As You Desire: After 20 Years, a Red-Hot Affair Goes Cold

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I share with you a letter from someone who is in what I call a VERY complicated situation.  As you read this letter, you are going to experience your own judgments and criticisms.  Some of you will have empathy and compassion. Many of you will have a mixture of every emotion, as I did.  I bring this to you because life is messy.  It’s easy for all of us to sit on the outskirts and judge another’s life choices.  So clearly we see the ways they should change or fix things.  We all have lessons to learn while living this life.  We get many opportunities to learn them.  What are yours?  What would you advise?  You’ll see as you read along.  I tried to take out the identifying pieces of information, since this reader asked to remain anonymous.  His original letter was four pages long.

We will refer to the man writing the letter as “A” and the woman he refers to as “B.”

From “Call me A”:

I’m 40 and have had a relationship/affair for 20 years with a woman, B, who is now 58. Yeah, I know. How did this last so long and what kept it great? Well, many things, I love her company, support and she is truly my soul mate. We’re both married, call our spouses vanilla, good people, who don’t deserve what we’ve done, but we can’t resist our desires for each other.

I’ll go back in time; I met B at a club where she was introduced to me and we hit it off right away. Great kisser, very attractive, we just couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. We didn’t do anything sexual for months, as she was married. I wasn’t, but I was dating someone. I waited on her decision as to what would happen next.

Over the next 15 years, our relationship was absolutely stellar from how we made each other better with regards to our careers. I supported hers and she helped me get through college and eventually into a rewarding career. She was my best friend, the one I wanted to share my success, be around, etc. … (Read A‘s entire letter here).

[Greatly paraphrased, A‘s letter asked what he should do about:

1. Dealing with B‘s lack of sexual desire and the menopause affects on her overall personality.

2. Their 18-year age gap.

3. The “all or nothing” ultimatum he gave (and which isn’t working) to restore the sex life they shared before.

4. His devastation over a 20-year affair that seems to be ending when he doesn’t want it to.

5. Apparent guilt and confusion about living a double life and yet still wishing it would continue.]

Sincerely, A

Dear A,

Whew … I am exhausted just reading your story. I can only imagine how the two of you must be feeling.  Living a double life for 20 years has got to take a toll on even the toughest person.

There are a few issues I’d like to address with you.

First is the fact that you are in a quandary about commitment with someone you can’t really be committed to.  In your letter I heard expectations of B that one would have with a committed life partner — “in sickness and health” kind of commitment — and yet you offer her none of those life partner traits. You have enjoyed an ongoing love affair without any of the daily responsibilities.  It doesn’t sound as though you have raised her children with her or held her hair when she was vomiting; nor have you experienced the daily demands of a household, aging parents, failing kids, etc., that her husband has.  She has made it very clear (at least to me) that she is committed to her husband and to her marriage; otherwise she would have left him years ago when you were single and free to be all hers.  The bottom line is what you and she have enjoyed is “play” and a time-out from the real world for a fantasy relationship.  I’m amazed it has lasted this long, but it appears that it’s time for you to see this for what it is.  It sounds like she still enjoys talking to you, but you aren’t interested in talking if you can’t be sexual.  This sounds more like a sexual addiction to her than love.

Second is the age difference.  Between ages 20 and 50 it doesn’t seem to be a big deal.  In fact, older women and younger men can be well suited because sex drives are more equivalent.  However, once we get into the phase of life B is in, things can change. She is entering a time when women mature and want more out of their lives.  They reevaluate.  They reset their priorities.  They become more introspective and spiritual.  They become “wise.”  This does not mean they lose their desire physically, but they want to have a lot more with it.  They want intimacy and trust.  They need to know they are cherished just as they are (and that includes all the changes happening).  Your demands for her to be the wild and crazy sex kitten you have known in the past are not going to endear you to her.  Her body is struggling right now, resulting in a lowered sex drive.  Yes, there are many things SHE can choose to do to help herself.  Hormones could help a lot.  But you cannot push her to “fix” it so your needs are met.  This will not fly.  If she is seeing you as being selfish, she won’t be inspired to amp up her sex drive anytime soon.  When you tell her you are not going to give her anything (i.e. companionship, love, acceptance, support, understanding, patience, selflessness, a hug, etc.) if she doesn’t meet your sexual demands, it is extortion; not love.  Not healthy, either.

