by Somerset

Somerset is a man in his seventies who has only recently begun to search for compatible women for open relationships. He prefers sexual variety and treasures his independence. This is the fifth in a series of articles exploring open relationships. The entire series is archived for reference.

As Chias noted in the introduction to this series, I have only recently begun to search for compatible women for open relationships and decided to share my experiences with readers of Polyamorous Percolations. Having given some information about my general philosophy and preferences, it is time to say how I’m going about my search and how it is turning out.

Where to find suitable women, that is the first question. I’m somewhat of a loner so don’t have much interest in joining local clubs, associations, or institutions. Instead I chose to run an advertisement, for four weekly issues, in the personals columns of local newspapers. It read, “Gentleman, 77, fit, scholarly, seeks compatible female companion. Email xxxxx ” I’m keeping my name and email address confidential for the time being because I don’t want to disclose my location and the identities of my respondents, out of respect for their privacy. In retrospect, I think the term “scholarly” sounds pretentious; the word “bookish” may have been a better choice.

I received only four replies, from women whom I will rename Pam, Anita, Ellen, and Shirley. I replied immediately to each of them with a standard response, adjusting each, appropriately, to their individual replies,

In these replies I supplied and requested a recent photograph and disclosed some personal information:

All four ladies responded to my replies and three provided a photograph. Although my examination of the photographs led me to think that Pam and Ellen would probably be incompatible with me, I decided to continue corresponding with them on the grounds that one cannot always “judge a book by its cover.” I found all four ladies to be very courteous, pleasant people. Three of the four had either overlooked, or chose to ignore, that part of my information letter which suggested that my ideal companion would accept a non-exclusive relationship. For future reference, I note that, in any advertising that I do, I should highlight that requirement and should state that respondents should be within a specified age range, say 50 to 65.

Pam. This lady is 77, about 5ft 2”, 125 lbs., greying hair, wears a hearing aid, has five children, was divorced after seventeen years of marriage and has chosen to live alone to raise her children and pursue her career in a town not very far from where I live. She has a condo and has had rewarding relationships since her divorce.

Pam had obviously ignored my preference for a non-exclusive relationship. I wrote back to her with more details about my life and aspirations, dealing particularly with my desire for open relationships. Her response was immediate, “I see you have a fascination with sexual experimentation and experiences. I absolutely do NOT share that interest with you. I prefer at this time to terminate our correspondence.”

Anita is 72, has brown eyes, hair that is turning white, is about 5’ 5”, is overweight, wears glasses, has some arthritis, doesn’t smoke, has never done drugs, is an occasional drinker, loves music and dancing, has a wide circle of friends, is involved in many activities, has a modest home, and likes to cook. She was widowed at age 37, lived in a common law relationship for twenty-one years, then with “a special man” with whom she “enjoyed a relationship much like you describe” until he died two or three years ago. She says she has no wish to remarry.

Anita did not provide a photograph. I should have insisted upon receiving one before we met because, when we did, I felt convinced that we were incompatible. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours over coffee and parted amicably.

I found Ellen to be a most interesting person. She has a college degree, having majored in religious studies, has studied art, likes to cook and play scrabble at the local seniors’ center. She is 77, has five grown children, divorced after 31 years of marriage, had a second marriage that ended some seven years ago with the death of her husband, and does not wish to re-marry. She is about 5’ 6” tall and about 15 lbs overweight. She ran a bed and breakfast business for over nine years, has retired, and is financially independent.

We share a keen interest in many of the same topics, had a lively exchange of emails and some enjoyable conversations over a period of about eight weeks. She, too, obviously ignored or failed to read my preference for a non-exclusive relationship. We parted amicably, with a decision to keep in touch, as friends, from time to time.

Shirley is a gem. She is 60, and so is seventeen years younger than I am, and is trim. She has been divorced twice and lived with a man for over 20 years until about two years ago, when his poor health led him to relocate to a foreign country. She said she had not felt like dating after that but, after seeing my ad, decided “it would be nice to have a male friend to spend some time with.”

She is a successful business woman, has her own home in a small community some distance from the city where I live, and has three grown children. Shirley holds official positions in two sororities. She says she likes her life basically the way it is and has no intentions of ever changing her home arrangements. Other interests include card games and jigsaw puzzles.

Shirley has visited me at my home a few times and we have become lovers. We are able to meet only infrequently because Shirley keeps busy with her various interests, with which she needs to travel, and lives some distance away from me. She says she is not a jealous person and doesn’t want either of us to “fall in love” or feel tied to each other but feel free to have other friends. Her reason, she says, is that she doesn’t want either of us to end up with a broken heart. Shirley continues, “I'm not going to cut myself off from some wonderful loving because you happen to meet someone else you're sexually attracted to … at the same time I'm not one to sneak around or hide my relationship with someone, so if you meet someone else she'd also have to be agreeable to us retaining our relationship or we would no longer have sex even tho we remained friends.”

I agreed immediately, absolutely. The rules are “total honesty, no deception, no hidden agendas.”

Our sexual experiences have been perfect – no other description will do. I feel blessed to have such a courageous, loving, trusting, open-minded, intimate friend and lover.

I’ll conclude this article by sharing a few things I’ve learned about women, after a lifetime of living and after taking a few hesitant steps, over the past three months, into the world of polyamory.

  1. Women are far more complex that I ever dreamed possible.
  2. I’ll never do more than scratch the surface layers of a woman’s complexities, nor of my own.
  3. If I think I’m really starting to know a woman, I’m just kidding myself.
  4. During my search for compatible women, I’m learning as much about myself as I am about them.
  5. Reading and writing about women may seem an interesting thing to do but this just doesn’t compare with learning about them, with them, first hand, one-on-one (puns intentional!)
  6. To get to know a woman at anything more than a superficial level, both partners have to become totally vulnerable to each other -- to strip naked at all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
  7. Saying “no” when a lover wishes to continue in a relationship, is extremely hard to do. And beware: “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” (William Congreve)
  8. Compatibility extends far beyond the physical level into many other areas, like the living conditions within a family, community, country, and the world.
  9. Women and men are generally, and with good reasons, extremely fearful of sexually transmitted diseases. Facing this fact, and dealing with it squarely, is a huge challenge for potential polyamorists.
  10. Almost without exception, neither men nor women will willingly share a lover with other men or women. Overcoming this phenomenon is also a huge challenge for every potential polyamorist. But “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” (Proverb) And conversely!
  11. Women can sometimes be as volatile as mercury on a hot stove.
  12. Some of the time they don’t want to be understood, preferring to appear mysterious.
  13. Much of the time they expect a man to understand their verbal and body language implicitly; men generally prefer communications to be explicit, rational.
  14. Any attempt to discover and enjoy a reasonable level of compatibility with women is difficult enough even when only one is involved; difficulties are compounded exponentially when there are two or more.
  15. So am I on a futile quest? Probably; but the jury is still deliberating.
  16. Are exceptional women worth the time and the effort? Yes, indeed!

  17. A girl as you've heard of old, is a kind of a paradox
    She changes her mind more times, I'm told, than ever she does her frocks.
    And a man's like a moth around a flame for it's nearly always found
    He burns his wings but, all the same,
    The nicest part of Cupid's game
    Is fluttering round and round:

    (from A Bachelor Gay, author unknown)