Dear Patricia: My almost overwhelming need to see married lover who dumped me
I had a four-year affair with a married man, a familiar story. The affair developed from a friendship built on shared interests. He had no children, which matters, because I don't think I would have embarked on the affair otherwise. I was also delighted at the attention of such a charismatic and successful man. And I hadn't had a relationship for several years. I thought I could handle a fling.
We spent weekends together, went on holidays together, and saw each other about three times a week. We didn't visit each other's homes. He phoned me every day, and again last thing at night. He eventually told me that he had no sexual relationship with his wife, and that while he cared about her, he didn't like or love her as she was too dependent and drank too much. We never really discussed a future. I really loved him, and loved being with him. I coped with the part-time relationship. It seemed to suit me.
After three years, his wife found a text from me and he ended the relationship by phone. Later that day, we met, held each other, cried, and he said he was giving his marriage another try. He looked like a whipped dog. I was devastated and became depressed to the point where I needed medication.
About two months later, I went to his gym, as I was in his home town on a work trip. I told him I needed a proper ending. He said he loved me, and had just panicked. We spent a night together as an ending, but he was very cold to me next day. I accepted that the relationship was over and set about rebuilding my life. I was very distressed.
Six weeks later, he phoned me. We met, he said he knew his marriage would never work, but that he wanted to leave on his terms. He said he loved and missed me and that I was his future. I believed him. We resumed the relationship, even visited each other's homes, but over time the contact became less frequent. Anything I suggested wasn't do-able.
It quickly became clear that he would only see me during working hours, but continued to reassure me that I was the future and that he was changing his life. I broke it off several times, he pursued me. Then I got the classic call, the one where he rings before going on holiday with his wife. I had no contact with him for two weeks. Enraged and upset and frantic, I eventually left a box of gifts he'd given me on his doorstep. His wife didn't see them, he was annoyed, but the relationship continued.
In a hotel in his home town, just before Christmas, we had the final row. He had to phone his wife, was agitated, and suddenly it was as if a switch had flipped in my mind. I packed, left, and phoned his wife from the car park, telling her where he was. Some minutes later he stormed out, telling me I was a psychotic cow, and that I would never know what I had lost. He also said he'd only ever used me for sex. His wife later sent me abusive texts.
I have since tried to contact him, apologising to him on his answerphone, but haven't heard from him. I have overwhelming urges to see him, talk to him, clear things up. I've driven by his house, but never saw him. I know I've been a fool, but still don't understand what really happened. If he didn't love me, why did he start seeing me again? What was it all about? I want to hear some explanation from him. This need to see him is getting stronger, and I'm worried I will be overwhelmed again, and just walk in on him.
YOU have been confronted with the reality of an affair. And it's not nice. I don't believe he was just in it for sex. He said that in rage. Affairs aren't just about sex. They are about sex in the comfort of an ongoing relationship. Otherwise men would settle for escorts.
There are, however, rules -- and you broke them. To begin with, you hadn't got a part-time relationship, for that implies some kind of equality. You came second, at best. Whatever time you spent together, even if it included holidays, was always carved out of his prior commitment to his marriage, and the social ramifications of his life.
The reality of that became apparent when his wife found your text message. When confronted with questions from her, he dumped you. Yes, I know he later came back, saying he had panicked, but that's not the point. The point is that you were always the disposable one. That's the second rule of affairs. If the proverbial s*** hits the fan, you're history. Sorry for the coarseness, but this is an exercise in reality, and one you badly need.
Thirdly, you can never believe what a married man says. He talks about the meaninglessness of his marriage. He says they have no sex. He insists he no longer loves her. All, or none, of that may be true. The point is, he says it in an attempt to gloss over the harshness of how he treats you. It's his way of softening the truth of your togetherness -- both for himself and for you. It's not that his words mean nothing. It's just that they don't mean he's going to choose you over her. He isn't. That's the reality of a mistress.
You therefore broke the most fundamental rule of all. You allowed yourself to believe you were important enough for him to make some kind of stand, for your sake, even if it were only to insist that he continue to have free time, whether his wife was on his case or not. You ignored the first principle of every affair, namely that a mistress must be invisible.
Yes, I hear what you're now saying in your head as you read this. I know that when he came back after his wife found out he talked even more garbage about the future and love. But that is what it was, garbage. He was trying to have it both ways -- you still in his life along with his marriage.
Think of it as a weighing scales. Once his wife was alerted, he had less freedom. So he upped the empty chatter. The less time he had for you, the more fairy tales he told in an attempt to keep it all together. But understand this: it was his need, not real love for you. He was being dishonest, and he knew it.
If truth be told, he may also have been afraid that if he backed off, you would create a fuss. He may, in short, have been trying to humour you, not wanting any confrontation.
Your lover called you a "psychotic cow" -- a brutal statement, but one you must pay attention to. He assumed you knew the rules. More, he assumed you accepted them. While he may have had soft words for you, and attempted to put the realities of life aside with presents and talk of a terrible wife, or even a future, he still believed you understood. He expected you to play the game. Yes, he needed you, but only on certain terms. He needed his marriage more. He still does. For whatever reason.
Do you understand? You are sailing dangerously close to the role of stalker. In that scenario, you will invariably be the one who is in the wrong. You will be the one who is considered "wacko". You will be the one who gets all the abuse -- including from his wife.
As an adult you're supposed to stay in touch with reality, no matter how many fairy tales anyone tells you. That's the way the world works.
You are broken-hearted and having real difficulty accepting what's happened. You need help in coming to terms with the disbelief you feel, in accepting that there is nothing, but nothing, this man can ever say which would console you, help in putting your shattered emotional life back together again. Go get that help, tomorrow.