When You Have a Wife and a Girlfriend…(Pt. 1)

…but neither knows. That could get awkward. Like most things in my life, I find this out, the hard way, of course.

Once upon a time, or on or around March 12th of this year, I was doing some traveling in Southern California. I can generally take or leave Tinder, especially when I’m out of town and the ratio of men who will consider me solely hookup material exponentially increases due to the distance. But, ya know, sometimes a girl gets bored and starts swiping. So I did.

And what do we have here? A cute blond gent with only 3 pics (2 in sunglasses, one kind of blurry) and little profile information. Probably bad news (comes off as signs of trying to be surreptitious), but I’ll give it a go. It’s just a swipe.

We match and he immediately reaches out with a somewhat questionable remark about my height (I’m tall) that confused me in whether it was meant to be disparaging or not. He immediately apologized and chastised himself for knowing that cheesy jokes don’t translate well via message sometimes. And then said he was glad we both went right. I thought that was endearing.

Owen and I clicked right away. He said he was separated with a toddler daughter, and while he is stationed in California (he’s military), his estranged wife lives across the country on the east coast. It’s “amicable.” I thought I’d get the cold shoulder when I told him I’m just visiting and actually live 2,200 miles away from him, but that didn’t appear to rattle him. We added each other on WhatsApp expeditiously and bantered a while. Unfortunately, that was my second to last night in town and I wasn’t able to adjust my plans in time to see him that night or my last one. But I wanted to. 

When I got back home, he said he hoped he’d hear from me again sometime. I asked if that’s a hint that we should stop talking unless I’m back in the area, and he said of course not.

From that point on, it was pretty much 0-60 really quickly. Besides being good looking, he was charming and communicative and smart. He always matched my level of interest and enthusiasm when I would gush over him, and vice versa. He made me feel secure and pretty and blushy and googly-eyed. He seemed to make a valiant effort to talk to me even when he was running around and/or busy at work. He made me smile. There was some serious chemistry in the air.

On March 31, I officially booked a ticket back out there to see him in the first week of May. We planned a 4-day extended weekend together and both seemed to look forward to it in equal measure as the days counted down.

But there was one snag that occurred in the immediate weeks preceding the trip. He had warned me once that he might disappear for days at a time, but not to be worried. By “disappear” he meant not be available on WhatsApp if he doesn’t have cell service or something. He’s in the military, so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.

But starting the weekend 3 weeks before my trip, and continuing throughout the week approaching the 2-week mark, he was nowhere to be found. His “Last Seen” was like the preceding Friday. I let it go for a few days but then once we started getting to Wednesday…then Thursday…I genuinely started thinking something was wrong. Especially since my latest messages were only going through with one check mark, meaning they hadn’t even been delivered. And I wasn’t blocked or anything. He had never been MIA for THAT long and I was wondering why my messages weren’t going through – did he die or something?

So on Thursday I started trying his actual phone number. Of course I knew it since it’s connected to his WhatsApp account, but we had never texted outside of WhatsApp so it felt slightly “out of place” doing that. But I didn’t know what else to do. I asked if he was okay. No answer. I called and his phone rang at first, but he didn’t pick up. When I called again some time later, it was completely off.

I figured maybe it was some extended work thing but something still didn’t seem right about it. We were still matched on Tinder and I checked from time to time and would see his location updating by several miles, so clearly his phone is not off? I finally messaged him on there and told him I think something shady is going on – that this doesn’t seem quite normal. No answer there either.

On Friday night, my friend Hannah suggested I give her his number so she could call and see if he answered a number he didn’t recognize. Entirely confident that nothing would come of it because he’s a magical, upstanding gentleman and it just MUST be work, I said, Sure, give it a go.

Oh, but answer he did. Hannah asked for a random name and he said she had the wrong number. She said he sounded normal and not like he was in dire straits. Yikes. I was incredulous: What do you mean HE ANSWERED!? Hannah felt bad, because we both knew the writing was on the wall at that point. This ain’t good.

So I did what any reasonable crazy girl would do and I called him myself, except I used an app that can spoof your caller ID to another number so he wouldn’t know it was me. He answered and I was basically like WTF?! He gave me some story about losing his phone and not having had the chance to download WhatsApp yet on his new one. Um…okay. I’m only flying out there in 2 weeks, maybe you should actually download our main avenue of communication, but no big deal.

I implored him to let me know if this was some sign I shouldn’t come – the trip was exactly 2 weeks out at that point. Just let me know now so I can cancel my ticket. He assured me he still wanted me to come see him. And he insisted on downloading WhatsApp right then and was back online and reading my latest messages even before we were off the phone.

