For the first time ever, Tony told me he loved me. Despite some of you thinking it was manipulative, it seemed to me to be said more from surprise and compassion. I’d suspected for a long time he did love me, but it was wonderful to finally hear it.
Even if it was too late, and wouldn’t change a thing.
I punched him in the chest and say “you ass, why didn’t you ever tell me that before?”
He just looked at me blankly and said “I dunno Ann. Because I’m a guy? But I do love you.”
It brought some levity to an otherwise very intense hour.
He held my face in his hands, wiped the tears from my eyes, looked at me intently and said “Ann, you are the first woman ever, in my entire life, that I’ve enjoyed having sex with. I mean it. And it’s not just the sex. I think of all the amazing times we’ve had together. I enjoy every second I spend with you, and you’ve become a huge part of my life.”
It was nice to hear, but I also realized that I am more important to Tony than he is to me. Not because I don’t love him, and not because he’s not special, but because I have great relationships with my family and wonderful friendships. I have a good support network: more than one person I can call when I need to talk.
We talked more about his almost-decision to move back with Mary. I reiterated what I’ve said many times: despite thinking being a family together is better, it’s not better when a child grows up with parents in an unhappy marriage. Believe me, I spent 15 years with someone who had no idea what a healthy relationship looked and felt like. It’s a painful education.
Tony’s son will be on the same path if they don’t get their shit sorted. It’s not pretty.
I asked him what the plan was for moving back. He said it wasn’t all sorted out, there were things that had to get done in the house first.
“I’m sorry?” I said, “what would have to be done in the house before you can move back in?”
“We have to finish the renovation of my son’s bedroom.”
“Tony, you do realize that’s ridiculous and makes no sense, right?”
“Yeah… I do. But I don’t want to make a rash decision.”
I roared with laughter. He looked forlorn. “Oh Tony,” I said, “you are nowhere near making a ‘rash decision’. It’s been two fucking years!”
It wasn’t the first time I thought to myself the two of them probably made a good pair. They have both maintained their status quo for almost two years, and to continue in limbo even after talking about him moving back? It would drive the planner in me bat shit crazy.
He told me with his own hospital scare and his mother’s illness, he had been thinking a lot about family. His Dad died when he was young. He said “me and my brother and my Mom, that’s all the family that’s left. The men don’t live too long in my family. I can’t stand the thought of my son being raised just by Mary, it’s not right, I have to be with him.”
Tony simply cannot see any option that has him in his son’s life the way he wants, without also living with Mary. He cites his freelance job and schedule as the reason it won’t work. For him, being the Dad he never had means he and Mary are living together.
I’ve tried before to tell him there are other paths, but he can’t see it. I didn’t try again; there’s no point.
What I did tell him was one of the things that frustrated me about him and I was he never really gave our relationship a chance. By never trying to integrate anything with family and friends, he never saw or felt how it could work.
He did admit to thinking about getting our sons together on occasion. Of course, it never happened. I’m sure I could write thousands of words dissecting why, but I think it still comes down to him wanting to keep his options open with Mary, knowing if she found out about me and my role in his life, it could jeopardize his options.
In processing all of this stuff with Tony, I’ve realized in many relationships when it’s just you and the other person in your own little bubble, things can be wonderful. But the bubble can shield you from the outside world for only so long.
For example, Ian told me his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend started to disintegrate when their children were introduced. His daughter didn’t like his girlfriend. Fox has been dating a woman since shortly after our breakup. She has three small children, and as he is sending his off to college and contemplating downsizing, there is significant conflict in what to do next.
Tony and I were wonderful in our own world, or even with my friends, but when I started to realize the natural progression of our relationship was halted because he needed to keep his options open with Mary, I knew it was only good when we were in our bubble.
He stayed overnight. I don’t regret it.
I’ve seen him once since then. In the aftermath of all this, it dawned on me that going on a vacation with Mary would not have been out-of-the-blue. Perhaps the actual decision was, but I knew it meant he was being more intimate with her recently than I thought before, and I mean intimate in the broadest sense of the term.
I don’t know when the nature of their interactions shifted, and it doesn’t ultimately matter. But at some point, he went from largely being dissatisfied with their interactions to pursuing something more. My guess is in the last month or two, as the aftermath of our breakup set in. Maybe when he realized I was dating seriously. Or it could have nothing to do with me at all. But I know in my gut it wasn’t just after he was in the hospital.
He said they only had sex three times since they broke up, and I believe him. But that isn’t the thing that bothers me the most.
I am now clearly part of a big lie.
It was one thing when he wasn’t on a direct path back to moving in, but now that he’s on the path? As far as I’m concerned, he’s cheating on his wife. With me. I asked him how she would feel if she found out about me, and he said “she wouldn’t be happy.”
I think a better term is “apoplectic”, don’t you?
I have avoided being involved with married men who aren’t in open relationships. And here I am, in a friends-with-benefits-on-steroids relationship with someone who may be back living with his wife any day now.
So I told him I couldn’t be part of his deceit. That I wasn’t a mistress. He hates that I use the term so I clarified for him – I use it to describe a person who is on the sidelines and the shadows, who cannot be part of an everyday life of friends and family. It is not to diminish how he felt about me.
I had another big revelation. I had never spent time considering what would happen to our friendship (emotional or physical) when he went back to her. To cope with walking away, knowing he wasn’t right for me as a boyfriend, I told myself he was never going to move in any direction.
I asked him how it was possible either of us ever thought we could survive him moving back. He didn’t know what to say. I said:
“You couldn’t tell her about me when you weren’t together, so how the hell do you see this working? Are you going to actually tell her who you’re going out with or talking to? Of course not. I will be even more hidden than I already am. And I’m not going to be intimate with you when you’re being intimate with her. I am not willing to be a mistress and I won’t be part of your continued lies to Mary.”
“Here’s the problem, Tony. You and I have never been able to see each other in person without coming together like rare earth magnets. So what are we resorting to? A surreptitious phone call every few weeks? I simply don’t think it’s right.”
He said “Oh Ann, I’m not ready to say goodbye. I don’t want to say goodbye to you. As much as the sex with you is the greatest I have ever experienced, I’m willing to give it up to keep you in my life. I’m not ready to face not talking to you. You are so important to me.”
I decided to not cut him off entirely. I don’t need to, at least not now. I may see him once more in the near term – he is using the excuse that he has a long-overdue Valentine’s gift for me, and wants to give me some of my stuff back. Which is fine; I know it’s an excuse and I will probably put myself in a Tony bubble for a couple of hours.
Afterwards, my intention is to not see him. Or at the very least, not see him in a private place. I know it will be very difficult to stick to my decision.
But the thought of his deceit with her literally makes my stomach turn. I don’t want to be having sex with him as he’s having sex with her. I want to be able to defend my actions (to myself, primarily), and I can’t if I continue time and time again to see him.
I’m at 1,620 words, and I’m sure if I cut this post in two I will have hell to pay with some of you. So apologies for the length, if you’re still with me, then thank you.
One final thought.
I realized yesterday Tony was a crutch. He’s been a stable influence in my life for a long time. Since last fall, he’s been there for me when I needed him. We spoke almost every single day. He made me feel like a sexy powerful wonder woman.
Facing being single was easier because he was in my life. There was always Tony who could fill my time.