Another in a series of my interviews with cheaters, both current and former. This is an “Other Woman”, and a married one. Whose affair was discovered and is over. I think you’ll find her story compelling. This was a fairly brief, non-physical, but very intense affair. You can see how quickly feelings can escalate even when no physical contact at all is involved. And you will see what a huge mental price she has paid for her emotional dalliance. She now has to live with the guilt and because her Affair Partner’s wife knows, but has not (yet) ratted her out, she lives with the fear that at some point it will all be disclosed to her husband. Every time the phone rings, she probably jumps. Or worries whenever her husband approaches her without a smile on his face. This is the price she has paid. The “Sword of Damacles” will hang over her head for years.
She writes in a very from the heart sort of way. Raw and real. She pulls no punches. She does not justify her actions in any way. It’s worth a read. Judge if you must, but if you must, please do it silently. She’s put herself out there hopefully to help others avoid affairs.
Basic info: 32 female. Married 7 years. 1 child. Lives in North America.
Affair Info: November 2013 to March 2014
1. Tell us a little bit about you.
I’m pretty average. I’m a private person, this is the most public thing I’ve ever done. I can be outgoing, but I have only a handful of close friends. I enjoy my work and, despite what you are about to read, love my family.
2. Tell us about your marriage. At the time of the affair, how long had you been married? Did you feel happy, content, other, or something in the middle? Explain your honest feelings about your marriage before you embarked on your affair.
I met my husband through his brothers. We knew each other a few years before we started dating and married a year later. Our marriage is pretty good, really. He’s a good man, which is what makes what I’ve done even worse. The affair is the first thing I’ve ever kept from him. At the time the affair officially started, we were not getting along well, sniping and arguing, but not the roughest patch in our relationship. I’m only 19 days post affair, and to be honest, still assessing what the hell I was thinking. This is part of my journey, a cautionary tale for anyone in an affair or thinking about. Heed my warning.
3. Tell us the story of the affair. Had you ever cheated before at any level (including a drunken kiss, flirting, etc.)? How did the affair begin? How did it unfold? Was it both emotional and physical, or just one? How often did you meet? What did you normally do?
The story of the affair. Yeah. Well. It’s pretty typical, really. To answer the question on if I’ve ever cheated before, well, no. Not really. I was a bit wild in my youth, but I’ve never cheated on anyone I loved. I don’t love often, but when I do, I love hard. I had two long term relationships prior to my husband and never cheated. I prefer the company of men to women, typically. Men are usually less complicated, less drama. So most of my friends are men, save the same three girl friends I’ve had since college. That said, I never entertained the thought of cheating. It’s not my style, contrary to why I’m writing this. Most would describe me as loyal, which again leads to some tough reflection on my character.
The affair began like any other. I realize reading other’s stories I’m not different or special. Our affair took place all on line. I managed to wreck havoc on my life and his without ever touching this man. We never pretended what we were doing wasn’t an affair because of location. We exchanged pictures and texts. Talked of magic land. Said we loved each other. The only thing keeping us out of bed was the miles. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I started talking to him, Arthur, at work about a year ago. He was on the business team for a company I worked for. Everything started above board and professional. Gradually we got to talking about our personal lives. Our spouses seemed very similar and we had kids the same age. We talked of daily annoyances (we both thought Caillou was the dumbest children’s show on the face of the planet), we talked of work, talked of goals. He was a mentor for me. He’s very smart, brilliant really, and he helped me excel at my job.
He friended me in Facebook about July or so of last year. We started talking of more personal things, his problems with a member of his family, the death of my brother. We talked at night a couple times a week. There was nothing flirty at the beginning. We just seemed to understand each other. Gradually the texts grew more playful. He went on vacation and warning bells went off in my head when I realized how much I missed him, but I ignored them. I’m married, he’s married, what could possibly happen?
Once the flirting started it advanced to crossing the line rapidly and with extreme intensity. We officially went there the week before Thanksgiving. It was fun and exciting. I’d never done anything like this before. We made rules. I was in if he was and family comes first. If this gets to be too much, we walk away. We were so smart. And do you know what the worst part of the story is? His wife got suspicious a week in. The same night he told me he loved me the first time, he “dumped” me. It was awful. I thought I’d ruined his life. Wrecked his pretty family. I had nightmares about it. But he came back the next day with a plan to be more careful, and we were right back at it. How fucking stupid is that? There was our out. Our chance to walk away from the fire. And we didn’t take it. So stupid.
