Secrets & Lies – the diary of an affair
Five years ago, Sharon* took a dangerous step into an extra-marital relationship…
Normal. That’s how I’d describe my life. Normal. Hum-drum. Bland, even. I guess, when it comes down to it, that’s why I had an affair. I was bored. Clichéd, I know, but things only become clichéd because they’re true.
I’ve been married to my husband, Ian*, for 27 years, with him for 30. I’d had boyfriends before him, but we’d met when I was just 20 and he was my first serious relationship. I’m sure, back then, I’d have described him as exciting, fun, thrilling… But four children and a grandchild later, nothing was fun anymore.
We never did anything, we didn’t go out, we only went on family holidays and, by 45, I barely knew who I was.
So when This Morning did a feature on Ashley Madison, in February 2014, about married men and women going on a website specifically to have an affair, my interest was finally piqued.
‘I wonder what that’s all about,’ I thought, intrigued, reaching for my phone. You had to enter your details, but I didn’t think twice about uploading a picture and punching in my age and location. After all, I was just looking…
But it didn’t stop at ‘just looking’. It rarely does, does it? All of a sudden, I started receiving messages. Loads of them, in fact. I hadn’t thought about my looks for so long, I barely knew if I was pretty, but these men thought I was… The unexpected attention gave me a high I’d never experienced.
Obviously, lots of them were just flirty one-liners that I didn’t bother to reply to, but after two months, someone caught my eye. Steven*. His messages were witty, light-hearted and, with his silver hair and sparkly eyes, he was easy on the eye, too.
I didn’t even have to hide the fact I was spending more time on my phone. ‘I’m just texting my friends,’ I’d lie.
I guess I should have felt guilty, but I didn’t. Not when I was messaging him and not even when we agreed to meet in April. I didn’t have to lie then, either. It was one of my days off from my job as a sales assistant, so I just waited until everyone else had bundled out of the door, kissing Ian on the cheek as normal, before heading back upstairs to add on an extra layer of make-up and change into a dressier top, before heading to a local pub.
‘If anyone sees us together, I’ll tell them you’re my brother,’ we agreed. As we flirtily found out about each other, I felt like a new woman. Attractive. Sexy. It was like I was back in my 20s.
The next time, we booked a hotel. There was no denying we fancied each other and
the thrill of knowing what we were doing was forbidden just added to the excitement. It had been years since I’d been that turned on.
Before long, we were seeing each other three times a week. Ian didn’t seem to notice that I was suddenly buying new clothes and matching underwear. Even when Steven and I decided to go * away to York for five nights later that year, he barely questioned my claim that I was meeting up with an old school friend. It was all too easy. So easy, we went to Edinburgh for a week the next year, then Nottingham, the year after that. Those days – and nights – away were the happiest of my life. I knew part of it was the novelty of not having to clean up Steven’s dirty socks from under the sofa where he’d carelessly kicked them off, or get his tea ready for him every night.
But by that point, we’d also made the mistake of falling in love. Steven told me first, about seven months in. ‘I know this wasn’t the plan,’ he said, as we’d sat in his car at the end of a date. ‘But I love you.’
I wasn’t surprised. As much as I’d tried to ignore it, it was getting harder to deny that I’d fallen for him, too. Yet, despite those feelings and that I’d have given up everything for him in a heartbeat, I knew there was no chance Steven would leave his wife. He’d already told me he was too old to start again.
Then, the inevitable happened. Two years after our relationship began, Steven’s wife found the Valentines’ Day card I’d sent him. ‘I thought you’d got rid of that,’ I gasped when he furtively called me.
There was no point him bothering to deny it, not when she had the evidence in hand. Instead, he did everything he could to stop her finding out about who I was and we reduced our meetings to just once a month.
By now, the shimmer and shine of our relationship had definitely dulled, but I couldn’t give him up, not yet.
At least, not until I had to. Which I eventually did, in March last year. Because, despite Steven’s best efforts, his wife eventually found out my name and, in turn, my husband’s name.
‘She’s going to call him,’ Steven warned me beforehand. But no amount of preparation could have readied me for the look of complete devastation on Ian’s face when he came home from work early a couple of days later. ‘Have you been having an affair?’ he asked, looking me deep in the eyes for the first time in years.
And for the first time, I realised exactly what I could lose. My husband, my children, my life…
After many long, tearful and angry conversations, Ian and I decided to stay together. It’s not been easy. We argue, lots, and there’s still a lot of resentment on his side. And I can’t blame him.
Nearly a year on, I’ve kept my word and I haven’t seen or heard from Steven since. But I have to admit, I’m still on Ashley Madison…
For more info, visit ashleymadison.com
‘It had been years since I’d been that turned on’
Sharon felt she had lost her identity
Boredom led to Sharon’s infidelity She wanted to spice things up a little... The thrill of knowing it was forbidden just added to the excitement