Perfect Buds

The If-Busters

Late Bloomers

Early Bloomers


Sexual Explorers

Sexually Dissatisfied Wives

Overcoming Rejection

Why Sacrifice Pleasure?

A Way of Classifying Sexual Identity

How Pleasure-Claimers Get Better Orgasms

Some Observations from the Survey


Discarded Women

"Everything in my life turned gray after my husband left. I was totally sexless. I didn't masturbate; I didn't even have sexual dreams. For me, sex with my husband had been on such a high dreams. For me, sex with my husband had been on such a high plane. I couldn't think of having sex with anyone else."

-a forty-five-year-old Midwestern advertising executive

            The stereotypical image of the discarded wife is this hausfraus, puffy with the accumulated bloat of baked goods, chocolates, tea, and cooking sherry, and blank-eyed from years of watching life pass by on a television screen. Her husband understandably left her for the the saboteurs of pleasure of a woman whose hips measured less than forty something and whose brain still functioned about the level of the walking comatose. In actuality, you'd have difficulty picking the discarded wife from the attractive women in the express checkout lane at the supermarket.

            "But people still think something is wrong with you if your husband walks out," says Lynne, thirty-eight, petite redhead who looks more like Annie Potts in "Designing Women" than a housewife left by a man who could no longer conjure lust, even by fantasizing, when poised over her body. "Old attitudes die hard. Now if you look good, but don't have a job, they say he left because you let your mind go. If you look good and have a job, they say he left because you were no good in bed.

            "What woman wants to believe a man could leave a wife who looks good, brings home a paycheck, and has orgasms too?"

            Not many women do want to believe that. By extension of logic, it means they could be left someday, too.

            "I felt contagious after he left," Lynne says. "All the women in my upper-middle-class neighborhood who were live together supposedly my friends stopped calling. I was frozen out. A few of their husbands did call. And they said what you've always heard husband say at a time like this. 'You must be lonely. You still have needs. I could help you out. No one needs to know.' Yech!

            "Maybe that's part of the reason I turned off to sex. When he left me, I felt cold, physically chilled for months. I couldn't get warm. I kept turning up the thermostat but it didn't help. Sex was the last thing on my mind. I couldn't get my body temperature up to a comfortable point. How could I think about sex?"

Who Is She?

Discarded wives are only 9 percent of my survey. They are women who:

  • Had been left by their husbands-and describe their divorce in their sexual terms . The happily divorced women often do not indicate whether they or their husbands initiated the divorce.
  • Are still married to men who are involved in long-term affairs or who repeatedly have affairs. Unlike others wives of adulterous men, they describe themselves as "devastate" by his conduct.
  • Are involved in sexless marriages, not by unacknowledged mutual consent. Before the pain of their situation led to a sexual shut-down, the women wanted sexual relations-and in the past have "begged" their husbands to make love to them.
  • Have stopped having sex therapy , even masturbating, because of the rejection.

            Discarded wives feel rejected, so deeply and painfully rejected that they no longer report having or acting upon erotic impulses, either through masturbation or intercourse with their husbands or other men. If ever that overworked phase, "low sense of self-esteem" applied to a group of women, it's this one. Otherwise, they don't have as much in common with each other as you might expect they do. There really is no composite portrait of a woman men leave.

            Especially in the upper-income brackets, discarded wives are less likely to be working than other wives. (Over 60 percent of discarded wives whose husbands each in excess of $ 100,000 a year do not work outside the home.) If they do not work, they're more likely to regard their work as a job, not a career. But they are no more out of shape, uneducated, or in orgasmic than other women. In fact, the upper-middle-class wife may be in better shape than anyone. They also report having as much interest in sex, before the rejection, as the average respondent, and may, if anything, have tried too hard to please their men, rather than not trying hard enough.

            "I would do anything sexually for my husband," writes a forty-two-year-old Californian who husband left her two years ago for another woman, a coworker. "He can't say he left me for someone who would do things I wouldn't. I performed fellatio whenever he wanted. He liked me to do it while he was driving the car, which scared the hell out of me, but I did. I swallowed. I took it up the ass, though it wasn't my favorite thing. If he wanted to tie me to the shower and fuck me from behind while water was pounding me from the front, I said yes. And, most of the time I thoroughly enjoyed everything.

            "I can't remember saying no to him, though I suppose I must have once or a few times in a twenty-year marriage."

Next >>

Sexual Victims

Discarded Women

The Clock Women

Independent Women

Revirginized Women

Monogamous Women

Second-Chance Women

Surviving the Droughts

Wives Who Have Affairs

The Saboteurs of Pleasure

Conclusion: Your Sexual Turning Point?

The Women Who Doesn't "Need" an Orgasm

What Does She Know About Sex that You Don't?