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'I risked everything for a married man. Then I found out I wasn't his only 'other woman'.'

I always knew that he was a man who loved women and sex. It's probably safe to assume that of the majority of men who hunt out affairs. I, however, had a very romantic sensibility about what an affair should look like.

Certainly, the way we met didn't fit with my vision, in that it was via an app. Both of us were unfulfilled in our family lives. I hadn't necessarily been blown away by his profile, but his fit hairy chest tapped just the nerve it was intended to and a spontaneous first date made me know that I wanted more. This is when the romance started to sparkle. Our next date was a picnic with prosecco by the river. And then there were passionate embraces in the park, moonlit rendezvouses, and messages telling me how he felt like he was floating when we kissed.  

The messaging came quickly, easily and intensely. This was all new to me. Whilst there had been flirtations in my past they'd all been IRL. I'd never had to be seductive online before. I'd been married for many years and had never even been on a dating app prior to this venture. However, it wasn't long before I was sending this man the kind of photos I would have looked disparagingly at a few months previously and, to be honest, I couldn't believe what a thrill it was to do so! I felt so desired and so alive.

Watch: Is there a difference between emotional and physical affair? Post continues after video.

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This man was the opposite of me in terms of experience levels. Whilst I'd slept with other men before, they'd just been drunken one-night stands at uni. The first time I met this man he'd told me about the many other affairs he'd had. It was clear from his photos that he was experienced in sharing virtually too. His openness made me feel like I was in safe hands and boy, was I in his hands a lot! We could not get enough of each other and were soon doing things that would make even the cast of Bridgerton blush.

However, there were also moments of discomfort for me. Such as, early on in our relationship, when I noticed that he'd updated the photos on his online profile with photos that he'd sent me. Initially, I thought that perhaps this was just me not understanding the modern dating game, but when I eventually worked up the courage to ask him about it he agreed to take his profile down.

Then there was the time he went to Europe. We were chatting online and something he said prompted me to ask "Do you think you'll have sex with anyone else while you're away?", and he replied "Probably." The callousness of this reply shocked me, especially considering that this was a married man who was already having one affair. At that moment, those safe hands started to feel a bit colder and rougher.

When he returned from Europe, I asked if he'd slept with anyone else and he said "No." And so things continued to develop between us. One year grew into two. Towards the end of the second year, I noticed a change in his messaging habits though. I knew that his withdrawal wasn't because of goings-on in his own relationship, because he talked to me about that all the time, so I tiptoed back online to see if the voices in my head had any cause for their concern. 

And, of course, there he was, advertising himself as available for sex. I could not believe it. I felt like I'd been winded. Tears instantly blurred my vision. I felt so betrayed. I had given him so much of myself, not to mention all that I'd risked for him, and here he was, seeking someone else to add to his quiver of women. Moreover, I did not understand why he had not just ended things with me if he wanted something different or talked to me if he wanted something else. I used to watch for when the little green dot would show next to his profile and soon realised that it was there nearly all the time. I created a profile for myself, using a silhouette as my image, and it wasn't long before he propositioned me. Probably the lowest point though came when we were at his house and had just finished having sex, because of course I continued to see him through all of this, being the weak, desperate girl that I was back then, and he picked up his phone whilst he had his arm around me and the first thing that opened up was the app and he didn't even seem to flinch.

Listen: Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle answers three anonymous questions from listeners, who are cheating, or being cheated on. Post continues after podcast.

I, on the other hand, could feel myself wilting in his presence by now. Eventually, I built up the courage to confront him about what he was doing. I say courage because, of course ironically, I was so scared of losing him. I took screenshots of his profile and sent them to him. He was unapologetic, as if it was just part of what I'd signed up for and this is certainly the logic that I internalised; that it was my choice to stay with him and therefore I had to accept how he treated me. I guess it was true to a certain extent? When I questioned him, he told me that he'd met up with another woman, but that nothing had happened and I believed him. I asked if he'd had sex with anyone else and he told me that he hadn't and I believed him. We continued to see each other, and the profile came down.

By now we were into the third year of our relationship. Despite all this, or maybe because of this, our relationship continued to grow in passion. From time to time I would check the apps (yep, he used more than one…) and from time to time he would be on them, but I didn't say anything more, I just waited, watched and hoped and gradually these times became less and less. That was until the day his wife found out about our relationship. And can you bet how she found out? She found out because another woman he'd been sleeping with during his trips back to Europe told her. A woman he'd told me hadn't existed. She told his wife everything because he'd told this woman everything, just like he had me.

I no longer see this man, although the pain of the hurt is still so fresh and so real. Looking back now, I think he didn't tell me about his online activity and liaisons abroad because he was scared of losing me and wanted to keep me for himself. Or maybe that is just what I've decided I have to tell myself. The selfishness of his decision still rocks me, whilst my lack of self-worth still scares me.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature image: Canva.

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