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The Bitter Lemon: An Affair to Forget

By Holly A. Phillips

“Like any practiced manipulator, he told me all about how the passion in his relationship was gone, they rarely had sex, and how marriage just wasn’t for him.”

#HomelessLife

It was a simple text message I received on a random afternoon just a few weeks ago, from a guy I hadn’t heard from in months.

“What?” I replied.

“I left,” he wrote back.

There they were: two words I would have died to see on my phone screen years before, when I was nearly in love with him.

We met almost three years ago through mutual friends. At first, I didn’t think of him as anything other than an acquaintance, because I didn’t know him well.

And because he was married.

But, like most relationships that have failed me, things moved faster than I realized. We started chatting on Facebook, exchanged numbers, worked out together, and even went out in public together.

At the time, he had been married for seven years, and had a daughter with his wife. He told me his daughter was the only reason he stayed in his marriage.

Like any practiced manipulator, he told me all about how the passion in his relationship was gone, they rarely had sex, and how marriage just wasn’t for him.

I never intended to be involved in an affair. When it was happening, I didn’t tell a single person, not even my best friend. I was embarrassed.

Even years later, it’s difficult for me to admit it. But I am learning every day not to be ashamed of my past.

I justified my sins by taking note of the unparalleled connection I felt toward him. I laughed so loud around him, let myself go when we slept together, and could tell him my darkest secrets.

One night, when his wife was out of town, he came over. I cooked him dinner, we played rounds of Jenga, and we listened to Christmas music two months too early.

That was when I could feel just how close I was to loving him, and even telling him so.

The next morning, I watched him walk down my street to head home.

It was over.

He told me our time together was a taste of what it would be like without his wife, so we stopped talking.

In the months that followed, I watched his life unfold through the rose-colored lenses of social media – their perfect Thanksgiving dinner on Instagram; Christmas trees and coffee drinks on Facebook.

I never wished for his family to rip apart, but I also felt betrayed.

Now, years later, of course I see the good in our split. And at the time, I wasn’t in a place to even be dating. I was looking past red flags.

Because of our mutual friends, I still see him around. But I know better, and have learned to keep my distance out of respect for me, and for his wife.

After telling me he left, he told me he was staying with a friend, and elaborated some on their latest fight.

But part of me wondered why he was reaching out to me. Was he looking to pick back up where we left off? Did he need a place to stay?

I pictured him coming over, us talking and laughing just like old times. And then, he would leave and go back to her, just like before.

It’s the kind of thing I only need to go through once.

So I read his texts, put my phone aside, and two days later, he went back home – only this time, my heart was intact.

Read more about being the other woman on Holly’s blog, TheBitterLemon.com.

Avoid an Affair

How to Avoid Dating Traps:

1. Don’t Speak: If your interactions with a married person seem fishy, they are. Don’t engage.

2. Stop Believing: Cheaters are good at dehumanizing their partners. Don’t fall for their pity parties.

3. Get Good: Surround yourself with good people and remind yourself that you deserve an entire relationship – not half.

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