We messaged some after the call and he apologized for being inconsiderate. Crisis averted I guess. Maybe for once I’m actually not dealing with an asshole. MAYBE.

That next week, on Wednesday, I checked in to see how his day was going. He tells me about a work activity he is participating in and that was pretty much that. At that point I’m flying out in 10 days or so, so I don’t really feel the need to hound him. A couple of days pass with no contact and now it’s 7 days to go. I don’t hear from him throughout the whole weekend. Starting to feel antsy, I text him on Sunday that he’s making me nervous.

On Monday, I start texting his actual phone again because I am starting to get anxious. How about some freaking contact when I’m flying out there in 4 days?

Commence train wreck on Tuesday. He sends me this long-winded text that evening about his mom having had a stroke and how he had been back in his home state since the preceding week. She will be fine but the stroke will be “life changing for her” and he has been “dead to the world.”

Needless to say, the trip was off. His poor mom, right?

Or not. See, the problem in the midst of this all going down, is that I was participating in some profession-related events and some steady drinking had ensued. So while I knew something wasn’t quite right, I wasn’t in the right mindset to put my finger on it immediately. But what I did definitely do was manifest my anxiety and suspicion over the situation in the form of many nonsensical tipsy texts that night and over the next day or so basically asking for the truth and why he’s being like that.

He got pissed (understandably – I did go off the rails a little bit with the texts) and kicked me to the curb. He said the last 2 days have “scared” him and he realized we’re not compatible and we should just consider this a “disaster averted.”

Now, realizing I did act a little crazy, when I sobered up in the waning days of the week, I tried to explain and apologize but he was having none of it. He “didn’t see a future” and maintained that we were done.

I let that sit for a day or so and then after going over everything, I realized what was wrong:

He had told me, in reference to his mother’s “stroke” that he had been back home since the previous Tuesday. But if you recall, I talked to him on the previous Wednesday. He was normal and said he was at work, basically. So how the hell were you back home since Tuesday if you were across the country at work on Wednesday? HMMMMM…

I brought that little tidbit up and started getting more confrontational because I knew something was wrong here and it wasn’t some stupid flurry of drunken texts. It started to occur to me that this guy might not be who he says he is and/or is actually married after all. Long story short…the next 2 weeks or so (off and on) consisted of me confronting him about his marital status or being a liar, and him being evasive and blocking me on any number or medium I contact him from, including all the ghost numbers I would text him from (modern technology is grand!) since he had blocked my real # and WhatsApp. Yeah…I was acting a little crazy, but I knew something wasn’t right and I just wanted the truth.

It pretty much just became a fucked up cat-and-mouse game of me pressing him and him downplaying the extent of our involvement, insisting that I leave him alone, or telling me he’ll get a restraining order or contact my job, etc. He was actually sort of vicious, like a cornered wild animal. It was actually very bizarre, really, how much of a 180 he did and it only bolstered my curiosity. Besides all that, I looked up his name, his number, reverse image searched…tried to find anything I could about the identity he gave me. I found nothing.

I did end up still going to California to see my brother. I tried not to, but I called Owen from my hotel to see if there’s any chance we could meet and talk in person, but I never heard from him. Surprise, surprise.

Eventually, I exhausted myself and gave up. May 20 had been the last time we talked. I let it go and tried my best to forget about it, although I was still puzzled. But what could I do?

In the first week of June, I noticed something peculiar – that he had unblocked me on WhatsApp. I was looking through archived conversations and realized I could see his picture and “Last Seen” again. Hmm. Very curious. He had made no effort to reach out, but he did pointedly unblock me. I tried not to give him the satisfaction of saying anything to him, but I did eventually, in the spirit of being catty, advise him that he might want to re-calibrate his security settings or whatever because I seem to be unblocked. I checked every once in a while to see if he had read it, but he hadn’t been on for a bit. I figured he’d just block me again once he saw I said something to him…didn’t care.

And then one fateful Wednesday night in mid-June, I was in bed asleep. At midnight on the dot, my phone rings. It’s an out-of-state number I don’t recognize. I’m half asleep and don’t know who it is and don’t really feel like talking so I don’t answer. Maybe 10-ish minutes later, my phone rings again. This time it’s a blocked number. And that’s when I started to sense the distinct vibe of a raging maelstrom of bullshit on the horizon. I pick up without saying anything and listen to see who it might be. No one says anything for about 10 seconds or so, so I hang up.

