Yesterday I couldn’t keep it in anymore and had to tell him how I felt. You can read about it here if you haven’t already. I had gone to work and between meetings was reading comments and realized there was just so much more brewing in my head.
I had to get it out, so I just started typing. All the things I wanted to say to him but had never dared. The things I needed him to know. And probably most importantly, the things I know have to change for me to continue in this relationship with him.After a couple of weeks of internal torment, I had clarity. I’m so keenly aware that there is no foot stomping to be had, no petulant response that says “why can’t I be awesome enough that you leave your marriage for good”. Nothing good comes of that dynamic in a relationship. He’s either ready and desiring to move forward with me, or he’s not.
I’d love to believe he’s ready, but his behavior and words suggest he’s not. Can I be patient? It really depends on what happens next. But I cannot continue a relationship where it feels like I’m being cheated on with and being cheated on – even if it’s just emotional.
I wrote out the words until there was nothing more to say. I shared it with some friends to get their feedback whether I was making a mistake. Tony listens then goes away and processes what he hears. He doesn’t “talk things out” like I do. So writing a letter and giving him some time to reflect on it makes sense.
I didn’t hear from him last night; he was at a family celebration. He was too tired to even text me when he got home, despite saying he would call. I doubt he had that conversation with Mary – it wouldn’t have been the time or place – but I know he’s thinking about what I said. He did send a good morning text and I’m supposed to see him for dinner tonight.
I sent him the following (and those of you who accuse me of creating cliffhangers… this post is 2,500 words long!):
I know there is a lot of stuff in this letter. These are things I needed to say, yet given you tend to listen then take away to process alone, I thought it best to write it out. I also just had to get it out as it’s been taking up far too much space in my brain and its eating me up from the inside.
We don’t have to talk about it later today but at some point I will want to know what you think about what I have to say. Please know this is written from a place of love and hope, and a belief that great things are possible with us if our needs and decisions can align.
At work, I always tell my team I can only deal with the problems that I’m aware we’re having.
If you don’t tell me, we can’t address it.
In hindsight, I realize our decision to be exclusive last January was a massive mistake. You could have said no, but you didn’t. Your actions with Gina (I think that was her name; she of the now-famous oyster valentines night) and perhaps others demonstrated you were clearly not ready.
I realized in Jamaica you spoke of at least one of the women you were with between Mary and me you didn’t speak of it ending. My problem is I don’t believe it did. I have no basis upon which to believe that Gina was the only woman you continued to pursue after we agreed to be exclusive. Nor do I know when you finally cut ties with any of them.
You’ve made it very hard for me to trust you, and I don’t like how that makes me feel. About you, about our future, and the things it triggers in me. I am not by nature suspicious or jealous. I generally believe the past should be the past. But knowing you have lied to me and today are still lying to me and Mary and others (through outright lies, or partial truths, or omission) has become an untenable situation for me.
For what it’s worth, I do believe you aren’t kissing anyone else these days. But I wonder if there’s anyone you continue to reach out to and flirt with, who you’ve let believe you are available.
I say all this not to beat you up about your behavior, but to highlight some things.
First, I completely understand that coming out of a long drought of a marriage, one often needs ways to get mojo and ego back. Affection from others, being pursued, lots of sex. Whatever it might be, there’s a need to “refill your bucket” to feel whole again. I get that it doesn’t always have to be about sex – just feeling wanted and attractive goes a long way.
But you never talked to me about that (you just once said you were lonely as justification for Gina). I don’t even know if that’s how you feel/felt; it’s my presumption based on the lies you told me and those I fear you told, and the things you let me believe.
Second, there can be no strong foundation in a relationship without the willingness to talk about these things. Even when it’s really hard to talk about. Even when putting yourself out there risks what you have with someone.
I am very rare and I’m not sure you realize it. You certainly don’t act like it, in this regard. There is so much potential with us.
You can trust me completely. I’m nothing if not highly analytical. I fight fair and am open about my feelings and needs. I understand human nature and human relationships and can deal with pretty much anything thrown at me.
If I started to feel next week like I needed to fuck someone else, and sensed I may act on it – as in, it’s not a transient thing or just a fantasy – I would talk to you about it. I would expect you to be a partner to me and figure out how we could deal with it. That’s why when you told me the one thing holding you back from a relationship with me was the thought of only having sex with one person for the rest of your life made you ill, I was okay with that. We can play together; it’s something I actively want as well.
But I have to trust you in order to do so.
If I started to feel like I needed more of those goodies of feeling attractive and desirable, and that I’m feeling the familiar pull to reach out to old lovers or go back onto POF or any such stuff, I would either deal with it so I didn’t act on it, or I would talk to you about it. That’s why I sometimes tell you about men I’ve turned down. Not because I’m trying to make you jealous but because I figure it’s fair for you to know that I’ve talked to them, but also want to tell you what the outcome was.
I see two problems with where we are today.
The first has to do with women other than me or Mary. Most of me believes there are no women out there today who think you’d fuck them if given the chance. But there is doubt…the seeds of which were planted last year.
