Robin Rinaldi, 50, would be a dedicated wife at weekends but spent the rest of the week with young lovers in a rented apartment
On paper, Robin Rinaldi had the perfect life: a beautiful home in a sought-after San Francisco neighbourhood, a handsome and devoted husband, a glamorous job as a magazine editor, and a social life that involved attending the city’s most exclusive parties. But there was something missing.
Robin was desperate to have a child, but her husband of 17 years, Scott Mansfield, had other ideas. After failing to persuade Scott to start a family with her, he had a vasectomy, rocking their marriage to the core.
Robin began to re-evaluate her life. She had always tried to be the ‘good girl’ that her Catholic upbringing demanded, and had had just three sexual partners before she married Scott aged 26.
“I came from a background that taught me sex is something that men took and women gave,” says Robin. “After a sexual act, a woman had lost something and
had given something, and the man had gained or taken something. It just wasn’t possible for me to enjoy any kind of sexual encounter as a youth.”
So Robin settled into the kind of well-behaved life she thought was expected of her. But as she grew older, she began to wonder about the passion she had missed
out on in her 20s and 30s.
With the sudden realisation that she was never going to be a mother, Robin decided she would need to find fulfilment in another way. “I refused to go to my grave with no kids and only four lovers… If I couldn’t have one, then I needed to have the other.”
A risky decision
Against the advice of her friends, Robin persuaded her husband to agree to an open marriage for one year. The couple spent several weeks deciding a set of rules to govern what Robin dubbed her ‘Wild Oats Project’. The rules were simple – no falling in love, no sleeping with mutual friends, and no unsafe sex.
In what she knew was a ‘risky and emotionally messy move’, Robin rented
a small apartment where she would live during the week, before returning home to quiet, domestic life at the weekends.
She placed an advert on a dating site, choosing her words carefully: “I’m a 44-year-old professional, educated, attractive woman in an open marriage, seeking single men aged 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality.
“You must be trustworthy, smart, and skilled at conversation as well as in bed. Our time together will be limited to three dates, as I cannot become seriously involved.”
Within 24 hours, her inbox was full of messages from prospective suitors, mostly men much younger than her. “I’d never been a stunner, so I knew it wasn’t my fetching photos that reeled them in,” says Robin. “It was the fact I was going to let them get away scot-free after three dates. Come what may, I would be ravished,
and then they could leave.”
The dating began, with Robin opening herself up to a whole new world of men.
“I didn’t think about their intentions,” she says. “All I wanted was their maleness, the very thing they most liked giving. I wanted their smells, their grasping hands and hungry mouths. The more maleness I had, the more female I could be.”
Robin and Scott agreed not to discuss their love lives to avoid any feelings of jealousy. Their open relationship received mixed reactions from friends – some seemed concerned, while others admired their bravery.
The men Robin dated came from all different backgrounds: a lawyer, an astrologer, a computer programmer – she even had a tryst with a 23-year-old she met in Las Vegas.
The only time the three-date-rule was broken was when she met Alden, a writer in his 30s. They began to fall for one another in a serious way, so they cut off all contact.
Her new-found love life was thrilling and empowering.
“I’d expended so much effort as a teenager trying to avoid the shameful pity of “being used”. Why had no one ever mentioned the satisfaction of being useful, of sharing pleasure and sustenance through my body?” says Robin. “Sex is just an act where two people share themselves. And it doesn’t disempower me as a woman, and it doesn’t take anything from me.”
Back to reality
During the week, Robin’s life was full of exciting dates, but weekends were comfortably familiar.
“It wasn’t difficult to go from my promiscuous single life back to my cosy domestic life on Fridays,” she says. “I looked forward to making Scott dinner, waking up in our bed, walking to brunch in our neighbourhood. But by Monday morning, I was ready to return to work and my rotation of lovers.”
Robin’s new lifestyle was about more than just passion. “It wasn’t just the sex that delighted me. It was the food, music, conversation – the intimate glimpse into another person.” She relished meeting people from different walks of life and is still friends with some of her lovers.
Gone was the paralysing lack of self-worth she had felt every time she took off her clothes. At 44, she had never felt so comfortable in her own skin. “The loss of some youthful collagen was compensated for by a sensual ease in my walk.”
As the deadline for the end of the project loomed nearer, Robin began to panic about returning to normality. For a month, she moved into an Orgasmic Meditation commune.
Every morning, the residents gathered together and the men stroked the women’s genitals for 15 minutes, changing partners every day. It was here she bedded a woman, and had a threesome.
Finally, the project came to an end and Robin returned home full-time. But the adjustment was hard, and she was angry when she discovered Scott had been having an exclusive relationship with a younger woman for most of the time.
She reconnected with Alden, and the pair fell head-over-heels in love. Robin and Scott split amicably, but are still close. He has found love, and Robin and Alden have now been in an ‘exquisite’ monogamous relationship for five years.
So would she have done anything differently? Not a chance. “The lessons I learned weren’t purely physical. They were about growing up, making mistakes, learning to live without so much fear, and, eventually, finding out the difference between being a “good girl” and a good person,” she says.