Flickr photo by p@r@noidI've been scratching my head over this Lemondrop story about a woman who dated a guy for a year without realizing he was married. This woman wasn't a naive young thing -- she was 35 and had surely been around the block, but she fell for him. And fell hard. On first reading, I was all "Oh, you stupid, desperate little chickie." Then I remembered my own 30s and ratcheted back the judgment -- a lot.
Because it turns out I'm not so perfect, either. I know, I know -- shocking!
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Without getting into the details, let me just say I spent years in my 30s with a long-term boyfriend who always had an excuse to keep me at arm's length. But the initial, crazy honeymoon-phase of our relationship had been so achingly beautiful, it was hard to imagine something so perfect could lead to anything less than perfection in the end.
Just like the woman in the article, I had people admiring how in-love we were, how connected we seemed, how fun we were as a couple. Of course, I had other friends noting my alarming weight loss, the weepy circles under my eyes, and the way I played hostess to his extended family while he failed to even meet mine. Every couple of years, we'd get closer -- but not really. Some crisis would rear its head, and I'd be taking care of him, rather than both of us caring for each other. Every. Damn. Time.
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It's true that relationship first-impressions can be unbelievably lasting. But there's also the issue of dating a narcissist -- which, in my entirely subjective opinion, is the kind of guy who says, "I know I've got a wife and kids, but I deserve a long-term girlfriend, too." Narcissists are great at shining a gleaming spotlight on you, showering you with intense affection and attention, and filling up every empty place in your soul -- till they stop. By then, if you had enough of those empty places in the first place, you're hooked like a junkie and can spend years trying to get that feeling back. It's humbling, to say the least, to learn that you thought, your whole life, that you were smarter than that, and you're just ... not.
For such a sordid story, I expected the comments to be vicious, but it seems I'm not the only one who can see how a sticky sitch can happen to anyone. The bottom line? There are people -- men and women -- who find monogamy difficult, and that is okay.
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What's not okay is lying about it. In this day and age, there are many, many different kinds of relationships, and if you're brave and honest, you can have your cupcakes and eat them, too. Maybe you won't get to go to church with your wife and kids, but you also won't have to deal with the shame and humiliation of -- well, who wants to be Jesse James these days?
Anyway, I may judge this woman's hair, fashion choices, and taste, but I am not going to judge her disastrous relationship mistake. Because I've been there.