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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

I chose the affair, chose to have the affair, precisely because I wouldn’t have to go below the surface.

June 14, 2018


The love I have for Jeff is so tip of the iceberg love. We have nothing in real life. No commitment. No history. No true intimacy. Not in real life. Yes, in emails. But even that goes only so deep. How deep can you really go without investing time in one another in real life?


I chose the affair, chose to have the affair, precisely because I wouldn’t have to go below the surface. I didn’t want to go below the surface. I picked someone I knew would never put demands on me. I knew I wouldn’t have to marry him. I wouldn’t have to deal with step children. I wouldn’t have to deal with being part of a family, losing my individuality to the “greater good” of the family. Even if it’s just a man and a woman, if they’re married, it’s a family. I knew he would never love me that way, the wife way, and that was a good thing. I knew and understood a lot of this at the time. I have always known these things. But I enter into an unhealthy relationship regardless. I consciously, with eyes wide open, choose this for myself.

My last long term relationship, my partner loved me so much more than I loved him. It’s an awful feeling to be that unequally in love. But I wanted him. I wanted him very much. I spent so much of my time trying to mold and make myself into a loving partner. When all I really wanted to do a lot of the time was tell him to leave me alone.

I had sex with him when I didn’t want to. I sat on the couch and watched boring documentaries with him, holding his hand, then lying down and putting my legs across his lap. I didn’t want to. I went into the bedroom to get away from him, his boring documentaries about WWII aircraft and weapons. In my own house, I went into another room to get away from him. And yet, he is one of the three loves of my life. I count him as one. Why? I think because he loved me so much. And I needed that so much. He truly loved me deeply. And I basked in that. I had to have that. I wasn’t happy with him; I wasn’t happy when I wasn’t with him.

I remember trying to control my expressions, my body language, my actions, so he’d think I loved him just as much. Have I been authentic and real and honest in my relationships with men? No. Clearly, no.


There were moments when I loved him with my whole heart. But they were only moments. There was no consistent enduring feeling of love, there was no feeling that he was who I wanted for the whole of my life. Yet I was committed to him. But there was always the small voice in my head asking, “What are you going to do to get out of this?” I felt like a prisoner. A prisoner not of his, but of my need for him, even though he wasn’t what I really wanted. And he certainly wasn’t what I needed. Quite the contrary. It was a very unhealthy relationship. There was substance abuse, there was violence.


I don’t know what it’s like to be married. I don’t know what it’s like to stand up in front of people and make a public commitment to one man for life. I have no idea what that feels like. I’ve lived with men, I’ve been deeply involved in relationships, but I’ve never had a total commitment. There was always an escape route. There was always the option of walking away. And I did walk away. Sometimes he walked away. But often I did the walking. And then when I didn’t like who I was without him, I wanted it all back. And I couldn’t get it back. Because he’d moved on. But it isn’t really that I don’t like who I am without a man. It is that I don’t like who I am alone.


Now, I’m alone for days on end. Sometimes weeks. And I still don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. And it is a very bad thing for me to be alone so much. Bad for my mind. Bad for my soul. Too much in my head, too much time to think. It’s a dangerous thing for me not to have human connection, not to be able to get out of my mind and connect with another person. It chips away at my personhood. It makes me feel like less. And there’s always the question looming, “Why doesn’t anyone want me?”


Many of my friends, particularly my single friends in middle age, have no issues with being alone. They don’t consider being alone isolating, as I do. They consider it a privilege to be able to spend time in their own company. And if I were in a relationship, I know I would want and need time apart. But now, it’s just too much alone. It’s detrimental.


I don’t know what the solution is. Truly I don’t. It’s not another affair. It’s certainly not the hookups. It’s not running after emotionally unavailable men, to use that tired phrase. But seeking out emotionally distant men is a lifelong pattern. Why is it that I want, and single mindedly seek out, the thing that is most harmful to my psyche? Am I so broken that I have to have reinforcement that no one wants me? So I pick a man who doesn’t want me? Or I pick a man who I don’t want, to make absolutely certain there will never be a total commitment?


What the fuck is my fucking problem? I’d sure like to know. And I’d sure like to know how to fix me.

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