The affair continued on. We talked every day and some on the weekends. There was nothing I didn’t tell him. Nothing I couldn’t tell them. We talked about everything. Even about our spouses. Good things. I wanted him to be happy at home, ironically. I told him a couple times that our relationship was not comparable to the ones with our spouses. We didn’t have the same pressures. This wasn’t a competition and it wasn’t fair (ha, fair. What a joke, right?) to compare. He said once that if he could wave a magic wand and have us be together without hurting anyone he would. So began magic land. These were stories he would tell me about what our lives would be like without the sneaking. Without the lies. He told some great stories. We talked of making magic land happen when our kids were grown.
He texted me nineteen days ago with the message I feared most. But I’ll talk more about that in another question.
4. How did you keep your affair a secret?
It was pretty easy, really. I talked to him exclusively on my phone. The thing is, I’m always on my phone. I’m constantly teased about it, so my routine didn’t change. I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything different, which is the beauty of an online affair. We used Facebook, texts, and snapchat before moving on to making videos and sending them to secret email addresses. But, the risk is an online affair is the words are written down, and you must be ever vigilant. I had a couple close calls during our time together.
Arthur was about the only one who messaged me on Facebook, and I set the chime to something unique. There was a time zone difference, so I was usually waiting on him. The chime made me smile when I heard it.
5. How did you feel during the affair, both when you were with the OM and when you were at home? What were your thought processes?
This one is a little trickier to answer. I guess I didn’t think about it a lot. I would feel a hint of guilt when my husband would say he loved me. I was kissing my husband one day when I heard the Facebook chime and thought, “What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this?” But I couldn’t stop.
I honestly don’t think I ever felt that comfortable in the affair. Not only did I know what I was doing was horribly wrong, but the lack of an end game bothered me. I knew I’d never be his wife, never meet his friends, never have kids with him. I knew I’d never build a life with him. I got out of previous relationships when they hit that point, and now I was starting one knowing it couldn’t progress. Sure, we talked of magic land, but I knew the odds were slim, and I never really believed we’d get there.
But, I loved to talk to him. I loved his laugh. He has a great laugh. He was really the first person who I could say what I thought. No filter. My mind goes to weird places sometimes. I call it the crazy, and I never hid it from him.
And, it’s not like I hide things from my husband (well, didn’t till now), but you fall into a routine of biting your tongue. Not wanting to rehash the same fight or argument. Writing this, I think my husband and I have trouble communicating. He’s not listening. You are talking and then stop mid sentence just to see if he noticed, but he didn’t. Not that what I did is his fault. Instead of turning to someone else, I should have put on my big girl pants and stayed true, dealt with the problems at hand. No one deserved what I did. Fix it or get out.
6. What was D-day like?
I, as of yet, have not had a D-Day, he did. I received a text 19 days ago. We spent weekend mornings together a lot, but I had been busy that morning and missed the chime. I checked my phone 48 minutes later and saw the message that shattered my world. He told me we were through, that his wife had found out what we were “up to.” Like we were teenagers who got caught drinking under the bleachers. They had stayed up the night before and talked it through and decided to try to work it out. My heart stopped at that phrase. I thought, “Holy shit. She almost left him because of me. What the fuck have I done.”
He said for me to not respond and if I did, he would not answer. He said he needed a clean break to try to fight for his family. He said he was sorry for the hurt, but we always said family came first.
She has not, yet, told my husband. In this day and age, he’d be easy enough to find. I was sure she would, waited on it, but I think I know why she hasn’t. I think the reason is two fold.
First, I hope she’s realized that while Arthur and I did a horrible, awful, unforgivable thing, he is not alone to blame for the state of the marriage. I hope she’s concentrating on her family.
Second, I think it’s a clever, unspoken ultimatum to not come back. Her ace in the hole. I’ve never met her, but she’s not a stupid or foolish woman.
Still, I am waiting for my husband to get an email full of Facebook messages and videos. For him to say, “Do you know a [insert name]? She’s been trying to call me.” I’m tense when I walk in the door and I see his face and I know I’m blessed with another day of an intact marriage I don’t deserve.
7. Have you left him alone?
Mostly. I sent him a message at work on day nine simply saying, “I won’t do this again, you have my word, but I had to tell you I’m sorry and good bye. I’m so sorry for the damage.”
He had made the decision to take a better job prior to D-Day which helps. Under it all, I want him to be happy, and I can no longer help him. His last day was last Friday. He is forever beyond my reach.
I’ve deleted everything he sent me. Every video, every text. In the event if a D-Day, I don’t want my husband to see them. I hope Arthur has done the same for me, but I’ll never know. I constantly check YouTube for my name, though.
