Dear Belladonna Rogers,
I’m writing for help with adultery, which I haven’t committed yet. I’ve spent hours discussing Exodus 20:14 with my clergyman. Even so, I’m still tempted.
I’m a highly sexed woman married to a man with a lower sex drive than mine. I had a series of painful affairs with highly-sexed hunks who loved me and left me in my twenties. After a decade of several of them, I was blessed to marry a great husband in every way but one: he can’t have traditional sex with me any more. I don’t want to be unfaithful. I have a high-level job in the federal government, where I’ve worked hard for half my life, 25 of my 50 years. Among my responsibilities is to mentor a subordinate of mine, a 25-year-old married man. He wants me to become his lover. I’m sorely tempted. We travel a great deal together for work without our spouses so the possibility is always looking me in the eye.
My 15-year marriage has blessed me with two wonderful children, as well as every satisfaction and joy I could hope for, except one. My husband has seen many physicians and the problem appears to be permanent and unresponsive to the major medications known for the dysfunction he suffers. Having tried many, I’m not comfortable using electronic devices or watching porn. Rather than stimulate me, all that turns me off.
My young subordinate at work oozes sex, is funny, perceptive and tells me he desires me more than any woman in his life. He pays enormous attention to me, which is hard to ignore. I know our co-workers have picked up the vibes between us. It’s hard for me to accept that I have to give up sex at 50, especially since I’m fit and look 40. I want to do right by my husband, but I’m not made of stone. I feel lust for this young guy 24/7. It’s agony. My guilt over my lust is also with me 24/7, and that, too, is agony. What should I do? What can I do?
Worried and Willing in Washington, D.C.
Dear Worried and Willing:
Let’s start with your guilt and then move to the other components of the ball of wax that seems to be melting all over you. Your situation can be easily understood as long as you’re not in the middle of it — which you are.
DON’T FEEL GUILTY FOR HAVING HUMAN YEARNINGS
You have no reason to feel guilty for being human and having human yearnings. If you’re fit and 50 and your husband can no longer engage in traditional sex, and your 25-year-old subordinate who “oozes sex” is eager to become your lover, of course you’re going to be filled with desire. He could even be older than you: it’s not the age of the seducer that counts, it’s his sexual energy. As Mae West liked to say, “It’s not the men in your life that matters, it’s the life in your men.”
THE LAST TIME I CHECKED, “FRATERNIZATION” BETWEEN MARRIED COLLEAGUES, ONE OF WHOM IS THE OTHER’S SUBORDINATE, IS NOT A CAREER-ENHANCING MOVE FOR EITHER PARTY
It’s understandable that, in the throes of sexual yearning and guilt, this major factoid may have slipped your mind: I doubt your proposed affair would be consistent with your federal agency’s regulations. If you’re a fit 50 who looks 40, and co-workers have noticed the vibes, I suggest using the authority vested in you by Uncle Sam to order a transfer for your mentee to a different department, a different supervisor and a different mentor. The situation as it now stands adds up to trouble with a capital “T.”
I know this suggestion will sound harsh and even cruel, but arranging for him to transfer from your department is essential. As long as you see him every day and travel with him, you’re making life far too difficult and stressful for yourself and you’re risking everything for a man you do not know deeply — and I hope you never will.
You can arrange his departure without casting aspersions on his service, but the fact that you’re ordering his transfer may teach him a much-needed lesson about the wisdom of propositioning his supervisors in the future.
You’ve worked half your lifetime to get where you are today. Don’t throw away your marriage, your access to your children and your career. That seems like a lot to lose for one sexy 25-year-old — and I don’t say this because I’ve never encountered a sexy 25-year-old. Complete the paperwork to arrange his transfer to a distant field office, preferably on a continent you never visit — Antarctica would be just the place — and then read on.
HOW YOU GOT WHERE YOU ARE
You were fortunate indeed to land in your husband’s arms after spending your twenties with highly-sexed chick magnets who seduced you and left you as road kill when they tired of their joy rides with you. This is the classic M.O. of highly-sexed seducers. They reel in their women with the bait of their “oozing sex,” as you called it. When they leave — as they always do — you end up alone, sobbing at 3 in the morning, the tears streaming down your cheeks, as you listen to Leonard Cohen singing “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” The silent treatment is their method of choice when it comes to bidding you farewell. That’s a chick magnet for you: all the empathy of a marble.
They think nothing of breaking the hearts and wounding the psyches of the women they seduce and abandon. Why do they do this? Because they can. The first rule of the human jungle is this: the more highly-sexed the man, the more selfish, narcissistic, inconsiderate and uncaring he can afford to be.
It’s the law of supply and demand. Men for whom there’s an endless supply of women never have to learn to be as careful and considerate of their prey as men in lower demand, who’ll husband their scarce resources with far greater care.
