Anyway, this is the man I was dreaming to grow old with. Not only because I loved him unconditionally and felt (still feel) that we are perfectly matched in every way, but also because he was the most stable, honest, monogamous man I had ever met, or so I thought.
Three months after we moved to our new place abroad, I accidentally found out that, back in our home country for the previous two years (this started about the same time he moved into my home), he had been seeing another woman, around his age. She is married, and I am convinced that the only reason he stayed on under our common roof was that she couldn’t leave her husband. He claims that this was not the only reason, that all this time he still loved me and he couldn’t make himself leave me.
So he was living with me, his behavior appeared normal, I suspected nothing, everything was going on as usual (including all house bills paid by me), but he was constantly communicating with her and seeing her whenever she could get away. I had the painful opportunity to read some of their messages: He was telling her that she was the love of his life, that he had never felt like this with any other woman. (He has accepted that those were words fueled by an infatuation, without anything solid to back them up, since they would only meet for sex and nothing else.)
By reading his emails, I discovered also that, during the first three months that we were still settling in in our new country, he had flown secretly back home twice to see the “love of his life” and incidentally have sex with another woman who had happened to catch his fancy right around the time we were preparing to relocate. Talk about wanting to catch up on missed experiences!
So, after I discovered the devastating truth that he was in love with another woman, and while I was packing my things to leave, he was crying uncontrollably, saying that he still loved me and that he didn’t want to lose me. The next day I flew back home, but two days later he told me that he had broken up over the phone with her, and I returned to him soon after.
We entered a renewed phase in our relationship: closer than ever, with amazing sex like we had had in the early years, and he swore that he would never hurt me like this again. He also swore that all communication with the other woman had stopped.
But, no surprise here, I found out that it hadn’t stopped. He only stayed away for a few weeks, and then he went back to exchanging passionate messages and attempting to see her whenever possible, which admittedly was almost never, as we have traveled back home only three times during the past twelve months, for very short visits and always together. Still, from many telltale signs, I am certain that he managed to see her. The daily communication has stopped, of this I am sure, but I can’t know how often they communicate or how they keep in touch, if they do.
I know your usual take on this: MOA! But would you say this to a woman of my age, about a partner who is in every other way perfect? He is sweet, easy-going, tender, and loving, his behavior has become even better since I discovered his infidelity, and I am sure that he loves me. But so many questions keep me awake at night: What will he do if the other woman suddenly becomes available? Will I ever relax and stop suspecting him, or will I still be monitoring his every move ten years from now?
So, would you advise me to become a lonely old woman going on online dates to find a man I can love again as much as I loved this one? Or is it better for an older woman/man to accept the fact that they don’t have their whole life in front of them and that many happy long-living relationships are based on “don’t ask, don’t tell”? Would you tell your own mother to MOA and leave her 13-year partner who is making her mostly happy and to look for love elsewhere? — MOA or Not?
You want to know what I would tell my own mother if she were in a relationship with a man for thirteen years who lied to her, cheated on her repeatedly, was apparently being financially supported by her, and was still legally married to someone else? If she told me she was up at night worrying about what he might do if the other woman became available, she was worrying about whether she would ever be able to relax again and stop monitoring him, she worried that, as a “lonely old woman,” she might never find someone to love as much as she loves him, I’d tell her that there is no age limit to needing trust and respect in a relationship. And I’ll tell you: At 63 you are far too young to give up on finding someone to love who is fully available to you — someone who is all the things you say your partner is except for the lying, cheating part.
You may have a year or two of feeling lonely and worrying that you’ll never find someone again. But in that time you can also focus on developing hobbies and interests that can help take your mind off being lonely and which could open your world to new opportunities (and people!). You may find that life as someone who gardens, volunteers, travels, cooks, takes dance classes, practices photography, goes to art museums, etc. is more fulfilling than a life spent worrying about whether your partner is professing his love today to the other woman/women he’s screwing behind your back. (And for the record: Marrying young and not sleeping with many people before committing to a spouse is no excuse for cheating. There are plenty of people who manage to stay monogamous even without a period of sowing oats. Your partner just doesn’t happen to be one of them.)
You don’t have to do online dating if you don’t want to. You think that’s the only way for a 63-year-old woman to meet someone? It’s not. Lots of people your age are single — either through divorce or widowhood — and looking for a partner. When you’re ready, you can tell friends and colleagues you’re on the market and ask if they know someone who might be a match. You can join a singles group. Take classes. Mine your social network — both online and off — for acquaintances and friends of friends who might be single and of interest to you. Might you go on some bad dates? Maybe! Will you have nights you just want a companion instead of an empty bed? Sure! But I really, really think these moments of loneliness — even months of loneliness — will be easier to tolerate in the short-term than years and years of dealing with infidelity and a slowly breaking heart. And if you never find someone again — which, yes, is a possibility, but I think a smallish one — I still think you will be better off than being in a relationship that keeps you awake at night worrying. You’re not going to continue looking younger than your age when you’re losing sleep like that. And more importantly: You will not be happy being in a relationship with someone you cannot trust, whom you believe would leave you for another woman if she were available.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.