QUESTION: When I met my sexual partner he was married, but no longer shared a bed with his wife.
Since I was recently divorced (after 25 years), I wasn't looking for a serious relationship and, because he was open with both of us, I accepted the situation.
Four years later, I resent the time and intimacy he shares with his wife. My friends say I'm a doormat and should stage a showdown, but I am terrified of losing him.
ANSWER: You walked into this situation with your eyes open - and if you had looked into the middle distance, you would have seen this coming.
Few women I know (and not that many men) can have a loving sexual relationship with someone for years without wanting to share their life. For most of us that means moving in together and, more importantly, being recognised as that person's official other half.
You call your man “my sexual partner”, rather than my boyfriend or any term that suggests steadiness and permanence. This is indicative of the fact you don't really know your status in his life.
I can't help wondering if the woman who lives with your lover is as ambiguous in the way she refers to herself. I wouldn't mind betting that she still describes herself as his wife.
The harsh truth is that a man and woman who share a domestic life and love one another are more likely to be viewed as “a couple”, despite ceasing to have sex, than two people who sometimes share a bed.
I also wonder how the wife really feels. If she truly isn't jealous and sanctions it, then it's no one's business but the three of yours.
However, often in these situations the partner who is tolerating a parallel arrangement has done so under emotional duress - and also often out of genuine consideration for their partner, as they know it would be unfair to deny them a sex life. They hope that, eventually, their rival will get tired of the situation.
Nobody has lied to you. It seems to me the person you really need to have an emotional showdown with is yourself. If you feel like a doormat, then I'm afraid you have let him tread on you.
Tell your lover you've fallen in love with him and have begun to feel emotionally short-changed. See how he responds.
Both of you must remain keenly aware that a third person's life is also affected by this conversation. Are you prepared to damage another woman's happiness in pursuit of your own?
If your man chooses you over his other love, he may come to blame you for ending that relationship. Nothing is simple when three people are involved.
Above all, be honest with yourself; if your lover says he can't give you proper emotional security, it's time to walk away. If he truly values you, he will end his sexless domestic arrangement with thought, grace and dignity then - in due course - he can come after you. - Daily Mail