Femme Infidèle is our series about the extramarital adventures of Paris women. Today’s Femme Infidèle is a 39-year-old married mother-of-two who works in advertising.
My cinq à sept* lover is someone I’ve known for as long as I’ve lived in Paris—twenty years. (I’m from Virginia.) Our spouses know each other, too, and we often go out together socially. He and I really were just friends until two years ago. One day, he invited me to lunch and when I googled the restaurant, I saw it was a gorgeous hotel in St. Germain-en-Laye. I immediately knew that if I accepted the invitation, it wasn’t going to be for lunch. I also knew that if I slept with him, it wouldn’t be a one-off thing because we’ve been friends for so long. He’s a well-known public figure in France and is used to having women want him, so I was flattered—and wary—that he was interested in me. After thinking about it, I decided there was no reason it wouldn’t be loads of fun.
And it has been.
From the beginning, we’ve had to be very discreet so we would meet at the nicest hotels just outside of Paris. I made sure they were high-end and that he always sent a car to pick me up. But it all seemed too easy for him.
Everything in his life is easy… and I know he likes a little pain. So I said, “No more hotels.” I told him I needed an apartment or else I’d end things. We spent months looking and at every place we visited, I’d find something I didn’t like about it. The anticipation of finding our own place for our weekly rendezvous made the sex even hotter.
Finally, he bought me an apartment in the 9th and the first time we went there and had lunch in a nearby cafe, we ran into people I know. “Well now you have to find me a place in the Rive Gauche,” I said. “This apartment doesn’t have a view. There’s no terrace for me to sip my champagne and I can’t walk around naked because the neighbors can see in.” He agreed and he’s looking for another apartment in addition to this one.
He has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with, so I make him spend it on me. It isn’t because I’m a gold digger or that I even care about money—because I don’t. This is a way for me to draw my boundaries and also have control over the situation. I’m the only one with keys to the apartment and I make him beg for us to meet. He doesn’t own me.
My husband has no idea I’m with this man, but he does know I’m not faithful. We’ve been married for eighteen years and have two children, a boy, 12, and a girl, 9. After our daughter was born, my husband no longer wanted to have sex. He’s a devoted, wonderful father and I think his affections transferred from me to the kids. I can’t fault him for it because he’s amazing with them. But after five years of him rebuffing me, I decided I had to look elsewhere. It’s so horrible to be in your bed and have your husband push you away. I need physical intimacy.
I was honest with him. “I can’t live without sex for the rest of my life,” I said. “We can divorce or I can look elsewhere.” He said, “I don’t want to divorce.”
That was the only conversation we had about it. Maybe because he’s French, my husband doesn’t find it shocking that I’d look for sex outside of our marriage. After the talk, I met someone at work and we started an affair right away. He is younger than me and it was great. (Though the first time getting naked with someone new was nerve-wracking. I was thinking about my episiotomy scar!) He wanted his independence and didn’t put any demands on me. As a married woman, it was exactly what I needed. But a few years later, he wanted more: kids, marriage, the whole thing, and I told him I couldn’t. Except for the sex, my husband and I have a really good relationship and I don’t want to leave him. So my work lover and I broke it off. I still see him every day at the office and he sends me emails saying he wants to be with me but I’m done with him. It’s a shame because it made the workday so much more interesting. We’d have lunch every day and he’d call me saying, “Come to the bathroom on the 3rd floor, no one’s in here.”
My biggest fear with my lover now is that he’ll say the same thing to me, “I want to leave my wife and be with you.” That would be a huge mess. Apart from my husband and his wife knowing each other, our kids are also good friends. It’s tricky when we’re all together because I have to pretend to be surprised by something he already told me in private. I have to compartmentalize and think of him as a friend, not a lover. But it’s hard when he sends me sexts while we’re all sitting together in the theater. I concentrate on things like his ugly shoes to shut it down. I think, “I could never sleep with someone with such ugly shoes.”
While my husband turns a blind eye to my going out with my “girlfriends” and coming home fully showered at 3 am, I think he would be really hurt to find out who my lover is. With the office affair, it was some guy he didn’t know but this one… He can never find out.
My lover thinks we’re forever. It could be. I look forward to our weekly dates after a long day at work, but it’s not an ideal situation because the sex isn’t incredible—not compared to the first guy. Maybe it’s better it isn’t because I don’t need the complication of falling in love. Besides, it’s too much trouble to look for someone else. I’m a mom and a wife, I don’t have time to find a new lover.
* In France, a cinq à sept (literally, 5 to 7) refers to a visit to one’s mistress during those post-work and pre-dinner hours.
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