The Non-Relationship That Nearly Destroyed Me

When you're involved with a womanizing, selfish person, your value in their life is easily edited out.

Woman heartbroken over man who was never really serious about her Tess Emily Seymour, Redrec | Canva

The journalist wins awards, and people think him to be a man of integrity and honor — the qualities he mistakenly believes he possesses. He conveniently forgets how he lies, uses people, and never feels remorse for his unkind and unethical actions.

I’m forever unthanked in his thank-yous as he has already forgotten my notes and rewritten my part in his life. He fails to remember I’m the keeper of many of his terrible secrets. Not only do I know where he buried the bodies, but I’m also the one who handed him the shovel.


I’ve learned that when you are involved with a womanizing, selfish person, your value in their life is easily edited out when they move on. 

I didn’t know he was an award-winning journalist when we started chatting online. He told me that he was in fundraising but seemed to know nothing about it. He was lazy with the details, indicating someone sloppy at their craft or someone who wasn’t used to lying.


He told me he was married but was little more than a caregiver to his invalid wife. It was all very tragic and romantic.

Think Therese Raquin but with more upward mobility.

We met in real time and seemed to click. He wasn’t someone most people would describe as handsome, but I thought his nerdy looks were endearing. He has a trustworthy and kind face — not the look of a player.

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One day, he said, "I think my car was stolen."

I found this strange. How could you not know one way or the other if your car had been stolen? He either had so many vehicles that he couldn’t keep track of them or had an employee or two who used the car.


Several of my friends worked in fundraising, and none had a fleet of cars or a staff. He was lying about his work. My spidey senses told me he had to be a photographer, artist, or someone in the arts.

I suspected he was a writer because the first picture he sent me was of him at a computer, holding a pencil. It resembled a book jacket picture of an author.

I knew his first name and his last initial and searched the internet as a woman possessed, and bingo, I found him.

He was a journalist, a non-fiction writer, and a memoirist.

I immediately confronted him about discovering his true identity, and he did something unexpected — he wept with joy.

He was so happy I knew!


Now, he could be honest about everything. I later learned being honest about everything only meant he could tell one less lie.

We’d meet at the golf course so that he could tell his wife that he had been golfing or at a Big Lots because he was cheap and always liked to go there.

He wasn’t lying — he was implying.

We’d sit in the golf course’s cafe, eating fries, and I’d listen as he’d monopolize the conversation.

We were getting close, or so I thought when he informed me he was moving to Georgia.

The writer spun fabulous tales of how we would meet in various states, and I would fantasize about the two of us moving to New York so that I too could live the life of a writer, even though I don’t love New York. It just seemed that’s where real writers lived.


I wanted his life more than I wanted him.

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Almost a year after we met, he sent me an email comparing my eyes to the sea on a grey morning. I didn’t understand it, but it sounded pretty. I wondered if it was specifically written for me, someone with green eyes, or just something he used to appear charming.

Three weeks later, he wrote to break things off, saying he needed to realign his priorities, and put his almost forgotten family first.

It did not track.

He moved, and we stayed in touch until a few days after his birthday when he told me we could no longer be in contact. He was erasing his online profile because his wife was suspicious of him.


I was sad but understood.

Although his wife didn’t post much on social media, a couple of months after the no-contact email, I saw a post where she said her husband had cheated on her with hundreds of women and had fallen in love with a woman he met on an adult sex site, and that the new couple was moving together to Atlantic City.

Hundreds of women?

A sex-only site?


This time I was devastated. I sent him an email with a copy of her post.

When he called to explain, he didn’t deny any of it or say he felt bad for how he treated me; he said, "The sex was electric," about being with his new girlfriend.

After an hour devoted to the new girlfriend, I said, "You need to do three things for me: help me with my career, take me to lunch, and stay my friend."


I was wrecked and had to get something more out of our non-relationship.

He agreed. It was the very least he could do for me, as I had helped him realize that he deserved happiness.

But I regretted that I’d helped him to rationalize his life as a jerk.

I wondered since both he and his girlfriend had left their spouses, how soon would it be for them to cheat on each other?

Wouldn’t you know it, this would be the one time a cheater would change. Years later, they’re still together and monogamous. And he can’t stop quoting his amazing girlfriend when she says hilarious things that aren’t funny or clever.

Why hasn’t she tired of him, at least? She’s a life coach and he’s a professional whiner.


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He kept part of his promise and took me to an awkward and uncomfortable lunch at an awful diner where I threw up in the bathroom.

He believes I’ll never write about him, yet I’m constantly writing about him — he’s in every story.


I think in his mind, we were friends, but we were never friends — we were never anything.

He will occasionally comment on my published pieces. Recently he wrote, "You are getting really good at that kind of popular nonfiction writing. Very impressive." Condescending jerk.

I deleted him from social media and felt released from the burden of his approval. But like any good narcissist, he will reach out when he senses I’m talking smack about him.

Once, the writer told me he couldn’t read something I had written because it upset his morals. It was too raw, too overtly sexual, and too emotional.

Morals? He slept with hundreds of women, and one of my essays upset his delicate sensibilities.


I cried daily when I discovered I was one of many women he used. I know it’s stupid, but all I wanted was to feel chosen and special, but he proved to me I was just one of many who satisfied some need of his.

I waited for him to apologize for using me, but that never happened. Instead, I forgive myself for falling for a lie and not being able to see the person behind the persona.

What we had may not have been love or passion but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t heartbreaking in its own way.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.