I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I wasn’t thinking at all. But, for whatever reason, I ended up in a relationship with a married man.

Four years ago, I shook my head at the notion of a cheating man. Or, for that matter, a woman sleeping with a married man. I honestly don’t know how it happened. At first, he was my coworker. We worked together over a distance on a project together. Honestly, at first, I couldn’t stand the man.

I begged my boss for a new teammate. “He’s impossible to work with,” I told her. But she told me to make it work.

Slowly, over the time that we worked together, our conversations deepened. He seemed kind, intelligent, and thoughtful at times. I wasn’t looking at him as anything other than a coworker, or a friend at best. Then, he began telling me about his difficult relationship. He insisted his relationship was ending- there was no true connection.

Then, he relocated due to our job, and suddenly, he lived just blocks away from me. We met up for coffee one day to discuss our newest project. One thing led to another, and before I realized what was happening, we were getting a hotel. Then, we would take business trips together. However, those trips were much less business than they were personal.

Before I knew what was happening, we were in a full-blown relationship.

On one hand, the connection was exciting and fun. Perhaps the best part of it was the fact that it was casual. But, much like anything concerning romantic encounters, our casual relationship grew into something much deeper. And then I realized I loved him.

As we sit down to dinner in a pizzeria 30 miles from our hometown, the waitress comes up to take our drink order. He orders us both wine and I smile at him across the table. A few moments later, I see his gaze move up to the windows that peer out into the busy street, and I notice him noticing a couple walking into the restaurant. He noticeably looks alarmed, and I see him fumble to grab his ring from his pocket.

We rush out of the eatery and to the car. “I’m so sorry,” he says. Holding back tears, I say, “It’s okay, I just want to go home.”

We drive quietly to the parking deck where he drops me off at my car. He doesn’t say much and neither do I. On my way home, the tears begin to pour. I can’t hold back any longer.

Even though I never wanted this to go anywhere, the fact that it will never go anywhere breaks my heart. I need more. I worry that he is going to call me at any moment to break things off. I gasp for air. What the f*ck am I doing here? Why do I do this to myself?

I no longer entertain the thought that he will leave his wife. Deep down, I know that won’t happen. There are just too many reasons that he needs to stay. And while my heart breaks for his wife, it also breaks for me.

I know I need to cut this connection off. But I love him. No one ever tells you how much it hurts to be the other woman. The days I go without speaking to him make me believe he finally patched things up with her and is done with me. Then, he calls me, he says his sweet nothings in my ears and like a fish, I am back on the hook again.

He doesn’t call after the pizzeria and I fear this is finally over. I almost come to terms with it. It’s what I deserve.

Then, my phone rings the next day. At first, he mentions a new work project. But, before the conversation is over, he assures me that he loves me with all of his heart. “Maybe next time, we will go a bit further down the road,” he says.

“Yeah, that sounds good.” I smile at the thought of seeing him next. We get off the phone and suddenly I am crying again. I am crying for his wife. I am crying for myself. And I am crying, because I suddenly realize I am jeopardizing my future for nothing, it feels.

Being the other woman is not easy. I call my boss and ask her about the process to put in my notice. She hesitantly explains the process. Then, I send applications and resumes out to five other opportunities. I email my notice.

I can’t do this anymore. I call him and ask to meet. “No, not now. I am with her.” And then, I emailed him telling him I am done. Loving someone else’s husband has become too much to bear. I tell him I wish him and his wife the best. I ask my boss for a new partner until my time at the company is finished. She wants to know why. I tell her I cannot and will not work with him anymore.

He messages me five times a day. Calls me every chance he gets. But I cannot do this anymore. My heart is in shambles. I quietly tell his wife how sorry I am – even though she cannot hear my inner dialogue. I tell her that I know I have hurt her. And that loving her husband has hurt me too. Silently, I let go of him.

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