And third on my thought list is your wife.  She was really first, but you didn’t say much about her.  I would imagine she is a devoted and patient woman.  She has been raising your children, washing your dirty socks, making a family home, creating traditions, and probably once in a while having sex with you.  Maybe, just maybe, if you put half the energy into making HER as happy as you do into trying to get B to make YOU happy you would have the devoted life partner of your dreams.  Every time you turn toward B you turn away from Your Wife.  You might be surprised how much fun your life could be now if you only had one woman to please … because it sounds to me like you have not been doing a very good job for either of them for the past 20 years.  Ask your wife how happy and satisfied SHE is with her life and YOU.

How do you determine “success” as a man?  By how many times you get to have sex a week, or by how happy the woman you love and who loves you back is?  What would that feel like, if your wife walked into a room and beamed, “I am the most loved, cherished and adored woman in this room” — and she was referring to you?  You can be that guy.  It sounds like this is your chance to make it right with your wife.  B is letting you go.  She is ready to move on.  I know that hurts and is very hard for the ego as well as the heart.  I do not diminish that you and B have had a long history and years of an intimate relationship.  But it has not been based on truth, freedom, respect or trust.  It has been steeped in a sexually charged affair.  Fun as those might be, they are not meant to last into our later years when things change and we want more out of life.  B is giving you a gift.  Say thank you and go home.

Intimately Yours,


Nancy Sutton Pierce RN, Health Educator is the Founding director of Nancy Sutton’s House of Yoga and Radio Talk Show Host on The Conscious Living Show LIVE every Saturday 11a-12noon on KCNR 1460am You can reach Nancy at with your comment or questions.

As You Desire is proudly sponsored by Body Logic MD; helping both men and women restore their libido and vitality through hormone therapy, fitness and nutrition counseling.

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Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce
Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce’s eclectic background places her expertise in a league of its own. The compilation of her career as an RN, health educator, intimacy author, radio talk show host, and yoga therapist all fuel her passion as an International speaker and clinical sexologist. Earning her Doctorate degree in human sexuality has broadened her reach around the globe teaching Conscious Living Sexuality™. When not traveling the globe inspiring others, Dr. Nancy enjoys her home life with the love of her life for more than 30 years. They’ve raised three children and now bask in what she refers to as “the dessert of parenting” -- being grandparents. Website. Contact Dr. Nancy
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    Very complicated. As I posted a few weeks ago, my wife currently could not care less about sex. We deal with it as best we can, but she feels what she feels. But we are married and love each other exclusively so there are not any others involved.

    Mr. A is totally screwed. There is no way Ms. B has the needs and desires to continue the exhausting work of carrying on their affair. She wants to settle into a quiet life with Mr. B, doing their cross words and deciding where to spent next summer's vacation.

    Mr. A needs to focus on Ms. A whose sex life may now be heating up to her highest level of desire. If their marriage can't be revived, then he should let Ms. A get on with her life so she can find herself somebody that deserves her.

    Mr. A will probably find himself lonely and broke and trying to hook up with young ladies who won't give him the time of day.

  2. Avatar Michelle says:

    Sorry Mr. A, but you created this mess. Your unfortunate wife married a selfish jerk. Mrs. B should have known better, as well, being the married party when you met. I am sure her husband would not approve. Honestly, I can't even tell you how disgusted your story makes me. I can't believe you'd come forward in an advice column to ask how to save your affair. I feel no sympathy for you, but I pity your soul.

  3. Avatar Rick says:

    Mr. A made his bed, now he needs to sleep in it. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Both parties are guilty of neglecting their spouses. Why this went on for 20 years is inexcusable. If they both felt this way about each other they would have split with their respective spouses and enjoyed the life they didn't need to hide. It would have been messy at first but in the long run it sounds like it's what they would've wanted. Keeping a spouse in the dark is unforgivable, especially given the time span. Call me old-fashioned, but vows mean something to me. Seen too many marriages break up over this.

  4. Avatar CGE says:

    Wow! Fwew! Many many emotions I felt reading this. Mr.A I do believe that Nancy has given you the most truthful advice you are going to find, I would listen to her. My heart hurts for your wife and family. Likewise for Mrs.B and hers, but she has had an awakening, perhaps seeing things more clearly. I do believe you have an addiction to Mrs.B this is not love. Love is not always pretty, perfect, it does not always feel good either. Love is not forceful, selfish or confined. Think of the love you feel for someone at their funeral, for me that kind of love doesn't feel the best but it is still love. Or when you discipline a child and they cry and yell back at you, but in your heart you know it is best for them… that is love. Put your efforts exclusively into your marriage. Be truthful to your wife, ask her what her desires are, you got married to her you must have somethings in common. Forgive yourself, that might be the hardest part.