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THE LONELINESS OF AN AFFAIR

1 month ago by

If you haven’t heard, we’ve revamped our podcast and now have Carte Blanche episodes where, yep, we have Carte Blanche to do whatever we want! You can listen to the first episode here. Within that episode, Garance read the below essay from one of our readers. We found it too heartbreaking, complex and thought provoking to not post on the site. BUT, we won’t always be posting these essays on the site and we are also no longer featuring each episode as a full post on the site, so please make sure to subscribe to Pardon My French, as we don’t want you to miss anything! And now, a few words from a fellow reader…

I probably think of him once a day. It could be when I’m making coffee, when I can’t sleep, when something reminds me of him, or when I simply need a distraction from the monotony of life. I think about what he might be doing, what he could be wearing. Who is he with? Is he happy in this moment? I think about us. The nights and mornings when it felt like no one else existed in the world.

I think about what it will be like the next time I see him. When will the next time be? How long will we sit side by side at a bar, recounting the past few months of our lives like a sizzle reel for the other to watch. Asking about family, career, gauging the other’s happiness until one of us breaks the barrier. Placing a hand on a knee, a silent question that is quickly reciprocated with more physical touch.

We’ve done this dance for the past five of the eight years we’ve known each other. I’ve watched him go in and out of two serious relationships and date countless others. Myself always in the same one. Neither of us ever broaching the subject, are we the ones who are supposed to be together? At first I thought it was because the answer was yes, but now I’m fairly certain we don’t broach that subject because the answer is no.

And if we knew we weren’t supposed to be together, then would we keep doing this?

I don’t know. Isn’t a large part of an affair the day dreaming of making it more?

I daydreamed a lot about us until I came to the conclusion, I don’t think it would work. Instead we orbit each other when we happen to be in the same city. Each giving the other what they need for a night.

I’ve watched as he’s gotten every woman he’s ever wanted. He’s chased them for a day, for a year, but he’s always gotten them. He’s charming, smart and his directness about what he wants makes women weak. And he listens. Like, really listens. He will recall something you told him two years ago. I’ve watched him do it to other women, I’ve watched the reaction on their faces, they feel heard and even more so, wanted. He always woos the woman he wants.

But then, once he’s wooed them, he loses interest. It’s about the chase for him. He’s honed the chase.

So the only reason I think he still texts me when he’s in my city, is because I’m still a chase.

Me on the other hand, I get off on being desired. I know, I’m not proud of it. But that’s what does it for me. I’ve tried to change this. I’ve been in therapy for it, where I learned the root cause (not surprisingly) was a physically and emotionally absent father. So I look for the opposite in my men. I look for ones that would risk things for me. Ones that would have an affair for me.

This limbo he and I live in serves both of us. It serves his desire, or being able to lust after something he can’t have, and it serves my desire of being lusted for. It’s a powerful thing — that feeling of being desired. It makes you feel invincible.

While we don’t talk about the permanence of our situation, we do talk, at length, about the moral ambiguity of an affair. We know the lying is wrong. We know how many could be hurt if this all came to light. We don’t do it to spite our partners, we do it for ourselves, but it doesn’t make it any better, we know. Whatever you think of us, we have thought worse of ourselves.

Sometimes I think this affair is the reason I’m still in my long-term relationship. It’s sustained me and buoyed me and made me better to my partner. I have my suspicions that my partner has dabbled outside of us as well. If I think too much about it, sure, I get upset. But if I let it exist in a corner of his universe, as I think everyone deserves a corner of their universe that is solely their own, then it makes me love him even more. That he has his own secrets, a part of himself I will never know. It reminds me that he is not mine to have, but simply to love. And if I choose to love him, I must love all of him.

And perhaps this is just me rationalizing my own actions so the guilt doesn’t consume me.

A lot of my daydreaming is now spent wondering if our affair will fizzle out, or if the guilt of it will consume one of us too much so we put an end to it. Or will we see each other 15 years from now, kids, marriages, different careers, a new city, and one of us will reach out for the other’s knee?

I don’t know why I finally felt the need to say all this, albeit anonymously. It’s the thing I’ve grappled with most while writing this. Why? Why do I want this out in the world?

We’ve never said “I love you” to the other. In the meantime, when I’m with him, it’s some of the few nights in my life where I’m consumed by the present, because it’s fleetingness is tangible, sand slipping through fingers.

The kind of nights where you can’t even make an egg the next morning without being distracted, your whole body is still twitching, reverberating with the energy of being alive.

He has given my life so much meaning, and to think something could happen to me and no one would ever know what he means to me… that breaks my heart.

24 comments

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  • Amazing and touching text!

  • I can totally relate to all of the above. You absolutelly described everything I feel.

  • Oh, dear “other woman”, do I understand you. The word is out, your love is real although you never said I love you to each other. Thank you Atelier Dore, for giving this woman place to tell her story.

  • Mariateresa November, 12 2018, 1:06 / Reply

    But so years passing over without nothing really, no home, no family, no kids, is a very shame…it’s unproductive, is temporary, fugace….

  • Mwongeli Masesi November, 12 2018, 10:31 / Reply

    Thank you for having the courage to share this. It means more than you know.

    xM

  • Thanks for sharing. I also can relate and I guess we are a lot in this loneliness. Just like you, I’m still in the same relationship, and I saw him begin and end several relationships. Every story is different but my affair survived my marriage and my baby (no moral judgement needed, thanks). We tried to stop it but we decided we just need each other. The guilt doesn’t go away either. I love my husband a little bit more every single day but I also love this private garden I built just for myself. About the loneliness, I think that although it might be an emotional burden, it also gives its uniqueness to the relationship, and its own part of romance. Some may disagree on this one but whether you live one or not, I think that accepting the fact that affairs might be part of a lifelong relationship is part of becoming an adult.