SOME PEOPLE REMEMBER PLEASURE MORE CLEARLY THAN PAIN
It’s possible that your 15 years of happy marriage to a good man may have clouded your memory of how brutal chick magnets are. At the moment, you’re living in anticipation of the pleasure you do remember. But ask yourself whether you can tolerate the intensity of pain that will follow whatever ecstasy you envision. Even if neither you nor your subordinate were married — which you are — the anguish you’ll feel when he abandons you — which he will — is guaranteed to be excruciating.
INTRODUCING PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER 1:
MR. CHARISMA T. ORGASM
One of the greatest novels of all time is Henry James’ A Portrait of a Lady. To summarize the 672 pages of dense Jamesian prose, the 1881 masterpiece portrays the choice that every intelligent, highly-sexed, sentient woman must make: whether to marry Mr. Charisma T. Orgasm or marry Mr. Dependability A. Kindheart. The reader can easily foresee the train wreck ahead, even as the novel’s heroine, Isabel Archer, is blinded by a Hillary Rodham-like sense that her life will be most exciting with Mr. Orgasm. Exciting, yes. Stable? Hardly.
THE DILEMMA OF THE HIGHLY-SEXED, EMOTIONALLY ASTUTE WOMAN
When it comes to the choice of a husband, a woman with a high sex drive and high emotional intelligence faces a Hobson’s choice: she’s in a lose-lose situation.
If she chooses to marry a highly-sexed chick magnet whose sex drive will match her own, she’ll find herself with a husband who’s missing in action much of the time because he’s either being pursued by other women, or he’s pursuing them. When he’s home, she’ll be in seventh heaven, except for the time it’ll take him to catch up on the sleep he lost on the road. When he’s away, she often can’t reach him, as her calls to his cell phone go directly to voicemail while he satisfies one woman after another, and, of course, Numero Uno, first and foremost. Every “relationship” is all about him.
If she marries Mr. Dependability Kindheart, she can have a fine marriage and a wonderful, loving family, but she’s fated to endure an inchoate yearning for the rest of her days. It may become submerged and remain amorphous for years, even decades, as she diligently raises her children, is a loving wife to her husband, and often cares for others, as well.
But the day will dawn when Mr. Charisma T. Orgasm will walk into her life. The “T,” by the way, stands for Trouble — his middle name. He could be a former lover from her youth showing up out of the blue — as they’re wont to do — or a co-worker, a mentee, or any man from anywhere. However he appears, he’s here now, and when he focuses his gaze on you, you melt. He possesses a keen pheromone-based radar system that picks up on sex-starved married women and turns their inchoate yearnings into a specific desire for a specific man: Charisma T. Orgasm, himself.
HOW YOU’LL RECOGNIZE MR. CHARISMA T. ORGASM
He’s tenacious, highly focused on you, his prey, charming, quick-witted, but most of all, he’s got your number.
He hones in on you like a heat-seeking missile. That’s because he is a heat-seeking missile and the heat he’s seeking is between a married woman’s legs.
And so it is that a highly motivated, conscientious wife, mother and professional woman who’s worked half her lifetime to achieve a position of responsibility and respect is suddenly transformed into a 14-year-old with a crush on the captain of the football team.
WHY EMOTIONALLY DISCERNING WOMEN DON’T MARRY CHICK MAGNETS
Here we come to the central question in the lives of the highly sexual, emotionally intelligent woman. Should she marry Mr. Orgasm — knowing full well that if she does, she’ll likely be sharing him with countless nameless women (not literally nameless — they all have names, of course — she just won’t know what they are) who’ll come onto him or onto whom he’ll come?
Or should she marry the less charismatic, less sexually-charged man and have a good, steady marriage to a man who’ll be there for her and their children every day and every night, but who never could be (even when young) and who never will be a chick magnet?
If she wants a life of dependability and stability, and if she doesn’t want to share her husband with dozens or hundreds of other (potentially STD-infected) women during her marriage, she chooses exactly as you did, as any sane woman who wants a sane adulthood would and does.
The problem arises when an erotic snake like young Mr. Orgasm slithers into your life and, by his very presence, plus his skillful, manipulative playing on your weaknesses, reminds you of what you’ve been missing.
WHEN A PLAINTIVE SUITOR TURNS INTO A SUITED PLAINTIFF
One day, about six months from now — if you were to give in to your yearnings – you’ll have to tell your young lover that you must stay home with your husband and children one Sunday afternoon instead of going to your tryst with him. Within 24 hour after you’ve spurned him, Mr. Orgasm can change from the charmingly panting young lover to the scorned and humiliated former lover, sitting in the general counsel’s office signing an affidavit, claiming that you seduced and sexually harassed him.
Of course, there’ll be no merit to his complaint, but after you’ve paid your lawyer half your savings to clear your good name, you’ll have lost far too much that you’ll never be able to recover.
THE DESIRE FOR ONE LAST MOMENT OF SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
I well understand your desire for one last hurrah before you go from a fit 50 who looks 40 to a fit 70 who looks 60.
