When I was your (wo)man… your other woman
Conceptual photo of a marital infidelity

I love to retell my tragic love stories, not because I think they’re epic or special, not because I’m sick and enjoy feeling pain and not because I’m still longing for the guys who feature in those stories…
I tell them because I like to be reminded of how far I have come since those days. Hey, why go through that much pain if you can’t someday retell your journey, maybe it might help someone with their journey? Maybe it’ll help someone feel less alone… or maybe it’s just so that I can make you laugh, laugh at how totally clueless I am about love, relationships and how even after all these years, I’m still learning and making mistakes and changing…
I’ve realised that in my tales of woe and heart break It’s been very one sided…
Someday I may be able to share the bad things I’ve done, so that you can see that I’m not always a victim. Maybe it’ll help you understand aspects about me that seem confusing, maybe you’ll see that everyone makes mistakes but people really do change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst…
You probably read a title and you think you’re going to get a story from what filipino’s call ‘Kabet’, my experience of being the other woman… I don’t think we’re ready for those yet… that is part of my life that I’m only now really recovering from… but this story, well this one was one of those relationships that was such a mindfuck that to this day, I don’t really know if I’m upset about it… if I was ever upset about it… and if I’m over it.
It all started when I began dating this guy….
(My stories usually starts with that…) Let’s call him Paul.
Paul and I met through mutual friends, but I’m not actually being completely honest, I used to date one of his best friends. Paul and I met at a party and slutted it up. Then after that party, we started to really get to know each other (backwards right? That was my style circa 2009 – 2012).
We found out we had a lot in common, we enjoyed the same movies, same songs. We even found out that my best friend was his cousin! Talk about falling into the stereotypical belief that all Asians know eachother! Back then my girlfriends and I had written a dream boy wish list and one of my criteria’s was that my dream boy would have a tattoo on their chest… guess what? He had one! Paul was such a gentleman, he dotted on me. He texted me every morning and every night, he called me everyday, he always told me how beautiful I was and how much he cared for me. I’d tell him how corny he was and he would say, “I just don’t want to forget how wonderful you are, I don’t want you to think I don’t care about you.”
Because of how quickly bonded, I never even thought to put a label on us. We hung out a lot, we talked everyday, we were always ‘together’ at parties, it was like we were boyfriend and girlfriend and yet, and we never labelled it.  I never once felt like it was something I should be worried about. Our mutual friends would always comment on how cute we looked together, though he had known those friends longer than I had, I trusted them. Though we never laid out the terms of our ‘relationship’ I just assumed we weren’t seeing anyone else. At least on my part, I didn’t even consider dating anyone else. Looking back on it now, I don’t really understand why I was so relaxed about our casual relationship, now that I have experienced being in a monogamous relationship, the idea of being with someone but not being officially with that person freaks me out.
Paul was the perfect companion, whenever I was with him I felt so relaxed, so carefree. I never felt like I had to question our relationship, I never felt like I had to prove anything to him. I thought he felt the same. The problem was, even though he made me truly happy, he had only seen one side to me. He had never seen the insecure, broken and jealous girl that was the other side of my deeply confusing personality. In fact, with Paul, I was so brave, I’d just throw caution to the wind and go with him, do whatever he asked me, I just wanted to be as free as he was. You’re probably thinking that if I never acted myself around him then I was laying out the ground work for an unstable relationship filled with lies… well you’re probably right, but at the time I didn’t think I was hiding my true self, I thought I was just embellishing it… He made me so happy, I worried that my crazy self would frighten him, so instead of acknowledging that fear, I dumped a tonne of energy, laughter and happiness that I so badly wanted him to believe was real.
