People Will Tell You Who They Are

The older I get, the more I realize that people will show me who they are if I let them. I’ve just had someone who I thought was becoming a close friend dump me via FB message and then block me, and all because his now girlfriend found out about how he lied to her about me. Here’s the context…and before I dive into that, an acknowledgement that I haven’t blogged here in a while. The open relationship I was in and (had posted about) crumbled because of the abuse of my metamour, and my now former partner’s enabling of that abuse not just of himself but of his kids and of me. In the wake of dealing with that heartbreak, I met someone new, and got my heart broken again when I wasn’t ready for it.
For transparency, I’m not naming this person; I do publicly name people who are egregiously abusive. I don’t feel this falls into that category. FWIW, I do wish his girlfriend well and I’m sorry that this hurt her. And if she ever contacts me for fact checking/confirmation, I’m certainly willing to talk to her.
Back to the current situation. So…back in late October I met a guy on an online dating site. He and I really clicked, but we recognized that there were some logistical issues, one being that he smoked, and I have scent/smoke issues. Another was that he was also seeing someone else and was very hopeful for that relationship, but that relationship was not steady/monogamous as of yet. And he and I chatted more and there was chemistry, so we attempted a compromise date in early November. I took an excedrin, he promised to shower as much smoky smell off himself as he could, and he bought an e-cig to use for the day before we went on a date.

Without making this another TMI corner, the chemistry was ludicrous. We saw each other a few times over the course of just over a couple of weeks. At the time, it seemed that his relationship with the girlfriend was crumbling, otherwise I’d have pushed to ensure she was on board with him seeing multiple people. (Usually, I prefer to meet partners before diving into physical intimacy to ensure that they’re actually ethically poly vs. cheating on their partners with me.) He was very clear that they were not yet monogamous. In fact, it seemed that any attempts he had made with the girlfriend to get her to commit to a more long-term relationship had her freaking out and pulling away. He seemed genuinely devastated but he wanted to respect her need for space.
I never actually met her, but was at an Irish musicians jam where she was present, and her body language toward him didn’t say, “Hey lover,” she was brusque and left the space at the end without any sign of affection toward him.
Even given their clearly complicated relationship, I was starting to say that I was fairly uncomfortable with her not knowing explicitly that he was also with someone else. He had said a few things to me along the lines of, “I’m trying really hard to not fall for you,” and that was reciprocated by me, although truthfully, I already had feelings. He told me he loved me. “I’m not in love with you–but I do love you. I care about you.” I was trying to not let myself get sucked into too much feeling because I didn’t want to be the “backup girl” in case this other woman he wanted a relationship with dumped him. I wanted to be with him only if he was genuinely interested in me on my own.
And yeah, I knew that–after my past year–I was vulnerable and desperate for affection and that my feelings were probably heightened because of that.
After a couple of weeks, the other GF did a 180 and told him she loved him, and he cut off the romantic side of our relationship via goddamned FB message. Not that there’s a good way to hear that, but in person would have been nice.
As it happened, I was already scheduled to go on a date that night with another poly guy I had seen; we were going to the local polyamory social that happened a block from this guy’s place, so I did get a chance to check in with him in person. He said, “I still love you, you’re still my friend.” I asked to talk about boundaries and agreements and he said, “I don’t know that we’re going to need any, we can still be friends and hang out, just no sex now.” I said, “That’ not how that is going to work,” but I didn’t have time to get into it.
I’m not going to lie, I had to deal with some serious heartbreak after that. And I’m still not through the heartbreak of losing Glen. Late November and December were tough for me.
After that he and I worked fairly hard to sustain a friendship but keep sex out of it. He did nothing at that point that I would at all consider cheating, other than the fact that some people consider emotional intimacy to be cheating. He started helping me record chants so I could put together a more professional sounding CD.
In December, I found out that his GF was worried about him cheating on her with me, and I found out that he had, indeed, never told her that he’d been seeing someone else while they were together. Even though she was the one pulling away at the time, she had the assumption of monogamy (and I have a whole separate rant on toxic monogamy assumptions). It turns out that she’s been cheated on repeatedly and was having serious anxiety about this.
I told him he had to tell her that he and I had been together. Because–we weren’t cheating on her. If I genuinely felt we were, I’d have already messaged her and given her a heads up. That being said, she was picking up on the intimacy, she wasn’t wrong about that. And causing her anxiety because she’s doubting her instincts isn’t something I’d wish on anyone, given I’ve lived it.
I was clear that I was willing to fall on my sword in the sense of, be open and honest with her that yes, we had been together, and yes, as soon as she committed to him, he cut off anything romantic/sexual with me, and that he clearly was completely in love with her and didn’t share those feelings with me. But, only if he fessed up and told her the truth.
We argued. He said some hurtful things, we stopped trying to talk about it via FB messenger and finally (after a few weeks of feeling like he was just blowing this off) he and I talked on the phone about it a few times, and then met in person.
I felt that we came to a basic compromise. He still refused to tell her, but he acknowledged that if she found out, it was his responsibility, that I wouldn’t be made the scapegoat if their relationship fell apart.
I said that I wasn’t going to lie to her. If asked about his and my relationship, how we met, I was not going to sustain his lie. And if being friends with him meant he expected me to, then I wasn’t going to be his friend. He agreed that I shouldn’t have to lie to her, or to his friends. There were other conversations and agreements but that was what was most relevant.
Today I woke up to a message in my inbox. He said that the GF had figured out that he and I had been together, and he felt the need to cut communication with me because being with her has been the best thing to happen to him in his life and he can’t risk damaging that. And then I could see I’d already been blocked.
No wonder I have abandonment issues.
Pro tip: There’s no salvaging a relationship like that after you’ve lied. I really think he convinced himself it was to protect her feelings, and I know he struggles with issues of codependency/enabling/fear of negative emotional responses from previous partners who have emotionally abused him. I get where his programming took over. Nevertheless, he didn’t give her agency to make a decision for herself.
And for her part, from everything he’s told me, it sounds like she’s doing the thing many victims of cheating and emotional abuse do (I know, because I’ve been there). She’s trying to control his behavior and who he spends time with. Here’s another pro tip: That doesn’t actually deter habitual cheaters. And in its own way, it can become manipulative and abusive behavior.
Apparently “I love you and am fully committed to being your friend” wasn’t worth much.
In December I pushed myself through the worst of the heartbreak/dopamine crash, so today isn’t as bad as it otherwise could be. I feel betrayed both personally and professionally, because I lost a friendship, and, I was in the middle of recording a CD with this man and he has source files of the music. We were doing a trade of his audio engineering in exchange for art.
I’m trying to let myself stay with being hurt instead of going into anger, which is so much easier.

