You know that feeling when you first see someone and you're not only drawn to him, but you've just got to have him?
You want all of him -- physically, emotionally and intellectually. That's how he and I were. "He" seemed perfect for me -- 10 years older, mature, confident, established (and tall!). We were very compatible, and soon the idea of us being together just made sense. I remember the day that I arrived at his house to find two dozen long-stem, mango-pink roses.
"I'm crazy about you," he said.
Sadly, it wasn't very long after the roses that things started changing. I began to have this uneasy feeling that something just wasn't right. Call it woman's intuition, call it a gut feeling, but in my heart I knew he had been seeing someone else.
There were also signs. I looked the other way when a mystery blonde called him one night while we were snuggled up on the couch watching "The Bounty Hunter" and drinking a bottle of Shiraz. Her picture popped up when she called and instead of answering, he clicked the ignore button and didn't say a word. I never brought it up when he promised to call before bed, but occasionally, and conveniently, forgot. I hardly ever questioned him when he would inexplicably put a time limit on our dates and sleepovers, essentially telling me what hour I had to leave because he had "crap to do." I also thought I was being paranoid when I noticed he was keeping his phone on him almost all of the time, had it on silent, and was texting constantly.
I ignored all of these signs for as long as I did because I thought if I pretended they didn't exist, they would just go away. I also knew that when that day came -- the disreputable day of discovery -- that it would be the end of him and me, and our relationship would all of a sudden implode. But soon these little indications of possible betrayal began to overcome me, until I had finally had enough.
So, I did what any girl would have done -- I went through his phone. I knew this was my only chance to find any concrete evidence, but I had to work fast. He had left it on the counter for only about two minutes on this particular Saturday morning, so I made like Nancy Drew and started looking for dirt. After I found a few questionable texts and phone calls, I copied her name and number. After that, the story quickly began to piece itself together, especially when I gathered up the courage to call.
I began to shake as I dialed her phone number. Questions raced through my mind: Who is she? What am I even going to say? What's going to happen?
When she answered and we began to talk, I was quick to make sure we were talking about the same guy. "Thirty-four years old, pilot?" I asked, hoping this was just some big mistake.
"That's him," she said. Then my heart sank, my stomach began to flip, and I seriously considered pausing the conversation so I could take a vomiting break.
She claimed they had been together for a whole 18 months, longer than my four-month relationship with him. So, at first, it appeared that I
was the other woman!
We talked for almost an hour comparing all the little details of when and where (and who), and I thought to myself, This is like taking a bullet
. Those details disgusted me. He literally had me over one night and had her over the very next. He hid my toothbrush from her. He had his female roommate "in" on everything so neither of us would find out. And he hadn't even changed the sheets for her after being with me.
At the time, I thought all of these comparisons we were making were a good thing: They proved my existence, confirmed hers, and helped create a plan in which she and I would confront him. But that's the thing about love triangles -- most of us, if we imagine it, think of teaming up with the other woman against the man who was betraying us both, but when the time comes and you're faced with the reality of the situation, it hardly ever transpires that way. I suggested everything to her, including meeting up and talking, three-way calling him, or even waiting until he got back into town 10 days later to confront him together.
I soon realized that none of these scenarios were going to work: She was so infatuated with him she wasn't sure whether she could walk away. It was heartbreaking. To complicate matters further, with every aspect that was uncovered, she felt the need to make their "relationship" more important than mine and his. And she freaked when she realized I was much younger than her, making some sly comment about how he would "never take a relationship seriously with someone that
young." (For the record, I'm 24.)
I later found out that they hadn't been together for as long as she'd said. The truth was they had known each other for eighteen months, dated on and off during that time, and had only recently been on again for a few weeks. That made sense to me -- it was about how long he had been acting strangely. In the midst of a terrible situation, I was at least somewhat relieved to know that I wasn't the other woman. He had "simply" cheated on me with an ex.
It was to be expected, but after I was done talking to her, she called him before I could. I'll never know exactly what was said, but I already knew I was ending the relationship. The fact that he ignored my calls and texts for most of the night only confirmed my decision. Finally, around 2 a.m., he manned up and called me.
The conversation started out slowly. I gave him the floor to explain, clarify and apologize, but I could tell this wasn't going to be that easy. We talked for an hour, and I detested every second of it. I was infuriated that I had to do most of the talking. I asked all the questions because I wanted answers, but there were some he just wouldn't respond to. "I don't know," he said over and over, as if that was acceptable. I understood that he was trying not to make himself look any worse than he had to by gauging what I already knew, but what a pathetic ploy to continue the cover up of deceit.
After I compared what he said -- and what she said -- I came to some conclusions of my own. It disgusted me that I was the only one telling the whole truth. As far as I was concerned, the two of them deserved each other. So I gave my cheating, lying, boyfriend away to his embellishing, delusional ex and thought, Good luck with that
I think she ended up going out of town to spend the weekend with him, exactly as I had two weeks prior, before the storm broke. I'm only human, so it still bothered me to know she was there with him, but I surrounded myself with friends and family. I did my fair share of sobbing, moping and feeling sorry for myself, but it wasn't all a Lindsay-esque pity party. I laughed more than I cried, I was awake more than I was asleep, and I had so much fun doing it all -- more fun, it occurred to me, than I'd had in months.
One thing I have learned from this whole ordeal is that it really wasn't about me, or even her for that matter. He chose to do what he did because of his own personal insecurities. Men who cheat aren't stable, even though they may appear that way on the outside, and the women who put up with it are in for a long road of recurring heartbreak.
So, while she made the forlorn choice to keep him around, I didn't. Instead, I climbed on the back of a motorcycle and took a ride by the sea. I cleared my head and my heart, and I've never looked back.
Lindsay Hitchcock is a freelance writer who has contributed to Examiner and Bytes of Love. She is completing her first book, a memoir. A Florida native with vast experience when it comes to relationships and sex, she has been deemed "Orlando's Carrie Bradshaw." Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.