The Blissful Start And Devastating End Of My Affair

It takes more than guts to let go of a good, albeit married, man.

Woman in tears, breaking. Man behind her signing I love you lekcej, kali9 | Canva

It was 2020, the height of a recession. COVID-19 was doing its worst. I worked in the hospitality industry, so naturally, I got laid off. 

I met Dan* sometime in mid-2020 while looking for something to keep me busy, to stay out of trouble, and to survive amidst all the doom and gloom. 

Since I was in elementary school, I was told I had a way with words so I put up a post on a writers' group, inquiring about how to set up a profile on Fiverr, and bid for writing jobs. He reached out, offering to help set up my profile and give me a few gigs he had running on the platform. 


Did I say my life was a wretch of sorts at that time? A dysfunctional family. Living with hearing impairment. Daddy issues, raising a kid alone, hardly surviving on the waitress salary. 

I took Dan's offer up with open arms. 

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He was charming right from the outset, a man of fascinating character, and very kind.

I wasn't the tech-savvy type whereas he was a natural geek, a trained environmental scientist, and a long-term freelancer. And he was willing to go out of his way to help me, the ideal mentor I needed to penetrate this online industry. 


His job assignments turned out to be too complex. He was running an educational website, reviewing and promoting courses from Udacity, Coursera — all those tech institutions. I knew nothing about programming languages, machine learning, Python, JavaScript, C++, and all that tech stuff. After researching two to three tasks, I was ready to quit. 

"This isn't my forte. I think you could use someone else," I told Dan.

"I don't think I'll find someone as gifted as you are. You're the perfect candidate for this job," he replied.

"Oh really? Isn't it obvious? I'll only waste your time and money."

"All you need is to believe in yourself, give yourself a chance. You're not doing so badly; you got this. I'll polish whatever you submit, but just don't do one thing. Don't quit."


I was taken aback. Why did he care? 

Over time we established a good rapport, and we got to learn more about each other. And as we did, we grew closer and closer.

Dan was married with two kids. That, he told me from the outset, and I respected it. Yet what started as a working relationship soon transitioned into friendship, then good friendship, until the chemistry proved too strong

He was a very intelligent man. Very compassionate, empathetic, kind, and understanding. I loved his company and his intelligent conversations. My love life at the time was non-existent. For some reason, I used to attribute it to being partially deaf. 

Men had the wrong perception of me as a person and as a woman. Most of those who approached me did so out of curiosity and selfishness. Some wanted a cheap date because they figured if you're deaf, bedding you would be a breeze. 


Others were fascinated. What is it like to be hearing impaired, to dwell in a silent world? Do you have a mind of your own? Can you think and reason? Because to them, being deaf equals being an invalid. They weren't willing to look past the facade and see the person within, the person worth loving or who'd love them back. 

I figured then, that I was not good enough for anyone, not that lovable. Until Dan showed up. 

He was the first man who genuinely understood me. He made me feel cared for and loved, something I had never experienced. The thing with dysfunctional families is that you grow up broken, without love, care, and protection. He was everything my dad and baby daddy were not.  

A case in point was when I developed chronic migraines that wouldn't go away. I saw many doctors and did tests without ever getting a diagnosis. This concerned him a great deal because then, our friendship had taken on a different trajectory. 


I was convinced I had a tumor, and he went around consulting doctors and specialists, spending long hours browsing online to find a diagnosis.

He was genuinely scared about what that headache would turn out to be. After a year of pain, he was genuinely relieved when I finally received the diagnosis: occipital neuralgia. He lived in a different city and visited me almost every month. When I was down with that health crisis, Dan took it upon himself to pay my bills until I got back on my feet. 

At first, I was careful not to let myself get carried away. I promised not to fall in love with him. He was married. I was committed to my faith and spiritual beliefs. There was no room for compromise. And yet.

Here was the one man who respected me and tirelessly worked to bring out the best in me. who believed in me when no one ever did. He introduced me to something life has never given me: love, care, and support. I couldn't help it. I fell for Dan. No, scratch that. We fell for each other — hard. 


We seemed to have nearly the same interests. We loved books; we were both writers and critical thinkers. We were both sapiosexuals, deeply introverted, indoor people. We loved nature walks and picnics and preferred to cuddle and watch a movie rather than go out. We're both wonderful cooks who prefer homemade food over takeouts. We loved the simple, laid-back lifestyle. 

He adored my tranquil apartment tucked away in the suburbs outside the city. We shared the same spiritual views and outlook on life. We clicked on nearly everything. We were best friends. 

He would take out the trash, clean the house, cook for me, and spend his free time fussing over me. I could have been happy because what more could a woman ask for? And yet I was not. 

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There was something unsettling about my relationship with Dan.

For obvious starters, he was married with two kids. The relationship, however wonderful it was, was putting a stain on my conscience. He was everything I've ever wanted in a man. And yet coming from a broken family, I never dreamed of breaking another. I was deeply committed to my faith and cultivated strong values that instilled even stronger morals. I was deeply conflicted. 

