Like my other Sex in the Suburbs posts, this is an essay and, while it was written at the time the events were unfolding, that was a couple of months ago now. It just doesn’t feel right to put this post up as if it’s happening today, but it did happen rather recently, and all will be revealed in due time. This is a follow-on to Once Bitten; however each essay stands alone.
I couldn’t believe my good luck. After years of trying online dating without even a hint of success, here I was sipping Shiraz across the table from a man I’d met online, one who not only could make me laugh, but who was worldly, interesting, and seemed to have a brain in his head. I liked him.
On the second date, I found it hard to believe we’d gotten together in such a random way. It seemed as if we’d met through a friend, at a party, or at a book store perusing the shelf on Paris. We had that much in common, and the time we spent together was easy.
But there was something he said on our first date that I was still trying to get my hands around. I don’t like talking about divorces when I’m just getting to know someone, but it was clear that Mike was new to dating, so I asked him how recently he’d been divorced.
“December,” he said. This was in January. Early January.
But surely there must have been a separation before that. So I asked about that, too—when did they separate?—and the answer was most unsettling: October.
Looking back, I realize I should have stood up, shaken his hand, said, “It was nice meeting you,” and walked out the door. Maybe I didn’t because he assured me he’d already done some dating and was looking to build a relationship. Not knowing the circumstances of his marriage, I made the leap that he’d been unhappy for a while and was ready to move on. It happens.
But as I got to know him better—and started to fall for him—it became clear: his marriage really had ended three months before we met, and abruptly. But the warning bells were ringing only so loud, because he didn’t seem to be pining for the ex. And he sure was falling for me, so he said.
Still, I wasn’t comfortable with how attached he was to his marital home, where his children lived with his ex. He sometimes stayed there overnight in the guest room. It made sense to him logistically so I tried not to let it bother me. His interactions with his ex during those visits were strained. That was over.
Except that she kept calling him. On Valentine’s Day, he and I went out to dinner and got back to his place at 11 p.m., when his cell phone rang. It was her. A Friday night at 10:00 she sent a text: What are you doing? She knew he was seeing someone—what did she think he’d be doing? This I didn’t like, I told him so, and he had a talk with her to set her straight. But I could sense something was happening. She wanted him back.
I told him what I thought. “Oh no,” he said. “She wouldn’t ask for me back. Not until she got her act together.” I grimaced. “And when she does? If she asks you back, would you go?” “No, I don’t think so.” I shot him a look, perturbed. “No, I definitely wouldn’t,” he said when he saw my expression.
Call me perceptive to the point of psychicness. That very night, she did ask him back. And it turned out that the answer he’d given me was an answer only to a theoretical question. After a tough weekend thinking about it, he decided he had to at least try to make things work, even if the chances for success were small. His family was too important to him to pass the opportunity by.
Tragedy for me. But I should have known better: I had already dated someone who was too fresh out of his marriage and had gotten slammed because of it. And here I was, dating someone who was fresher still, and whose circumstance screamed that there hadn’t been proper closure. Not too bright.
So we had a mess on our hands. He was horribly conflicted and I was in horrible pain. After many tormented conversations, we decided we had to make a clean break so he could put an honest effort into his marriage.
In the hopes of getting some closure—even though it was anything but clear that it was really the end—we got together to say goodbye. We kissed and held each other, knowing it might be for the last time, disengaging only when holding each other another moment might have welded us together permanently.
So I wait, without really waiting. And we shall see.
Has anything even remotely as wretched happened to you? Tell me your story; reader stories are published on Fridays, and can published anonymously.