Our “A Week on Feeld” series asks Feeld members to record a week of using the app – whether that’s back-to-back dates, long chats, and verbal foreplay, or reflective time on one’s one. This week we’re in Vermont with Arrow, a 54-year-old cishet woman and writer living in Vermont coming out of a long-term marriage.
I was in a monogamous marriage for over twenty years and, like a lot of long marriages, it dissolved into a task-driven existence centered around kids. After a years-long separation and now a pending divorce, I’ve finally plunged back into experiencing pleasure with a much, much deeper appreciation for how important it is. I will never take that freedom – to explore and be curious, connect through conversation and physical touch, to experiment in all sorts of ways – for granted again.
Using dating apps after being married for over twenty years is what I imagine it felt like to experience electricity for the first time – exciting, full of potential, but pretty goddamn scary. I’ve been dating for just a few months and don’t necessarily know what I want but I definitely know what I don’t want – a monogamous long-term relationship. I consider that box sufficiently checked. All I’m interested in for now is feeling good, feeling desired, and desiring others.
Although I wondered if Feeld was the right place for me, especially coming from a really vanilla background, a long marriage, and very little sex for the past ten years or so, I immediately loved the directness around desires, openness about relationships, and what people were (and were not) looking for. It’s like a cheat code, being able to skip steps that you’re not really into performing but feel pressure to on some level.
I’m at the end of a weeklong work trip to Maine and it’s my first experience using Feeld while I’m traveling. Dating in a small rural state is tough. So even though I’m only in a different small rural state now, at least it’s a different one.
I’m exchanging messages with three different men and wondering if there’s really any point to it. I’m shit-talking and joking with one of them (which, you know, fine) and another is heading out of town anyway. The third and I have an ok exchange, but I wouldn’t say sparks are flying. It’s tough to figure out what he looks like from his pics, not because they’re bad, but because he looks so different in each one. In one picture, he's quite handsome and more my type; in another he looks surprisingly conservative. It’s interesting what can get lost in translation with photos and chatting. It can’t replace meeting someone in person.
Tonight is my last night in Portland and he tells me that, coincidentally, he’ll be there later that afternoon for a job interview. He says he could hang out if I wanted to meet up for dinner and drinks. He also makes it clear that he genuinely enjoys meeting people and having good conversations, and this clinches it for me. I still feel wary about dating while traveling, as if I’m already on my back foot when men know that I’m just passing through. I don’t want people to make assumptions, even if those assumptions are sometimes correct.
There’s a bar I’ve been dying to check out. I tell him I’m going to swing by there for a drink and then meet him. I never usually drink before dates, not only to keep my alcohol intake down, but because sometimes my face gets flushed and I’d prefer to show up not looking like a mess. Well, of course, I end up pounding a beer on an empty stomach then hoofing it over to meet him. Not only do I show up flushed but also sweaty and one beer in. And he shows up dressed perfectly for an interview, and so much more handsome than he was in his photos that I can hardly believe it.
He’s the first man I’ve gone on a date with who’s in an open marriage, so I have a million questions, not just about how they’re exploring that process but what his experience has been like so far. Talking with him is already like talking to a good friend. Like me, he’s only been in monogamous relationships previously, so we talk about that, and our kids, divorce, and dating. It’s nice to have someone new to talk with who understands that part but is also exploring another approach to marriage and sex.
The dinner and conversation far exceeded my expectations. We laughed, a lot. And I find him wildly attractive. I feel tiny pangs of jealousy that he’s already married, and immediately realize this is something I need to reflect on later when I’m alone. I was taught jealousy is a positive emotion in some respects; it shows someone cares about you. But as I learn more about ENM and polyamory I realize I need to rethink everything I thought I knew, in more ways than one.
When we leave it’s to return to the same bar, but separately. Only some of his friends know that his marriage is open, so him showing up with a woman they’ve never met before is not going to happen. A block before we get to the bar I ask if I can kiss him. He says yes. We duck into a dark alley for a quick make-out session that’s hot and perfect; I only wish it could’ve lasted longer.
We say goodbye and he walks on ahead to the bar. I follow him five minutes afterwards. After he sits down with his friends, he gets up to order drinks. We end up standing next to each other at the bar. We chat as if we’ve never met before. It’s unbelievably sparky, even though I know we can’t keep it going for the rest of the night – probably a little too suspicious. What an incredible night and experience. I’m so happy I took a chance on him.
