I am writing on behalf of the wife, who perhaps still is in the dark, and may not even know that he was/is cheating, hell I didn't either until the end. We were never boyfriend and girlfriend, but this absolves nothing and only served as a basis for denial. During this entire story I was single and had open arrangements with friends, even arranging group liaisons with all parties above board (or so I thought), to explore for the simple joy of connection and sexual exploration. I struggle with my guilt on this topic… because while I was elaborately deceived, I nevertheless later disregarded instincts and suspicions which developed.
From a photo from the first date, a friend warned me he looked like an abusive person and that he was very clever and I would find out too late after I was attached and would stay for years. I thought this was projection because I had recently exited an abusive relationship and swore to being single, but she was ever so right.
My story is hopefully one of teaching, of how we can try to do different things but ultimately repeat psychosis until we can learn to transcend our experiences. While I was led on by lies and deceit, there was a point when I chose to go along rather than have a confrontation that exacerbated and prolonged pain. I share my story because it was cathartic to write and it is some solace to help others be wiser for a lesson that took six years of my life, and for those who know my pain, to realize that they are not alone.
At first I had no idea, we dated very slowly, and I continuously also dated others. Then he started calling several times per week. Even though we never discussed a relationship, he asked since we had such a good thing, that we keep it going and also to tell each other everything about the details of when we date others to be above board, and I agreed, knowing this would prevent me from seriously committing to anyone, and I was happy to be single as it was.
It took about two years to discover the oddities. I came out of a hard relationship and decided to be single… and had made keeping distance from all men my general mantra. I am not the type to pry into other’s business because I am inherently private. However, it must have been my subconscious since one day, I impulsively fished out his wallet while he was taking a shower and hanging out at my place. I note that in the last twenty years of my dating life, I have never done this before or since. It turned out to be a different city, different last name, and he was years older than disclosed.
Many would have confronted the issue, but I didn’t have good self esteem. If it were me today, I would cut ties immediately, and like to tell myself the remade me wouldn’t even be attracted. But even now some years later I wish to show how far I’ve come now, as if that victory mattered. Thankfully I’ve stayed silent.
At the time, I was in a much weaker state, recovering from an abusive relationship and afraid of any conflict. Instead, I asked a few polite questions to find out the truth, and said “I never want to be a home wrecker or help anyone cheat” hoping he would leave out of respect for me if I were doing damage. It took years of hindsight to realize what happened next…instead of answering questions, he flipped out and criticized my entire character, calling me an arrogant know it all and full of crap. Where before I had only ever known kindness he became a monster, making me feel awful until I forgot my original objections and believed that there was no way someone could treat me so nicely and be such a liar and that this somehow was all my fault. This was the moment at which I should have left, but alas, it was only the first act of a three part play.
Thus Act two, the time of complacency, begins. I told myself a story to justify my attachment. He had spent so many holidays, never flaked, took odd calls, nor left for emergencies, as my friend had predicted, he had snared my empathy, and I thought at least must have a perfectly good reason. Besides, I didn’t believe I was worthy of real intimacy.
We became close friends. I grew to respect him as a talented and successful entrepreneur that knew how to laugh and had a patience to mentor someone like myself. I never took monetary favors or gifts in general from people and definitely not from him. I viewed him as a friend and worked hard to earn respect, which I would later recognize as him beating me down to need him and his approval. At the time I felt lucky to know him because he functioned as a mentor. I stopped worrying about whether what I did was wrong and trusted no one would be so helpful and so selfish. This was easier to believe because otherwise I had to admit I was perhaps a mistress, when I had gone so far out of my way to never cheat on anyone. It became easy to bury by spending much of my time dating others.
After about three years, he started to become jealous and do subtle things to control my dating life. I believe he intentionally laid groundwork for a pseudo relationship to encourage me to stay with him. Though he would never admit it, and claims to not have a jealous bone in him, when I dated men of wealth or good character, he’d become more sullen, insulting, and where he eagerly met my friends for playful forays, refused to meet any I felt deep intimacy and connection.
Later, knowing my drive to experiment sexually, he became possessive and gave ‘assignments’ to go find and execute scenarios. When I was younger in my mid twenties, I eagerly went along with him as guide. As I grew older with my own taste developing, and I began to propose my own ideas, expressing serious interest in exploring new kinds of relationships with greater intimacy with other men. I gradually realized that when I wanted to do my own ideas, he’d switch from being engaging to quickly ending conversations. Even with a respectable career and academic journey, he belittled my accomplishments, only keeping my ego within a box he could control. I started to realize it was all about him and that I somehow in his mind had become an appendage. An awareness grew that perhaps it had always been all about him. I began to wonder what, if anything, I was actually protecting.
Not long after this, a fight happened, but not the way one might imagine. We were at a club. I had gotten us in for free (not for the first time) through my connections to see a friend perform on stage and brought another female friend for fun company. Some really drunk girls started randomly shoving and I backed away trying to calm the situation. At this moment, he shoved back, and within seconds was on the ground with blood all over his face and two men pounding him, one in the front and one from behind. I realized if I helped it would be me vs. 5, and for a few heartbeats hesitated while the girls tried to knock me over before running in to pull off one of the men punching his face. This was shortly broken up by security.
