If You’ve Ever Loved a Married Man…

… written by one who did… and damnit, still does…

If this statement surprises you, trust me, it surprises me that I’m sharing it with you. It would be expected for me to feel some shame over this, I suppose, but I don’t really feel shame. I never thought of myself as a homewrecker, in fact, was never interested in stealing a man away from a woman to whom he was married. I didn’t look to only be involved with a married man, and I had plenty of relationships with single men as well. Also, I’ve been married and divorced twice, and at no time did I ever cheat on either of my spouses. I wasn’t the one breaking vows to another, so I had no guilt I felt I needed to carry.

In a recent conversation with my brother, while I don’t remember exactly what it was we were conversing about other than romantic relationships, I remember opening my mouth and that I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop any time I was in a relationship. In other words, I always believed that the relationship would end. While I’ve probably always known this about myself, it was never as a conscious thought. The truth is, I have always felt unworthy of having anyone love me, of having anyone in my life willing to accept my bads, which far outweigh my goods. I honestly believed that, if I was in the relationship long enough, that person would begin to find out all of the ‘unlovable’ things there were to know about me and decide that they were too much to handle and end the relationship. Looking back, I realize clearly now all of the ways I chose to act to sabotage the relationship, so that I could, in essence, have some control over when it would end, because I 100% believed that it would, indeed, end.

I’m writing this and find myself feeling so sad for the person who is writing these words. How awful it must be to have such a low opinion of oneself to feel unworthy of being loved. Logical me questions what had to happen in that person’s life to make him/her feel that way, and logical me has no answer to that question.

From that, I begin to understand that, while I didn’t seek out married people to be in a relationship with, being in a relationship with a married person allowed me to be “let off the hook”. In essence, this person was choosing, consciously, to cheat on his vows to another, and so whatever ugly stuff I brought to the table in the relationship, I wasn’t the only one with ugly stuff in the relationship. I also understand now that, when involved with a married man, it wasn’t going to be a relationship in which we spent a lot of time together, and I could be at my best for periods of time – in other words, wear the infamous mask over my authentic self because it wasn’t going to be a permanent fixture. In exchange for my companionship at times, I would receive enough affection and attention to fill my loneliness at that moment, and those happy moments would play over and over again in my head so that they could sustain me in the times when he couldn’t be available to me.

I won’t count how many married men I’ve been in some kind of a relationship with. (I’m not sure I know an accurate count, so let’s just settle on ‘quite a few’.) Some were nothing more than the ‘friends with benefits’ type of relationships. Some were with more local men, some were with men who lived away from the area but traveled through the area on a regular basis. And, oddly enough, even though logic told me I had every right to have multiple relationships like this at the same time, I was always monogamous.

I have not loved every married man I’ve known in a more intimate mental and physical nature. I have truly liked each and every one of them. These were not the “one-night stand” kind of events. Some were shorter-term relationships; some went on for a year or more. A few of them went on for several years, and with two I thought I was in love and with the last one, I deeply loved this man, and I was truly broken emotionally when it ended. So broken that I have never dated or became ‘friends with benefits’ with anyone since then, because even though we’ve been apart for about 16 years, and even though I don’t even know if he’s alive or not, he holds my heart and will do so until the day I die.

I feel like I want to explain my behavior, as I know that it’s not a behavior that society smiles upon. Obviously, my lack of ego, lack of feeling worthy enough, always, in its own subtle ways, caused me to need validation from outside myself that I was worth caring about. But I also know that, in both of my marriages, I lost myself trying to please my spouse and be everything he wanted me to be. The logistics of having an affair and having to work through schedules to be together gave me the time to be supported and cared for that I needed, but as it wasn’t permanent and there would be times between seeing each other, I had time alone to be my own person – that is, I wasn’t with that person so much that I lost myself in trying to please him.

