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People are obsessed with home-wrecking. Gossip blogs are ripe with stories about home-wreckers. I’ve definitely held my own part in the interest of celebrity dalliances.
But chemistry is a tricky bugger. When does following your heart become the wrong choice?
What follows is my own story of infidelity. A sordid affair of epic proportions. Only, not really. Can I be considered a home-wrecker if no home was wrecked? The man in question is married to a seemingly blissful wife who has no idea.
At this point I must clarify, if only for my own screeching ego, I never dallied while he was married. I can’t say the same for the engagement.
It all started innocently enough. A neighbor of a friend and an overly forward man, Ben was quick to show his interest. Flattered and embarrassed, I decided to indulge. I always realized that an overly forward man with me would be an overly forward man with anyone and concluded that we would keep it casual.
Sexually we moved quickly because, frankly, that’s my comfort zone. (And, really, what else happens if you’re planning on keeping it casual?) I remember thinking this would burn fast and bright and it’d be over before I knew it. Little did I know how wrong I would be.
Fast forward five years later to me watching a video of Ben and his new wife extolling the virtues of their love. I woke up one morning a month after their wedding date and spent more than an hour inappropriately searching the Internet for documentation. The prize of my findings being the engagement video obviously shown at their wedding that explained a timeline of their love. One that I knew, but only from a different angle.
I never cried. I didn’t wonder why it wasn’t me holding hands strolling through the flowers in obviously choreographed scenarios. (Though, that was a question I had asked myself many times -- and even him, once or twice.)
It was strangely intoxicating watching them describe their first date and how he proposed. All I could think was how we had been in his bed together a few months earlier while he told me he was “probably going to be engaged soon” with more fear and confusion than any man making that decision should have.
But I suppose that’s why I was there in the first place. I had become an escape for him many years earlier; a way for him to forget all responsibility and have fun without consequences -- a libidinous Peter Pan.
In many ways, he had become an escape for me, too. I needed him for reasons that were different than his, but played his game nonetheless. He made me feel irresistible and I felt almost powerless to our connection.
But that’s the thing, neither of us was powerless. We, both parties, are responsible for what happened between us, but rationalized away what we could by saying chemistry was to blame.
It was difficult to be honest with Ben, mostly because I was barely honest with myself. I was fond of convincing myself that I didn’t have feelings, that I didn’t want more. That I was, in fact, the fun, breezy girl he imagined me to be.
Telling him that I wanted more than late-night texts and sporadic rendezvous would require me to admit I actually did want those things. And from him.
To be honest with him in that manner would have required an intimacy I wasn’t ready to give. It took me a long time to realize that I pushed him away first. I created the pattern.
We could go months without any contact. Sometimes I’d get in touch first, sometimes he would. I can only guess at the impetus for his contact, but I learned very quickly when I wanted to see him most. If I felt invisible or unwanted, the fast-track to feeling fantastic was getting in touch with Ben. He always seemed excited to hear from me, if he responded.
I realized a non-response probably meant he was with her and I’d push past the sickening feeling in my stomach. More often than not I’d hear back from him in a day or two, as if no time had passed since my previous text, and we’d have raging text marathons that more than bordered on the edge of obscene. I loved every minute of it.
In fact, it’s one of the things I miss most. Every time we’d see each other, we’d pretend it was the last. I think it made it easier. That way each individual encounter was a temporary slip-up, not be a string of events constituting an affair.
Honestly, it always felt wrong. I never breezily discounted her feelings. I thought about how I’d feel on the other side. I don’t know how many times I said I should have my Girls‘ Card taken away from me (whatever that means, it made me feel repentant).
Obviously none of that really matters, becasue I went through with it anyway. Every time. And, truth be told, it only made it more illicit and exciting. The idea that he couldn’t stop thinking about me, no matter how hard he tried, was like crack. Not only was I wanted, but I was wanted when it was SO WRONG to do so.
I liked the push and pull, the drama of making the decision, the way I’d make him talk me into it even though I had already decided yes in my head.
He, on the other hand, seemed cool, calm, and collected, like there wasn’t even a decision to make. “There is history here. I met you way before her, remember?” he’d tell me.
The last time we saw each other I can’t tell you how many times I told him we weren’t going to have sex (looking back I realize that saying no was only part of our foreplay).
I remember saying that a ring was involved now and that changed everything. He said there was no ring on his finger.
A month and a half later he was married.
Part of me really hopes he was right when he told me once a ring was on his finger he was done. Part of me dreads the day he’ll show up at my door.
Even greater, a part of me hopes he shows up, but that I have the strength to tell him to go back to his wife.