Be­ing the ‘other woman’ has de­stroyedmy trust in­men

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - #ONEDAY - By Gi­u­lia Smith Has one day changed your life? Email us at stella@ tele­ or tweet us at @stel­la­m­agazine #One­Day

Last week my boyfriend, Rob*, spent a night away for work. He stopped mes­sag­ing me af­ter 6pm, and for the rest of the evening my mind was whirring about what he could be do­ing – flirt­ing at the bar, or worse, tak­ing some­one back to his room. I couldn’t bring my­self to phone him, but I even­tu­ally caved in at 11pm only to hear a groggy voice. He’d gone back to his ho­tel room, fallen asleep and missed an en­tire staff party.

I started see­ing Rob six months ago, and we grew close in­cred­i­bly quickly. But de­spite him be­ing lov­ing and thought­ful, these doubts of­ten creep into my mind – and I know ex­actly why. It’s not some­thing I like to ad­mit, but in the past I’ve been the ‘other woman’, which has left me with an in­her­ent lack of trust.

Some­times I’ve been the in­no­cent party. There was Hugh*, who failed to men­tion the girl­friend with whom he lived un­til a friend let it slip af­ter we’d been see­ing each other for a month – and oth­ers like him. But then there was Neil*, who I knew was in a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship when we be­gan our four-month af­fair. We met work­ing on the same IT project – I was 22, he was 12 years my se­nior. There wasn’t an in­stant at­trac­tion, but we be­came friends. I opened up about my un­suc­cess­ful dat­ing life. He shared his un­hap­pi­ness with his girl­friend of two years, who he’d re­cently bought a house with. We swapped num­bers, but our mes­sages started to veer off work and be­come more flirty. We started mes­sag­ing each other to meet at the wa­ter ma­chine and would se­cretly leave choco­late bars at each other’s desks.

When the project fin­ished, we stayed in touch and be­gan talk­ing all the time. Then one Saturday night a few weeks later, I was out with my friends when he mes­saged me to say he was nearby. He picked me up, we shared a kiss and, although he drove home that night, it quickly spi­ralled out of con­trol.

We started meet­ing ev­ery day. I would drive him to work, we would meet af­ter his foot­ball prac­tice, or in quiet places – like the beach near where I lived. We dis­cussed his girl­friend daily, and I was wracked with guilt, but felt un­able to stop. I fell for him in a ma­jor way. He was metic­u­lous in cov­er­ing his tracks – his girl­friend once drove him to a sta­tion and waved him off, bliss­fully un­aware that he had jumped off the train at the next stop and made his way to my house. At the time I was flat­tered, but in hind­sight it feels dis­turb­ing.

It all blew up the day his girl­friend found my birthday card to him – then my Face­book pro­file soon af­ter. I woke up to a bar­rage of ex­tremely abu­sive mes­sages from her. The reper­cus­sions of my ac­tions slapped me in the face. But the nasty way she re­acted stopped me feel­ing too ashamed. Naïvely, I hoped it would mean Neil and I could fi­nally be to­gether, but af­ter a few months, I found out that he was cheat­ing on me, too.

That was three years ago, and I no longer want it to cast a shadow over me. So when Rob came back from his trip, I told him ev­ery­thing. Be­ing hon­est was a re­lief, but I was scared it would af­fect how he felt. In­stead, he said he would do ev­ery­thing he could to change my per­cep­tion of men – he makes his feel­ings for me clear and in­cludes me in all as­pects of his life. I hope I’ll be able to let go of those nig­gling doubts. But they might be the price I’ll al­ways pay for my past.

‘ We dis­cussed his girl­friend daily and I was wracked with guilt, but I felt un­able to stop’

Left Gi­u­lia’s pre­vi­ous af­fair is af­fect­ing her new re­la­tion­ship

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