I think the lack of a D-Day makes it harder to move on. He thinks of my name and sees his wife’s face when she found out. He’s not a bad man, and he loves her. It, I think, will be easier for him to move on.
That said, I have no plans to tell my husband. I went back and forth on it for a while but landed on not. If I’m not telling him, I’m telling no one. It’s not fair to burden my friends. I’ve been unfair enough. Mostly, it’s because I don’t see the point. Devastate him so I can unburden myself? No. Second, I don’t think I could make myself be honest. I’d lie and down play to get out of it, and if Arthur’s wife decided to tell? Well, then I’m even more fucked. I will keep this secret, but tell no more lies.
8. What have the biggest challenges been — both in terms of fixing your marriage and inside yourself — now that it’s over?
Forgiving myself and trying to figure out what to do now. I’m in my own personal hell of shame, guilt, pain, and fear. Caught between the man I promised to (and still do) love and the man I’m not supposed to love (and still do).
I’m angry. It’s barely controlled sometimes. I hate this. I hate everything about it. I want to scream and run. I want to break things. I want him out of my head. I want to go back to the days where all I thought of was my husband. I want to wake up and not have Arthur be the first thing I think of. We used to say that. You are my first thing in the morning and my last thing at night. He still is for me, and I hate that.
I feel lost.
9. How do you feel about the OM now?
I still love him. Still. I’m still cheating on my husband, but I’m no longer in an affair. I understand the “affair love.” I think the “in love” part of us was the affair love/addiction spoken about. But he was my friend first. The love I feel for him in that regard is the same as I feel for my close friends. That is real.
I think a lot of what he felt for me was affair love, as hard as that is to admit. I came to that realization with the wording of his goodbye text. “Up to” and “hurt” doesn’t begin to cover it. I know he wrote it terrified and in a hurry, but it was telling. I was exciting and passionate. I wanted him 100%. I think he regrets me with all his heart, and that kills me. Destroys me.
I wish, with everything I have, I had never done this. That we had never crossed the line. That I had never become a dirty home wrecker. I’ve been told not to apply that term to myself, but it’s true. I’ve wrecking my home because of my internal conflict. I can’t seem to move on. And, while he is responsible for his actions, I was still a party to his devastation. I still bear some responsibility for the state of his family.
10. How long since you’ve had any contact with the OM?
11. What have you done to either fix your marriage or yourself? Counseling (couples or solo)? Read books (if so, which and did they help)?
This is my first step. I found this blog on day 14 and it was the first place I’d found where I got help. An explanation. No one here condones this horrible act I’ve committed. No one thinks it’s okay, but there is an empathy and understand that despite the terrible thing we’ve done, we are not terrible people.
It might sound trite to some, but I pray. I pray for forgiveness, I pray for recovery. I pray for guidance. I thank God every day I am blessed with a marriage I no longer deserve and do not have a right to. I pray for him and his wife. That she can forgive him and he opens his heart to be forgiven. That their marriage not only recovers, but comes out stronger on the other side. It’s all I can do for him now.
12. What have you learned about yourself, your marriage and life, because of the affair?
I’ve learned I’m clearly not the person I thought I was. I learned to listen to that whisper in my head. If you are in an affair, I’m begging you, listen to that whisper before it becomes a scream.
I’ve learned I need to communicate better. I’ve learned that I am capable if terrible things. My family and friends would be stunned.
13. Do you feel vulnerable to another affair, with the same man or someone else? Do you miss “it” even if you don’t miss “him”?
Yes. I think it would be difficult if he reached back out to me. I don’t think about it much, however, because I know in my heart of hearts he won’t, so it’s kind of a moot point. And I won’t reach out to him. I want him to be happy, and happy is her and his kids.
I don’t miss the affair. The very first feeling I felt reading the text was relief with a bone chilling fear hot on it’s heels. But I miss him terribly. I was in bed for two days when he left me. I haven’t spoken his name. As melodramatic as it sounds, it’s like he died, the cut off was so swift and sudden. I would trade every text that crossed the line for my friend back.
14. Looking back, what was your reason/excuse/rationale for having the affair? What did you tell yourself in your head that allowed you to do something you knew was dangerous and wrong?
I don’t think our friendship was wrong. I never felt the need to hide his messages or the fact that I was talking to him till we crossed the line. In fact, my husband knew his name. I would show him his texts. I never hid my phone or changed a password till the line was crossed.
I guess I just didn’t think about it. I’d push the guilt and warnings out of my head.
15. Do you feel remorse for the affair?
Everyday. This is far and away the worst thing I’ve ever done.