I had a particularly bad day and he called me, I couldn’t shake my sadness and he could hear it. He asked me what was wrong and I told him it wasn’t important, he sighed and replied, “If it’s important to you then it’s important to me.” Just that sentence alone was enough to bring me out of my bad mood and we carried on like nothing was wrong. The warning signals are already blaring out, I can hear them… Our relationship was all about the good times, having fun…if anything was ever wrong, he would know what to say and we’d both sweep the negativity under the rug. Well you know what they say, if you keep sweeping your problems under the rug rather than facing them then eventually you’re going to trip over it. Pretty soon the happy pretend me got tired of sweeping under the rug… I started to notice things that were wrong, maybe it was at this point the honeymoon period was ending because things started to go downhill from there.
I started being a little more open with Paul, I’d tell him worries I faced and feelings I was going through. I didn’t overload him with problems but I just wanted to share myself with him. He played the dutiful boyfriend (again never official) and would comfort me but I noticed he had stopped seeing me as often as he used to. His phone calls had started decreasing and I was lucky to hear from him after 9pm. I asked our friends if I had upset him and they said how crazy in love with me he was. They reassured me they had never seen him this happy and would throw parties just so that he could come over and see me. Another warning sign things weren’t right. Why did he need the excuse of a party to see me? But like I said, I was just so blissfully ignorant to all the signs because I was so damn happy. I was done being pessimistic about men and I just so badly wanted to believe he was a good guy. After all, he never gave me a reason to believe he was bad right?
Eventually he stopped contacting me all together. I didn’t want to act like a crazy ex girlfriend, but I was so confused, we went from being into each other to suddenly being nothing. Those same mutual friends continued to defend him and told me he was having issues but that they knew he wanted to be with me. I won’t even dignify those ‘friends’ by giving them names… What they did was unforgiveable and never will I mention them by name.
For months they continued to make me believe Paul and I were the perfect couple, even if we had limited contact, Paul and I would still see each other at gatherings, at those parties we would act like nothing was wrong, like we had been having a continuous relationship even though most of our conversations happened at parties rather than in private. Every time I would confide in a ‘friend’ about the strange situation we were in, they would scold me for questioning Paul’s faithfulness…
One night I called Paul and confronted him.
“What is going on?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why are you acting so distant?”
“I’m not.”
“You’re upsetting me.”
“I’m sorry…”
“Maybe this isn’t right anymore.”
“I’ll be better I promise…”
“I just don’t understand why we can’t have a normal conversation anymore.”
“I’ve just been busy…”
“Why do I feel like I always have to hold the conversation?”
“Because I never know what to say.”
“How do you think that makes me feel?”
“I don’t know…what do you want me to say?”
“Maybe we should just break up.”
“How can we break up if we were never together?”
And with that I hung up the phone, deleted his number and tried my best to forget him. It wasn’t hard to pretend it never happened because he didn’t try to contact me again…
I remained friends with those ‘friends’, we never talked about him and months later it was almost like he never existed. My decline from being a romantic to a cynic was promising; I was becoming a man hater, man-eater and man breaker in a nice healthy fashion. At one point I even considered taking a life of sisterhood just to prove to the world how I didn’t need a man. At the time I thought this was how healthy people dealt with situations… I thought by proving how independent I was and how little shits I gave about guys or love that I was preventing myself from getting hurt when really I was just making myself an easy target for men with bad intentions and a warning sign to those who had good intentions.
It had been months since I’d spoken to Paul, I’d pretty much erased his existence from my memory until I bumped into him at a party. One of those so-called friends apologised profusely to me saying his invite was accidental and that they hoped I wouldn’t get upset. I believed her, her face basically on the verge of tears seemed sincere, now I wonder whether it was all just for show… the whole things now seems like a massive charade… a massive joke in order to trick me, I still don’t get why…
Paul tried to get my attention throughout the party but I ignored him, there was nothing left to say and I had no time to listen to whatever lame excuse or reasoning he wanted to give me. I wouldn’t have been so bitter if I had wanted to be his friend but I didn’t. I had enough friends; the last thing I wanted was one who I couldn’t trust. When I got home that night I recounted our last conversation, as if he sensed I was thinking about him, my phone buzzed, it was a text…from a number I didn’t recognise.