Look, I am in no way suggesting that it’s okay, much less a good thing to be involved with a married person. When we think of the word “affair”, we automatically think of it as being a primarily sexual relationship. I was in the “early prime” of my life, so certainly, I enjoyed the sex. But in truth, I traded off the sex in exchange for getting attention and feeling cared for. And based on my experiences, I’m not sure we should automatically assume that all men who cheat are looking for only sex as well. I’ve never been intimate with a man with whom I hadn’t had many conversations about a variety of topics, and some of our meetups were specifically for that reason. I never ‘measured’ how good the relationship was by how good the sex was, but by how good the communication was.

I could probably keep writing for a long time about this subject, because I experienced a lot of this kind of relationship over quite a few years. And, to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of regret. Those years were also the years in which I truly got to experience who I was when I wasn’t sacrificing myself to please someone else. I got the caring, attention and affection that had been absent while I was a child, absent in my first marriage, and absent in the last year of my second marriage (he would not talk to me about the dysfunction he was experiencing, and he would not touch me in any way, even a hug, for fear I might assume that his touch meant we were going to be having sex – just an FYI).

There is one other thing that I feel needs pointed out. There were, in my parent’s generation and perhaps even today, women who somehow knew their husbands were having affairs and looked the other way on purpose, women who felt that, as long as he wasn’t bringing it into their house or family, they were fine if he found it elsewhere instead of insisting them to provide.

To quote my mother, whose only advice to me, as her daughter, was “Sex is a man’s pleasure and a woman’s work.” And sadly, that was exactly what she thought and felt. If nothing else (and there was so much more), the men I chose to be intimate with taught me how to have a healthy relationship with sex.

So, I’m embarrassed suspecting how many of you may change your view of me after reading this blog post, but remember, you were warned that my genuine and authentic self was going to start having a voice. These happenings, over perhaps 10 years between husband #1 and husband #2, and a few after husband #2, had a heavy hand in shaping who I have become today. And for that, I can have no regrets.

I think this sums up exactly why I did what I did…

12 thoughts on “If You’ve Ever Loved a Married Man…

  1. Man, if all of our “authentic selves” were exposed for what they really are….nobody should be walking around without a good dose of humility. Life is complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have mixed emotions about this post, primarily because of the sentence “women who somehow knew their husbands were having affairs and looked the other way on purpose.” I admit, that I agree with it whole-heartedly, that some women DO just know, I don’t agree that it can sort of be excused because they might – it’s better to assume that they don’t.

    Outside of that one sentence, I find nothing wrong with your post. Personally, I have never sought out married folks because I assume the wife does not know, but I did find myself in a friends with benefits situation with someone I strongly suspected of being married although he denied it. I sadly didn’t end it because I thought he was married, I ultimately ended it because it became frustrating to me – he was never available when I wanted him to be, but he wanted me to be available when he was available. All the while denying he was in any other way affiliated. Bah humbug to that. At least you were getting your needs met.

    I love the fact that you’re not trying to excuse your behavior; you understand it and accept it for what it is, but there is not one single excuse. I am of the opinion that it is inexcusable anyway – everything you do is inexcusable because YOU have no reason to make an excuse. You did what you did, it got you where you are; feeling guilty or beating yourself up over it is not going to change that it happened, it just makes you feel like garbage for absolutely no reason. The only person who should be feeing any type of way is the man – he made a promise and is choosing to break that promise. As the person he’s breaking it with, your only responsibility is to know that she most likely doesn’t know, to recognize that if he’s doing it with you he’s probably also doing it to you, to make sure your part in all of this doesn’t create a medical issue that everyone has to deal with (be protected!), and to recognize that the likelihood that the man will leave her is astronomically low – and even if he did you wouldn’t actually want him to because now it’s just you who are constantly worried he’s doing it.