About 10 minutes after that, the original out-of-state number calls back. *Sigh* Alright, let’s just get on with whatever dumpster fire this is about to be…

And guess who it was? A woman wanting know why my number shows up so many times on her husband’s phone bill. Who is your husband? She recites a phone number and it’s Owen’s. Only she’s saying a different name from Owen’s. A completely different first and last name from the one he gave me.

I was confused about the name and wanted to make sure we were talking about the same person, so she was kind enough to text me the cutest little family photo of she and their daughter greeting him when he got back from deployment a few months before. Yep – definitely him.

And that’s when the fun started…

I Tried

Well apparently I jumped the gun on axing Ben. I just assumed, since he had clearly read my diatribes yesterday morning and hadn’t responded, that that would be all she wrote.  Because I certainly wasn’t going to say anything else and I figured that was his standpoint as well.

Yet in the late afternoon he finally replied: “Me too.” I prodded because I had no idea what that meant as a response to the thousands of things I said. He was referencing the statement I made about having been looking forward to our rendezvous. And added on that he had also been excited about seeing the new boobs as well.

I responded that maybe one day the timing will be right. He wrote “K” then proceeded to delve into conversation about how my healing is going. And from there we made friendly intermittent chit chat like normal. He even coaxed the conversation on at certain points, which he usually doesn’t do much of.

So, I don’t know. I get the feeling he wants to keep me around somehow.

Besides that, a few updates on some oldies, but goodies:

Blaze

I hadn’t spoken to him since the random text he had sent me last year, which I found strange given that he was engaged. But I actually ended up running into him at the beach back in August. I was at a bar alone fretting over another jackass, and I turn around and spy my good old friend, Blaze. We drank and talked and hung out together for a little while. No hard feelings; no love lost. We parted ways amicably and he got married last month and good luck to him.

Chester

We had been in contact pretty regularly over the past couple of months. I forget who initiated this round, but when we started talking again he was mourning the loss of a girl he really liked but screwed up with because apparently he had kind of overlapped her with a previous girl, and previous girl wasn’t having it. When she found out about the second chick, she got in contact with her somehow and blew his spot up. Second girl cut him off and didn’t look back and he was upset because he had been into her.

So we started off pretty wholesomely chatty at first yet at some point he started sending me selfies and various other pictures and the general tone turned more flirty. Then he eventually started his usual BS of hinting around hanging out, or wanting to hang out last minute. I just blew him off on those occasions.

But then the Saturday before last, he out right asked if I wanted to hang out with him at a town near me. He was going to meet up with a female friend and her boyfriend. I accepted and he came and got me. I can’t remember the last time I saw him…I feel like it’s not been since we originally talked. But he looked good. And he was the perfect gentleman in getting out of the car to open my door.

The friend wasn’t out yet so we stopped at one spot and had a meal and drinks on our own. Then his friend instructed him to go to another spot, so he paid and I said I’d get our drinks at the next place. The friend and her boyfriend joined us maybe 30 minutes later. She was nice and so was the boyfriend – nice to the point where, when we decided to hit another spot, the boyfriend paid the whole tab…meaning he paid for the drinks Chester and I had even when they weren’t even there yet. We implored him not to, but he insisted. And then when we were done at the next place, he claimed that they “know him” and had comped him and so we didn’t pay a cent yet again. I’ll allow it.

I had told Chester earlier in the evening that he could crash at my place if he needed to, and that’s what ended up happening. But sleeping is not all we did, of course. The next morning we got a second round in and then he drove me to McDonald’s for greasy hangover food and left.

The night before he had told me he would be back in that same town the next weekend for a wedding. I had plans for dinner with Hannah as a preliminary birthday celebration in said town as well. He said “maybe” (as in, he wanted us to) we would cross paths. But apparently he was going as a female friend’s plus 1, and I checked to make sure I wouldn’t be interrupting a date. He assured me that said female is a friend from college who lives out of state now but comes back to attend a wedding every once in a while, and he just kind of her standing wedding date on those occasions.

So we ended up meeting up out on the town last weekend. Not until about midnight, though. Hannah and I met him at the bar they were all at. I was pretty tipsy by then. I met his female friend; she was nice. Hannah’s husband came to pick her up not too long into it, so I figured I’d either just Uber back home or possibly crash with Chester. Unfortunately he was sharing a room with his friend, so that was a no-go. And I feel like we might’ve not gotten along so well somehow – I think maybe I said something drunkenly stupid about us dating or something. I can’t remember.

I eventually Ubered back home safely and woke up to a text that he sent me at 4:25 am asking if I made it home okay. He texted me a little bit later when he got home and I asked why he had been up that late/early…he didn’t seem to remember it being that early.  But that was really the extent of the conversation and I haven’t heard from him since. So I can’t decide if we got into it or not because I figured he wouldn’t have texted me. But then again I haven’t heard from him like I normally have been. I don’t care either way.