“Are you awake?”
“Who is this?”
“Ouch you deleted my number… it’s Paul…”
“Why would you even think I’d keep your number?”
“I didn’t realise you were that mad at me…”
(…I stopped replying so he called me instead…)
Stupidly…I picked up, it was a withheld number but I knew it was Paul. I don’t know why I picked up… maybe I was bored? Or maybe I just wanted to hear him say his words to see if it would make me feel anything other than anger.
He told me how embarrassed he was at how he acted, how he desperately wanted to make it up to me, how he regretted what had happened. I asked why he waited so long before apologising, and as slick as I remember him to be, he knew just what to say. Call me crazy but I believed him. Yes I was cautious but I didn’t see any harm in playing along with him, reminiscing on all the fun we had.
That night we talked for hours… it was like nothing had changed, like we had briefly put our relationship on pause. Paul…God, you were so much fun. You were so charming, so good-looking, so sweet, so…HOT, but you were never clever…
Several weeks of playing chase and we had gone back to our normal routine, I was blissfully happy and our friends were glad to see us so happy. The group of ‘friends’ who were living in Plymouth were students so they began spending a lot more time in their home town a few hours away, I saw a lot less of them and by default a lot less of Paul. We maintained contact through phone calls and texting; occasionally we’d see each other. It wasn’t until I started visiting my ‘friends’ in the city that he started acting strange again, he lived in the same city and I wouldn’t always see him. When I started to worry things were going back to the bad side of our relationship, I confronted him in hopes it wouldn’t get worse again. He reassured me that we were very much okay and that he was just so busy with work.
By March I was convinced we were so in love. It was my birthday and my group of childhood friends and I had planned to have a party and everyone would stay over at mine like an old fashioned sleepover. I invited Paul and was pleasantly surprised when he came. My best friend and I put several mattress together and set up the drinks table ready to get our ‘party on’. Our friends arrived… Paul and his friends were last to arrive. He greeted me with a kiss and introduced himself to my Mom. I didn’t even bother to tell her who he was or what he was to me, as I didn’t even know where to begin.
Throughout the party Paul was sweet, caring and attentive. He always made sure I was socialising, that I’d always have a topped up drink and that I was having fun. Paul was acting like a co-host with me and when he made a toast to our friends it felt like a movie moment.  As we played different drinking games I noticed that Paul would excuse himself quite often, at one point he’d disappeared for quite a long length of time and when I went to pull the curtains to the window overlooking the back garden, I noticed him standing outside in the dark talking to someone on the phone. When he finally returned his demeanour had changed and he felt a little distant. His phone would keep buzzing until I asked him to put it on silent, this didn’t stop him from texting whoever it was on the other end of the phone. I got a little suspicious but I didn’t want my jealousy to ruin the mood so I ignored it. When it was time for bed he set up our own private area so we could have a little privacy, get your mind out the gutter because it wasn’t anything dirty. We had spent all night with friends that we just wanted our own time together.
As we cuddled up in bed he nuzzled my ears and whispered ever so gently:
“I love you, you know that?”
I didn’t reply but my smile was enough to show him how happy I was in that moment.
But his phone ringing ruined that moment between us. One thing led to another and I dared him to pick it up. We argued and I turned to face away from him. He tried to talk to me but I ignored him. Eventually he got annoyed and turned around too. We had probably been silent for more than an hour when I heard him get up. I hadn’t been asleep long and I was only in a light slumber when I felt him get up. I didn’t even question where he had gone. I felt his phone buzz beside me, innocently (but not really, we both know I did it because I was nosy) it was a phone call from an unknown number, I picked it up but didn’t speak, and that’s when I heard her voice…
I hung up almost as soon as I heard her say ‘Hi babe…”
At this period of time, phones with passcodes and locks weren’t a big thing, he didn’t have a lock on his phone but I’d never even felt tempted to look through it, before then I had never saw any reason to, I didn’t think I had any right and my Mother always told me that you should never snoop through anyone’s private account if you didn’t want to see anything that would be upsetting. But after hearing her voice… I just knew… I just knew I had to, I needed to know and I knew he wouldn’t tell me the truth; he had already lied to me all night.
