So I dated a married dude. There, I said it. If I had a girlfriend that was having an affair with a married man, I’d have told her what a fool she was. Until it happened to me. I met Henry at a tech conference in Boston in 2007. I stared at the back of his neck for three days and thought, “That guy is so cute and so gay.” Henry was a Brit – why do all the European men wear their clothes so tight? I met up with him and his boss for cocktails and we all exchanged info. Turned out Henry was married with a little girl, and was the head of development for a video games company in London.
He and his officemates came to New York City a couple of times a year for work. They’d always look me up and I’d show them around town. We had a lot of drunken late nights and forgotten cab rides home. They loved my American valley girl accent, my sense of humor, the bars and restaurants I introduced them to. I was their local tour guide and they dubbed me the “Director of International Affairs.” Henry was painfully shy but we always found stuff to talk about. He devoured my crazy stories about Dad in prison, strip clubs, MTV work parties and the dating scene in New York City.
In November 2011 his company invited me to their holiday party in London. We all had a great night of drinking, dancing, and eating. We took taxis around town, bar hopped and ended up back at the hotel, pretty “pissed” as the Brits say. Henry was sitting next to me in the lobby smashed up against me going through all my photos on my iphone. We all decided to call it a night and hopped in the elevator. Henry got out on my floor to walk me to my room. Once I opened my door, the next thing I remember was being slammed against the wall going at it with Henry, and my clothes in a pile on the floor.
The next day I woke up extremely hungover and couldn’t believe that Henry and I hooked up. God he was sexy. I expected him to be totally embarrassed and to never hear from him again. Then my phone started beeping like crazy and it was Henry telling me how much fun he’d had the night before. Totally unexpected.
I came back to New York City and slowly Henry and I started a long distance relationship. We emailed, gchatted and would talk on the phone for hours. He even sent me letters and postcards. It was weird the first time I saw his handwriting. It seemed so personal.
“So how long have you thought of me romantically?” I asked. “Since the day we met,” he confessed. I had never thought of him as an option, not even in my dreams. “Why now? Why now after all this time?” I wondered. “I wanted to be happy,” he said.
We’d share childhood stories, talk about work, friends, and go into detail about our daily activities. Henry and I were getting to know each other so well, and he was quite different from the nice, shy guy I pegged him out to be. He had a sense of humor, opinions and dreams. We both loved Pac-Man, Legos, Star Wars and Citroëns. My inmate dad had been recently diagnosed by the prison psychiatrist as having narcissistic behavioral disorder. It was so nice to have a straight man who actually listened and remembered things I said.
I went to London to visit some of his officemates that I’d become close friends with. Henry and I snuck out around town as much as possible. The day I left I knew I was going to tell him I was in love with him. My palms were sweaty and my lips kept sticking to my dry teeth. He drove me to the train station, gave me a goodbye kiss and walked away. I ran up to him and told him I loved him, grabbed my suitcase and ran away as fast as possible. He chased after me, clenched my arm and kissed me, telling me he was also in love with me. And that’s when everything changed.
I got back to New York City and was crying, crying so hard. He was married. We spent the rest of the summer on the phone as Henry told me he couldn’t really change his “situation at the moment” but wanted us to continue. I told him I didn’t want to end up another cliché statistic. He tried to reassure me that our story was unique.
I didn’t tell too many people about Henry. It’s amazing the opinions and the judgments people have. I’ve always lived by the “no one lives in a glass house” rule. My entire family had been harshly judged by my dad’s business. I remember even in elementary school, friends ignored me in the hallway once their parents found out about my dad.
My friends that did know fell into two camps – they felt he was having his cake and eating it too, or they were cautiously happy for me. My BFF Anne was in the cake camp, “Woods what the hell are you doing? It’ll never go anywhere,” she’d say. Either way everyone was fascinated and wanted the latest update. I was surprised to hear how many people opened up to me about the affairs they’d either had or had been affected by. My one friend was dating her fourth married man! They mostly had the same story – the spouse never left.
That fall Henry wanted to come out to New York City and spend a week with me. He wanted to see how we’d be together as a real couple, being out in public, not in hotel rooms and bars all the time. It was a test. Our week together was magical, once he took his ring off. We were like any other couple living together – making each other tea in the morning, riding the subway, holding hands on the sidewalk, playing Ms. Pac-Man. We had so much sex in my Star Wars sheets that by the end of the week both of us could barely walk.