Adam

So when it came down to it and we finally got around to talking about expectations, it turned out that Adam still didn’t see us as a dating thing, but was interested in exploring other options, such as a FWB situation. I tried it; he came over a couple of times, just for kicks. But just like he told me that time that he doesn’t think about me when he gets a spare moment…I don’t fantasize about him when I get a spare moment. And thus it doesn’t interest me to maintain any sexual relationship with him at all. He DID look pretty good when I saw him for the first time after a year, though. I’m not usually a facial hair fan, but a beard on him makes him a little hotter. But still…eh.

Standing By

In the days after our last date when I started to actually care a little bit about Wiley’s relevance to my life, I started traveling down that sordid, dangerous path of over-eagerness to hear from him and extra special sensitivity to his mannerisms, so as to scrutinize his utterings for even the tiniest of morsels of encouragement or interest for me to grasp on to.

I just love that magically crucial time in dating where, if you become too pressed too soon, you turn him off. If you don’t show enough interest, you turn him off. You have to somehow gauge these dichotomies according to any given man’s unique personality and tastes and pinpoint along his specific dating number line where you should fall to keep his interest. He has to do the same with you, and these pinpoints have to correspond somehow. Dating is stupid.

Wiley and I talked a little that Monday after our date (upon my initiation), but then I let it go for 2 days to see how he’d act. And…nothing. Heard not a peep. Thursday morning I sent him a suggestive picture and when he still hadn’t responded to that in what I deemed a satisfactory amount of time, which was about a couple of hours, I took that, coupled with the radio silence for the preceding 2 days, as a classic He’s Just Not That Into You sign. I told him exactly that and said I’d let him be, but thanks for the dates.

He responded back in an exasperated tone that he had been on the air and sarcastically apologized for not being able to text well when he is broadcasting. I wasn’t superlatively pleased with his tone, but it placated me that he bothered to explain at all. I knew I kind of jumped the gun with my assumptions, so I apologized.

The next day – Friday – he sent several texts to say that the previous day’s episode got him thinking about how much attention I deserve and how much he can give right now. He went to explain that after this week, he’s going to be gone for most of the remaining summer between work commitments (i.e., the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions – oh joy!), family activities, and vacations, and doesn’t want to go on disappointing me when he’s not in touch as much as I’d like him to be. Our dating is going to be limited for now and he felt like he should get that out of the way up front instead of letting it die by neglect.

It seemed sincere. Any conversation that starts like that has the potential to be the big “thanks but no thanks,” but it didn’t feel like his aim was in trying to end it, but rather just to genuinely to provide some insight into his vigorous schedule and to put everything out in the open. I said I understood, but it would just be nice for him to text me some time to say hi, unless he his in fact trying to get rid of me. He never responded particularly to that remark but we had limited conversation a little bit later. So all appeared to be well.

On July 4th I sent some holiday wishes and we chit chatted a little bit wherein I teased him a little about the birthday present I had ordered for him. Tuesday, I sent him a random selfie so as not to have him forget my beautiful face (everything is about psychological warfare). When he still hadn’t answered over 12 hours later, I just said “Busy day?” to which he responded with his somewhat-standard-but-still-sweet-nonetheless “Hey gorgeous” and then proceeded to tell me about an uncle’s sudden death (which he didn’t particularly care about in itself since that uncle was deemed to have been a “bastard”) and funeral that still rendered him out of town.

Keep in mind, that upcoming (and now, this past) weekend was the weekend that we were tentatively supposed to have our third date, as decided at the end of our second date. Pursuant to his schedule, of course, which I’m starting to understand can be rather unpredictable. He doesn’t work the standard 9-t0-5, so it’s the nature of the beast. I know the feeling. But it also happened to be one of the last available weekends he’d have in town for a while. Given that I kind of like this guy and might not get to see him for a while, I was wholeheartedly looking forward to the coming weekend to have that opportunity.

But the passing of his uncle delayed his return initially. Okay, no worries…it was still fairly early in the week. But then on Wednesday he advised that his boss asked him to stay over and work the next day’s show, so that meant he’d be out of town for yet another day. Still no real cause for panic, but it just started to feel like the powers that be might be colluding to make sure our date fell by the wayside.

