Reinventing Romance: Single Women, Married Men

Over-40 dating expert on women over 40 who are dating married men.

By Sherry Amatenstein, MSW

Q. I am 44 years old and separated from my husband a year ago. I am involved emotionally with a married man, even though I stopped the physical relationship six months ago. I am just shocked by the number of the successful, fabulous, divorced or never-married girlfriends in my age group who are involved with married men. It’s an epidemic! What is the appeal? — Nancy

A. While few openly discuss this "phenomena," according to Fox News Psychology Expert Cooper Lawrence, MA, the single 40-something woman/married man scenario is increasingly ubiquitous. Lawrence, author of Been There, Done That, Kept the Jewelry, explains, "Many women in this age group have been married and divorced and are not interested in remarrying, making this the ‘perfect’ relationship."

For Amanda Sassel the appeal is "SEX, SEX and more sex without any strings attached." The 57-year-old divorcee, happily keeping company with another woman’s 67-year-old husband, continues, "I was married for over 30 years, raised my kids, and now I am free to be me and put me first." More bluntly, the Chicago retail store owner says, "All I need is sexual release on a regular basis with a man who takes Cialis."

Her needs do not include moving on to marriage with this senior stud. Amanda reports that her lover’s wife of 50 years "washes his clothes, buys and makes his food — in short, performs maid services." The bottom line: "He was bored in bed a long time ago. We see each other two days a week and many weekends. It’s a win-win."

In the case of a woman who is emotionally spent after a grueling divorce, the "win-win" might be the ego charge that sex with a married man gives. It’s nice to feel wanted, yet a relief not to be wanted enough to be pressured into making a permanent commitment. Here, an affair can be an exciting yet safe choice.

And let’s not discount the possibility of a secret life for the cheated-on wife. Lawrence says, "Longtime marriages can become business partnerships — couples who were ill-suited in the first place staying together for the children or for financial reasons. The women are having affairs too, trust me."

It’s safe to trust that in some cases, affairs happen due to, as 47-year-old Ann Romano puts it, "the slim pickings for girls over 40" among the available men of a certain age department. The Boston banker met her husband shortly after ending a five-year relationship with a married man. Why did she wait so long to free herself from someone who wasn’t free? "It’s often easier to find a guy who is married and will cheat than to find a worthy single guy, especially since most of the divorced ones have been plundered," she admits, adding, "Really, married guys are often the only ones who can afford dates and have a decent conversation."

Still, this "half-relationship" can become wearing the longer it continues. Six months after your sexual affair ended, Nancy, you remain attached to your married ex-lover. Fulfilling as being single can be, it’s natural to want someone who notices how you look and who cares about your day. We all need connection.

The longer you allow yourself to be "nurtured" by someone who can never provide you with anything more sustaining than the emotional equivalent of empty calories, however, the less hungry you will be to search out someone with more to offer than leftovers.

The most crucial point is to know yourself, your motivations, and your needs. Where is Amanda’s relationship with her 67-year-old pill-popper ultimately heading? "At this point I don’t care. If he is no longer good in bed I will look to find someone who is."

Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?

E-mail Sherry at DatingExpert@More.com and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.

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