And thus we enter Act III, which I like to call the period of disillusionment. The transition began on that three hour drive as he proceeded to again cut me down for hours. Our relationship was never the same… what used to be pleasant conversation became criticism for all my wrongdoings. The gratitude for countless opportunities I provided of high profile social introductions, sexual forays, and trips that involved inner circle connections to major events all were criticized in some form or fashion.
My temper escalated and I finally called him out and asked if he was married. Suddenly it became a full confession, where he explained all his pain. In this moment I learned the difference between suspicion and knowledge… suddenly became his emotional dumping ground. Over the next month I heard hours upon hours of details of his situation, about how sorry he felt for himself, and during all that time, not a single simple apology for the damage he did to me.
He claimed they lived in separate homes and had for years, and he just paid the bills, and that they barely spoke to one another. I no longer believe this. I listened and offered compassion, forgiveness, and understanding, and asked to be set free to any obligation. He pretended he had never asked for any commitment, and that I had simply ‘misunderstood’. Never mind that this misunderstanding were years of habits and words he said to the contrary. I told him I would date whomever I like and no longer feel inclined to tell him.
At this point, he began to try to treat me as what should be a therapist and started volunteering real time information about his marriage and spouting how I was one of his best friends. I began my exit strategy. I was horrified at myself and my own participation of harming another, and felt so awful and selfish for not checking in sooner. I had tried so hard to not cheat on people, and perhaps because there were so many clues I should have found obvious… I cannot deny my own participation in this toxic illusion. I had been played a fool for two years, and gone along with it another four.
If I thought he had been disrespectful after the fight, it was nothing from the storm to come. He became outright insulting all the time. At this point we were barely sleeping together much, just out of habit getting dinner.
I started making excuses to avoid him and talking back in ways I never had. He started offering me grand gestures and talking about how much money he would be happy to spend to have a trip with me. Having my own career and always paying my own way, this has never moved me, and I became even more disgusted, when his moves to get my attention became increasingly desperate. When they failed, he tried to sexually proposition one of my best friends behind my back… I am still not sure if he intended this to get back to me, I can only imagine, given his intelligence, he had worked out that possibility. At this point he went radio silent for four months.
I came to accept I would never get an apology and called him a hypocrite. He responded with a grandiose apology, at first acting like the email wasn’t even for him and talking about how he missed me and wanted to support whatever I wanted to do … I asked him to give me time, and six weeks later he reached out again. I had moved on by this time, found a partner and decided to cut things off, and made it known he sounded insincere. He responded with anger, telling me what he did everyone does, because everyone lies and manipulates and that’s life, but that he did feel sorry and felt like a ‘long honest talk’ would make it well worth it. I realized then I would never get the closure I imagined. All I wanted was a simple unqualified acknowledgement and peaceful parting.
In a way, I am grateful he was an overt jerk at the end, because it made me realize he had been a sneaky jerk all along, and it became easier to part ways.
Long have I wondered as to just what compelled my attraction and why I stayed. Of the many people, men and women, I dated, why did, over the years, he take focus? I had other parallel relationships lasting just as long during that single era. I did not realize until I left that relationship that he needed me far more than I needed him. At every juncture, it was him leading us to become closer, adding rules, and threatening to take away things I came to value.
I know in the last year of decline I stayed to work up a confrontation, and to some small degree, find a way to get or fantasize about revenge. Never to be truly harmful, but to exit in a way I could somehow ‘win’. But this was wrong, since every moment I spent investing my energy was energy lost that could be spent elsewhere. By the time that moment came, I realized he was his own worst enemy and I had played the part of a fool.
Where I once saw a man whom I believed to be in mid 30s in the prime of his life, I now know is a man, several years older, and upon the writing, nearly 50 now, viewing what should be his prime as the twilight of life and facing it with fear, bitterness, and cowardice. He is a man who is limited, hiding behind his wealth to claim he is happy all the while in so much pain that he would rather mislead and pollute the lives of others than fix his own problems.
While I had only consciously acknowledged the existence of his wife for just a couple months before my final exit, I felt nothing but compassion for her. In all his ranting, he claimed he was the only one who tried, and he described begging on his knees for forgiveness. The thing is, begging for forgiveness is not the same as doing acts that make someone worthy of the forgiveness, though I recommend to all forgiveness for their own sake.
These days, I think of him occasionally, imagining the closure we couldn’t have had, and remind myself that he is a limited and broken shell of a man, who does not believe he has any options. I do not know her situation, and don’t care except to feel bad for the obvious hell that is sustained, and to feel bad for any future women which he probably already has hurt and deceived. I am just glad to be out of it and hopefully wiser in my relationships. It was very cathartic to vent here, and share my story, even if no one makes it to the end, the process of writing and forming my thoughts makes me feel at ease.
I am now in graduate school at a top tier university and am ascending in a career. I have found a partner who is open, kind, supportive, and compassionate… and the first in a decade to compel me to actually want to be in a real relationship. The reward of intimacy, support, and connection are amazing, and I finally find myself on board with just how rewarding that can be.