I learned a lot from my failed eight year relationship/six year marriage, and I will never regret how it evolved me. Among the numerous lessons and growing opportunities, I learned that I will never again compete for the affections of my partner against anyone or anything. While I will never be able to prove or disprove a physical affair (not important), I can prove the emotional affair because of the behavioral backlash on the relationship. Both types of affairs are significant, if not more so (for me) being the affair of the heart.
Have you experienced how lonely it feels to be with someone who doesn’t want you? Wanting them… wanting them to want you. Unrequited affection… it’s fucking lonely! And when I look back, I wonder why I tolerated it for so long. If I’m honest with myself, the signs were all there. I was mistaken to forgive and overlook them.
The First Affair – Masturbation.
I am not disparaging or blaming masturbation. Masturbation did not ignore me or neglect me. Masturbation didn’t work for only four hours a day and then jerk off until I got home from my ten hour work days. Masturbation didn’t discourage him from getting a full time job because he would have less time to enjoy himself. Masturbation didn’t absorb into video games or movies during my precious evening time and weekends. Masturbation didn’t push away my frequent advances and requests for affection.
He did that. Those were his actions and decisions. He also mentioned to me that he thinks about me when he does it. Really? How special does that makes me feel? You think about me when you whack off multiple times a day and ignore me completely when I’m home and available and wanting. Huh.
I argued with him about this for years on an off again even though it did get somewhat better over time. He called me controlling and jealous and immature. I called him neglectful and hurtful and selfish. Arguments ended in screaming, door slamming, tears, fists into walls, sleeping on the couch, and even sometimes packing. It nearly ended our relationship several times.
If I had more self-esteem, it would never have gone that far. I wanted to resolve and persevere to prove my adulthood successful after coming from a series of broken childhood homes. I did love him, but I resolved the relationship for the wrong reasons. He was already toxic for me and feeding my low self-esteem with reinforcement.
The Second Affair – The First Love.
For my ex, his first love was not the same as his ex. In fact, they never dated. She was never interested in him. She was his first love though. They ran with the same crowds in high school, and that’s exactly where his adult psyche was stuck. In the stagnant fantasies of high school. This affair was not as conscious for my ex as his first affair had been.
When you get married young, it’s assumed that you eventually will grow, change, and evolve together through the years as a couple. Unresolved childhood damages may be well hidden for years along with any permanent immaturities.
He had always been an aspiring writer. I even allowed him to be a stay-at-home writer for a year to get his work off the ground. He wrote twenty minutes a day, if that, and not every day. He did end up finishing a first draft of a short novel and a script for a short play, however he never pursued publication for anything that he wrote and the drafts were left to gather dust.
Every piece he ever wrote was stuck in this universe called High School. If he did manage to write about adult characters or adult circumstances, the characters would still behave emotionally as if they were in high school. And there was always this one girl he wrote about. Constantly. Always the same girl with different names and faces. Up on a pedestal of perfection and worship. Or am I confusing that with obsession? Sometimes he would tell me that she was me. I found it hard to believe, as I did not have much in common with high school girls even when I was in high school. I would see the same girl over and over appear in his writing, but I could never see my face.
This was completely out of my control and there was nothing to fight against. All I could do was watch it progress. Was this about him not writing about me or not thinking of me as his muse? Absolutely not. This was about him having continued unresolved feelings about this specific girl from his past which just happened to make itself apparent in his writing. It merely put the pieces together of the odd behaviors and seemingly random comments. It was merely showing me his perspective.
When you continue to carry an active and attentive loving relationship all in your mind with a person who doesn’t know they are involved, your mind makes that real for you and it becomes your present. And when you devote time and energy on someone else in your mind, the person standing right in front of you wonders why they aren’t worthy of the same attention.
There was absolutely nothing I could do to fight for attention or affection against a person who didn’t even know she was involved in a romance that had never even happened in the first place. A high school friend of his was also obsessed with conducting an affair in his mind with the same girl from high school. She must have been one hell of a girl to have so many devoted fans. My ex did eventually resolve his feelings and ended his affair in his mind after seeing this friend’s behaviors which were much more exaggerated and quite disturbing due to brain chemical imbalances. My ex saw this play out and found his own perspective and inner peace. He was finally able to let it go and enjoy the present with the person standing right in front of him. For a time.
