Being the ‘other woman’ has destroyedmy trust inmen
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