When my lover, Simon, whispers my name into my ear, feverishly telling me how much he wants and needs me, I feel light-headed with desire.
At home, I hear my name called out with great urgency all the time. Usually by my husband, Andrew, wanting to know where the other half of his favourite pair of socks has gone. Otherwise it’s my teenage daughter, Abigail, begging for a lift because she’s missed the bus into town.
In other words, as an integral part of the mundane, everyday stuff of family life that’s bound to turn any woman’s passions to stone.
There are two sides to me, and they’re diametrically opposed: one is a devoted wife and mother who loves her family very much; the other, a sexually voracious woman who is addicted to the thrill of sleeping with someone new.
A woman explains that she has been unfaithful to her husband eight times. To her knowledge he is unaware of this, which she is thankful for as she loves him
Andrew and I have been married for 20 years. I’ve been unfaithful to him eight times during the past 14 of them. As far as I’m aware, my husband doesn’t know about any of these other men.
Thank God. Because as much as I love Andrew and want to be with him, I’m as hooked on illicit sex as a chronic smoker is to their cigarettes. Like the eternal quitter, each time I fall into bed with a man who isn’t my husband I vow it will be the last. Only it never is.
Last month a serially unfaithful husband wrote in this newspaper about how a lack of sexual attention from his wife since their children came along keeps pushing him into the arms of other women.
He complained that raising kids is dull; that the necessary household chores he dutifully undertakes are only tolerable if he gets to enjoy a satisfying sex life. His wife, who he said takes no notice of him, isn’t delivering between the sheets. She’s to blame, he claimed, each time he goes looking for passion elsewhere.
Only a man could turn his own selfish acts of betrayal into the fault of the people who would be most hurt if they came to light — in this case, his family.
My first thought was: ‘Women have affairs too, you know.’
The 44-year-old says that although she knows it would break his and their 18-year-old daughter’s hearts she won’t stop having affairs with other men
My second is that I hope his wife is so distracted by her own lover that she can’t be bothered to show any concern over what her husband might be getting up to.
After all, she probably needs a bit of excitement to take the edge off having to unload the dishwasher for the umpteenth time, too.
I take full responsibility for my own indiscretions. I enjoy the sex life I share with my husband — we make love once most weeks, which is enough to nurture a sense of intimacy. If my similarly aged friends are anything to go by — Andrew, who’s an electrician, and I are both 44 — that’s more than most. We’re also emotionally close.
But even if our marriage was distant and sexless, it still wouldn’t be his fault that I stray. It’s a choice I make despite knowing that if he or Abigail, 18, were ever to find out, it would break their hearts. I feel guilty, but not enough to stop.
I sleep with other men purely for the frisson of excitement it injects into an otherwise ordinary, and perfectly tolerable, life. Whenever Simon tells me he needs me, I know lost laundry is the last thing on his mind.
I don’t ever want to leave Andrew — but I find the idea of only ever sleeping with him for the rest of my life utterly depressing. I feel guilty, but, again, not enough to stop.
I wasn’t as careful back then as I am now
As it is, he doesn’t know (as far as I’m aware) about any of these betrayals, although I think he had his suspicions when I embarked on the first back in 2008 when Abigail was four. Like the well-worn cliche, it was with a younger man I met at the gym around the corner from my office.
I was 30 and Mark was 23. I’d started going there when Abigail started school and I went back to work full-time — I’m a buyer for an online retailer and had previously job-shared with another working mum.
After four years of putting my career last, getting it back made me feel like it was time to start prioritising my own needs in other ways, too. I decided to work at looking and feeling better about myself in the hope that would give my and Andrew’s sex life, which had been flagging since we became parents, a much-needed kick. Oh, the irony.
Going to the gym certainly boosted my confidence, but that had more to do with the attention I got from the good-looking men I worked out alongside than any physical transformation. Imagining myself with one of them when I was making love to my husband re-booted our sex life, albeit via a different route than I’d planned.
When Mark suggested we progress from flirting on adjoining treadmills to drinks after work I shocked myself with how quickly I said yes. I didn’t think about Andrew or how it would make him feel. This felt entirely separate from the life we shared.
Every fling has been either with younger men, or ones married with children — in other words, blokes too young or otherwise committed to want to take things any further
I told Mark I was married, but he said he didn’t care — all he wanted to share with me was some commitment-free fun.
Sex with Mark made me feel young and carefree. I’d been so wrapped up in my family I’d forgotten how exciting life could be away from domesticity. I’d go to his place from the office, asking Andrew to pick Abigail up from my mum’s because I needed to work late.
New to infidelity, I wasn’t as careful back then as I am now. I left suggestive text messages between Mark and me on my phone instead of deleting them on receipt. Back then my old phone didn’t lock the minute it closed and face and fingerprint technology weren’t yet a thing.
