Sunday, March 20, 2005
A few years ago I fell in love with a guy who was already in a relationship.
O and I met through an internet dating website. I can’t remember who saw whose profile first.
It was obvious that we had a good connection; we started exchanging twice- daily emails immediately and progressed onto instant messaging and phone calls shortly afterwards.
We had a lot in common, both in our outlooks and in the things we enjoyed doing, and the ease with which we got to know each other was startling; within weeks we felt like old friends, taking the piss out of each other and being able to be upfront and honest about our thoughts and feelings.
It was at this point, some months after we had first ‘met’ online, that O told me he had a girlfriend. In fact, the way he put it was:
“I’m not married, but I’m not quite single either”.
This threw me. I was confused as to why O would be on a dating website if he already had a partner. I questioned him. He said that he wasn’t happy with where he was at: he had used the site as an ego boost to make him feel better about himself.
Of course at this point I should have said,
and put the phone down. But I didn’t.
I mean, I knew that I was attracted to him (though I hadn’t met him face to face yet), and I also knew that he was attached. Big ‘no-no’ in my book. But I was so curious: who was this man who was able to make me laugh so hard my stomach hurt? Who was this guy who would challenge me on my sexism and point out the inaccuracies in my argument? Who was this person that made me feel intelligent and interesting and special?
There was only one way to find out, and that would be to meet him. I know, alarm bells ringing and all that. But you see, I was going in there with open eyes – the full knowledge of his taken status – no way was I going to get involved: I am worth more than being the ‘other woman’ and no way did I want to break up another relationship.
So, surely with our fantastic mental connection, we can be great friends, right? At least, this is what I told myself as we made plans to get together for a drink later that week.
He had the most beautiful blue eyes. When he smiled, his whole face lit up, and the laughter lines circling his eyes sculpted his features in such a way, that his whole soul seemed to be smiling too. He had a habit of touching my hand when he laughed and when he did, I felt some kind of energy enter my skin and penetrate right through to the bone: it was electric.
I had been so nervous meeting him, thought that maybe he would be disappointed when he finally got to see me in real life, or that perhaps we wouldn’t get on like we had, when we weren’t face to face. All my worries were dispelled when he greeted me: he grinned at me and gave me a massive hug, telling me,
“God, it’s so good to finally meet you!”
And when we sat down in the pub we had chosen to be our meet point, it was as if two old friends were getting together: we laughed and chatted with total ease, there was no awkwardness of any sort.
Of course I fancied the pants off him. Here was an intelligent, dynamic, sexy man whom I could talk to all night with total ease, and whom with I would laugh so hard I could snort out loud and not feel embarrassed about it. (He told me later he loved my ‘pig’ noises; that it made me endearing). I would be mad not to fancy him. But I knew he had a girlfriend, so he was out of bounds in my book.
It didn’t help that on my way home that night, he texted me:
“I had a wonderful time tonight Girl. You are a truly amazing and gorgeous woman. I hope we can do this again soon. xx”
And when I got that text, my heart pounded. I felt so high, it was as if I was back in 1989 and was 3 hours into a Cali trip. The little voice inside me saying,
“Stop. Hold it right there. Don’t touch him – he’s already taken”
was speaking very quietly, let me tell you. I reread his text over and over, and went to bed that night imagining I was lying in bed with him, feeling him pressed against me.
And so we carried on. We spoke daily, on the phone, IM, or email. We would meet up every few weeks, go out to eat, to the cinema, or for a quiet drink somewhere. O would sit across from me and stare at me, smiling: he later told me how much he treasured those moments, that he wished he could watch me 24 hours a day, that he loved to see me smile.
After about 6 months, I invited him over to my house. We drank some wine and sat on the couch, like two nervous teenagers. I think I made the first move, leaning in to kiss him gently on the mouth. He smiled at me and pulled me to him, stroking my hair and caressing my face.
We went into my bedroom and got on the bed. I can recall how O looked as if it were yesterday: lying next to me, his shirt slightly undone, the top of his chest hair poking out, huge grin on his face. I undid each button on that shirt as if I were unlocking a beautiful treasure. And I was. To finally feel his skin against mine, the warmth of his body pressed against me, the passion in his breath as he kissed me: that truly was something special.
We made love that night. Not fucked. Not a shagadelic one-night stand. No, we made love. It was beautiful, passionate and full of emotion. I remember crying as I climaxed: it was so intense. We lay there afterwards for hours, looking deeply into each other’s eyes, finally falling asleep in each other’s arms.
When I awoke, I freaked out.
It hit home what had just happened. He had a girlfriend. I was the ‘other woman’.
What the fuck was I doing?
I felt like I had to get out of there, get him out of there, get away from him. My heart felt like a white-hot poker had sliced through it and I fought to rid myself of the pain. The only thing I could do, I figured, was deal with O as if it had been a one-night stand: jump in the shower, have a quick coffee, goodbye, thank you very much, have a nice life. That way, I figured, I wouldn’t have to deal with him rejecting me – which let’s face it, was inevitable, given the situation – and added to that, I could put to the back of my mind, how much I hated myself for allowing what had just happened to happen.
My heart pounded with the loneliness of heart-break. My conscience began its process of self-mutilation and humiliation. My guilt started stabbing away, attacking my soul.