The Third Affair – The Coworker.
What a joyous day it was when I found him a full time job with benefits. Yes, I found it for him. To his credit, he nailed his interview and got the job. He trained hard, learned well, and moved up. He was proud of himself for his accomplishments. It made him happy. That made me happy seeing him happy. The money wasn’t great, but it was worth it for his happiness. I was so happy for his success and happiness, until he started staying late to “hang out.” And then “hang out” time became longer and longer.
He swears that nothing physical ever happened and I’m actually inclined to believe him. Not because I think he’s that honest of a person, but because of his history and comfort zone of romance being a mind game that he plays with himself as opposed to anything real or physical. Too much danger and vulnerability involved for him in the real deal.
This job required him to work on weekends and evenings. I had my usual day job during the regular business week. Our time together became precious and limited. As time went on, he stayed later and later. When I asked how his day was, he would tell me stories about this one particular coworker who was also married but seemingly unhappily so. She always had a story. She was zany and shocking and loud and opinionated in unpopular and unkind ways. She was also a very pretty woman. Both tall and thin. Her mixed race complexion was stunning. I understood why he was smitten with her. She was everything that I wasn’t. Or at least, that’s how he treated me.
She was also a smoker. He began taking smoke breaks with her constantly. He came home smelling of her perfume and cigarettes. How does a wife not make a comment when her husband comes home smelling like another woman… the same other woman… every single day. Of course, that was an immediate fight. He called me controlling and jealous and immature. I called him neglectful and hurtful and selfish. Arguments ended in screaming, door slamming, tears, fists into walls, sleeping on the couch, and even sometimes packing. It was getting close to the end of the marriage by then, but those are stories for other days.
The final straw for me was on Christmas Eve. His business closed early and we had a mutual friend drop by unexpectedly at the house. I said, my husband should be well on his way home by now since they closed early for the holiday. An hour went by and I started to worry. I called to see where he was and to let him know we had company. It just rang and then went to voicemail. His phone was on, but he wasn’t answering. I started to get concerned and embarrassed at an hour and a half. At two hours, I had a panic attack. At three, he finally showed up at home. The mutual friend saw that I was okay and promptly left after giving him an earful about communication and respect.
His story was that he left his phone at his desk and got caught up in the parking lot for three hours just hanging out with the holiday interns (all high school and college girls). I asked why he couldn’t simply call to tell me this by borrowing one of their phones and telling me that he’d be home late. How dare I suggest such a thing… I won’t bore you with the details of the fight, but it was obviously a big one. I had lost all respect for him at that point. This was just emotionally the last straw for me.
Someone once told me that you are treated the way you allow yourself to be treated. My ex obviously had many redeeming qualities or else I wouldn’t have fallen for him in the first place or tried to make it work with him for eight years. No one is all good or all bad. However, I take responsibility for allowing any of this to happen to me in the first place. I learned many things about myself during this relationship including self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth. This story is merely highlighting the feelings of neglect and betrayal I had in the relationship and how it evolved and escalated to situations that I absolutely would not tolerate even with self-esteem issues. This is not an attack on him. This is all a reflection of me. I tolerated. I silently hurt. I forgave. I saw patterns and didn’t put my foot down. Things escalated. The rest is history.
What I am today is someone who will not tolerate being treated this way ever again. A love affair with a fear of intimacy, a love affair clinging to the fantasy of another person, or a love affair (be it intellectual, emotional, or physical) with another person, I won’t allow those in my life. I’m not saying these infatuations are bad for other people, but in my situation being in a committed relationship where I give my romantic attention only to my partner, this is entirely toxic to me.
I’m not out to force someone to love or respect me. If you pursue my partner, I will lose respect and trust for you. If my partner allows to be pursued or pursues another, then I will lose respect, trust, and love for my partner and the relationship will be over. I deserve a relationship of equals. I’m on this plane of existence. If I don’t jive with yours, then it’s not meant to be. Find someone you are compatible with. It’s only fair for all involved.
I will not compete for the affections of my partner. And, likewise, my partner will never have to compete for mine.