Most of my day is taken up with the long drive back from Maine to Vermont. It reminds me a bit of being a forlorn teenager in my parents’ car, driving home from seeing relatives, and staring out the window at the trees blurring by, thinking of nothing but boys. I realize that my five months of non-monogamous dating – including maintaining two ongoing FWB partnerships – after decades of marriage is the epitome of being boy crazy. After feeling so fed up with men, monogamy, and marriage, I realize that I’m back to genuinely craving and loving men again. I love how the right ones can make me feel, how I can hear their voices when I close my eyes. I love how the right ones touch, kiss, and fuck me. I am aware of how it feels to be desired again. I had forgotten what that feels like, and I never want to forget again.
I have one regular partner who lives close by (the hardest thing to achieve where I live) and he wants to see me when I get back. Mornings are the easiest for me to pull off lately, between my work schedule and my time at home with the kids.
Mornings tend to be quickies and we have joked often about what it’s like to have this hot, dirty, sexy double life. He’s used to it after dating for eight years and being a part of the kink community. But it’s all still new to me. I used to be lucky to have sex once a year, but now I can hardly make it through the week without one or two sessions with him. It’s still unbelievable to me that while other people are making breakfast and yelling at their kids to get on the school bus, I’m showing up with a coffee for him and immediately getting on my knees to give him a blowjob while he tries to sip his coffee (very, very carefully).
On our first date he was going to make dinner but we never made it that far. Our connection and conversation was so immediately easy, direct, and sexy that, after asking if it was ok, he unzipped my jumpsuit as we sat outside and then went inside to take everything much, much further. He’s an experienced dom and finding him on Feeld, even though I had seen him on other dating apps previously, clinched it for me because of this detail. His profile was friendly and open, and he said he was open to newbies. He’s been my perfect entry into a completely new realm of sexual experience. I still can’t believe my luck with him. We’ve built a really caring friendship around that connection too.
He later tells me that after our quick kitchen session, he watched me walk to my car like I was on top of the world, with a whole lot of swagger. And I said, “You mean like a cock of the walk?”
I have to get back on track with work, yet another piece of evidence pointing to boy craziness. I find it hard to stay on task with almost anything that doesn’t involve men, making plans, or flashing back to memories of moments I’ve already had. The number of times I’ve realized I’ve been staring at a wall for over an hour, just completely immersed in remembering one moment – one man or another, a date, all of these flashes of sex and heat – is more than I can count at this point.
But today – work.
I text with M, my date in Maine, a little. It’s clear that it’s not going to develop into anything more sexually or romantically, but that’s ok. The experience of meeting him was satisfying enough. I could see us becoming friends. What I’ve found on Feeld, much more so than any other app, is when you’re coming to another person – even a complete stranger – being very direct about your desires, the structure of your life and relationships, what you’re looking for and what you want to experience, it actually lays the groundwork for rewarding relationships, period. They don’t necessarily have to become or stay sexual or romantic. I’ve gained more friendships in a short time from Feeld than anywhere else, including in real life. It’s pretty incredible and definitely not what I expected.
Because I now have my kids half the time, I’m getting to experience what I haven’t experienced since I was in my twenties – time to linger in bed on a weekend morning.
I’m heading to my partner J’s house that night, so aside from the usual weekend bullshit that I have to take care of in order to keep a household running, I’ll spend my afternoon taking care of myself. It’s quite cliché, honestly, how low down on the priority list I let myself fall over the course of my marriage and after becoming a mother. It feels like another level of desire, this time for myself. A long bath, slathering myself with lotion, picking out beautiful lingerie to wear that night. I’m giving myself the attention I deserve. It’s taken me too long to realize that it’s not someone else’s job to do that for me, to bolster me, to prove that I’m worth this level of attention. I need to desire myself too. It’s sad, really, how disconnected I became from my own body. Everyone needs simple ways to get back in touch with their sense of self, their physicality, a world apart from work and kids and the boring stuff that grinds us all down.
This week has been a lot, but also surprisingly balanced: an escape from my life of parenting and working but also feeling more satisfied and energized when I am engaged in those things. I’m incredibly driven to have new experiences, discover my boundaries (and push them a little) and experience as much physicality and intimacy as I can. I feel like a whole person again. I try not to feel sad about the time I’ve lost stuffing down intimacy, curiosity, and sexual desire, convincing myself that it didn’t really matter, that that part of my life was over, that it wasn’t “that important”. This is what makes us feel alive. It’s all been so much better than it was in my twenties and single. Because I’ve realized it’s not about feeling young again. It’s about leaning into your experience while also experiencing something new. It’s not about going back, but about making huge leaps forward. My hope is that more older women coming out of long-term relationships and marriages who think they’re too old or “done with all that” will push themselves to explore, just to see. They might realize it ain’t over, not by a long shot.