dating

"I was falling in love with a married man when he sat across from me and broke my heart."

I’d never dated a separated man before. In fact, I found it intimidating. He’d already made a lifelong commitment to someone else – and it hadn’t worked. But he said he was ready to give dating another try. And he was so tall, so handsome, and so affectionate. So when he told me he was ready, I ignored the red flags and jumped right in. He said he was ready. He was ready – right?

By the third date, I was already familiar with the colour of his eyes – the way the colours melded in with each other and how his heavy brows made his eyes look deep set. We sat on the couch and googled ‘The 36 Questions That Lead to Love’ – asking each other intimate questions to see if it would lead to us falling in love, and staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The moments were electric. I had never had a man so willing to be so intimate so fast, who was so willing to open up to me about his hopes, dreams and his future. Our future.

He took me on drives to his private places, with my hand rested on his thigh as he drove. As the car pulled itself through the terrain of the forest we were in, I started to feel like it was real. Authentic.

Our moments weren’t related to his past – his marriage was history – and this was a fresh slate.

Our conversations were deep and meaningful. We analysed our romantic histories, what sort of partners we were looking for, our family members, our travel plans. I noticed he sometimes took an analytical approach to our relationship and after some time I realised it was the influence of his marriage counsellor. He had a theory and a solution for everything.

depression signs and symptoms
"'I’ve had an emotional weekend and I’ve been thinking about us,' he said. I knew that was it." Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

On a chilly Tuesday, I knocked on the door of my friend Bianca’s cottage to tell her about the moments I had been experiencing. Her reaction was simple. “Beware false intimacy," she warned.

Her words sunk heavy into my being. “He’s freshly separated. Is this real – or is he clinging to the first person he happens across?”.

The words left a raw sting on my skin.

It was not long later that the cracks started forming. The text messages slowed down. I watched the cruel little clock on WhatsApp – Last Online – tick tock as he logged online and offline without speaking with me. Finally, a picture message came through, an image of him in a suit at a wedding. “Thinking of you.” The little centimetre square of pixels and colour renewed my hope.

We sat on the grey couch three days later next to the bookcase filled with battered Lonely Planet travel guides, a reminder of all the travel I’d wanted to do but never done. He looked at me.

“I’ve had an emotional weekend and I’ve been thinking about us," he said. I knew that was it.

“I’m not sure we have the connection I’m looking for.”

Everything froze. I heard the words coming out of his mouth, but I wasn’t comprehending them. The moment turned into cement and sat on my chest.

I’m still not sure why he ended our relationship – but I’ll hesitate before I date another separated man. The intimacy comes hard and fast and then dissipates. For now, he sits on the shelf of my heart like one of my battered second hand travel guides. An unopened book with adventures never travelled and a history I’ll never understand.

00:00 / ???