Today is Father’s Day in the UK; I woke up and realised that I hadn’t really given my ex much thought, more affirmation that I have made peace (or at least 99% there) with my divorce and single mother status. It’s been my way of life since my son was born I don’t know anything else. But that is not to say I still don’t notice the doting dad’s or feel a pang of envy when I see families together on a Sunday afternoon eating or playing together. I don’t think that feeling will ever leave me.
Being a single mum, I feel a huge sense of achievement. I have never really felt sorry for myself, instead focusing on how lucky I am to have my son no matter what the circumstances. I want to make him proud and show him that you can lead a happy life, as long as you have the right attitude. And we are happy.
If you read my blog, you will see that my ex husband was having an affair in the last two month’s of my pregnancy. Upon finding out, when our child was only two weeks old, he left us. It feels like a lifetime ago now but it was by the far the most testing and emotionally harrowing experience I have ever gone through. I have come out the other side and for the last year I have been dating and meeting new people, but I ended up in a situation I never would have expected myself to entertain. I got a taste of being ‘the other woman’ and I have to tell you I hated it.
I met a lovely, funny and charming guy through eHarmony. He was separated from his wife for only 6 months; I asked him if he was really ready and I have certainly learnt now that dating newly separated men is a huge no no. We connected straight away, the chemistry was instant and we shared the same ridiculous sense of humour. In short, I loved talking to him and it was nice to finally meet someone I liked again after such a long time.
From the start he was always honest that he was processing his break up and wanted to take things slowly; I was very understanding but after three months he started to pull back a bit more. His three year old boy was increasingly affected by the split and his guilt was really kicking in. I gave him space and we agreed to take a break until he figured things out. Throw in a seriously scary health scare to follow where he was being tested for cancer (he is now fine), somewhere in that period of time he decided to give things another go with his ex (or his wife).
It felt like a bit of a blow when he told me but I understood. How could I begrudge someone making a go of things with his partner of 14 years for the sake of their child? I completely respected his decision and we said our goodbyes. I knew that my feelings were strong but I would never be so selfish as to suggest any other outcome. In a weird way I felt relieved because I finally had an answer, even if it wasn’t what I wanted.
A week later, my phone pinged and it was him. Just saying hello. And again the next day, just saying hello. And this went for a little while until I finally asked him what was up. He missed talking to me; missed knowing how I was doing… missed me… It was so nice to hear and yet it didn’t feel right. Of course I missed him too but I was wary.
Another week passed and he wanted to see me. And of course I wanted to see him. The last time I had seen him we had spent a wonderful evening together and we were getting much closer. It was hard to say no.
And this went on for a while, the back and forth texting, slipping in and out of flirting, semi declaring feelings for one another, until I finally couldn’t do it any longer.
I tell you, I struggle to see how anyone has an affair because honestly I think it must be the worst feeling in the world being the other woman. It’s not fun, it’s horrible wondering what the other person is doing and it’s full blown crazy to think they are telling you the truth 100% of the time. I didn’t even have an affair but I got a taste of how easy it was to have one; the temptation is strong, especially when you like someone so much. But honestly it just gave me constant anxiety and created too much confusion in my mind. Fundamentally, I knew this was a complete conflict with my values which is why I put an end to the texting (after many attempts I must add which were ignored) but what a bizarre situation to end up in, one I could never have predicted.
I’m not a saint or some sort of angel; saying no to him was hard and I still allowed myself to flirt, messages I’m sure his wife wouldn’t have wanted to read. But all I could think about was his son, and my son. And his wife. How could I ever allow myself to hurt others when I have been in the exact same position. I felt like my values were being compromised and I needed to remove myself from the situation before I did something I regretted.
I learnt again that you can’t control other people’s values and you can only control your actions. I tried to reason with him or sympathise that maybe he was torn with his decision, did he do it purely out of guilt, etc. I always want to believe in the good; but doubt creeps in and you can’t help starting to question if this is another person trying to have their cake and eat it. Love (and affairs) is complicated; even before my own experience I have never felt it to be black & white, and now unfortunately I feel that in that moment where I too succumbed to temptation, I have also shown myself to be weak. It’s by no means anything close to what happened to me, but it still feels like a bitter pill to swallow.
After a final confrontation and pleading with him to stop, he has since deleted my number and all contact has ceased. It’s certainly given me a lot to reflect on and sadly has tainted my experience of dating, but I still have hope that my Mr Right is out there somewhere.