5 thoughts on “People Will Tell You Who They Are

  1. I am very sorry to hear that you’re going through this. As a person with PTSD, I more than understand how this kind of woundedness can trigger associated experiences of older, deeper wounds. As an astrologer, I do sense the timing of the lunar eclipse energies plays a role. As a fellow Pagan, it is my wish that you can use these eclipse energies to your own advantage in ritualized release of heartache and betrayal, even though I am very aware that this is much, much easier said than done. May blessing be.

  2. I don’t really agree that forcing an issue makes matters worse. I’ve worked hard in my life to bring up conflicts early–force an issue–before it becomes a huge issue. The problem is that most people are so conflict avoidant that they try to bury the conflict instead of addressing things. The irony is that avoiding conflicts is one of the biggest predictors of a conflict getting large and insurmountable.

  3. Have you considered what was going on from her perspective? She’s married to this man, had children with him, and they were in a monogamous relationship for a long time before you came along. Like many Pagans, they thought it was hip and cool to claim they were poly. But in practice, the last she quickly discovered that the last thing she wanted around was a live in lover for her husband. Can you blame her? How would he react if she brought in some other guy? Probably not much differently.

  4. Jason, I had to think for quite some time about whether to approve your comment. The short answer is, you really have no understanding of the abusive situation I was living in, and it’s beyond my ability to communicate what was going on, but I’ll give the cliff’s notes because I value transparency.

    They were not Pagan, to start with. They also were not monogamous; they had been swingers for years and she had been cheating on him, seeing people outside their existing open relationship agreements. She invited me to live with them, in fact, pressured the two of us so that I would do so. And ultimately it turned out that she was an emotionally abusive person.

    What you are speaking to above indicates you don’t really have an understanding of open relationships, especially polyamory. And the complexities of polyamory make the abuse difficult to articulate, even more difficult than speaking about emotional abuse in a monogamous relationship.

    The issue wasn’t polyamory, in this case. It was abuse.

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