As I looked through his phone I discovered that though he hadn’t saved her number they had been in contact throughout the whole night, she’d ask him why he wasn’t calling her, why he was being so distant and he’d reassure her that he would be with her soon and that he missed her so much, words that resembled our relationship…like he was just copying and pasting his texts to me and sending it to her. In anger I banged his phone on the floor, mustering up my courage and using my anger as motivation I ran upstairs and confronted him. I asked him whom he had been talking to all night and he expertly told his lies, I let him tell me whatever it was he had rehearsed before I slapped him and told him to leave my house. I gave him back his phone and told him I knew all about his ‘side bitch’ and with that I walked into my bedroom and locked my door.
In the morning I went downstairs to find him sitting at the kitchen table, he looked like he hadn’t slept all night and when I came into the room he stood up and tried to speak, our friends were all awake and just looked at us awkwardly not knowing what had happened. I raised my hand to stop him from speaking and ever so politely asked him to leave, he tried to reason with me but I held my composure. I told him what a scumbag he was and opened the door for him to leave. He gathered his stuff together and he and his friends left. As soon as he had gone, I turned to my friends and cried as I recounted the events of the previous night.
Life went on, days came and went and things were going back to normal. I was once again Single and absolutely happy (not). Paul had tried to contact me a few times after that night but I ended up blocking his number. My student friends from out of town made sure I never felt alone and really after all that had happened I was grateful for all the love. I didn’t feel sad though, I had reached a point where I realised I loved myself too much to let myself cry anymore for a loser who was never worth my time. I’d cheated before but I thought I’d learnt from that mistake. I ‘d never been cheated on and the feeling was quite different to what I had imagined. I didn’t feel sad, I felt…I don’t know? I just didn’t really feel a lot… maybe numb? Not numb with pain, more numb with nothing. I was worried I wasn’t coping well but really I don’t think I needed to monitor how I was coping because there was nothing really wrong. I just felt grateful that I had such good friends who helped fill that feeling of loss that would sometimes creep up on me.
One day I was walking through the shopping mall when I bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. She told me she had seen pictures of Paul and I on Facebook and asked how I knew him. I told her that until recently we had been dating. She looked confused, she hesitated to get her words out…she made me feel nervous.
“Jessy…I don’t know how to tell you this…”
She stammered.
“One of the girls I went to University with, well she added me on Facebook recently…”
She continued.
“Well, she’s got pictures with Paul, they’ve been dating for a few months now.”
Her words paralyzed me. I felt like I had been run over, I just stood there in silence trying to process her words. I didn’t want to believe it, I couldn’t…because if what she was saying was true then it would mean that Paul had never cheated on me, he had in actual fact cheated on this other girl, the mystery girl from the phone call… his girlfriend. And that would mean that I, me…I…I was the other woman.
“No…that’s not true…is it?”
I asked her hoping she’d burst out laughing and say it was a joke.
“Yes…I have her on Facebook, see?”
She pulled her phone out and typed in the mystery girls name.
She showed me her profile and pictures of the happy couple plastered her wall. Just her profile picture was enough proof I needed. There she was with him, looking lovingly into his eyes like they were the happiest couple in the world.
I quickly excused myself in fear I would burst out crying. On my way home I tried hopelessly to figure out a reasonable explanation why he did what he did. I called one of my out of town friends in tears. He comforted me and said what an asshole Paul was, he told me I deserved better and that he really did believe Paul when he told me he loved me but that he was just too messed up to have a healthy normal relationship, this came from the mouth of one of Paul’s oldest and closest friends, at the time this helped ease the pain I was feeling in my chest.