Quick, get him out, Get him out. The faster he goes, the less you have to think about what happened. If he goes now, then you can just pretend it didn’t happen. Quick quick.
But he didn’t want to go. O sat down with the paper and his coffee and looked relaxed.
Go. I need you to go.
He came up behind me as I was washing up the cups and put his arms around me, kissing my neck.
Please. Just go. It hurts.
He turned me around and ran his hand across my chest, letting his fingers rest on my nipples.
Stop. I don’t want to like that. It makes me want you. I don’t want to want you.
He began to kiss me deeply and his hand travelled downwards. His fingers parted my thighs and slipped between my legs.
No. Not that. I don’t want this to be pleasurable.
He moved his hand inside my pants and felt my wetness.
He knows. He knows that I want him. I can’t hide it. I want him.
I kissed him back. I held him close. I felt my body respond to his touch and I allowed myself to climax as he slid his fingers inside me, as if he owned the release of my pleasure.
We ended up going back upstairs and making passionate love again. And when he finally left, later that evening, my mind was a whirlwind of desire, happiness and confusion.
The pleasure didn’t last long. I knew what I had done, what we had done. I hated him for being intimate with me when he had a girlfriend waiting for him at home. I hated myself even more for succumbing to my desire for him.
And yet I still saw him. I participated in this deceit for many more weeks, seeing him whenever he could ‘escape’, catching any moment he had free to speak with him, share with him. Sometimes we would just be able to meet for a drink, no sex, and we would sit, hand in hand looking at each other. He would tell me that if that’s all he could have, that is what he wanted: an image of me smiling at him so he could go to sleep at night dreaming of me.
When he was with me, it was perfect, I felt like he adored me. And I adored him back. I was smitten, it is fair to say. I stopped thinking about ‘her’ and began to just think about me and him. And I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have feelings for him, that I was attracted to him, but that it was purely sexual, nothing more. That way, I figured, it would be easier when it all ended.
When O and I discussed his ‘situation’, he would say that he was unhappy with his relationship, but that he hadn’t been able to put his finger on why. That he was bored. That it held no spark. That he didn’t know where it was going. He said he hadn’t expected to meet someone and have such an amazing connection with them, that I had thrown him into turmoil. That he had feelings for me, but that he loved his girlfriend too. But when he was with me, he wanted to be with me, but when he was with his girlfriend, he felt guilty for betraying her.
So I fucked someone else. I did it to be on an equal par to him: he was sleeping with his girlfriend – I should have someone else too. I also did it to remind myself that I was desirable, that I could have any man if I wanted, that he wasn’t the only man in my life. But, mostly I fucked someone else to forget about him and numb myself to the pain I was feeling about being with him.
And how did it make me feel? Shit. I mean, whilst I was in bed with them, I felt great: had lots of fun, had some great sex, felt liberated. But a few days later I would remember how I felt about O, and revert back to feeling crap. Sex with other men was just a temporary distraction so that I didn’t have to think about him. But sooner or later I was going to have to deal with how I felt and act on it.
So I stopped calling him, and delayed replying to his emails, calls and texts. I made excuses about not being able to see him. And we grew further apart.
Until one day, we were no longer speaking. I busied myself with work, and with fucking a few different guys, and for a while, I managed to put O to the back of my mind.
Some months later, with distance finally between us, and my heart a little less wounded, I emailed him. I explained how I felt: about hating us both for what we had done; about my falling in love with him; about not wanting to be the ‘other woman’; about what a beautiful person I thought he was; about regretting never saying ‘goodbye’; and about how I would never be able to see or speak to him again.
He responded immediately. He too regretted the lack of ‘closure’ in our relationship. He told me he had cared for me deeply – was in love with me too, but that he also still loved his girlfriend and didn’t know what to do. He said he had never thought he would be the sort of man to cheat, but when faced with a “beautiful, intelligent, funny, sexy, wonderful woman” who was interested in him too, he had followed his heart and just “gone with it”, not knowing how it would end up, but knowing that “at least one person” would get hurt at the end of it, and not knowing whether it would be me or his girlfriend. He thanked me for calling it off, saying that he didn’t have the balls to end something that he loved so much, but that by ending it, I had ensured that any pain, would be lessened in the long term, but that he was sorry that it was me feeling it. He told me he wished he could still be friends with me, that imagining me not in his life was an awful thing, but that he understood my wishing to not see him again. And he wrote me a poem and said goodbye.
It took every ounce of strength I had not to respond back to his email. To be able to leave it there, with the proper closure it needed, and know it was in the past.
I never thought I would get involved with someone who was already in a relationship. I definitely never would have thought that I would fall in love with them. And I could never imagine that I would have the strength to be the one to break it off, before they ended it.
I did. I have no idea how, but I did. I’m not proud that I had sex with another woman’s man, and I certainly wouldn’t do it again, not in a million years.
But to know that there was a man out there with whom I had such an intense connection, that I know (regardless of him being a cheating bastard), cared for me deeply, and that I could be totally at ease with, and let him into my heart and soul, well that gives me some hope: if I can have something so beautiful with one man, why not another?
I know it’s just a matter of time. Some random act of fate, or chance meeting or strange co-incidence will throw us both together. And it’ll all fit: the right person, the right time, the right place in life. And of course, he’ll be single. That goes without saying…