If you were more transparent with me, and about me, this would not be an issue. If I knew deep down you were interested in only me, I would be secure. But this doubt is infectious. I wonder things like whether your “divorce lawyer” knows you aren’t single…and if I’m just believing a lie of convenience when you tell me you aren’t interested. I worry I’m not enough to “fill your bucket” of feeling good about yourself again. Virile and attractive and sexy. I wonder whether you are deliberately keeping your POF profile alive in case you want to go and look and see who is interested, even if you don’t act on it.
As I said before, I understand it’s an important thing to find post-split and I have no idea if I’m enough for you in this regard.
For me to feel better about this, I need you to be more transparent going forward. In addition, I’m debating whether I want you to tell me, just once, the things that I’d be surprised to learn when we were dating last year. To come clean, so we can press that reset button and move forward with a clean slate. I have things I can tell you, too.
This is all predicated on the belief that things have changed and you are genuinely and entirely only with me. If not, well then, you need to be open with me about that, and let me figure out how to move forward with full knowledge of where you and I stand.
And know that you may think you are doing me a kindness and saving my feelings by lying to me, because the truth may hurt. But I guarantee, lying to me will always hurt me more.
I am not willing to be in this relationship with you when physical and emotional exclusivity and honesty are one-sided.
The second problem is the nature of your relationship with Mary. As I said to you yesterday morning, I sincerely doubt if you told her you’d been dating someone for a year who you went to Jamaica with, that she’d say “oh yeah, I figured. Cool.” My gut tells me both she and you are continuing an emotional (and hopefully not physical) connection more than your role as co-parents.
Again, you’ve said to me a few times you’ve made the decision to not go back. Which leaves me wondering why you can’t tell her you’re dating. If I’m being ultra cynical, I wonder whether there’s something you are hiding from me. Were there things you did with her after you and I started going out, that means our timeline has to remain a secret? Did you maintain a physical relationship? Go on a family vacation together? Promise her something?
In the spirit of starting with a clean slate, it would be good for me to know these things. It would also demonstrate your trust for me and your investment in making this work between us.
You have always maintained you don’t want to go back to her, but perhaps going back is best for your son. You’ve been consistent in saying the things holding you back from sorting your divorce are practical ones – where to live, money, school, custody. These are not small things, and as I’ve said to you over and over, I am fine with slow divorce progress when the slowness is because of those things. I admire your commitment to making things right for your son and family.
I am inherently fine with you spending time with her and your son in things like sports lessons (as much as it admittedly drives me crazy because I don’t understand it, especially when your reason is just that he’s easier to handle) if that’s what you’ve decided is right for him. But it’s the pretense that worries me. Do you and her both agree you are engaging as co-parents and not anything else?
I will repeat what I said yesterday morning: I could spend a weekend with Will and Liam and there would be nobody – not us, friends, family, colleagues – absolutely nobody would think there is anything other than just he and I being together because of our kid. We would engage in no canoodling, no physical contact, no romance, no sweet talk, no emotional connection other than the history we share (you can’t erase that), mutual respect, and having a child together.
If she continues to think you may come back because you haven’t told her otherwise – hell, if either of you think you may come back, then I can’t continue our relationship until that’s resolved.
I understand you may not be ready and that’s the risk I’m taking in telling you what I need. You may not be able to tell her you’ve moved on and you want to start the divorce proceedings. Perhaps it’s not true: you aren’t ready to move on. Perhaps you are scared. Perhaps you’re caught in a lie and need to figure out how to get out of it. Perhaps you are frozen because the next steps are overwhelming. Unless you tell me why, I have only the cynicism and guesses and words in my head that replay over and over when I’m trying to sleep.
For what it’s worth, you telling friends and family and colleagues about me/us is something I think will happen only after you’re resolved with Mary. It admittedly makes me apoplectic to think about your colleague and you talking about how great a dinner the four of you had and you should really do it again. Let alone doing it again. He’s NOT on the periphery of your life anymore, Tony.
I am also going to stop asking you about us doing stuff with our kids together. I do not want to meet your son just to disappear. It’s not fair to him. Your continued avoidance of having me meet him makes a lot of sense given the reasons I assume you haven’t had the conversation with Mary.
I didn’t think I had so much to say. I guess I’ve been holding back, knowing you don’t like to talk about stuff. I’m loathe to go back and edit much of this because they are my words and my feelings, such as they are. They are messy and unpleasant and my grammar probably sucks. I’m not infallible. I’m trying to write from a place of love and hope, instead of the anger and sadness and pessimism that flare up on occasion. I’d love to be wrong about things so please, set me straight where I’m off-base.
Mostly, please know this isn’t an ultimatum. I’m sharing how I feel, what I think, and what I need. I’m well aware it may be too much to ask of you, for countless reasons. Maybe for now, maybe forever. Your timeline, approach, and decisions are your own. I could be a catalyst, sure. But you can’t do this for me; it has to be for you.
But you perhaps feeling you need to engage with other women, you actively hiding me from friends, family, and colleagues, maintaining me effectively as your mistress while at the same time having an emotional affair with your wife…these things are killing me inside, and if we can’t figure out a way to move forward that works for both of us, then I too will have decisions to make.