If you haven’t heard, we’ve revamped our podcast and now have Carte Blanche episodes where, yep, we have Carte Blanche to do whatever we want! You can listen to the first episode here. Within that episode, Garance read the below essay from one of our readers. We found it too heartbreaking, complex and thought provoking to not post on the site. BUT, we won’t always be posting these essays on the site and we are also no longer featuring each episode as a full post on the site, so please make sure to subscribe to Pardon My French, as we don’t want you to miss anything! And now, a few words from a fellow reader…
I probably think of him once a day. It could be when I’m making coffee, when I can’t sleep, when something reminds me of him, or when I simply need a distraction from the monotony of life. I think about what he might be doing, what he could be wearing. Who is he with? Is he happy in this moment? I think about us. The nights and mornings when it felt like no one else existed in the world.
I think about what it will be like the next time I see him. When will the next time be? How long will we sit side by side at a bar, recounting the past few months of our lives like a sizzle reel for the other to watch. Asking about family, career, gauging the other’s happiness until one of us breaks the barrier. Placing a hand on a knee, a silent question that is quickly reciprocated with more physical touch.
We’ve done this dance for the past five of the eight years we’ve known each other. I’ve watched him go in and out of two serious relationships and date countless others. Myself always in the same one. Neither of us ever broaching the subject, are we the ones who are supposed to be together? At first I thought it was because the answer was yes, but now I’m fairly certain we don’t broach that subject because the answer is no.
And if we knew we weren’t supposed to be together, then would we keep doing this?
I don’t know. Isn’t a large part of an affair the day dreaming of making it more?
I daydreamed a lot about us until I came to the conclusion, I don’t think it would work. Instead we orbit each other when we happen to be in the same city. Each giving the other what they need for a night.
I’ve watched as he’s gotten every woman he’s ever wanted. He’s chased them for a day, for a year, but he’s always gotten them. He’s charming, smart and his directness about what he wants makes women weak. And he listens. Like, really listens. He will recall something you told him two years ago. I’ve watched him do it to other women, I’ve watched the reaction on their faces, they feel heard and even more so, wanted. He always woos the woman he wants.
But then, once he’s wooed them, he loses interest. It’s about the chase for him. He’s honed the chase.
So the only reason I think he still texts me when he’s in my city, is because I’m still a chase.
Me on the other hand, I get off on being desired. I know, I’m not proud of it. But that’s what does it for me. I’ve tried to change this. I’ve been in therapy for it, where I learned the root cause (not surprisingly) was a physically and emotionally absent father. So I look for the opposite in my men. I look for ones that would risk things for me. Ones that would have an affair for me.
This limbo he and I live in serves both of us. It serves his desire, or being able to lust after something he can’t have, and it serves my desire of being lusted for. It’s a powerful thing — that feeling of being desired. It makes you feel invincible.
While we don’t talk about the permanence of our situation, we do talk, at length, about the moral ambiguity of an affair. We know the lying is wrong. We know how many could be hurt if this all came to light. We don’t do it to spite our partners, we do it for ourselves, but it doesn’t make it any better, we know. Whatever you think of us, we have thought worse of ourselves.
Sometimes I think this affair is the reason I’m still in my long-term relationship. It’s sustained me and buoyed me and made me better to my partner. I have my suspicions that my partner has dabbled outside of us as well. If I think too much about it, sure, I get upset. But if I let it exist in a corner of his universe, as I think everyone deserves a corner of their universe that is solely their own, then it makes me love him even more. That he has his own secrets, a part of himself I will never know. It reminds me that he is not mine to have, but simply to love. And if I choose to love him, I must love all of him.
And perhaps this is just me rationalizing my own actions so the guilt doesn’t consume me.
A lot of my daydreaming is now spent wondering if our affair will fizzle out, or if the guilt of it will consume one of us too much so we put an end to it. Or will we see each other 15 years from now, kids, marriages, different careers, a new city, and one of us will reach out for the other’s knee?
I don’t know why I finally felt the need to say all this, albeit anonymously. It’s the thing I’ve grappled with most while writing this. Why? Why do I want this out in the world?
We’ve never said “I love you” to the other. In the meantime, when I’m with him, it’s some of the few nights in my life where I’m consumed by the present, because it’s fleetingness is tangible, sand slipping through fingers.
The kind of nights where you can’t even make an egg the next morning without being distracted, your whole body is still twitching, reverberating with the energy of being alive.
He has given my life so much meaning, and to think something could happen to me and no one would ever know what he means to me… that breaks my heart.