One evening, five weeks into this fling that had seen us meet up a handful of times, I left my phone out on the kitchen counter and when it pinged with a text Andrew picked it up and read it. ‘Who’s Mark?’ he asked. His voice had an edge to it that made my blood run cold.
I felt a reckless longing for that sexual excitement
Thankfully, the message was bland, asking whether the gym would be opening later the next day, which was a bank holiday. But Andrew seemed unsettled.
I played it cool, claiming Mark was an old school friend who happened to go to the same gym. But it could have been so much worse.
Thankfully the phone started to ring with a work call, so I was able to take it out of Andrew’s hands before he could scroll back through any earlier, racier messages, which would have exposed the affair.
Sick with panic, the knowledge that what I was doing could break up our family instantly bearing down on me, I ended it with Mark the next day. I also quit the gym and vowed never to do anything so reckless again.
At first, I felt so relieved to have got away with it, I didn’t look sideways at another man for a good year. Seeing the direct debit go out for a gym membership I didn’t dare use was a salutary monthly reminder of what a fool I’d been.
But then I met James on a night out with some girls from work. Our eyes met across a crowded bar and I again felt the heady thrill of mutual attraction. Looking at him brought back memories of the unbridled passion I shared with Mark. I felt a reckless and overwhelming longing to feel that level of sexual excitement again.
We discreetly exchanged numbers (I didn’t want my colleagues to realise what I was up to) and arranged to meet a few days later. Again, I told him I was married, only this time I was the one insisting all I wanted was uncomplicated sex.
This guy — also younger — was delighted to oblige, until three months later when he told me he’d met someone his own age and wanted to have a proper relationship with her.
I didn’t feel hurt, just relieved that another fling had ended without me being found out and vowed never to do it again. Until the next time.
I’ve had two more short-lived affairs since, while the rest were one night stands. The longest gap between infidelities has been almost three years. The shortest, a couple of months. I travel with my work, which makes overnight flings with men I meet at events or in hotel bars very easy. I often don’t even tell them my real name.
But for now, the idea of never sleeping with someone for the first time again; the thought that those feelings of pure lust, impossible to conjure with someone you’ve been making love to for years, belong in my past, is something she simply can’t reconcile herself to
I never make the first move and I’ve only ever confessed any of this to a couple of friends. The fact they’ve both been unfaithful to their partners — although not serially, like me — eases my guilt. They don’t judge, but do warn I’m playing a dangerous game.
But that’s part of the appeal; one of the reasons the sex is so good. I shouldn’t be doing this, and yet I’ve got away with it so many times it’s become almost normalised to me.
I honestly don’t think Andrew has ever been unfaithful to me, but how can I ever know for sure? If he has, then knowing first-hand how separate sex and love can be, I’d have to come clean and hope we’d find a way to move past it. I’d have no right to be upset.
I’ve never looked to replace Andrew. Every fling has been either with younger men, or ones married with children — in other words, blokes too young or otherwise committed to want to take things any further.
I also find them validating: being wanted by these men in such a purely physical way makes me feel like I’ve somehow still got it.
That three-year gap — largely due to the pandemic keeping me at home — ended earlier this year.
I’d begun to believe my infidelities might actually be behind me. But six months ago, I met Simon through work after he joined the company at the start of the year. The sparks of attraction ignited the moment we met.
We’ve both agreed this can’t go on for ever
Simon, my age and married with two daughters, performs the same role as me, but for a different department, and is based in an office a couple of hundred miles away. I’m required to work out of that office one day each week.
One evening, as I finished my work, he came over to my desk and asked me if I fancied a drink — his wife was away with the children for a few days. We ended up in bed together at my hotel. It soon became a regular thing.
The hotel rooms we meet up in for sex each week get booked on my company credit card without arousing any suspicion if Andrew happens to see the receipts. I don’t know how Simon squares it all with his wife — I haven’t asked and, as long as she doesn’t find out, I don’t really care.
Of all the affairs I’ve had this is proving the easiest to navigate, and Simon’s great company as well as being good in bed, which would explain why it’s lasted so long. I’m starting to worry though that, despite Simon living so far away, the fact he’s a colleague brings this one dangerously close to home.
We’ve both agreed this can’t go on for ever, and have discussed the inevitable professional awkwardness that ending it will create, agreeing we’ll just have to be grown-ups and get on with it.
But for now, we’re just enjoying our weekly sojourns from reality. I do sometimes wonder though whether Simon will be my last lover. It’s occurred to me that menopause might soon pour cold water over my libido, meaning I’ll naturally settle in to a more honest way of life. That would be the ideal.
But for now, the idea of never sleeping with someone for the first time again; the thought that those feelings of pure lust, impossible to conjure with someone you’ve been making love to for years, belong in my past, is something I simply can’t reconcile myself to.
And as long as I have Simon, or someone else like him, I don’t have to.