Being a dating and relationship blogger, when it comes to matters of the heart, it is fair to say that very little shocks me. I speak to single people every day about the perils, misadventures and peculiarities of the dating game and as yet, you’ll rarely find me open-mouthed, ahem.
However, yesterday I was chatting to a man. He was successful, very attractive, generous, good fun and educated – a person one might describe as the ‘whole’ package. He was also in his mid 40’s and, as yet, unmarried and without children. This wasn’t what shocked me – quite the opposite – it is not uncommon these days to reach mid-life and be single. Nothing grates me like the dreaded phrase ‘why are you single?’ suggesting that it’s not a choice but an unfortunate position inflicted on a person due to their social incompetence or inability to hold down a relationship. News flash – some people choose to be single and enjoy it very much, thanking you kindly. So, as we were, yesterday I was chatting to a man who was just that. However the subject did arise of relationships and the lack there of. His reason for being single? He’d just spent the last 13 years having an affair with a married woman.
Yes, this shocked me.
Why did it shock me? Because it surprised me that a highly eligible man would choose to invest so much time with a person who treated him as second fiddle. 13 months maybe, a bit of fun with no strings attached but 13 years of sneaking around, waiting for phone calls, cherishing snatched moments, how can anyone possibly come out the other side of that sane? I had a relationship with a man who travelled a lot, that made me climb the walls with frustration and he wasn’t even sleeping in somebody else’s bed every night, to my knowledge at least.
I was taken back too by his defensiveness towards her. Apparently she had no real relationship with her husband and didn’t even sleep in the same bed as him. Oh! Of course, silly me, she stayed for the kids right? But her heart was with you all along, tsk, my bad. Except when push came to shove she still didn’t leave, instead she carried on lying to her husband, her children and treating her bit on the side like, for want of a better phrase, absolute shit. So she had her cake and ate it, he had 13 years down the proverbial plug hole. Sounds like a fair deal to me.
I don’t know the man well and some might say, having not met the adulterer in question, I can’t comment on their relationship or love for one another. That would be fair, no two relationships are the same and it’s unlike me to generalise. However there is one thing I will generalise about and this is it.
If you’ve been having an affair for 13 years then you’re a mug and they’re an arsehole.
You see here’s the thing, it’s not the affair per se I have an issue with, I’ll be the first to admit in the past I’ve had flings with people I shouldn’t have, thought little about the consequences and enjoyed the thrill of illicit sex and stolen moments. No, it’s they length of time that confuses me. 13 years of cheating!? If nothing else I admire her stamina for pretence and deceit.
Affairs are a fact of life, I’ll give you that much, fanciful and exciting but also hurtful and destructive. To my mind, they can be fun for a time and then they become boring – boring because there are only so many hours you can stare at a phone and because the longer a cheater cheats and a liar lies the less respect you have for them. The novelty wears off as does the deluded fantasy that one day you might be together. It’s a glamorous way of emotional self harming, you might not be taking a knife to your arm but you’re repeatedly allowing somebody else to mug you off, remind you that you’re not quite good enough and that the best you deserve is four hours a week out of public eye.
You’ve kind of got to question a person that encourages this ‘self harming’ – funny kind of love wouldn’t you say.
If you must have an affair then, for God’s sake, take the rose-tinted spectacles off. They’re using you for sex, fun, fallback but don’t love you enough to leave the situation they are in. You can buy the separate bed bullshit all you like but, at the end of the day, they’re treating you like a cunt and rightly so, given that you’re positively encouraging them to do so by putting up with the sorry excuse of a relationship they drip feed you with. Why the hell would they burn their bridges after all, when they can have a bit on the side and the facade of a solid marriage.
I was sad for the man in question, not because he wasted time, heaven knows, I’ve wasted enough myself with hopeless men, but that he was deluded enough to defend her to the bitter end and that he still couldn’t recognise that a person who holds you back from real love with somebody else so that they can dip in and out of your life when it suits them, is spineless and selfish.
I don’t know every detail of their situation but I know this much – if you’re going to have an affair keep your options open and your heart closed. Don’t kid yourself that it’s on your terms (it’s not and never will be for as long as you are a secret) and the only reason there is for them not being with you properly is that really, they just don’t want to that much.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow but then so is 13 years of being thrown scraps of affection and pie crust promises by someone who hasn’t got the balls to be honest and then leaves you in the end anyway. I know what I’d rather eat.