    I’ll be honest with you – your history doesn’t change the way I see you. Not an iota. From the start, I assumed that you were human, had a life experience that made you who you are (details generally unknown until told), and that your life, whether I would agree with your choices or not, has been lived to YOUR level of contentedness. If anyone changes their opinion of you based on your lived life experiences, they just have a different view point which is totally understandable. If anyone tries to make you feel bad about your lived experiences, they aren’t worth bothering with.

    Being honest can be liberating. I wish you luck on your continued journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t pretend to know what you mean or understand the motivations…

    But I think I understand the area around the address of your motivations and meaning. You’re right to suggest the thought that guys aren’t always motivated by the sexual component of such an arrangement. Sometimes there’s a need for some — dare I say, any — affection.

    No, I’ve never been the unfaithful husband; but I’ve been the side hustle. Like what you describe, it’s ranged from fling to Thing. Sometimes it’s filled a void — and other times, it’s created one.

    In any event, I think it’s hard to discuss knowing it’s an activity frowned on. And knowing my own past, I even find myself morally against it without judgement toward those doing it if that makes sense; we all steer our own ships in through the seas of life. But as I opened… I think I get it.

    And if the difficulty of writing this comment is anything to go by, a whole post must’ve taken some nerve.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I almost ‘un-published’ this countless times after it was scheduled to publish. I’m trying to live up to “I don’t care what other people think” in action, not just in words. There is some sense of relief in having finally put it out there instead of carrying it like a “secret” for so many years. But bravery had nothing to do with my post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Of course, it feels wonderful to know for a (written response) fact that your way of seeing you isn’t changed by my decisions in the past. That is often the same for me when I read some of your posts. You have a complex emotionality that I feel akin to, no matter what the situation you describe. Thank you for this kind response!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for taking your time to share your thoughts and to do them in an honest but kind manner. Sharing this vulnerable post was, I believe, both a way of letting go of some unproud times in my past I’ve held like a ‘secret’ and also living up to the words “I don’t care what others think about me.” I truly never thought about the “wife” because she was someone I didn’t know and who didn’t really exist in my world. That might be my only true regret, that I was a part of something that had the possibility (probability?) of hurting someone else. And hey, I admire your vulnerability in sharing a bit of your past with me!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I struggled with conveying the idea that I, too, consider that an ‘unproud’ part of my life as well without conveying unintended judgment. I don’t care much about what most people think about me, but I can’t get away from what I think about me.
    And putting something like this out there can be tough… And even though I wouldn’t condone that behavior any more (if you were to ask my advice), you’re not flying solo with this sort of past.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I suspect that all of us have more than one “unproud” moment in our pasts. I hear you loud and clear about the trouble being what we think about ourselves even more than what other people think of us. I forgive others quite easily, but I’m my strongest critic so forgiving myself is far more difficult. As much as I craved the attention I needed and got in those relationships and will be forever grateful because, in its own way, it validated me in a stretch of time when I needed that validation. Even all these years later, I can’t think of another way I could have gotten that. I suspect you and I would make great pen-pals!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, I truly appreciate that.

    Honestly, other people’s perceptions of me never caused me any concern. The truth is I have to live with myself, not with them. I can choose to live with them or not – I can’t choose to live with myself, kinda have to if I wanna keep living. Your past affects my perception of you only as much as it affects you – if you are hurting because of it, I want to hug you (even though I can’t); if you are happy with the outcome of a choice, I want to celebrate it with you (even though I can’t take you out for drinks lol). That is the extent of how your history would affect my ability to see you. You are a kind and caring person, and anyone who chooses to judge you more harshly once they find out something you’ve done or are doing are simply intolerant and ignorant of a world outside of their own perceptions of right and wrong.

    Keep on rocking on! You’re amazing, and anyone who says differently is probably high 😉😁

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I truly admire you for baring your soul and unburdening yourself of some complex issues. You have come to an understanding about yourself and gained wisdom and objectivity. What a relief to now have the confidence to share your innermost feelings; and, I for one, have not changed the way I feel about you. So many should have your courage. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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