  • J’adore, merci. Je me reconnais partiellement dedans, ça me fait réfléchir. Merci !!

  • Magnifique.

  • Magnifique.

  • Thank you for your honesty. Your words speak volumes to me.

  • Linda Boardman Kerr November, 13 2018, 8:58 / Reply

    Thank you for sharing this somewhat taboo subject. Many of us can relate.

  • my stomach contracted in recognition of all of these emotions … beautifully written..

  • Please seek help form a professional – that fact that you are so willing to be this man’s side piece is very concerning. You say he has been in and out of several relationships, yet you continue to see him. Why are you not worth ALL of the love and affection a man has to give? The fact that you are willing to accept these crumbs of attention is NOT an indication that you have a “love greater than the universe” but rather that you have extremely low self esteem. A woman who knows her value and worth would not accept such a one sided “relationship” and let’s be brutally honest there is NO relationship. The role you have chosen to accept is the provided of “sex and attention on demand”
    Please save your self from this selfish man!

  • Very courageous of you for telling your story – a story that I think many of us can relate to but the shame and guilt surrounded by this topics is stifling. Its all a process and I think we should be more compassionate to ourselves and others as we are all learning and trying our best. Life and love is beyond difficult and also very beautiful. Its helpful knowing – we aren’t alone. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Cornelia Pichler November, 14 2018, 11:47 / Reply

    I love every single word. Thank you for sharing. You need to be very courageous and honest to put yourself out in this world and only a strong woman can do that. I bow my head and hope that this love, for what you describe is love for me, helps you cope with those moments in life that are hard, sad or devastating. A sweet memory might just put the smile on your face that you needed to handle the challenges of your other life. A lot of people will of course not understand but this only means that they have never experienced anything like that. You are lucky and so all those who put themselves out for love, no matter what. They take the risk of loneliness, social isolation and great pain and I respect their choices in every way. It takes a lot of guts and who are we to judge them?

  • Pity the person who believes your love is true. A lie is still a lie, no matter how you dress it up. I always thought that maturity was when you took ownership of who and what you are – instead of lying and sneaking around to do whatever you like. It isn’t the having of a lover that is the issue here, it is the lying that surrounds it. I think affairs are really sad because they can cause such pain – why would someone prefer to cause so much pain, instead of finding a way to have an open, though difficult conversation? If affairs really are something that might be natural from time to time, then there is perhaps a way to have them without the destructive risks.

  • Thank you! I am living through a very similar affair and it is so freeing to read someone describe feelings so close to mine. I keep thinking this should not be shameful and I dream of a world where relationships could really be fluid and polyamorous because that is the way I experience life. Thank you for the text, beautifully written.

  • This is incredibly sad. You are cheating not only your current partner but yourself. Take time to figure out what you want, what you deserve, and do not settle for less. THIS is less. Time to grow up.

  • Thank you for your comment Vanessa, I was wondering if someone would have the honnesty to speak true…!

    I have been in the same situation as the author of the text – who I respect no matter her point of view – and I know how terrible it feels. At some point, I felt so devalued and my level of anxiety had become unbearable, I had to seek for help and started a therapy. 3 years later, I can tell that it made me aware of my value as a woman and human being, and that is for sure I would never, ever engage again into this kind of one-sided “relationship”. I was shocked by the fact that the author doesn’t even feel guilty for cheating on her husband, but not even talking about the moral aspect of it, why to stay with someone that doesn’t make you fully happy ?

    You have immense value as a person and shouldn’t waste your time and energy for someone who doesn’t celebrate it every day. Once you realize it, you will be able to find the right person who really gives value to your life.

    Love x

  • Naydeline November, 20 2018, 6:05 / Reply

    I just discovered this blog, and it is truly something else. I love the rawness of these stories. To the author, thank you for sharing!

    Light and love x

  • Anonymous 2 November, 22 2018, 12:27 / Reply

    Oh my… I was in a long term relationship and had an affair too. Well more of a fling. It was my French prof who was a young 30 something PhD student, who was going to Paris for exchange in a few months. For me, I thought this is the perfect affair partner. Someone who is going to go away and I don’t have to deal with it. I think often, affairs are symptoms of deeper problems in a relationship. My ex and I just moved in together. I didn’t really want to move in with him, because I knew that I would try to be the perfect little girlfriend, cleaning, cooking, doing all the chores, and he would take it for granted; and he did. I was deeply unhappy. But! In a way, the affair made me appreciate my ex more, because, well the said PhD student was a true libertine, and I definitely do not want that. My ex and I are no longer together, because we do not want the same things in life, and I was unhappy. Sometimes, you just gotta do it, and it makes you realize certain things. Amazing essay and I feel you girl! Best & bisoussss!

  • Been there and am glad I am no longer in that space.

  • Love the text. Have been in a similar situation and it took me years to get over it. Still I think of HIM regularly. Nevertheless it was good getting to the bottom of things, it was werth going through the fire and pain of an honest discussion with my partner. I was reborn and today I have a better relationship than ever before. David Schnarch was the

  • Love the text. Have been in a similar situation and it took me years to get over it. It was like being a Junkie. Still I think of HIM regularly. Nevertheless it was good getting to the bottom of things, it was werth going through the fire and pain of an honest discussion with my partner. I was reborn and today I have a better relationship than ever before. All Books by David Schnarch initiated the beginning of a journey to transform my relationships. I highly recommend! Until then: enjoy the adrenaline. But start thinking about what it does to you.

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