Dan was now coming to my place more frequently, which troubled me even further. More than once, I broached the subject. 

"So, what happens now? Where do we go from here?"

"What do you mean by that?" 

"Well, we can't keep on like this. I love having you in my life but it's not right. We can't go on sneaking like this. I feel like I've turned into something I'm not."


"Something like what?"

"Like your side chick. I feel like the other woman, and I'm not cut out for that. I don't have what it takes to play second fiddle. I just can't do this anymore; it's out of character for me." 

He stared at me. Pained. 

"I have known you to be a very, very strong-willed and principled person," Dan said. "You will never be the other woman. Not how I see it." 

"Then what is this we're doing? I mean, we've crossed the boundaries of friendship. What are we now?" I asked even though I knew what we were.

We were in the middle of a full-blown affair that was headed nowhere. I wanted to opt-out. He would hear none of it. 

"My mind is this," Dan went on. "I love you, and I suppose you feel the same too. Now where do we go from here? First, I want us to be on the same page that I am not in your life just to sleep with you. And the same is true of you, too. There has to be more to you and me than that. "


"But you're married. And I know you would never leave your wife for me. And I am not asking you to; that would be too selfish. But this is not the life I want for my daughter and me. It's not what I signed up for. I want out."

"All along, I've wanted nothing but good for you," Dan continued. At no point have I wanted to take advantage of you, use you, or do anything to satisfy my selfish needs. You can love and protect a woman without necessarily making sleeping together the center of focus, right? That's what I am and want to be to you." 

My heart melted. It could have been a perfect love story. We could have done life together, had those beautiful babies, and enjoyed more cuddles, movies, and homemade food. 

But no, we were going to have no babies. His wife had a chronic heart condition and developed acute hypertension immediately after she conceived their first child. Their baby was preterm. The problem worsened with the second pregnancy, and fearing for her life, he did what no ordinary man would do: he underwent a vasectomy. They would have no more kids after that. He had permanently sacrificed his manhood and fertility for her.


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That was the most he ever disclosed his marital problems.

He didn't disparage or demean her. He presented himself as a man looking to salvage his dignity and respect amidst an irreversible decision. To feel lovable, to regain his masculine confidence. And he somehow found that in me. 

Was that supposed to right what was wrong with the relationship? I didn't think so.

It was unfortunate his good self went unappreciated. But I didn't want to meddle in his marital issues. I didn't consider myself better than his wife. I felt I should respect his marriage no matter what. 

What God has joined together, let no man separate.


Okay, I may have been hypocritical from the start; I allowed us to cross boundaries that should not have happened. But does that mean we could not retrace our steps when it became evident we were treading a dangerous path? Does it mean we couldn't turn back before it's too late?

He was a wonderful man worth keeping, but not mine to keep.

The heartbreak that followed was nasty. He fought to stay; I fought to leave.


There were tears from both of us, lots of them. But I was determined to do the right thing because I knew I could never be happy or at peace in that arrangement. I knew in that equation, I'd be the greatest loser. His wife wasn't going anywhere, and I knew he'd always choose her. I deserved better. 

In the weeks and months that followed, his endless messages and emails poured in. They all went unanswered. Once or twice he showed up at my door, and I stuck to my guns.

I may have my shortcomings. Life may not have been kind to me, but I didn't need rescuing. I was as good as any other woman. I needed to find love minus the guilt. I needed a man who was available, who would belong to me. I wasn't cut out to be a third-wheeler and was determined to reclaim my dignity. 

The healing process took me a whole year.


A year to forgive me for that obvious lapse in judgment and slip in character. A year to forgive him for arousing my love knowing we were headed nowhere. A year to repent and make peace with God. 

"You lost a good man," my friend said later when I was sane enough to talk about it. "Dan guy loved you; you shouldn't have let him go just like that."

"Maybe," I said. "Except he wasn't mine, so I didn't lose him. I just let him go back where he belongs."

It's been three years since I met him and a year since I let him go. I hadn't blocked him anywhere because I felt I was too old to be that petty. The other day he sent me a message on Whatsapp:

"I loved you. I still do, genuinely so. You gave me an ear and respect I couldn't find elsewhere. You are one person I'd talk deep things of my heart with and I cared — and still care  about you. But at some point, I felt I was a real pain to you. And this troubled me a great deal. But though you questioned, I loved you. I still do. You are one woman, given a chance, I would want to do life with. The one woman I'd marry without hesitating. I just don't know how I can be part of your life now." 


I couldn't think of what to tell him. I genuinely wish him well with his lot. But I refused to be bitter. For the same reason, I refused to be his rebound girl.

*names have been changed

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Teri O'halo McMahonn is a professional memorial writer and author who writes about technology, lifestyle, parenting, hearing loss, and other human interest topics.