I ran into you again during a chance meeting on our college campus once you transferred there. You looked so different from when we were in high school that I hardly recognized you. You said goodbye to your hippie hair, glasses, and tie-dye shirts, replacing them with messenger bags, contacts, and sweaters. I became immediately flustered and my teenage girl feelings came flooding back. You asked for my number and I let out little more than a squeak. Could my high school crush finally be interested in me after all these years? Maybe it wasn’t so hard to believe as my ugly duck phase had come and gone. I was so infatuated that I didn’t realize this was too good to be true.
You pursued me for the better part of two years. You made me wait for all that time, so I wasn’t going to give in so easily. I approached with caution, too, because you had a child with your ex, and the two of you were in a perpetual cycle of dating and breaking up. But, I chose to see the good, and give you a chance. We went out for coffee and drinks a few times after that initial meeting. It seemed to be going well. We’d get a little flirty over texts while you were drinking, and you’d talk about wanting to see me again. There was a time at Starbucks when I saw you delete my text message thread, but I shrugged it off. Maybe you liked your inbox being empty. A few weeks later, we hung out at your house, but only because no one else was home. I thought it a little odd that you only wanted me over when no one was around, but we weren’t officially dating, so meeting the parents wasn’t on my agenda. You bought a bottle of wine and we cuddled on the couch in front of the fireplace while watching a movie. It was clear that you wanted to have sex, but I didn’t, so I stopped drinking and drove home. You didn’t talk to me for a few weeks after that, and when you did, it was only when you were drunk. You never acted consistently. I just assumed you were over it, or busy, as we both had a lot to focus on with graduation growing near.
A few months later, we had both graduated, and began graduate school near Manhattan. You texted me out of the blue during the autumn, and suggested we grab coffee one day. I figured there was nothing to lose. I had just returned from Europe and you were moving into a new place, so we had plenty to catch up on. As the weeks went on, more about your move began to unfold, but only what you wanted to share with me. You were living with your ex and child because the two of you wanted to raise your child together. It seemed a little odd to me, but I appreciated that you wanted to be in your son’s life. The months went on and we continued to casually see each other when you were in the city for school. You even talked about coming to stay with me for a weekend, so I thought things were going well. I came home to visit my family and see you for a long weekend during spring break. You took me to a place that had over a hundred craft beers, which is my current obsession, and it was really thoughtful. You met my parents that night and they liked you. We had sex for the first, and only, time that night. Things were okay after that, but I lost interest, and stopped wanting to date you. We talked once in a while but it was clear that the spark fizzled out.
I moved on and shifted my focus to other things, but he was still at the back of my mind. I divulged all this info to my best guy friend over coffee and he shared with me that the guy I dated cheated on his ex in high school. I tried not to think about it but it constantly piqued my curiosity. After wrangling with this information for weeks, I decided to look up his ex on Facebook. He was anti-Facebook for one of the numerous reasons that make millennials love it as much as we loathe it. I found more than I bargained for when turning to social media for answers. I saw a sonogram that she posted. She was pregnant again, with his second child, and it had been conceived less than a month after I had sex with him. I was at a loss for words and feelings.
I messaged my best friends in search of answers and support after discovering this information. What should I do? What should I say if anything? My guy best friend did some more digging, soon finding out that this guy and his ex were in an “open” relationship since he didn’t want to put labels on it. I wondered if she knew that he was dating others and sleeping around, or if she chose to remain blissfully ignorant for the sake of keeping peace in the home. I contemplated contacting her, but didn’t know what to say.
Instead, I contacted him: I told him that I found out he was with her for the duration of our time together and to not lie to me again, because I knew the truth. I shared my feelings. He had me fooled, while making me feel stupid, used, and disrespected. I shared my discontent with the fact that he could cheat on the mother of his child and that I expected more from him. I urged him to do what was right in the future, for he not only has the needs of himself to consider, but those of his family. He responded with what seemed like a half genuine apology, saying he was trying to change and hadn’t wanted me to be caught in the middle. He hoped that we could rebuild a friendship in the future and appreciated that I shared my thoughts with him.
Contacting him did not make me feel satisfied. He proved that he is a selfish individual who puts his needs above others and does not consider how his actions affect those in his life. He did not recognize that friendship is built on trust, and I can never trust him again. At first I thought that I regretted ever pursuing anything with him, introducing him to my parents, and even sleeping with him. I soon began to question the nature of my current relationship as a result, but didn’t want to give him that kind of power over my thoughts and feelings.
Instead, I turned it into a life experience. Sure, I had encountered someone who I now considered to be the scum of the earth, but recognizing his flaws made me appreciate what I do have. Apart from the loving, caring support system of my friends and family, I have a guy in my life that couldn’t be more than the opposite of this one. He is honest with me, caring, considerate, and most important of all, he respects me. I fortunately found out about this cheating incident while dating a new person, which helped me to remember that not all men are the same. For every bad one out there, there’s a good one just waiting to be found.