When I got home I went on Facebook, I just needed to be in a safe place before I allowed myself to see what I needed to. I looked her up…sure enough their happy photos littered my computer screen, but that wasn’t the most shocking discovery I had made. To add insult to an already painful injury, there were albums, full of photos, months old of Amy, Paul and my ‘friends’. Photos of them at the beach, at parties, barbeques, photos that started from when they had begun to spend a lot more time in the City.
I didn’t know how to feel, I had been doing so well with not letting Paul hurt me, in fact that final end hardly bothered me. But this new discovery completely threw me. How was ‘the other woman’ suppose to feel, most people who have been cheated on probably think I had no right to be upset or hurt but don’t forget I was cheated on too…I didn’t even know I was the other woman so therefore I shouldn’t be classed as one. I mean, can it be like that? Can you say you’re not the other woman if you genuinely believed that throughout your relationship that you were number 1…not number 2?
For months pretty much everyone in that friendship group had lied to me, led me to believe I was in this crazy beautiful relationship… but Paul was quick to say we were never official…well Paul… you’re right we were never official, but you were a cheater, official or not, you cheated on someone.
So many lies were fed to me by a group of people who I called friends. We were all in this weird story line like a novella, only I was the only one who didn’t know it was all pretend. You’re probably wondering why they had created this charade. Why they had lied to me. Why they helped Paul have two different girls in two different cities. Well your guess is as good as mine.
I never even had to say goodbye to them, we never officially ended our friendships, and I just deleted them from my life and stopped responding to any of their messages. I didn’t need to hear any more lies. You see in some weird twisted way I would have understood Paul and his messed up reasons for why he did what he did, what I can’t understand is why a group of adults were involved in orchestrating something that was so pointless. I stopped questioning their motives a long time ago, and tried my best to forget all of them, like it was nothing. When I’d moved away and completely disassociated myself with that group, I could even say the effects of what they did hardly bothered me anymore. Then it was over 2 years since I last spoke/heard/saw any of them and I get a message from Paul’s male friend, the same guy I had called when I discovered he had cheated. He had a sob story and asked me for help. I told him that I was not in a good place to help someone like him… I feel guilty but I was still so angry. I don’t regret the words I used but I am no longer the person I was back then. Since that time I have discovered forgiveness.
Is there an expiry date on the effects of betrayal from friends? I have to say that as the years went by I found it harder to trust anyone. Today I have a limited number of friends, those friends I can trust with my life. When I was younger I had many friends, but as I got older I discovered it was a lot more meaningful to have friends that you can trust and respect, and there’s a lot less people you can really trust nowadays.
I heard through a grapevine that he’s married to Amy now, and they have a baby. I wish them genuine luck. I don’t think she knows about me, I doubt any of those ‘friends’ ever told her, they all still hang out, I don’t envy them one bit. Who could be truly happy in a group of friends who all lie and cheat each other? What kind of friendship could that really be? As for Amy, I feel nothing for her. I don’t feel angry towards her like I used to, mainly because after you get over the fact that she was also with Paul when I was, I have to remember she never did anything wrong and that she was a victim in all of this, even if she never even knew about it. I hope Paul learnt from his lesson, but I doubt he did, I heard he had had another girlfriend after me, whether or not this was before his marriage, I don’t know, it was definitely after his engagement. I get comfort in knowing that I escaped a situation that could have made me live an unhappy and uncertain life.
If there’s anything I have learnt from the experience it’s treasure those who you trust and be careful with your heart. I take the words I love you a lot more seriously, those three simple words can cause a lot of damage when used in the wrong place. Oh and my mother will be pleased to know that I no longer want to snoop on anyone’s phones… if I feel like there’s something to hide then I know that’s a big warning sign to hit and quit.
I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experienced being the third person in a relationship. It’s such a weird place to be in…
Be kind to your heart, be kind to others.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud everyday!
Peace and Love
Jessy x

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