Ask Ellie: Despite enjoying dating, widow not ready to juggle two lovers

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I’m a healthy, active widow of 59. My husband and I had a long, happy marriage until he died five years ago after a long, painful illness. I have no desire to live with another man. My adult children and grandchildren are the only family I want.

For the past 18 months, I’ve been dating two different terrific men. We started dating before the pandemic and now, after being vaccinated, I’ve gone on socially-distanced dates outside with each.

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Both are special in different ways and I find both sexually attractive. They are both divorced and five or six years younger than me. I’m fit and look much younger than my age.

They both would like our relationship to become sexual and I believe I’d enjoy it with both of them, though I’ve never been intimate with any man other than my husband.

Do I have to choose between these men if I decide to have sex? They don’t know each other but I’ve told each of them that I’m also dating another man.

My big concern is this: Will I be an awful person if I have sex with both these men? I’m full of life and fun but I never had a sex life other than the loving experience I had in my marriage, until the years when my husband was too ill.

Conflicted Widow

No, you won’t be “an awful person.” Though you may feel more uncomfortable than you anticipate if you have sex with both men, especially if your adult children discover and feel negatively about it.

It’s no surprise, however, that you feel a zest for life that includes exploring these two sexual relationships. You trust both men (so far), and you miss intimacy and sexual excitement.

Moreover, there’s a huge cohort of women, some not much younger than you, who’ve experienced the kind of sexual lifestyle you’ve never had, some from high school on. And they don’t accept nor even worry that it makes them “terrible people.” It’s their choice.

But in your case, you’re considering this foray into sexual choice with less certainty. Or else you wouldn’t be seeking advice.

You’re an independent woman with the right to do as you please, but I believe you’re not ready for juggling two lovers. You like and apparently respect both men, so you don’t see this as a casual game.

Instead, I believe that you wish to move away from loss and affirm the many positive years you still have ahead.

Choose one man based on whatever instinct you have regarding trust. With him, have sex, fun, companionship, and laughter. Apologize to the other man.

Feedback regarding the divorced woman who believes her husband’s turning her child against her (May 15):

Reader: Unless she has evidence/proof she doesn’t mention in the letter, it sounds like normal six-year-old kids’ stuff. When my sons (seven and nine) don’t like that I’m busy doing chores when they want to play with me or I’m telling them to do homework or can’t play a video game, they sometimes get angry and say anything they think might change my mind and express their frustration. Including how I’m “rude,” the “worst daddy ever.” Like she says, it always goes away (often with an apology) and we snuggle before bed, have fun family time, etc.

She shouldn’t assume it’s the dad “turning him against her.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

After recovery from loss of a beloved partner of many years, zest for life/sex is normal and healthy, but should be pursued only when mentally/emotionally comfortable about it.

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