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We sit across from one another at the Greasy Spoon diner, reaching over the table to touch hands, caressing thumbs with the tenderness of a violin player. We joke and laugh, we talk, we sit in pure adoration. At the start of it all, the perks of the situation swam happily in my mind. Like most modern women, I felt I only needed a man for one thing, and a coupled lifestyle was not that thing. There would be no awkward morning-afters, no constant phone calls or texts. He loved me and worshipped me and spoke of our future. I know every inch of his face and he knows every inch of mine. If I had never let things progress, I wouldn’t feel the hurt tugging on my heartstrings when we needed to disguise our relationship or feel the jealousy when he went home to his wife, as he always did. I could have all the space I wanted and I would hear no complaints from his end. But what started out as a simple, no-strings-attached relationship (or at least the illusion of one) evolved into much more. Maybe it was the jolt of electricity we both felt when we first met and shook hands or maybe it was our mutual understanding of the other’s troubles. We became each other’s go-to when one of us needed support. I order his food (one Belgium waffle on the soft side, a plate of crispy bacon) and he orders mine (a short stack, no butter, a bowl of fruit, a side of extra crispy bacon). And the casual friendship-with-benefits morphed into a caring, loving relationship. They didn’t know what was going on; all they knew was my seemingly unnecessary depression.
A car pulls up outside and warrants his cursory glance. The couple in the car comes inside and he follows their every move. He stares for a moment, then snatches his hands back from the table. But it still stings just as much as the first time we ran into a relative of his and I had to “hide behind the oranges” in the grocery store. We knew each other inside and out, our lives so intertwined we were hard to tell apart. 7 GIANT Clues Your Relationship Is Doomed But I didn’t count on the pitfalls of this type of relationship. I was jealous and angry and crazily in love, and at times, so hurt I could barely stand. He would tell me grand stories about how we’d be together full-time someday. A small part of me believed him, but the rest of me knew better. We had such an intense connection that I was convinced living without him would be so much worse than enduring the agony of sharing my man. Our love for each other stayed strong, but the relationship had collapsed.
The divot in his ring finger catches the light, reminding me of the torture I so often hide when we’re together. Like most everything else in my life, our relationship became punctuated by song lyrics I felt described our situation. I knew what I had to do, as much as I tried to ignore it. The chill had left the air and incoming Spring filled me with the power and motivation to do the hardest thing I knew I needed to do. We spoke sparingly over the next few days and it eventually faded to no communication.
He fumbles in his pocket, quick with fear, and slips his platinum wedding band back on his finger. Sugarland, “Stay”: Listening to them made me feel better. My tears fell as fast as the first thunderstorm of the year.“What are you saying? “I think I’m breaking up with you,” I said.“Maybe you should think about it more,” he pressed.
I was a secure, confident woman and was not willing to compromise my life for a relationship and everything that came with it. He had his responsibilities with his wife and family. For those forty hours a week that his wife was working, he was mine.
It reassured me someone went through the same things I did, that I wasn’t alone in my torture. I told him, “I won’t come to any different conclusion.
But even through the music, I could feel things starting to fall apart.
He would be with me when his kids started school again. He talked of long-term dreams, about our future house and trips we would take and having kids eventually. I became a Monday through Friday, nine to five girlfriend.
We were together nearly every day, as together as a hidden relationship allows you to be. I sat by, clinging to hope, and watched him as he bought new furniture with his wife. He hired a landscaper and started repairs on his house.
The next few months were a whirlwind of elation and doubt. I go to the same Greasy Spoon diner and I wait for him.