6. When Marriages Become Stale People Still Seek Human Intimacy
I was single at the time, but he was married, so if that counts I will tell my story (though “currently cheating” is not applicable anymore).
About ten years ago I was in college, and met Prof X who was in my fairly small department. There was definite attraction there, but I knew he was married and had a child, and believe it or not he wasn’t a skeeze, so we ignored it and I just liked to go to his office hours and chat about the material or whatever. And after about two years of that (by which point we were definitely in “emotional affair” territory), including a course taught by him, we were at a senior’s graduation party in our department and likely tipsy and he offered me a ride home, then asked if we could pull over, and we both confessed our attraction and kissed in what was the most surreal thing imaginable.
What followed was a year and a half of sneaky meetings, first in random hotel rooms then my apartment once I got one (I did some grad school there as well), and one or two nights bundled into conferences and the like. We fell in love and were brutally honest with each other about the good and the bad of the situation- with some humor too, after we had sex my first statement was “and you still gave me a C!” referring to the class I took from him a year ago (no way in hell we would’ve done anything while still in such a position). He still loved his wife and child and I was always second to them- literally the first thing we agreed on in that car- but to quote him, it was like getting struck by lightning, and something he had never done before nor planned to do again. I know people won’t believe him, but even though this was some years ago I know it was the case then at least, and we still email sometimes and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him.
Incidentally, I should mention beyond just really, really liking each other to the point where we couldn’t ignore it, he was also down to having sex like once every six months with his wife, even though they’d tried various ways to rekindle things (she was just no longer interested as she got older and her chemistry changed). And he was good guy and loved her deeply- once again, I was never ever first over her- so he wasn’t about to tear his family apart over a dead bedroom, but yeah, even if not the primary factor, it was surely part of it. (He also had the gallows humor of telling me when we ended it that the best sex of his life was over- we did some amazing exploration he never did with her, and he never planned to cheat again, so ergo…)
Anyway, we ended up ending it because he was just feeling more and more like a sleaze lying to his wife, and eventually we ended it and that was that. I cried so hard and was feeling badly for at least a month or two after that because while I’d always understood it was going to end that way and was willing to do it anyway it didn’t make it hurt any less… and of course because I never, ever told anyone what we were up to I was in pain inside but couldn’t tell a soul why. That was pretty awful.
So why did I do it even though I couldn’t ignore it? Honestly to steal his phrase, it was like being struck by lightning. I will never have a relationship with someone married again- though believe me there has been opportunity- but after two years of buildup this was not just something I could ignore and say I didn’t want. I couldn’t walk away even though I knew it would end in heartache, because I think back on our time together and it makes me smile to remember those moments. And yeah, probably compartmentalized a bit, as he was the one cheating in a relationship not me.
I will also say though, if I end up in a stage of life where I find the one I want to marry, I will make it clear- if he feels like he has been struck by lightning by someone else a few decades down the line, especially if I’m no longer interested in sex as much (though may that day be far off), I wouldn’t hold it against him if he followed through. Though if anything I’d prefer it if he just told me. Maybe that makes me strange, but I feel like I learned a lot about how relationships can evolve even when everyone involved is a good person who loves each other very much.