Without him, I would have never realized how important my marriage is to me.
My almost-affair began at my work's Christmas party. Ironically, I hated him before I had ever seen him (we'll call him Anthony) in person. He was younger than me, an arrogant writer (known for being difficult to work with) with an ego the size of Texas. I'd almost quit my job on a TV soap opera because I simply couldn't bear working with him. Our telephone fights were legendary and our emails were filled with angry, shouty capital letters.
Then we met.
The chemistry was immediate. My skin prickled at his touch, my stomach did somersaults, we stood grinning at each other like idiots. I hadn't felt this way in the more than 13 years since I met my husband. Even though I was sober, I felt giddy, like something that had been dormant in me for a long time had suddenly been awakened. That friskiness you feel when you meet someone new, the sheer excitement of lust, made me unable to concentrate at work, my mind drifting to thoughts of him at every opportunity. The feeling was mutual. He began sending flirty emails and then suggested we meet outside of work. I agreed, only to back out at the last minute when he started to play games. I told him that I'd never been unfaithful in my marriage, and while I was admittedly attracted to him, it was best we just remained colleagues. That, I thought, was the end of it.
Still, he pursued. For the next 9 months I wavered between wishing he'd leave me alone and wishing I could book a hotel room and have my wicked way with him. At the time, my husband was immersed in an all-consuming job; he barely spoke to me, let alone touched me. I felt like the nagging wife, the boring mom who wiped up after everyone else. At work, with Anthony, I felt young, vibrant, and sexy. I felt like ME again. It was all so intoxicating: the risque emails, the breathy conversations that moved to hallways where nobody else could hear, the plans to meet that were abandoned time and time again, lest a line be crossed. Did I want to cheat? YES. I wanted to be that girl again, the one who wore high heels, had a throaty laugh, and danced on tables. The one who had time for makeup and bikini waxes and matching underwear. The woman who was all but forgotten in my marriage. But I knew, too, if I cheated, there was a part of me that simply couldn't look my husband in the face.
On a night out with a mutual friend, Anthony's name came up. To my horror, I discovered I was only one on a LONG list of women he had gone after before. I wasn't special. I wasn't the object of his desire. I was a pawn in his egotistical, narcissistic game. It was the smack in the face I needed. Suddenly, I woke up and saw Anthony for what he was: a tragic emotional vacuum who hoovered up women for fun. He didn't want me, he just needed me to want HIM.
The rose-tinted glasses fell off and I took a good long hard look at my life and my marriage. I realized that things needed to change. My husband and I made plans to cut back on our careers and focus more on each other so that we would have more to talk about than the kids and whose turn it was to take out the garbage. I made an effort to put on some mascara and I even got the ol' bikini line waxed again. I told my husband that I'd been attracted to someone else, he had been attracted to me, and while nothing had happened, it so easily could have. I explained that he, too, needed to make more effort. We needed to schedule date nights, have sex more often, and put our marriage on the frontburner. It was the most honest conversation I think we've ever had as a couple.
Predictably, Anthony moved on to another married woman at work, trying to seduce her away from her unhappy marriage. I left my job (and all thoughts of him) behind. I chose to look forward instead, to focus on the life I built with my husband, the life I loved, but had neglected. And that girl, the one with the high heels and the throaty laugh, she's still here. Once a week, on martini date night, she comes out to play. And in reality, she never really went away, she was just buried deep under kids, chores, money, jobs, stress, and all the rubbish that a mundane family life can bring.
As strange as it sounds, I'm grateful to Anthony and his obvious charms, because without him, I would have never unearthed and reclaimed my old self. Without him, I would have never realized how important my marriage is to me. Without him, I wouldn't be as happy I am now. Sometimes, almost having an affair is the best thing that you can possibly do for yourself and your husband. Trust me.
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