As soon as I saw the message alert pop up, I knew. I felt it in my gut. Before I even read her message, I knew what was about to happen.
After reading the most recent blogs I’d written, an old friend from high school send me a private message on Facebook. She’d read them and nearly fainted. She was not exaggerating. Her reaction was so strong because she’d had an almost identical relationship with someone from our old high school. In her message she said that the biggest difference about our situations was that they began to talk marriage. “Or at least he let me talk [about] it, allowing me to think he was on board.”
This woman’s message continued: “He also very suddenly moved, telling me only a month before he did it. Within 3 weeks of his move, he never spoke to or texted me again. Like you, I sort of knew all along that I wasn't ‘in love’ with him but I did ‘have love’ for him and told myself that was good enough. I have been in very few relationships in my life. Most of my interaction with adult men of our age is them thinking I am the ‘most amazing friend’. That made this sting and sting hard. No woman deserves to be ghosted on. Shows what a coward both of our men are.”
As I read those words, I knew in my heart we were talking about the same man. About a year-and-a-half ago, I had seen a picture of these two individuals on social media, smiling and happy together, and had wondered if they were dating. Less than 2 months prior, when I’d been exchanging silly girls’ night texts with him, he had indicated that he was not dating anyone, so I was very curious, but did not attempt to find out anything further.
Reading what she’d written about having been in very few relationships in her life, I felt like I was reading about myself. We had not been close friends in school, nor were we now, but I could absolutely relate to the story she was telling me. I also knew I had to find out who she was talking about.
I responded and told her that I felt compelled for the two of us to figure out if we somehow were talking about the same guy. I said I had no problem telling her who mine was. That I trusted her with that information. It had never been a secret that we were dating as we’d been out in public together and he’d met a friend of mine and he knew other mutual acquaintances had been told about us. But that was my side of things. I think he only ever told one person, his BFF, that he was dating me. He certainly never told his kids or family.
The next message I received solidified things – even before she named names.
“I was panicked as I read your story that it might be the same guy because our experiences were so very, very similar including the slow burn build up and weeks and months in between hot and heavy text sessions. Promises to visit or remember important dates, etc. only to ignore them and blame work or his kids. People [who knew us both] knew that he and I were dating because he would come out to [social functions with us], but I don’t think he told any of his other friends or his kids, though. When I cottoned on to the fact that he wasn’t telling any of his friends that weren’t old high school people we both knew, I began to realize he wasn’t as committed as I was.”
Then, she named names. Of course it was him.
I wish I could say that I was surprised, but I really wasn’t. I quickly responded that I, too, had dated this man and I thought we had A LOT to talk about. As an afterthought I said, “HOLY SHIT is a good response. It’s the one I had.”
Her response was pretty priceless. “Wow! I’ll go as far to up it to HOLY FUCKING SHIT and I rarely use the f-word. I also think he may have been seeing us during the same time period. When were you together?”
It was at this point that I suggested we talk on the phone and we proceeded to talk for an hour. We truly did have SO much to talk about.
We discovered that around the time he was starting to ghost her is the time that things were starting up with me. In fact, he hooked up with me while he was still with her. I’m not sure either of us were truly surprised about that at this point. We tracked the timeline of when he and I got together and it overlapped by about 3 weeks with when he was still involved with her. They had talked about marriage. They had discussed rings. When she’d mentioned being scared due to the illness of a parent and not knowing what she’d do without her parents as they still took care of her in many ways, he responded that he would be there for her to take care of her. Then he vanished.
On the day he moved, he texted me that morning on his way out of town and then he texted me hours later when he arrived at his new home. Conversely, she had asked him to let her know when he arrived, but he never did. When she did text him to make sure they’d made it safely, he curtly responded that they had and things were busy getting settled, etc. Not quite the reaction she’d been looking for. Even when she asked if being with her was still what he wanted, he responded with yes, but his actions spoke differently. Much as they had when I’d asked if everything was ok and he’d said yes, but it clearly wasn’t.
One major difference in our situations is that they had been friends when we were in high school. In fact, they had been hooking up off and on since then – for over 30 years. Even when he was with other women, he was still encouraging her. I write about all this with her full permission. She encouraged me to write and share all of this as long as I did not reveal her name and I won’t. Just as I won’t reveal his. It would serve no purpose.