I listened to part of his show on Thursday morning. I didn’t talk to him at all that day, but I figured if all went well then he might be back Thursday night and that still left Friday night or Saturday night as viable date options. But when I happened to check on a whim and hear him on the air on Friday morning, it was obvious he still hadn’t come back into town, and as he hadn’t bothered at any point to speculate with me on when he may be doing so or to even raise the topic of our tentative date at all at any point, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

Later Friday night he confirmed that he was still out of town and we wouldn’t be seeing each other this weekend. I had already figured Friday was a no-go and thus I was already well into a night out with friends by the time we talked about it, but had still been hoping for maybe Saturday night. But no such luck. The uncle’s funeral and subsequent incoming family had kind of thrown a wrench into everything…oh well. He did say that he should be back around the second week of August, but that’s a month away. Ugh.

Pursuant to my non-date with Wiley, I ended up hanging out with my girlfriends Hannah and Carly on Saturday night.We took some pictures and I sent a couple to Wiley since I thought I looked hot, if I do say so myself. He didn’t respond.

Sunday morning entailed a hangover for which a greasy brunch and mimosas were needed for, STAT. I was in kind of a mood from not hearing from Wiley, admittedly, but I probably didn’t help matters by sending what could be considered a politically provocative question at first to inspire a response (since he does LOVE to debate). When he still hadn’t answered, I remarked that he must’ve had a good Tinder date.

That was the clincher. He responded that this is “all a little much” and that I need to “give him a break.” Upon a series of responses from me in which, in so many words, I basically asked why he’s being a dick, he reminded me that he had told me he might be a little distant and thus not the most dateable guy. Then said he’s with his family and doesn’t want to do this right now.

And apparently he took me as being angry. Which I wasn’t. Tipsy…confused…maybe a little bratty – yes. Angry – no. Hence why texting is definitely not the most appropriate medium for EVERY conversation…because nuances and intentions and tones are easily misconstrued.

He then particularly lambasted my remark about the Tinder date. Which is interesting, because he said the exact identical thing to me once when I didn’t answer his text within an appropriate amount of time, and that was before we had even met for the first time. So, yes, while I might’ve inadvertently come off as jealous and insecure, it was really in an inside joke kind of way, albeit while still slightly serious. Not because I really thought he was on a Tinder date, per se, but because, just answer my texts, jackass. Either way, it was clear Wiley was not happy with me.

Long story even longer, over the course of the day I sent a series of conciliatory texts, emphasizing that I was not angry and didn’t want to fight, only to talk things out. I told him I liked him and wanted to spend more time with him and not rush things, and that hopefully we can talk at a better time. When it was finally bedtime and he still had yet to answer anything I had said, I figured it was dead and maybe even that he had blocked me from texting him. It was a bit of a bummer, but nothing I couldn’t get over.

So what a surprise it was yesterday morning when shortly after getting to work, where I tend to keep my phone in silent mode, I check to see that I’d gotten texts from a couple of people, one being Wiley. I was quite sure it would be him just finally getting around to telling me to go kick rocks. Which, while I wasn’t looking forward to it, I would’ve appreciated much more than him just ghosting me. I am not someone who is very effective at being ignored.

But to my surprise, Wiley did not, in fact, tell me to go piss off. He explained that he had been driving and traveling for most of yesterday. He said we will talk soon and then reiterated that he will be back in August – though this time he said “mid” and not the second week, so I’m unclear on exactly when he will be available again.

BUT, what that did say to me is that he is over our minor skirmish and at least sounds willing to keep the lines of communication open. I didn’t press things by asking exactly when I could expect to hear from him again, I only told him I’d be standing by and that I appreciate him getting back to me.

As it stands, I don’t really know how to feel about how things were left, but I tend to lean more toward feeling encouraged about it rather than discouraged. His text yesterday morning made all the difference, I guess, because I really did figure as of Sunday night that I had gone too far and he would take the path of least resistance by just washing his hands of me and never bothering to respond. I expected exactly that because that’s what I’m used to many guys in the past doing. So the fact that he chose to speak up really meant  a lot.

It’s just going to be one of those wait-and-see things. I was wrong for jumping the gun and being confrontational over his lack of response those couple of times, when there were several occasions, even before our first date and then between the first and second date where, while he may not have responded or initiated conversation as much as I thought he *should*, he did still appear to be interested in me at subsequent points. It’s classic confirmation bias – I came to a conclusion and interpreted all information as evidence of that conclusion in lieu of interpreting everything according to its actual merit. And I got in trouble for it.

Maybe, given the amount of time it’ll be until we see each other again, and the fact that he’s not able to be in contact really regularly – maybe one or both of us will lose interest before anything can even begin. It happens. But that’s just a chance. It may happen, it may not. But I know for sure that if I press the issue or don’t give him the space he needs, then it’s a DEFINITE that I’m going to run him away. So I’m just gonna chill out.