Of course you want another Charisma T. Orgasm before the sun sets — as set it will — on your days of splendor in the grass.
I don’t aspire to be a wet blanket or a killjoy, but when I see a hardworking woman, a loving wife and mother, driving 120 mph and heading straight to Heartbreak Hotel, I have an obligation to urge her to apply her right foot to the brakes as hard as she possibly can. Then go home. Read Anna Karenina.
If you don’t have time for a magnificent 976-page Russian novel, (free download) see the 94-minute film (but only the version with Greta Garbo), also a powerful experience. Either way, you’ll come away with a renewed sense of gratitude for your husband and children.
You’ll always have a tug in your heart and a hot, wet, throbbing desire for your young mentee, and for all the men just like him in the decades ahead who’ll do their best – and their best will be mighty powerful – to lure you into bed with them.
Look in the mirror and practice saying, “I’m married and you’re married. If we weren’t, everything might be different, but we are and it isn’t.” Repeat it over and over until it’s ready to be deployed whenever this and future Mr. Orgasms give you their patented come-hither looks that have worked with hundreds of women before you, and will work with hundreds of women after you.
Then watch Anna Karenina again and again and again until you get the message: no good will come of this. It isn’t worth the fleeting pleasure for a lifetime of regret. It isn’t. If you’re filled with feelings of guilt now, you’ll be drowning in oceans of it as long as you live if you go forward with this affair, or any others during your marriage.
USE THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE BLIMP SHOT
Use the method that networks use to cover NFL games: the blimp shot. From up in the blimp, every Mr. Orgasm looks like an ant. Picture him as an ant. A fire ant, who will ruin your house. He’s an ant! He’ll provide a night of pleasure in exchange for a lifetime reservation at Heartbreak Hotel. You don’t want to live there.
As a highly-sexed woman, it’s your ineluctable fate to be both pursued by and drawn to these feckless, reckless men. I wish I could say it isn’t, but it is. Your duty to yourself – even more than to your husband, children and profession — is to remind yourself that the middle name of every one of these tempting, silver-tongued seducers is Trouble.
YOU ARE MORE THAN THE SUM OF YOUR EROGENOUS ZONES
Think back to those hunks of your 20s: the stress, the constant disrespect, and the insults you withstood when dealing with the Mr. Orgasms of the world. They forced you off the road. They are nasty pieces of work once you get to know them, so you drove off, bloodied but unbowed, and married a fine human being and not one of those wily wolves that prey on every highly-sexed woman they can sniff.
Let them sniff someone else. You’ll find that every one of them carries a double-edged sword, a sword that wounds you deeply in your heart and soul even as it arouses your erogenous zones. Remember this: you are more than the sum of your erogenous zones. You have other zones that Mr. Orgasm will damage, and on which he’ll wreak havoc with his own patented genius for conferring pain irresponsibly while feeling none himself.
If this description of Charisma T. Orgasm doesn’t reduce your desire for your young mentee, perhaps a few lines — 14 to be exact, since it’s a sonnet — by William Shakespeare may help. Emphasis is added for, well, emphasis:
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
IF TALKS WITH YOUR CLERGYMAN, PLUS READING WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, HENRY JAMES, LEO TOLSTOY & THIS ADVICE COLUMN DON’T WORK, HERE’S HOW TO FIND A GOOD THERAPIST
If, after talking with your clergyman, arranging a transfer for your youthful pursuer, reading A Portrait of a Lady, Anna Karenina, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129 and thinking about this column, you feel the need to discuss the strain of living with a man you love with whom you can no longer enjoy traditional sexual intercourse, go here to find yourself a therapist.
If at first you feel uncomfortable, try another. It may take meeting with five or six before you find a therapist with whom you’re on the same wavelength. One session is usually enough for you to tell if you can work together. It isn’t that there are “rotten apples” in the field of psychotherapy: there are thousands of excellent apples with whom you can still be incompatible. Psychotherapy involves working closely as a team with another human being. If you don’t like your fellow team member, return to that website and find someone else. Keep trying until you find someone with whom you can spend between a few months and a few years. However long it takes, it’s worth it, regardless of what others say who’ve had bad luck and gave up after two or three unsatisfactory meetings.
Carly Simon finally concluded that she didn’t “have time for the pain.” You, too, would weary of the cruel, heartless narcissism of this and every other Mr. Charisma T. Orgasm, no matter how gorgeously appealing he is right this second.
To paraphrase Barry Goldwater’s campaign slogan of 1964, in your heart, you know I’m right.
If you don’t, watch Anna Karenina again, take two aspirin and email me in the morning.
Send your questions about personal, political or cultural matters, or anything else that’s on your mind to Belladonna Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org . All correspondence with her is confidential, and all names, locations, places of employment and ages of the parties will be changed to protect the privacy of the readers who write to contribute questions.