scheduling sex isn’t going to magically create one. If one spouse is no longer attracted to the other spouse and/or one spouse has lost interest in sex and/or sex has become impossible or painful for one spouse and the lost-all-interest-for-whatever-reason spouse refuses to do anything about it, as was the case with TEARS’ husband who refused to get ED meds, or if everything has been tried and nothing has worked and the spouse who doesn’t want to fuck has given up, scheduling sex isn’t going to help. Indeed, in that case scheduled sex — the dread felt by the spouse who doesn’t want to have sex, the other spouse sensing that dread and feeling rejected all over again — could make things worse. Like I told TEARS in the response that prompted you to write, TOO, too many therapists and marriage counselors regard scheduled sex as a fix for all sexless marriages. In fairness to therapists and counselors, both halves of the sexless couple on the couch often identify being busy as the problem; they have kids, hectic lives, they can’t find the time. But one half of the couple may not be telling the truth; it’s not that they can’t find the time, it’s that they don’t want to. It can be hard for someone to say out loud that they’re no longer sexually attracted to their spouse — or to admit that they never were — because 1. that’s not something that can be un-said, 2. no one wants to hurt someone they love (doesn’t wanna fuck ≠ doesn’t love), and 3. since opening up a marriage is a non-starter for most couples, particularly straight ones, the marriage has to end if celibacy itself is a non-starter for the other spouse. Consequently, some people who aren’t interested in sex with their spouses would rather pretend to work on it — even if that means going through with some lousy scheduled sex — than tell the truth. With all that said, TOO, both your lover and his wife want to make their marriage work. Again, if you want to resume fucking your lover, I think you can and maybe even should go ahead and fuck him; while “the other woman” rarely gets credit for saving a marriage, sometimes that’s exactly what the other woman (or other man) does. This dude loves his wife (very imperfectly), and she loves him (ditto), and they love their kids and want to keep their home together. But your lover also needs — once in a while — to fuck someone who wants to fuck him, TOO, and he can love you both for that (for the sex, for what it makes possible) and love you (for the person you are, for what you have together). But I would encourage you to resist the urge to justify your choices by making assumptions about your lover’s wife. You’re in no position to judge the sincerity of her feelings for her husband, TOO, which are probably every bit as complicated and conflicted as your own feelings for him. If you decide to continue with this affair, TOO, you need to accept that this woman — this other woman — loves her husband as much or more than you do. And if you don’t want to be the other woman, if you want to be loved publicly by a man who is free to marry you, there are four billion other men on this planet to choose from. P.S. Fuck Brett Kavanaugh and fuck the Supreme Court. Also, I’m so sorry your first sexual experience wasn’t consensual, I’m so sorry you were raped, and so glad you found a therapist who could help. I’m a 43-year-old gay man. I was in the closet, virgin and single until I was 38 years old, which was when I had my first sexual relationship with a man. I entered into my first serious relationship in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and it didn’t work out, mostly because of the sex, and we split a year later. About six months after that split, I met a new guy. This time the sex was great, and we decided to be exclusive. Two years in, I’m struggling with monogamy. I think we really don’t align on what we want. I’m constantly thinking about breaking up, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel attracted to my partner and repulsed by him. Is something wrong with me? Why can’t I keep a relationship together? What should I do about this? Worrying Over Endings It doesn’t matter how old a guy actually is when he comes out as gay, WOE, emotionally-speaking he resets to 15 — he’s going to have mad crushes on cute guys, he doesn’t really know what he wants, and he’s going to make the kind of mistakes teenagers make. So, instead of thinking of yourself as having two failed adult relationships, WOE, you should think of yourself as having gone steady with two boys you liked a lot while you were in gay high school — you were (emotionally!) 16 when you met your first serious boyfriend, and 18 (emotionally!) when you met your second serious boyfriend. You learned two important things about yourself in these formative relationships: sex is important to you, monogamy is not. So, now that you’re (emotionally) entering your 20s, it’s time to go find a guy who wants the same things you do. Got a problem? Everyone does! Submit your written question for “Savage Love” now! Or…

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