An Affair. And Being The Other Woman – By Raeanne
Editor’s Note: This is a recounting of a young woman’s affair with an older man, and what it’s like to be the Other Woman. In sharing this story with me, she told me, “The only thing that broke and saved me was hearing other women’s stories. Hearing that I wasn’t crazy, that I wasn’t the only one.” It’s a hard truth, but affairs will weave themselves to make you feel like you are a special case, but in actuality, they are cookie cutter. In all the love in the world, I ask you to find yourself somewhere in this story. Give yourself grace, and then find the strength to fight for The Best. You are not ruined, you are not alone, and The Best is attainable. And so worth it. – Lauren
I wore the mask for a while. Except instead of covering what was underneath, it exposed the ugliness and desperation inside.
It was innocent at first. He complimented me. I began to notice him. The compliments began their slow turn into minor harassment. I never acknowledged it because I secretly craved the attention, deciding to dismiss it as regular work banter. The tension mounted between us, turning into an ugly distraction from my job. Yet I thought about him often, as unhealthy as it was. I tried to ignore him. I ignored his undressing stares, his enticing eyes, his remarks about my beauty. The more I denied my attraction to him, the stronger it grew. It left me overwhelmed, confused, and ashamed because I was dating a man who I loved completely. How could I love my boyfriend and have such a strong pull towards someone else? Someone who was fifteen years older, married, and a father of two beautiful girls.
That tension between us grew over the course of the year. He continued to ask me out, I repeatedly refused. He kept reassuring me it was just a meal, innocent, and that his wife would know. I refused. I even took some time off, but when I returned to work the heat between us had escalated. He and I became the dump for each other’s garbage. He’d complain about his rocky marriage, I’d complain about my dissatisfactions with this life.
Then, the relationship with the man I loved ended.
One night soon after he invited me out with a friend. I somehow convinced myself it would be okay to go. And it was. We sat at a bar. We talked about ourselves. Two unhappy people enjoying simple bonding, right? Maybe he did just want to me by friend. Maybe he wasn’t trying to just sleep with me.
The lies started. My lies. I began inviting him out. Our conversations quickly became about the sexual tension we had felt over the past year. He said things like, “I always think about you.” That, “You made a man who others claim has ice in his veins quiver with nerves.” And my beauty, my smile, made him unsure of his surroundings. These words shook me. How could this be happening? I wanted him more with every sentence that rolled off his tongue. I fell for every word, every pause, every breath. Oh, how he was so enticing. I was needed. I was wanted. I was desired. He touched me, kissed me, in all the right ways.
We continued like this for weeks. Feeling progressively guilty, I tried to end it. Ending it was impossible. He was brilliant. He made me believe I was special to him; that he cared about only me. That he didn’t belong to his wife. He needed me. He’d criticize then affirm. I began thinking this was entirely my fault. But he had me convinced I was in charge. I was the one leading him to the dance floor. I wanted him to make him feel better, to fix him, to help him. So I began spinning my own lies. I believed that I owed him myself. He’d thank me for brightening his life, for giving him hope. I made his life better. I fixed him.
Whenever I backed off he grew angry and heated. It was easier to lie to him and myself than acknowledge the extent of the damage being caused. So I became his lover. I seduced him with lies. I made him believe my eyes, my hands, my body. I knew everything he did was a lie, which made my lies so much easier to spin. He lied to me, and in order to stay in his world, I was forced to lie back. And I not only began believing his lies, but mine as well. They were so interconnected it was difficult to know what was real.
I started avoiding friends. He and I would meet for lunch, then again after work. If he asked me out at 1a.m. I’d went. He’d find secluded places to park his truck. The first time I slept with him was in his truck parked just around the corner from his wife and daughters. I felt fucked. No love, no caring, no real affection. He said the most demeaning things to me. But I told myself I couldn’t be mad at him because it was my fault. I needed his attention; it was a type of drug. I wanted him gone, but every time I thought about ending it, I knew he’d convince me I was heartless.
I was numb. I was apathetic. I felt nothing. When you build your own reality it becomes devoid of true emotions. My only emotions were fake.
I noticed a change in how my mind processed reality. I felt split in two. There was myself; the real self which wanted nothing to do with this dark situation I was in. But then there was the created self which begged for more. Both realities could not co-exist. I could tell myself to accept both, to live in both, but when I asked my friends to live in both along with me, it became impossible.
I knew I had to tell the people closest to me what was going on if I wanted any chance at destroying my world I created. I had to make every effort not to lie to them. Once my friends knew, I regretted telling them because I had to work harder to hide my late night escapes. I enjoyed the game of dodging them. It was more exciting. More dangerous. It made the affair I was in that much more enticing.
While my false reality was flourishing, my real self was dying. The only thing that made me feel alive was the comfort of his presence. This is due to the fact that my only emotions were really lies, so when I wasn’t experiencing those lies I felt nothing. The feelings I created to convince myself he was worth it had to be extremely intense. They were. And they wiped out all my other true emotions.
All my real self wanted was the confidence and strength to stand up for myself. I needed something to save me. I wanted to be picked up by strong arms and be removed from the situation, for every moment I spent with him, I became weaker.
I was removed from the situation by someone who intervened and did what I didn’t have the confidence to do. She confronted him, warned him to keep his distance. She’d ruin his life. He told her he just wanted to be my “friend.” He was full of lies. I then made it impossible for him to contact me. Community, accountability, and honesty were my only ways out.
I couldn’t ease out of it. I couldn’t warn him. I just had to flee. I couldn’t expect him to understand. And I didn’t. I felt guilty for dropping him. For giving him hope, lying, and then making his life even more miserable. He still had a fragile heart, and I ultimately didn’t want to hurt him. I made him believe my lies just as much as he made me believe his. The whole scenario filled me with guilt. If I’d chosen to stay, I would have ruined our lives even more.
In the weeks after I fled I immediately noticed clarity of thought. I’m happier and not as desperate. I don’t have to pretend anymore.
I still want to see him. I still find myself driving towards his house, his work, looking for him everywhere I go, but it was not my duty to fix him, or be the escape from his terrible marriage. He deserves to be happy, just as much as anyone, but it was not my responsibility. He doesn’t have the right to even look at me. I don’t have the right to ruin a woman’s marriage, and I certainly don’t have the right to ruin two beautiful girls’ perfect image of their father.
And I, myself, am worth so much more than a meaningless fuck in a dark parking lot..
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