It’s been nearly a year since our last blog post. Believe it or not, it’s tough to keep up with both a blog and a podcast while you’re working another full-time job. If you’ve been following the show, you know that a lot has changed. Disclaimer: This isn’t exactly a short story, and I’m not nearly as snarky as I usually am:
There are endless topics to cover when it comes to relationships, and “cheating” has been on the list for quite some time. We’ve touched on it, but we’ve never discussed it at length. I found myself inspired to put together an outline this weekend. After all, it’s a heavy topic and there is a lot to unwrap, as we say. I started my usual preparation ritual of Google searches. I found article after article on catching cheaters, whether or not to stay with them, and common personality traits of cheaters, but very few stories about what it’s like to be the infamous “other” person.
I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, most people don’t really care about the side chick/dude. If they’re aware the person is in a relationship, no way are they going to let their secret out. That person is usually made out to be some sort of vicious trollop; malicious and in it to destroy monogamy. I’ll admit, when I was the one being cheated on, I didn’t think very highly about the other girl… but that’s a story for another day. The fact is, not every side person is vindictive. Some of them were lied to, they didn’t know what they’d gotten themselves into, and some of them never even find out.
I said I’d give him a heads-up next time I mentioned him on this platform, and I’ll apologize to anyone who thinks I’m a bitter, shitty person for telling my story, but I won’t apologize to him for this. After all, it’s no secret who “All Too Well” is about; and while I’m no Taylor Swift, she’s not the only one who finds herself inspired by disappointing, dissolved relationships. So if what we had is now tainted, if I can’t think back on him fondly, hopefully I can at least create something lovely and if one person can relate, that’s even better.
I’ve told the first part of our story before on the podcast, but it’s funny how, as you get further and further away from the relationship, you see it more and more clearly. I’d already accepted the fact that I was his pandemic crutch; just some girl to keep him company as we waited for the world to return to “normal,” but I still fell for him.
Maybe I was delusional, thinking there could be a future with him. Maybe the signs were all there. But he was sweet, and he was caring, and he treated me with respect. It was easy, even when it got spicy. When it finally ended and I was heartbroken, he still found a way to soften the blow. He came over and we had dinner and talked… closure… I’m not used to that. I had a hard time talking about it, I didn’t want to hear that he was an asshole. To me, he was still a great guy, we simply weren’t the match. But I didn’t really get a chance, did I?
He said when I was ready, he would want to be friends. We tearfully kissed goodbye, and I locked the door behind him. Once I felt like I’d taken the time I needed to grieve and I decided I was okay-enough to be friends, I told him the most important thing is honesty. That the only way we could make platonic friends work, was if we are both fully transparent and let the other know that we’re seeing someone of significance. Of course I knew that would hurt at first, but I wanted him to be happy. It hurts so much more to find out too late.
I shouldn’t have been so shocked that our “friendship” turned out to be one-sided. I decided it was time to call it off, I was sick of pretending and even more sick of trying. I let him know that there were no hard feelings about it (we didn’t even have to be friends in the first place) but I couldn’t be the only one trying to maintain a friendship.
I hit send and to be honest, I didn’t really expect much, if anything. Maybe something short, a quick acknowledgement, like he’s sorry to hear that and have a nice life. I certainly didn’t expect him to come back fighting for me to stay in his life. Not after weeks of flakiness. But he did. He sent paragraphs of excuses to why he was distant, telling me he was just “so busy” he was barely keeping up with his own family. Well, we’re all busy, and I’m a firm believer that you invest in the relationships you want to keep. He wasn’t investing in me and that was fine, but I wasn’t going to fake the friendship. I had his house key from when I’d checked in on his cat while he was out of town, so I told him I’d stick it in an envelope and mail it to him. He asked if he could come over to pick it up, even “if it might be the last time” we ever see each other. I finally agreed and he came to my apartment after work.
I told him he could come inside; I’m not a monster. We caught up on his trip, my prep to move, and talked about why I couldn’t be friends. I told him it’s not just because it’s one-sided. Sure, that’s the majority of it, but sitting on my kitchen floor, I confessed that I’m still attracted to him. If he wanted to hook up, I’m not sure I could say no. I’m not sure I’d want to.
I admitted I was jealous: I saw a picture of him from Mexico, at some gorgeous scenic outlook, with his arm around another girl. When I’d tried to share a photo of him, he’d asked me to take it down (even though I’d asked if I could before posting), so I was mad that this girl could share a photo with him when I couldn’t. He sat on my couch and I looked him in the eyes and asked if they were together. He told me no, and I had no reason to not believe they weren’t just friends. It was a group trip, after all, that had to be different. While we were on the topic, I asked casually if he had actually gone out with anyone. He admitted he’d gone out with one girl a couple of times, but he wasn’t into her and it didn’t go anywhere. As far as I knew, he was as single as I was.
He brought up my attraction to him several more times, and I admitted I hadn’t even hooked up with anyone since the last time we’d been together. Apparently, this is shocking news. He told me he would still be down to hook up with me, let’s break this dry spell of my own volition.
I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea at the time (actually, I knew it wasn’t), but I knew it was something that I just needed to get out of my system. Maybe that’s how it was for him, too. Okay, fine, we both want it so let’s hook up but moving forward, we have to stop pretending we’re real friends. Besides, I’m leaving in a few months and the main reason I’m not dating is because I don’t see the point of investing in something so short-term. At least with him, I’m comfortable and I know what to expect. At least I can trust him.
