After 22 years together, I discovered my partner has been having sex with someone else. A text message describing the “intense pleasure” experienced last time they met, was mistakenly sent to me rather than her. Sex now inhabits the majority of my waking thoughts – imagining him with her, and desiring sex between him and me.
We met aged 18 and 19; the yearning for each other’s bodies was unquenchable. Into our 30s, sex was regular and loving. At 40, we stopped making love altogether. I tried to suggest my continued desire through clothes and gestures, but my attempts were missed. I knew something was wrong, but was scared of the truth. In retrospect, I think our mutual silence created space for infidelity.
Now, for the first time in three years, we have started talking about, and having, sex. It follows the same patterns and positions of the past, but is emotionally charged in new and confusing ways that reveal the weakness and desperation that comes from still loving someone who has broken your heart and humiliated you. Exposure of the betrayal forced us to address the lack of sexual intimacy that has characterised the last few years of our relationship.
We have decided to stay together, but I know things will never be the same. I feel hollow and desperate: desperate for expressions of affection as a sign that my partner still loves me; and because, if we are having sex I know that, for that moment, he is not having sex with anyone else.
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