Heartbreak

My Boyfriend Got Married Behind My Back — But I Still Stayed With Him

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lady looking phone in shock, while man sleeping

I don’t have the world’s best track record with men; I’ll be the first to admit that.

After years of experience, I’ve gotten better at recognizing red flags. Mostly, that’s true. Gone are the days I ignore the signs of abuse on the horizon, thankfully. 

Apparently, that wasn’t the case with infidelity.

No one enjoys being cheated on, I imagine. Unless you’re in a cuckold relationship, it’s doubtful you wake up in the morning thinking, “I hope my partner sneaks around on me today with someone else."

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By the same standard, I don’t believe most people actively desire to be the person sneaking around with married or otherwise engaged people. I’m sure there are exceptions to that, seeing the number of folks actively engaging in infidelity. But for me, it’s never been my thing.

I've been cheated on in the past; I never wanted to be the other woman.

When W and I first met, I’d been separated from my husband for six months. I was looking for a long-term relationship, but not in any big hurry for it to happen. W responded to an advertisement I placed on Craigslist, ticking all the boxes.

It took a little time for us to meet in person, and I was okay with that. We spent that time getting to know one another better, rather than jumping right into bed. Conversations went on into the night and early morning, talking about any and everything.

It all seemed so perfect.

Our first weekend together was simply magical. And it wasn’t just because the sex was fantastic.

I was concerned once we got together in person, the conversations wouldn’t flow as well, that we’d somehow run out of things to talk about or be awkward around one another. But it didn’t happen.

I don’t think either of us slept much over those two glorious days. We were both sad when he had to leave on Sunday because he was working out of town.

Things went along swimmingly for four or five months before the first red flag came into play.

We were hanging out one weekend like usual when a text came across his phone. He’d handed it to me to watch a YouTube video, and the notification floated across the top of the screen while I was holding it.

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It read: I love you.

It was from a woman named K.

My heart sank.

I’d never heard the name K before, and I definitely had no idea why she was texting her affection to my boyfriend. There was only a minute remaining on the Youtube video, so I let it continue to play, while my mind churned.

Once the song ended, I handed him the phone and told him he had a message.

Then, I waited.

I have to hand it to him, he handled it pretty well. The look on his face was practiced calm. He never faltered or looked shocked or scared. As I stared him down like I wanted to eat him, he responded to the text and put the phone down.

“Who is K? And why does she love you?”

“She’s a friend I’ve known forever. Her boyfriend’s name is W, too. She just messaged the wrong W. It’s no biggie.”

I’m not stupid. I didn’t believe a word of that explanation. But without further proof, there really wasn’t much I could do beyond accusing him of something I wasn’t sure of or just walking away. I didn’t want to walk away, so I waited.

A few months passed and no further red flags appeared. I hadn’t forgotten about Ms. K or her professions of love, but I wasn’t actively trying to think about it either. Things were going well for us, and I didn’t want to rock the boat.

Until I did.

It was the third weekend of November and on the surface, things were good, but something continued to niggle at the back of my mind.

W was home for the weekend, but I just had to know if the awful feeling I had in my gut was right.

So I began searching — and what I found could not have surprised me more.

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I knew K's first name and had a good idea of where she lived.  When I put two and two together in a Facebook search, I found wedding photos from the previous weekend: of my boyfriend and K getting married.

My boyfriend of almost 7 months had gotten married  and not to me.

I was sitting on the toilet when the pictures popped up on my phone. He was lying in our bed in the next room. I yelled from the bathroom.

“Hey, did you get married last weekend?”

“Uh....yeah.”

“Interesting. That is information I probably should have been given ahead of time.”

“I can explain.”

I don’t think I cried then. I know I did later.

Part of me just wanted him to get the hell out of my house and out of my life.

I don’t know if I had ever felt so betrayed, which is saying a lot considering the level of crap I’ve tolerated in my life.

But the other part of me wanted him to stay. To stay, and explain what the heck he was thinking. And where, if anywhere, we went from here.

Because of all the things I’d been, I’d never been the other woman — and I didn’t know if I wanted to be one now.

There’s a lot I could tell you about why, the logistics of the entire ordeal, but it’s not relevant to the story.

I stayed. He filed for divorce 366 days after he and K were married. They weren’t a couple in the traditional sense of things, to begin with; it’s one of the strangest situations I’ve ever encountered, but not my story to tell.

But still: I was the other woman for a year and a half, part of which I had no idea about. And I remained the other woman, even after finding out. Had you asked me before all of this happened if I would have stayed, I would have told you absolutely not.

But we never truly know what we’ll do until we’re in a situation.

W and I have had our ups and downs since. Trust has been a huge issue for us, but it’s gotten better. It’s been almost six years since we met. We’ve been married for almost four. I can’t say I wouldn’t change anything, because, at the heart of it all, I’ll always know our relationship began with a lie and that I was a dirty little secret.

But I know, given the chance, I wouldn’t go back and choose not to meet W. I wouldn’t want to. Regardless of how our relationship began, we’ve made our way, slowly but surely, and are making a life I’m proud to be a part of.

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Demeter Delune is an educator who writes on sexuality, relationships, and love.

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