Advertisement

I left my husband of 19 years and began dating men in open relationships

Claire Dore, 50, a relationship coach from Hampshire, left her husband, *Alex, after 19 years of marriage and went on a journey of ‘sexual awakening.’ Here she explains why she began dating men in open relationships and how she coped with her own jealousy.

When mum-of-three Claire Dore left her husband after 19 years of marriage, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery. (Supplied)
When mum-of-three Claire Dore left her husband after 19 years of marriage, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery. (Supplied)

If anyone would have told me a few years ago that I’d be dating people in open relationships, I’m not sure I would have believed them. Before I had what I call my ‘awakening’ at 47, I was living a very conventional life and had been in monogamous relationships for 28 years. I’d been with my husband for 21 years and, before that, someone else for seven years.

My ex and I had had a very traditional arrangement. He’d been the main breadwinner and worked in advertising. I looked after our home and our three children, who were all in their teens when we split up in 2021.

I’d been running a coaching business for about five years at that point, after training to become a life coach in 2016. It was during a woman’s retreat I was running in Lyme Regis when I felt something shift within me. It’s hard to explain but while I was coaching successful entrepreneurial women, I began to realise that I was quite a powerful woman too. I realised that I hadn’t been that happy up till now and that I was just conforming to an expectation of being a wife without questioning how happy I actually was.

Claire Dore was a stay-at-home mum in a traditional monogamous relationship, when she realised she wanted something different. (Supplied)
Claire Dore was a stay-at-home mum in a traditional monogamous relationship, when she realised she wanted something different. (Supplied)

Leaving my marriage

I began to feel more connected with myself, in every sense – emotionally, sexually and spiritually. I went on to run five more retreats over the next nine months and, pretty soon, I was earning more than my husband. As more women began to tell me about the difference I was making to their lives, and how I had helped them to take the next steps in their relationship or career, I grew in confidence.

Although the fear of being on my own was still very real, I knew I wanted to explore the world of relationships more and that I had to make a big change.

Although the fear of being on my own was still very real, I knew I wanted to explore the world of relationships more and that I had to make a big change.

It was during a family holiday in Majorca, after one of the retreats, that I blurted out to my husband that I wanted a divorce. He was devastated. I just said, "I’m so sorry, I can’t do this anymore." I knew the moment I said that, that was it, there was no going back. Alex suggested we go to marriage guidance counselling and that we try and make things work but I just knew I couldn’t continue with our relationship.

We waited about six weeks to tell the kids and then sat down one night after dinner and told them together. I told the children this was the hardest decision that I had ever had to make and that it was nothing to do with them. My eldest said, "Mum, I can’t imagine it was easy." I was so worried they might reject me but I think my eldest led the way with his acceptance. I was amazed at how well they have taken it and how they have coped with everything.

Claire Dore met someone on a dating app, not realising he was married at first. (Supplied)
Claire Dore met someone on a dating app, not realising he was married at first. (Supplied)

Dating a married man

A few months later, I started an open relationship with a man I met on a dating app. I didn’t know he was married at the time. When we met for coffee, we really connected. He was very warm and grounded and when I started telling him about my life I got quite emotional. I can’t even remember what we said but I knew I could let my guard down with him and felt safe enough to be vulnerable.

He told me he'd been in an open marriage for about 10 years. He said that his wife had told him she was really busy at work and that he should go and 'fall in love with someone' for a bit.

He told me that he had been in an open marriage for about 10 years when we started seeing each other. He said that his wife had told him she was really busy at work and that he should go and 'fall in love with someone' for a bit. I didn’t even think about her much at first or want to know anything about her. I don’t think I even asked her name. That may sound a bit weird but we had such a strong connection, our relationship felt completely natural.

Pretty soon though, I began to get quite jealous of the loving relationship he had with his wife. It was the little things that set me off. He’d tell me they’d gone for a long walk together and she was tired so he had run her a nice, warm bath.

We talked things through and I told him how I was feeling – namely quite jealous. He said not to fight that feeling and that that was normal. We’re still in contact as friends but after four months together, I decided I needed to date other people too.

When Claire Dore dated a second man via a dating app, she knew from the start he was in an open relationship. (Supplied)
When Claire Dore dated a second man via a dating app, she knew from the start he was in an open relationship. (Supplied)

My second open relationship

Then, in October last year, I met another man on the app who ticked all the boxes. He was very good-looking, intelligent and just the sort of person I would go for. I was flattered that he would be interested in me and the fact he said he was looking for an open relationship was almost irrelevant. I was curious to see what would happen next. We’d been messaging each other for a few weeks and he seemed pretty keen so we arranged to meet up in person.

My intuition told me that his partner was afraid of losing him and may have said yes to an open relationship but that her heart wasn’t in it.

I’d been really looking forward to it after all of our online chats but when we met up, he seemed quite different to his online persona. He wasn't very chatty and seemed quite nervous. I just sensed something was off.

My intuition told me that his partner was afraid of losing him and may have said yes to an open relationship but that her heart wasn’t in it. So I backed off and we didn’t see each other again.

I’m now seeing someone else I met online but it’s very early days so I’ll have to see how things pan out.

Claire Dore says putting herself first has been 'liberating' and 'life-changing.' (Supplied)
Claire Dore says putting herself first has been 'liberating' and 'life-changing.' (Supplied)

Feeling empowered

The fact is though, at 50, I feel better and sexier than I ever have done. I don’t buy into this whole idea that you lose your looks and your libido when you hit the menopause. I’m now post-menopausal but I feel as though I have really come into my own over the last few years.

I don’t buy into this whole idea that you lose your looks and your libido when you hit the menopause.

I was brought up and socially conditioned, like so many other women of my age, to think we had to be good and compliant and not put ourselves first. But it turns out putting yourself first can be really liberating and life-changing. I don’t know what the future will bring but I feel more empowered than ever. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

See Clairedore.com