‘Esther’ is a divorced petite heavyset woman in her early sixties. When I first met her, she smiled, but her eyes were sad as she began to tell me about the one relationship she had since her divorce. “It’s kind of a long story,” she began. “I met ‘John’ in college. We dated for a few years, and the relationship was amazing. But, when we graduated college, I moved to Spain to become a Spanish teacher, and he moved to New York City to begin a career as an accountant. Sadly, we parted ways.
I eventually got married to another man and had four kids. My husband was emotionally abusive, and as the years passed, I learned to live with the consequences.
Then, my husband got a job overseas and only returned home for a day or two a month. I was much happier with him gone most of the time, and that’s why I decided to stay married. It was so much easier than the thought of a contentious divorce, especially with four young kids at home.
I suspected my husband might be having an affair, but as long as he wasn’t bringing any sign of it home, I really didn’t care.
One day while he was away, I decided to Google my old college boyfriend, John, to see whatever became of him. I discovered his website, where I learned that he was a successful accountant. I contacted him through his website, and he wrote right back.
We began innocently, writing about our kids, spouses, jobs, catching up on several decades in a short span of time. The emails soon became flirty, and I enjoyed the attention. With an ocean and continent separating us, I thought it was just innocent fun.
Our conversations got more and more suggestive, but we lived thousands of miles apart. What harm could come of this flirtation? Flirting with John helped me feel good about myself. It helped me tolerate a lonely abusive marriage. But then things got real when John told me he’d soon be traveling to my country on business, and he wanted to get together.
We met and sparks flew! It was as if we were back in college again. I told him my marriage was awful, and he confessed that his was, too. He told me was about to separate from his wife, and I wanted to leave my husband.
I wasn’t surprised when my husband returned home for his monthly visit and told me he had met someone. She was his secretary, 30 years younger, and he was planning to divorce me. He expected me to be devastated, but I couldn’t have been happier. I wanted to thank him for releasing me from the shackles of our marriage.
Now I was free to date John! I felt like a teenager again.
John separated from his wife and rented an apartment in Manhattan where he’d always wanted to live. (His wife was a country girl, and he hated the country).
For the following two years, I’d fly to Manhattan to be with him twice a year. And he’d fly to visit me once a year. Each time, we’d stay in a hotel for a week of bliss.
And then he said something that shocked me.
“I’m sorry, but this arrangement with you isn’t working for me anymore. I realize I don’t want to divorce my wife.” I was devastated that he was going back to her. BUT, he said he still cared for me and would like to keep seeing me on the side.
I’m divorced now. My ex-husband married his pretty young secretary. And John and I still see each other twice a year for a week of ecstasy.
Esther asked, “It’s enough, isn’t it; to have those two weeks of incredible sex and attention from a guy I love? I mean, I’m getting older. What’s the chance that I’ll ever feel this level of pleasure again with a man?”
Here’s what I told Esther:
Stop accepting crumbs of attention!
As long as you love a person who’s emotionally and physically unavailable to you, you are devaluing yourself. You are showing that person that your standards are low.
Stop! You think you’re too old to meet someone else? You’re not too old. You’re not too damaged. But if you hold onto love that is just a bunch of crumbs, you will never be able to move on and find the love you deserve. Let him go.
A person of value attracts someone who values them.
Have you ever been guilty of accepting crumbs of attention in relationships? Please share your story/comments below.
NOTE: I am passionate about helping people value themselves. Life is so much richer when we know our worth. That’s why I created the Woman of Value Live Retreat for single women over 40. It’s November 2-4 in Stamford, CT. If you or someone you know wants a truly transformative deep experience, please join me. Only 18 tickets left! Learn more here.
Photo: Flickr/Fernando Mafra