I won’t go into detail about what happened from there, but as good as I thought it was, it ended quite awkwardly. It was getting late, he had to call his dad (who he’d allegedly been flaking on too), and neither one of us expected the evening to go that way. I had no idea there was another reason why he left so quickly.
And so it goes… knowing what I know now, admitting how much I initiated makes me sick to my stomach. About a week later, I’d decided that if he was open to it, I could handle hooking up with him from time to time. He told me he felt guilty but he eluded to it being because he thought he’d hurt me. He agreed, we could do a FWB situation. Even though we weren’t physical after that, I personally believe that there is so much more to infidelity than just sex. We’d flirt, make plans to hook up, he’d bail, and here we were with the flakiness yet again. Here I was with considerably less patience.
I’d reached my breaking point after an entire afternoon of sexting. I was packing and downsizing my mess of a closet, I didn’t know that he was watching “the game.” We tried to make plans to link up and he sent, what I can only describe as slurring, but in text form. He didn’t admit it then, but I knew he was drunk. It was a tough loss, he wanted to recharge before hooking up, which I hastily agreed to. Yes, please, sober up. You should know by now that your drunk self is a trigger for me.
I didn’t expect much after that, and the hours ticked on. I put my frustrated energy into moving prep and honestly, I was pretty damn productive. It was getting late, and I had a weekend shift for work the following morning. I’d given up on him at that point and sat on my bed, crying. One final message: I’m going to bed (I couldn’t help it, following up is just in my nature as a salesperson).
It was like Jekyll and Hyde after that and I was in complete shock. He’d never spoken to me like that before and I felt so incredibly disrespected. Out of nowhere, he was talking to me like I was his side chick and should be at his beckon call. Suddenly, he was just like every other f*ck boi who thinks he’s irresistible.
Excuses, again: I was drunk, I’m ready now, please still come over. I have pizza!
Nope, lost my appetite. I’m still going to bed.
It wasn’t a secret that I’d backslid; I’ve even mentioned it on the podcast, but I dealt with the pain by myself that night. I was too embarrassed to tell my friends and I hate bothering people when they’re out having fun, it was a Saturday night, after all. So I sat in my bedroom while my cats tried to comfort me. This was it… finally! Nails in the coffin, I was so hurt and so angry, I knew I’d finally be able to fully let go.
The following morning, I drafted a message to him that I planned to send when I got off work. I had to focus, so he’d have to wait. I was going to tell him that this whole thing was a mistake. He couldn’t be a part of my life anymore, but he beat me to the punch.
He’s been nothing but the King of Excuses since we broke up and I cannot stop kicking myself for believing any of them. Of all the excuses he threw at me – work, tired, plans, whatever – not one of them was “I’m seeing someone I really like.” Not one. The irony is that’s the one that would have guaranteed I leave him alone for real. I wouldn’t get in the way of that, I wanted him to be happy and to find what he’s looking for. As far as I knew, he was just being a flake, and if I’m being honest, he’d always had a bit of a flaky tendency.
He tried calling, I’ll give him that (sort of) but I was working and had to send him to voicemail. He finally sent me a text and of all the messages I thought he might send, this was the least expected. He was seeing someone he really liked and we should just be platonic friends. I guess at this point, he’d used every other excuse enough to make it meaningless. So he dropped that bomb and then immediately blocked my number… and all four of my Instagram accounts. Harsh.
I was flabbergasted, I’d never expected such dishonesty from him. He was a good guy, arguably the best guy, that I’d ever dated. He had so many opportunities to tell me that this was something he didn’t want. I’m glad I was working (partly because it gave me something else to focus on but also) because I was reminded I have another phone line. He agreed to unblock my cell and talk. I guess at the very least, he’s been good about trying to give me closure or letting me say what I need to.
I sat cross-legged on my coffee table while I tried to sort out what the hell had just happened. He said he liked the attention I gave him and he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to hurt me. I felt my stomach drop (again) as he told me they were exclusively seeing each other through all of my bullshit. I fought back tears; he broke my heart again, this time because he wasn’t the person I thought I’d gotten to know over the past year. I told him I still loved him one last time and cried selfishly as I hung up the phone and immediately called my friends and explained what had just happened. “Please just don’t tell me ‘I told you so.’”
In our last session, my therapist suggested there was something I wasn’t letting go of, a final something that I hadn’t let go of. Deep down, I knew he was right. It was difficult for me since our break up was amicable, the relationship wasn’t toxic, and I respected him. I didn’t think my final stage of grief, anger, would come to a head a mere 36 hours after that conversation. I need to know why I still feel love for him after everything. I need to know if I’m just sabotaging myself (and how to stop), so I asked to push our next session up from two weeks to tomorrow.
My last words to him were “tell her I’m sorry,” before blocking his number for myself. I want to apologize to her with all my heart, but I’m not sure if reaching out would be selfish, just to ease some of my own guilt. Would she even want to hear from me? I probably wouldn’t want to hear my story if I were in her shoes, I’m sure I’ve done enough damage already. If he were anyone else, I wouldn’t have believed that he even told her, and I’d reach out for myself. What is it about him, that in spite of everything, I still find myself taking him at his word?
I’ll be back to my usual humor and sarcasm by the next time we record, but sitting in my living room with my wine, candles, sage, and a kitten curled up next to me, this is my confession; I’m sorry. I hope he’s hurt me more than you with this whole affair and that maybe you can forgive him. I hope it’s still early enough to work. I hope this is a bigger deal to me than it is to you.
At least we have Red (Taylor’s Version).