It started off innocently enough. One night after hitting up a few bars in celebration of a friend’s birthday, I saw that I had a message from C. I met him when I studied abroad a few years back and haven’t really talked to him since. I thought it was odd as this message came out of nowhere but it seemed harmless, asking to hang out.
But wait, I live on one coast while he’s on the other...Okay, he must be drunk. He admits that he is when I ask and after a bit of back and forth came his confession: "I had a massive crush on you when we were in Japan." Why is he telling me this now? It’s a little strange, but I continue talking until it becomes rather late on my side of the country and I say good night.
Fast forward two days later and I message him under the pretense that he will now be sober. He says he still stands by everything he said, though he apologizes for being drunk while saying it. Then he invites me to see him yet again, I mention I am too broke to afford such an outing, and he tells me paying for a trip to his city is the least he can do for me.
Did a guy I haven’t seen/talked to in over three years just offer to pay for me to see him?
Yes, yes he did and after logistics were discussed I had myself a ticket. I was ecstatic, I was excited, and I had never visited the West Coast before. When I looked up the flight details to add my frequent flyer information to the ticket I saw it cost him probably double what it should have (last minute booking + holiday weekend=$$$). WHOA WHOA hold up what?! My friends and I were all shocked that he willingly spend so much on someone he wasn’t dating but they hoped for the best for me.
Up until the trip we talked, he planned things for us to do and I found myself starting to like him. He told me he’d take this opportunity to actually make a move on me unlike before. It really seemed to me that he was trying to sweep me off my feet with all his preparations.
I finally get there, and everything is great, and conversation came naturally, I didn’t sleep on the couch, and the plans he made for us were a lot of fun. But all the while I was a bit suspicious. My pre-departure social media stalking told me he had had a girlfriend, A, at some point. But I hadn’t seen anything with the two of them too recently, his page said nothing about his relationship status and people in relationships don’t fork over that much money to fly in past crushes, right? As you can probably guess I was wrong about that last question.
I saw signs of her in the apartment, but I dismissed my thoughts until I was told that she (he talked about her as a friend) was out of town for a bit visiting family. I found her absence too convenient. I found absolute proof via a method that he would call a flagrant violation of his privacy. As a utilizer of autofill, I was able to see his profile as he sees it when I borrowed his computer, relationship status and all.
The initial conversation went like this:
[He had been taking a nap, I turned on the lights] “C, wake up.”
“Why did you invite me here if you’re in a relationship with A and live with her?”
“....We have an open relationship.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Would you have still come?”
I walked out of his/their bedroom.
His apologies were always coupled with qualifiers and excuses, "I’m sorry, but I meant everything that I said" (regarding liking me, etc). "I’m sorry, but I would have told you if you had asked."
What I wanted him to say was “I’m sorry, I didn’t tell you because I was being selfish, wanted to see you, and thought you wouldn’t come if I had told you of my relationship beforehand.” Instead it was as though he knew what to say and what I wanted to hear but didn’t believe what he was saying himself hence the excuses. He was sorry he was caught, not for the pain it caused.
After my anger and the panic-induced adrenaline subsided we started talking more easily. He was candidly answering my questions concerning the relationship that I had become an unwilling participant in. When it started, why, who. His girlfriend A was told I was there but not that he paid for me, I’m not sure if she thinks I was just a friend visiting.
He said A is the type that doesn’t want to know the details about his outside relationships/excursions. I also learned he and A have a female third that they date both together and individually. They all date outside of the triad as well (although relations with their fourths? fifths? typically did not end well). What the hell did I get myself into?
The conversation turns from my questions into something more natural, the wine we had started drinking was taking effect. In all honesty the trip itself ended well despite the deception. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I was trying to focus on how great the trip had been otherwise.
It wasn’t until a few days after my return that the gravity of the situation hit me. I recounted my story to too many people because I had told too many people beforehand in my excitement, all of my friends had the same reaction of disbelief.
I kept finding myself wanting to talk to him, and knowing there was nothing to gain from it, I was getting sadder and more upset at myself by the moment. A bottle of wine contributed to my breakdown and I found myself ugly-crying, drunk/mad texting him in a sports bar with friends that were unsure of the protocol in my situation.
Nothing good came out of this alcohol-induced emotionally-charged exchange. Now we don’t talk. Lovely.
Although my models of open relationships or polyamory are not extensive, consisting of this relationship as described to me, "The Ethical Slut," and random internet forum readings, I would hope my situation is not the norm. I would imagine that full disclosure early on is a more common approach than misrepresenting yourself with the hope of not getting found out, regardless of how short term the relationship will be.
But unfortunately for me, most of the success stories I’ve found have come from the couple themselves, not their additional partners. I’m not sure what that means for the satisfaction of the non-primary partners.
At the end of the day, if he had told me, the purpose/outcome of my trip would have been clear. Sure, beforehand I would have hesitated, a lot, I might have not gone at all or at least have missed the open window of A being away. But like a friend lovingly told me while I was going through a period of self-pitying: he remembered YOU after all that time and flew you out because he remembered and thought of you. You had to have left quite an impression on the guy at the end of the day.
So here’s to hoping this here was just a fluke.