Tags: emotional affair, long-term relationship, monogamy
Where do I even begin? …This is the story of the one and only relationship that destroyed me during and in the years to follow. The only relationship that taught me not to trust. Taught me to envelop myself in insecurities. Taught me to give without reciprocity. Gave me a stomachache, headache, and heartache for three years. This is the story of the only time I have ever allowed myself to love someone – I haven’t been able to give myself the same way since.
I met him online (Myspace, to be exact) through mutual interests. He reached out to me and I felt he was genuinely curious about me as a person. He lived an hour away, not a huge obstacle as we both owned cars and had a strong desire to meet new people. I was attending a community college and he had a full-time job. I was 19 and he 26. I was thrilled to be connected to a smart and sexy, older man who opened up a world of music, art, literature, and spirituality. He played bass in a well-established band, had published poetry, and made incredible expressionist paintings. Like myself, he was a vegetarian. I had to meet this person.
The first time we met, I drove to his house. I stood at his front door with wild anticipation and trepidation; these types of encounters were what my overprotective mother warned me about. I didn’t know this person other than our emails, late night phone calls, and conversations of a few months, but I truly believed this was the most beautiful person I would ever meet.
I knocked, my stomach crawling up my esophagus with sharpened claws. A few shallow breaths and he answered the door. Olive skin, dark curls, green eyes. Out of shyness, his hand covered his face, his brilliant white teeth. I hugged him. Did I hug him? I stepped into the warmth of his living room and breathed deep his essence, his smell, his atmosphere. He was beautiful.
I don’t remember the rest of that day, but over the course of a few months, we became closer and closer. He was dating a girl and at this time, he and I were just friends. I had a long-distance relationship of my own – splitting ways as we both left for college. This new person, though… he never left my thoughts. So enchanting, captivating, saying all the right things. I wanted to consume everything in his world.
Eventually it was clear that we needed to be together. We had talked about this and both agreed we would break off our current relationships and pursue this magical connection cultivating between us. I remember the night I broke up with my long-distance boyfriend. It was so difficult. I was in tears with sadness and simultaneous hope for the future. I called my new love and told him the news. Asked him, “Will you be my boyfriend?” Little did I know, I broke up with a person I still dream about to this day in exchange for a man that made my life a living nightmare.
Shortly after we began dating, he developed an interest in Buddhism following the teachings of Thich Nhat Han; practicing meditation and trying to live more aware and in the moment. I supported him through this and became interested in certain aspects of the religion myself. For this reason (though later debunked) we will call him The Buddhist.
For ethical reasons, I refused to make any physical advances toward The Buddhist until he had broken up with his current girlfriend. This was hard (I was very young), but I had met her and respected these conventional boundaries. When he told me they had broken up, I was pleased that we could start our life together. His previous relationship had been so short, they had never even engaged in sexual activities. I believed that when he met me, his feelings were as strong as mine – that this connection between us was truly special and we knew, somehow, that we were meant to conquer the world.
Upon graduating with an Associate’s degree that spring, I moved to his city to attend the local university. At the time, I was convinced it was for the great teaching program, though I’m sure subconsciously I planned to move there the day I met him. We moved in together immediately to save on rent and get him away from his newly married roommates. Though my parents disapproved, they helped me move, throwing in statements of caution when they could pry me away from my new infatuation.
Several months into the relationship and everything is going great. I felt so good with this person. Everything clicked. We spent a lot of time at the local coffee shop, him reading and me engaged with my studies. Though we hadn’t heard from her in months, one afternoon his ex-girlfriend appeared and demanded a conversation with him without my presence. She never really liked me; completely understandable. They spoke a few feet away in hushed tones. I couldn’t figure out what would be so important, but let my thoughts slip away in a true Buddhist fashion. When he returned to the table, he said she was moving away and that she was having a baby with her new boyfriend. He left it at that with no further discussion.
There were other things that stuck in my mind that summer, but I also let these thoughts float back into my subconscious. Like his stories of his ex-ex-girlfriend; a girl of the same name as I, whom he had dated for over seven years. I assumed he talked about her a lot because of the name overlap. He painted a verbal portrait of her as a crazy person, telling times of when she kicked him in the shin for no apparent reason and her extreme bouts of jealousy. I vowed to never treat him this way.
There was also the fact that when I lived an hour away, it took several months before he came to visit me at my apartment. I always made the trek up to his place, though I was the one in school full-time and working. Looking back now, I realize this relationship was all take on his part. All he gave me was deceit.
I can’t believe the things I did for him. Before we moved in together, I would spend the days he was at work waiting for him in his room. I would take care of his chores, walk the roommates’ dog, make him small gifts. One time I spent the whole day cleaning his room. I loved it because I was doing him a favor, but also I liked to learn about people through their things and their messes. I should have learned a lot more that day than I recognized, because I found two things behind his bed: 1. one of my tank tops (Didn’t even know it was missing. Curious.) 2. a used condom (How old was this? The Buddhist and I had never used a condom.) We’ll return to these items later…
Read “The Cheat: Chapter 2” HERE!