We had known each other casually for about a decade. I knew of some of his life hardships as he knew of mine. And we had a chemistry that was palpable from the start. But timing just wasn't our thing.
Newly separated and still reeling from a devastating breakup, I ran into him one day and it was like there was a glow around him. He looked different to me. He looked right.
“I'm breaking up with my girlfriend tonight,” he told me. “Why?” I asked. “Because I don't love her and we both deserve a chance at real, romantic love,” he said.
We started texting that night and saw each other again within a few days. I was hooked.
He was perfect and charming and wonderful. A lawyer at a prestigious New York law firm and driven in his career, like I was. He was supportive, remembering when big projects were due or I had an important meeting. He danced with me in my living room to Blake Shelton's “Sangria,” my song for him.
Not to mention, the sex was amazing. He got my ice-cold heart to melt and I immediately opened up to him, which I never do. We started seeing each other two to three times a week and texting all day long. I started to see a happy life together and a future – and so did he, from what he said. But that is when the warning signs began.
When you ask for more, he pulls away.
I started asking for more time, more dates. I wanted him to meet my friends so they could meet the man who was making me so incredibly happy. But while he continued texting all day, every day, calling and sending pics, he eased up on seeing me.
His excuses were logical -- he was having a rough time dealing with the estrangement from his kids; it was crunch time for a prestigious case he was working on. Or, the one that hurt the most: He was trying to get over our very significant age difference and needed time to make a decision about moving forward.
And my travel schedule didn't make it any easier. But something in my gut was telling me this wasn't right -- that there was something more than what he was telling me.
You stop feeling like yourself.
I felt crazy, jealous and possessive but talked myself out of it every time. He eased my mind and my heart. I was afraid of losing him, and I knew if I kept acting that way I was going to push him away for good. So I pushed away my feelings instead.
The breakup was like a proposal, except I ended up with a broken heart and without a ring. He told me he loved me but that the age difference was just too much. We made love, telling each other how much we loved each other. It was the most romantic, sweet, sensual sex I had ever had. He stayed and cuddled for an hour and texted when he got home. He begged me to stay friends, but I was hurt and confused and said no.
Your gut tells you something is off.
I almost deleted his number, texts and photos from my phone that night, but something was nagging at me not to do it yet. That this wasn't over with us.
We ran into each other about 10 days later when he told me about this charity thing he was doing. I logged onto his team fundraising page and made a donation. And that's when I found out everything.
I was his sidepiece.
His "logical" excuses aren't so logical.
The woman he told me he was breaking up with almost a year prior was still his girlfriend and had been for almost three years. All of a sudden, everything made sense. All of those “logical” excuses weren't real, he was with her. Every time my anxiety was acting up or I felt uneasy, he was with her. My intuition knew it, but my heart didn't listen.
I confronted him. I sent screenshots of her Facebook profile, photos of them together, friends telling her they make a wonderful couple and asked questions about if he was still seeing her and when he stopped. He denied everything.
He told me she was “an ex who didn't want to be an ex” and they had “kept in touch,” but that he dealt with me “honorably and truthfully.” From any logical person's perspective, that wasn't the case.
While he was in my bed, she was writing on her Facebook profile that she was “happy with [him]” and “he is a good man."
He's quick to turn the blame on you.
I couldn't believe that even with the physical proof I needed to make sense of it all, he denied it and continued to deny it. And then he tried to make it about me. He couldn't love me the way I wanted, he said, and that's why we broke up.
No, asshole, we broke up because I was asking for more and you were scared of getting caught.
I wrestled with what to do next. I confided in a friend and told her everything. I never thought I would have to make the decision to make another human being miserable -- especially since there was, frankly, nothing for me in it -- but at my friend's urging, I decided to call this woman.
“I'd honestly be super nice to her,” my friend said. “She's just as f*cked over as you are. This poor woman honestly thinks she has a good guy. And she has young kids who probably think he's a good guy. I honestly feel sorry for her.”
I found her phone number in a church bulletin (could the sign have been any more clear?) and dialed. I left a voicemail asking for her.
About half an hour later, a woman called me back. I had found the wrong number, but she was a friend of hers and would pass on my information.
“But, can I ask what this is about? Because she is going to ask me,” the woman on the other end said.
I was quiet for a minute. I wasn't sure how to react. Then I realized that if this woman was her friend, it was better coming from her than from me. I spilled the entire thing.
“But they've been together for almost three years,” she said. It started to feel like she was trying to turn me into the villain since I was, in this case, the other woman.
“I don't know what to tell you except that I have texts, photos and voicemails to prove it. I know she has young sons and if it was me planning a life with this man while he was sleeping with and dating someone else for almost a year, I know that I would want to know,” I said.
I told the friend I would be happy to talk to the woman, meet her, anything she needed. We said goodbye and hung up the phone.
His girlfriend never called me. She never responded to the screenshot I sent of him denying their relationship. He reached out that same night and told me that he told her everything.
I don't believe him.