Tags: emotional affair, long-term relationship, monogamy
I suppose that was rude of me to not go ahead and just post Chapter 2…
So here we are. We’ve moved in together. A series of strange things have happened that I fail to notice through my Buddhist-colored glasses. I am in love. I think he is the one. I am infatuated. I cannot think of anything else and I could not fathom him ever hurting me.
The majority of the first year was great. We had so many amazing adventures. We spent a lot of time traveling and taking photographs, updating our Flickr accounts religiously. It wasn’t until the end of that year that I started to notice him creating distance in our relationship. He spent long hours on social media, instant messenger, and email. He became closed off and angry if I entered the room while he was on his computer. What was going on? I let it slide. Happy. Carefree. 20.
Over the next few months, it became more and more clear to me that he was hiding something. I tried to converse with him how his behavior made me feel, but he was consistently unwilling to discuss the matter. Instead, he became more closed off and spent longer hours meeting with “friends” at the coffee shop and engrossed in social media. When we spent time together outside the apartment, we would always run into women on the street thrilled to see him. People he later explained were really good friends of his, though he had never once mentioned their names in my presence. When I brought this up, the fact that he had never mentioned them before, he said it was because of his previous girlfriend’s jealousy that he felt he had to hide his female relationships from me. Understandable. We came up with a pact that we would share new friendships with each other, no matter how trivial.
As I began to question everything he said, I finally put two and two together. The condom I found behind his bed – the one that must be old, though it didn’t seem old at all. His ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy. He had slept with her. He had told me they never engaged in anything sexual, but he had slept with her. He had slept with her and then he had slept with me. He had told me they were broken up and that was a lie. No wonder she hated me. He had cheated on her with me. I was the other woman. I was a terrible person with no intention of being so. The condom was still behind his bed. He cheated on her. He might have a child. He had cheated on her and I was a terrible person.
I didn’t tell him I knew. It wasn’t until we were sitting with his parents one evening that his mother let it slip. She asked how her pregnancy was going and if the baby was far enough along to get tested. The Buddhist tensed, believing I was still in the dark. I reacted with nonchalance. He later showed me a picture of the child at age 2, never tested for a paternal match. The little girl had olive skin, haunting green eyes, and a head full of curly hair. Could I live with a man who had lied to someone so profoundly? Could I live with a man who had a child? I stayed with him.
I stayed but things continued to get worse. He was beginning to reveal himself as a fraud through other aspects of his life. As a self-proclaimed Buddhist, he was potentially the most opposite of a Buddhist I had ever met. He used Buddhism as an excuse to collect icons, books, singing bowls… his obsession became incredibly materialistic. He also lied, cheated, didn’t support his potential child, was a glutton for sleep, spent money so frivolously it was as though it would help him achieve nirvana. The only thing he truly followed was vegetarianism.
His cheating behaviors pinnacled our second year of dating. My jealousy became extreme as he became more distant, closed off, and reserved. I had to get information out of him. I did what every insecure person might do – I snuck glances at his phone while he was in the restroom, I booted up his computer in hopes he stayed logged into his email or Myspace. Regrettably, I even created fake Myspace and Facebook accounts I used to contact some of the women he’d been talking to. I tried to seduce them, tried to get information from them, tried to ascertain what their conversations were about or how they might be interacting with him. I bailed quickly on these endeavors, because one day, he finally left his email account up and what I found appalled me.
He had been conversing with a woman six hours away. He was making plans to meet her halfway that weekend, though he hadn’t mentioned to me at all about any plans to go out of town. I needed more information. Later that night, I looked for any sign that he might be headed out of town, that he might have a new friend in his life. Nothing. Nothing until he received several texts while in the bathroom. My heart pounded, hurt, burst, but I grabbed his phone to read the messages. The texts were filled with pet names, sexual innuendo, and excitement for the coming weekend. I texted her back. I simply stated that this was The Buddhist’s girlfriend and I didn’t appreciate her sending such racy texts. I was hoping he had just not revealed that he had a girlfriend and she would back off, but she wrote back and said she’d stop if he would stop sending equally racy messages. He came back from the bathroom. I confessed to what I had done and confronted him with the new information. Instead of fessing up, he drilled me into the ground for invading his privacy. I was the worst girlfriend. I was no better than his ex.
He didn’t meet her that weekend, but they continued to text and message for some time. I gave up and retreated into myself. I was a shell for at least a year of my life. He convinced me that I had somehow brought this upon myself. That my invasion of his privacy made him seek more confident women that were actually on his level. I was no longer a part of his life, though we continued dating and living together. This was the worst feeling in the world.
I finally had a realization when I met a wonderful person. This new person was perhaps not so wonderful, but in comparison with The Buddhist, he was a god. He would help me escape from my prison and build me up to be a strong, confident person again. Unfortunately, I began this relationship by cheating with him. The Buddhist and I no longer felt as though we were together, and because of my still, yet undying love for The Buddhist, I couldn’t break up with him until I knew for sure that any new person was worthy of my love and affection. I had my one and only panic attack when I broke up with The Buddhist. I really thought I was going to marry this guy. Even after all he had put me through. I thought that this was love. In a way it was, because I’ve been too afraid to love since then. I couldn’t breathe.
It still took me a long time to realize The Buddhist was an awful person. He left me brainwashed. I had several people approach me after we broke up; women who told me he had tried to seduce them, tried to kiss them, start relationships. It took me a long time to realize why my tank top I found behind his bed was so crusty, and why it took three washes to get it clean. It took me a long time to realize that his ex-girlfriend of the same name wasn’t actually crazy – it was his behavior that made people that way. And it’s still taking me a long time to regain my sexuality and figure out how to trust in relationships. I’ve had a guard up since 2007, never allowing myself to be fully vulnerable, to love. I don’t know how to let myself love.
An emotional (rather than physical) affair seems to be a recent development in our culture with the rise of the internet and popularity of social media. Below are some links to further reading regarding emotional intimacy and the fine line that distinguishes a budding friendship from an emotional affair.
Do you think it’s possible to cheat on your partner/spouse emotionally? Where do you draw the line? Is it actually somehow worse than a physical affair?