My friend isn’t proud of how things happened or her part in it all the time, but I also understood when she talked about how the need for attention and to feel that someone cares about you and wants to be with you can be so overwhelming. When you don’t have that romantic love, you cling to it when you think you’ve found it. Even if what you have found is a mirage.
What our conversation showed us is the pattern of behavior this man exhibits. He can’t be monogamous, that much is clear. He gets involved with one woman, but seems to have at least one more on the side. I’ve put other pieces together and deduced that when he was flirting with me via emails years ago and supposedly in a serious relationship with another woman, he was also still involved with this friend of mine. I suspect we weren’t the only ones.
We often heard the same basic stories – he was “so busy” at work or with his kids. Too busy to pay the time and attention either of us wanted and needed.
If the pattern perpetuates, my assumption is that around the time he started to pull away from me, he met someone else in the state where he currently resides. It would make sense. Everything seemed fine with him and this other woman until he got together with me. Then he started to ghost her. Until then, she thought they were happy together. They had agreed – as he and I had – that they were dating exclusively and around January 2017 she thought they truly were embarking on a dating relationship. Of course, this was the time he was telling me he was NOT dating anyone.
When we got together, he told me that he hadn’t been “lighting up the social scene with the ladies” in the past few years and that he hadn’t had sex in about a year. His math was a little off.
So I am confident now that some poor, unsuspecting woman has met and started to date him where he lives now. Or maybe he has yet another high school classmate or woman from his past who is hanging on. He seems to like the distance thing because that allows him not to have to incorporate that woman into his life.
We spent some of our hour on the phone talking about our feelings for this guy. We both acknowledged that we felt love for him, but were not IN love with him. She said when she was discussing marrying him with her mother, she was asked if she was in love with him. She told her mother that no, she was not, but she could live with him. Her mother said – and rightly so – that that wasn’t a good answer. It boiled down to how she could have settled for him so she wouldn’t have to grow older alone. I think most everyone can relate to that. I certainly can.
I also found it particularly interesting that she did not find him physically attractive. We agreed 100% that he is very witty and charming and that is a huge turn on for both of us, but when it came to him physically, we diverged. I find him physically attractive. She, however, said she’d never really thought of him as handsome. It’s interesting how we see some things exactly the same and others not at all.
After an hour we ended our conversation to try and get some sleep. Both of us spent a lot of that hour bubbling over with earnest laughter. The situation is so utterly ridiculous that you HAVE to laugh. The truth, as they say, is always stranger than fiction. Oh Sumter, you incestuous little Peyton Place. You did it again.
I know I did not do anything to cause the hurt this woman is feeling, but I am sad about it none the less. Even amidst her laughter, she said she had roiling anger in the pit of her stomach. This man crushed her and carelessly tossed her aside. He did the same to me, I suppose, but to a lesser degree. After all, we hadn’t been discussing wedding rings.
The question has popped up several times in the past 24 hours – how does this man sleep at night? Well, based on my limited experience, he snores like a freight train and is lucky I didn’t hurt him in his sleep the one night we spent the entire night together. I actually think he has sleep apnea and one day might not even wake up at all, but you can’t force someone to take care of themselves. To answer that question more in the spirit in which it was asked, I imagine he sleeps fine at night. In his mind, I doubt he thinks he is doing or has done anything wrong. Somewhere along the way, he learned that this is how you treat women. He’ll never change unless and until the women start insisting on it.
Did I get played? Oh hell yes. Of course I did. I understand that. I am, however, oddly not angry about that. Maybe I will be tomorrow or next week, but I was in a very good place when I learned this information and I simply wasn’t surprised. Sad, perhaps, but not surprised. I believe he is an unhappy person and that’s at least partly why he behaves this way. Happy people don’t treat others like he has treated us.
I’m grateful that both of us got wise to his game, even if later than we’d have liked, and want nothing more to do with him again. Ever. There is nothing he could say or do that would make me consider getting involved with him again.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Well, shame on me. The third time will not be the charm. I only wish I could warm all the women in his new home town before they get hurt. They don’t deserve it. Neither did we.