I was 20 years old when my childhood sweetheart, Tyler, told me about his new co-worker, Marissa.
He described her as a cougar who wore sheer, low-cut blouses and flirted with all the young men at the office.
“Does she flirt with you?” I asked, alarmed.
“She tries,” Tyler smirked. He looked almost proud, but then he fixed his expression. “Don’t worry. I’m not into her like that.”
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He tried to change the subject after that. But I kept following him around the house, asking questions about Marissa’s personality and appearance.
Tyler and I had been together since we were 13, and I feared our paths were long overdue a divergence. What if this Marissa was about to poach him? The prospect terrified me.
Having grown up loving Tyler, I had no concept of life without him. In contrast, he always seemed to be on the brink of some new escapade that didn’t involve me.
He often said things like: “I’m going to move to Europe one day” without explaining where that would leave me. I think in some sadistic way, he enjoyed seeing me quake at the thought of him leaving.
Being young and inexperienced at the time, I had no idea how unhealthy our relationship was. To add to my insecurities, Tyler found a picture of his office Christmas party and pointed Marissa out to me.
She was a buxom brunette with alluring feline eyes and long, shapely legs like a supermodel. My heart sank when I saw her picture.
“She’s gorgeous,” I said in a tiny, defeated voice.
“Not as gorgeous as you!” Tyler answered immediately.