I’ve been The Other Woman. This isn’t something I’m proud of, but it’s not something I’m ashamed of. Love is illogical, and sometimes love happens to good people already in committed relationships, despite the pure intentions of the humans involved.
It happened to me.
“You’re married. Go fuck yourself.”
Until the summer of 2010 this was my standard reaction to any man who came onto me and was wearing a ring.
Then I met “Married Guy.”
Our paths crossed at an event we were both working. The chemistry was instant. As long as I live, I will never forget locking eyes with him through a sea of people. Those eyes will haunt me on my deathbed.
I looked down and saw the ring. My heart broke almost instantly, and I had to choke back tears. The reaction was visceral. I vowed to stay away.
So obviously I had coffee with him that week. He hadn’t even crossed the threshold of my apartment before we were kissing. My efforts to resist him were futile.
He wrote me love poems. He came over to my place and cried, telling me he didn’t know what to do. I was cold and callous. After a lifetime of having to protect my heart, I wasn’t dumb enough to recklessly dive into an affair headfirst. I wouldn’t sleep with him. I ignored him. I mocked his tears and his love sonnets. Still, he persisted.
As much as I mocked him, I found him harder and harder to defy. He saw right through my bullshit “I roll solo, I don’t need anyone” hard-ass persona. He had my number, and it turned me on. Two months into the dance, I surrendered. I fell. And I fell hard. Flat on my face. Harder than I’ve ever fallen in my life.
He made me look in his eyes when we “made love,” a term that still makes me squeamish. I squirmed. I couldn’t handle the intimacy—it was so creepy. Doggy-style was about as intimate as sex had been for me since I left my husband four years before.
I had dated “The Dark Lord” on-and-off, a ruthless motherfucker who loved sushi and hated intimacy. That was fine with me. I didn’t want intimacy. I just wanted great sushi and a better fuck. So I thought.
Married Guy saw into a corner of my heart no one had ever reached. He saw me. Like, in Avatar “I see you.” Eventually, I could look him in the eye. And that’s all we did—we stared at each other. For hours. We’d just lie there and hold one other, gazing longingly into one another’s eyes. It was waaaaay outside my comfort zone, that’s for sure.
I battle anxiety, addiction, panic, grief, self-hatred and self-destructive tendencies on a daily basis. His soul was an oasis in a desert of isolation. Everything made sense in his arms, and nothing else mattered.
I cried, hysterically, every time he left. I was helpless to comfort myself. I felt weak and pathetic and stupid.
I KNEW BETTER THAN THIS.
I SWORE this would never happen to me. Falling in love with a married man was out of the question. Adultery, it was my big “I’ve never.” One of the very few lines in life I had yet to cross. I’ve never been with a married man. I could say that. I was proud to be able to say that.
I did my best to resist the snowball effect. I’ve now come to understand that there are some experiences in life you just have to go through, and some snowballs are destined to mow you over.
Married Guy and I were in regular, daily contact. We texted hundreds of times in a day. He called me constantly. He told me he was crying at home. I found myself falling further and further into a depression I couldn’t seem to escape. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. While he struggled to keep his life intact, my life was falling apart. This was when I realized, no matter how painful it would be to rip the Band-Aid off, the affair had to end. It was killing me.
The exit strategy was brutal. I kept closing the door to Married Guy but didn’t have the strength to keep it shut. I blocked him. And unblocked him. It was as if every time I cracked the door open to see if he was still standing there he jammed his foot in to hold it open for a just minute or two longer. We were consumed with one another.
So what happened with Married Guy? After telling him he was an idiot because his wife was paying the phone bill and she could see everything, he went to the provider and asked to block all the communications from the bill, but before he did that he took a look at the bill. He noticed that he wasn’t the only one calling another number outside the marriage on a regular basis.
Married Guy and his wife were already in marriage counseling at that point, and he accused her of having an affair. He then came out of therapy, over to my house, had sex with me and afterwards, instead of whispering sweet nothings, then bitched to me—HIS MISTRESS—about how his wife could be such a philandering harlot.
I knew it was over. His hypocrisy disgusted me. I found myself defending his wife and labeling him just another classic cheater, even though in my heart I knew it wasn’t that simple. I was finally able to cut him off and tried to move on to some semblance of a normal life.
Will I ever love like that again? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I haven’t yet. We still talk occasionally. And nothing has changed. Not our feelings, nor our circumstances.
I guess we’re star-crossed. It just isn’t meant to be and all that bullshit people say to try to make you feel better when you’re shattered and broken. Like I said, I’m not proud of this part of my life, and many women who have heard this story have laughed and said, “That’s what you get.” Maybe it is. But. I’m not ashamed of this part of my life, either.
From beginning to end the affair only lasted four months, but that time changed my life. Los Angeles had become a prison. I broke out and traveled the world for two years with a broken heart, but I saw the world. Had I not been so uncomfortable, I would never have had those experiences.
He never got caught or came clean, but he was forced to recommit to his marriage on an even deeper level than had we not had our trysts. Truthfully, I think his marriage is better for it, which sometimes happens. At the very least it isn’t any worse than it already was.
I ended up heartbroken and alone, but I had to dig deep and find compassion for myself and everyone involved. I’m human. I make mistakes. I’m pretty sure my life is better for it. Or at least it isn’t any worse than it already was.
In many ways, even though I felt like I was dying inside, I’ve never felt more alive.
Bridget Phetasy is a writer and comic in Los Angeles. Twitter: @bridgetphetasy.