Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He’s Sleeping With Me But Dating Someone Else”

I am a very young 79-year-old woman. I lost my husband nineteen months ago and have been seeing a friend who also lost his spouse four years ago. We knew each other when both spouses were living. Our involvement during our first six months together was friendly dating. Then he came to visit me in Florida (we were living in different states) and ended up in my bed. I thought we would have an exclusive relationship, but when he went home, it turned out he was dating another woman I was not aware of when he had sex with me. He was not sleeping with her, but it hurt me deeply and we decided to just be friends. Well, now I am back where he lives and we spend a couple days a week together and are very sexually drawn to each other. I know we are just good friends and it will be nothing more. I also know he sees the other woman and, while they may not have been having sex, deep down I think it’s her he cares for. When I’m with him, he’s very caring and generous, so part of me says why not be happy as long as I know it will never be anything more. The other part of me says why am I doing this and that, while I hope this isn’t true, I think he’s enjoying the sex too much. He says that he doesn’t date me for sex and that he cares about me. How did I get to be so stupid and why can’t I just walk away? — Looking For More

First, I’m sorry about the loss of your husband, and I hope you’ve had a good support system as you grieve and re-build your life.

Second, your letter is a good reminder, to those of us who don’t yet have the years of experience and wisdom you’ve surely gained, that many of the feelings we have when single and dating are universal, despite age, circumstances, culture, and lifestyle. And so, my advice to you is the same as it would be for someone fifty years younger: If what you want isn’t what you’re getting, you need to decide if what you’re getting is worth sacrificing what you want. It sounds like what you want is a committed partnership and what you’re getting is more of a FWB situation (that’s Friends With Benefits, if you aren’t up on the acronyms). A FWB can be great. It provides intimacy and companionship without the strings of commitment. It works for people who aren’t looking for a relationship but still want to enjoy sex with someone whom they enjoy spending non-sexual time with, too. And there are lots of reasons someone might not be looking for a “real” relationship — maybe they just got out of one, maybe they’re raising young children and want to focus mostly on that, maybe they have very demanding careers that require a lot of time and energy, maybe they travel a lot and want to be free to explore relationships in difference places.

But it doesn’t matter what other people want or what their motivations are. It matters what YOU want, and it matters what you want in relation to what you’re getting. It doesn’t even matter why your man friend is sleeping with you while not agreeing to be anything more than good friends. What matters is that you want more. You’re not getting more, so you have to look at what you ARE getting and decide whether it’s worth the sacrifice of what you really want (which you could potentially find with someone else). You could keep looking for that something more while also continuing your casual sexual relationship with the guy you’re seeing (just as it seems he might be doing), but if that doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do that. Don’t be seduced by the times you’re with the guy and he’s being caring and generous and you feel happy. Don’t be seduced by 30% or 40% or even 60%, when what you want is 100%.

I can imagine — or maybe I can’t, really — how lonely it must feel to lose a spouse. I can appreciate wanting to fill the void with someone new — to feel cared for again in the way a spouse cares for you. I hope you find that again. But it’s important to remember that no one will ever love you exactly the same way your spouse did. That doesn’t mean you won’t be loved as much or as deeply, but it won’t be the same because the person won’t be the same, and your relationship won’t be the same. This is both heartbreaking and exciting. And just in case you are looking for something like you shared with your husband, I want to leave you with this: Your next love probably won’t look like your previous love. I don’t mean that just in the physical sense. I mean that in every sense. So instead of looking for what you lost, look for what it is you want now. And, again: If you aren’t getting what you want, decide whether what you are getting is worth settling for. And if it isn’t, you can either move on, or you can keep taking what’s being offered to you while you continue looking for more elsewhere (just be honest about doing so!).

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

8 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine June 15, 2017, 9:16 am

    WWS. LW, I am sorry about your husband and hope you find happiness in whatever form works for you. The only thing I would add is not to get hung up on ‘should’–like he ‘should’ only be with me if we’re sleeping together–if the arrangement works for you ‘should’ doesn’t matter. At 79 you’ve more than earned the right to make your own path.

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    Bryana June 15, 2017, 9:27 am

    What Wendy Said 100%. That was such a kind, thoughtful, and practical response. You are never too old to find love, and being vivacious will continue to keep you young. Best of luck with love LW!

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  • Cleopatra Jones

    Cleopatra Jones June 15, 2017, 9:43 am

    WWS.
    Make sure you are having safe, protected sex! Make sure he is wearing a condom, as sexually transmitted diseases/infections are on the rise among seniors.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star June 15, 2017, 10:00 am

    LW, you should do what makes you happy. Specifically: If this quasi-relationship makes you feel bad about yourself or “lesser” than another woman, it’s no way to live—even if the sex is good and the companionship is nice.

    I say, keep on looking for another man who makes you feel special without so many reservations…

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny June 15, 2017, 11:40 am

    This is such a compassionate response from Wendy! And it’s so true. One hard lesson I’ve learned is to not settle for being someone’s option when you really want more- and admitting to yourself that you do want more and you’re never going to get it from that person is sometimes a hard thing to come to accept.
    I also second getting tested- I’ve heard the stats that std’s among seniors is on the rise…

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  • avatar

    csp June 15, 2017, 2:28 pm

    LW- I think you need to take a look at your life and decide what you want. Your situation sounds great if that is what you want. My favorite quote is “You are the cultivator or your life, not the manager of your circumstances.” Obviously, I don’t think that dating was part of your plan but here you are. Now that you are in your situation, do you want a real partner or are you liking your situation. You can build the life you want so do what feels best and what you are comfortable with. You can also make a decision for now that you know will change over the next few months.

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  • avatar

    Jamie June 18, 2017, 12:31 pm

    Thank you Wendy and all who replied to my letter. Last week I spent three days and nights with Jim. We had both relaxing and fun times together. He is very warm and loving to me. We love each other but not in love. As I said he dates another woman that he also has feelings for. She has been married three times and guess she knows how to snag a man better than I. I tell him the truth, she tells him what he wants to hear like she doesn’t have her claws into him and it doesn’t bother her that he took me away for three days. That’s BS. Any woman who cares for a man does care if he’s seeing someone else. I do believe know that he is intimate with her as I found out in a backhanded way. I said well we have to be careful as she has been alone for 6 years and don’t know who she’s sleeping with. He said well she only slept with one other man and didn’t like him so she went and got tested and is fine. Said maybe it wasn’t right but he never sowed wild oats when he was young so doing it now. I knew this would never be a long term one on one relationship and I have no intentions of sleeping with another man so I can either leave him and be sad and miserable now or continue our relationship and see where it goes. Eventually I head back to my winter home and she will have all of him. I wish it could be different but I am very realistic. Like having a teen romance or an affair. Oh well I’m old and how much more fun is left in my life and when I’m with him. He’s all mine. What I don’t understand is he is so warm and passionate with me, so touchy feely and all I just can’t picture him having the same exact relationship with her but then who knows. I just can’t ask him that question as it seems so invasive and he doesn’t lie to me It is what it is I guess. Take it or leave it. And I say, but would he miss me. One day soon I’m going to get up the nerve to ask him that question.

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