We did weekend errands and he carried home a 50 pound box of cat litter, and I thanked him with a cupcake. He loved every minute of doing simple things together and just laughing. “Everything is easy with you,” he said. He told me how unhappy he had been, and that his relationship was solely about raising their two daughters now.
He got back home and we had the same conversation again. He told me he wasn’t ready to make any changes. He needed to work on himself first and figure out what he really wanted. Ugh.
I came back to the United Kingdom the following summer. I caved and called Henry. We hadn’t spoken in a few months. He picked me up at the train station and took me to a pub. After we got the small talk out of the way, I delved right into asking if he was separated yet. I had wishfully assumed from my blog statistics that he had. He assumed from my Instagram account that I was dating my art director at work. The tears began to well up.
The next morning he told me he was going to make the changes necessary so we could be together. He didn’t want to lose me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I came back to New York City and spoke with him on the phone, “So how did it go?” I was dying to know. “I told my wife I want a divorce, it wasn’t easy and my life is really tense right now and it’s all very depressing, but it’s done,” he sounded exhausted. I was beaming with happiness, but then it all hit me and how it would affect his family. I felt momentarily numb.
I couldn’t believe it – Henry and I were going to be a couple, starting our new life together in England. I looked at apartments for us to live in. He even knew where he wanted us to get married – Vegas. He gave me a dual-purpose vibrating necklace for my birthday with a card that said “Think of me.” He cracked me up and I adored him.
We spoke on the phone again a few days later. I was so excited to start making plans for our future. “How’s it going?” I asked. “Oh fine, my kids kept me running around all weekend and work is really busy.” I pushed again, “No, I mean how’s it going with you moving out and starting divorce proceedings?” “Oh (long pause) well that’s kinda on hold at the moment.”I sat down in my chair with a cat on my lap. “What do you mean?” “Well I’ve already committed to taking care of the girls for the rest of the summer and we have a family vacation planned.” “Uhm, okay” I choked out. That British accent really wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
I got off the phone and screamed, I was furious! And mostly at myself. Our two year relationship had become a true life game of pong. My friends thought he was an asshole. “Well he has kids so it’s a lot harder,” I’d still defend him.
We had another year together of the same old shit. Speaking, not speaking, London, New York City, hotel rooms, crying, laughing, broken promises. I spent the summer of 2014 in Europe using London as my base. We spent the summer together, sneaking around, hotels here and hotels there. I’d meet him at work and we’d have lunch, go out for dinner, it was so nice and I really missed his companionship. He still made me laugh. We caught each other up with our lives the last few months. He even wanted me to meet his kids.
That fall I moved back to Los Angeles. I was ready to start a new chapter and promised myself I wouldn’t bring back any dead weight. I bought Henry pricey concert tickets as a birthday present. We had talked about going several times. He called me when I sent him the tickets via email, “There’s no good way to say this but unfortunately I’ll be unable to go as my wife has already made plans for me with friends that weekend,” he says in his proper British accent. “You and I talked about this like 15 times and that weekend was free??” My voice was shaking. “I know but I hadn’t gotten around to having an excuse yet for that weekend.” Plans with his wife…OF COURSE HE DID, AS HE SHOULD. After three years, I had finally been pushed to the edge. In the beginning I felt sorry for him and his relationship as he described it. Now I just felt bad for his wife.
I made a date to break up with him on the phone and he knew it. We talked on the phone for 80 minutes and we had the same conversation we’d had a million times before…he needed to get divorced. I told him I was out for good. After we hung up, I felt so relieved, so free. I went to Costco and was skipping down the aisles, I was so giddy. I spent $400 on vitamin supplements and wine.
After the initial sadness faded, I grew to loathe all things British and any song by Lana Del Rey. I had an apartment full of Pac-Man, Lego and Star Wars presents, with a box of handwritten love letters. I slowly gave it all away. Henry and I last spoke a little over a year ago. He told me he was in the middle of ending his relationship. I hear they’re still together.
I normally consider myself to be a rational person. But I let my heart take over, I fell in love and I hoped for a little too long. And what did I learn? Just because someone says they’re unhappy doesn’t mean they’re going to make changes, no matter how happy you may make them. And if a married man moves in with his mummy and daddy, it doesn’t mean he’s separated!
So that happened. I have no regrets, I just wish I’d ended it sooner, and never again.
Now all I got is this vibrating necklace. I had to keep that damn necklace, well, because you know….