Okay, for anyone reading this story buckle up. I honestly don't know why I am putting this story out there for others to read, but I feel as though I almost have to. So any words of wisdom, or advice I do appreciate. 

Little bit of a back story, I have a really bad tendency of selling my self short and surrounding myself with people that do not look out for my best interests. That should probably be the title of this post.  I have always tried to hold myself to a standard of treating people the way I would like to be treated for the sheer fact that I find myself constantly hurt by other's actions. I try my hardest to always go the extra mile for a smile of someone I care about or to try and make something easier for another person. As one can probably imagine, past relationships, friendships, and even professional relationships have led to gut wrenching feeling that I need to make a change, be more selfish and try and figure out what I want in life so I can be happy.

My previous real love relationship was a total disaster.  This was after my disaster marriage ended with my ex husband cheating. I fell for him fast and hard knowing full well he was a " 45 year old badboy" and we were so different. Even though i was well over 10 years younger than him, i felt my maturity and past life experiences would allow me to handle it.  His substance abuse and anger issues caused by his own internal conflicts became the norm. I moved into his life to pick up the pieces, taking care of his financials, taking care of the home, helping with his daughter as much as I could. It was always met with a " I don't give a crap about you attitude." Nights were kept up until 330/ 4 am wondering if he was alive, if he fell into a ditch while inebriated, or stepping out on me for someone who wasn't " nagging" him to become a participating member in the partnership that felt completely one sided. Horrible words, and at points moments teetering on physically violence became my daily life. I felt alone and sad but did not want to tell anyone his secrets because, deep down I knew he was sorry  and wanted to change, but would it ever be possible. This continued for over 2 years while i grew angry and resentful. I finally moved out after one night of being lied to again about his whereabouts until 3 am. 

Even though I moved out, I will fully take responsibility for the fact that i kept in contact with him. I continued to text him daily, we would still see each other, we would spend nights together. I did still enjoy his company at times, but it was a constant cycle of waiting until he needed a check cashed and then him treating me better and then falling off the face of the earth until the next week. I knew i still loved him, we had conversations many MANY times that we were not together, and that we hoped that if one of us choose to be intimate with another person we hoped we would be honest with each other for safety reasons. Let me be clear- I was very sure he had already been with other people while both in a relationship and during this disaster situation i created between each other, but I was telling him I would always be honest with him. 

7 months of this limbo with this man......after 2 years of a tumultuous relationship... 7 months of my emotional breakdowns and feeling worthless. 7 months of trying to figure out a way out of a situation where i cared for someone but knew i needed out of the situation where we were not officially together... but were we? I finally had kinda had it- i think i had had it, i was pretty sure i had it. He told me he wasn't going to do anything for my birthday, again, 2nd year in a row. I was told i  wasn't worth taking the day off for so he would see me when he saw me. It just clicked... i couldn't do this anymore- just in time for a weekend away at my friends beach house. I was so hurt on the inside but decided to try and put my best foot forward and try and have fun and act my age- for the first time in a while. My friend even said to me " just try and be thirty for a bit- have casual sex break some rules- just be 30"

Now, so everyone knows- i know this all sounds boo hooey and like i am playing the victim. That I have codependency issues and I'm looking for people to say nothing is your fault. Please keep reading. I also know in those years and months of the day to day fights with this man, i grew angry and resentful. I said and did plenty of mean things on my own so I am no angel. I always rationalized my behaviors and lash outs with well he should know how it feels. I always thought he deserved some sort of heartbreak. There are always 2 sides to every story- then the truth....

So i go away to my best friends beach house for the weekend- the just be 30 friend. I have been going to this beach house for years. I knew almost everyone going but at the same time i have always distanced myself  that I don't get involved in everyone's life. My best friend i know about but not everyone else. I felt so uneasy inside that i forced myself to be even more easy going that i typically am. I made friends laughed a lot had a great time! For the first time my friend even said, wow i haven't seen you so relaxed and having fun in a long time. I was a getting a lot of attention from a specific male. I had known about this dude for years, but something was different.  There was a clear connection, and chemistry even other friends picked up on and commented about. I had known this person to be a very successful, and popular with the ladies type of guy. Again, i enjoyed the laughs and tried to just have a "go with the flow attitude." My good friend did at one point say to both of us - guys dont. And at the time, i really thought it would never happen.

Well, one thing led to another, and i don't need to go into the details anymore there. I was embarrassed with my actions knowing full well this is not behavior i typically.... next to NEVER participate in. Being a private person, this was not something I wanted shouted from the rooftops. As the rest of the weekend went on, we both flirting in private corners and talked when people weren't around. Then the weekend was over. I needed to go back to reality for a few days. My phones continuous buzzing from this new... friend ... kept me occupied and smiling. I felt something for the first time in a while. I felt wanted. I knew this wasn't going to become a serious relationship, but the attention i was receiving from him kept my responses reciprocating. We hung out 2 more times after the beach house over the span of about a week. 

I knew i wanted to keep this a secret, from both my previous partner and my friend. I didn't know where the feeling was coming from but I definitely knew I didn't want my life on blast, especially to our mutual friend. I definitely felt guilt coming by not telling my previous partner about these hangouts with a new interest, but i told myself it was okay for now. I hadn't seen my previous partner even for a moment in over a week, my birthday was in a few days and i already knew he said he wasn't going to make time for me. I knew i would tell him eventually, but i wasn't chomping at the bit to let this secret out yet. 

So then it was my birthday, and no one really made a  big deal of it- being that it was in the middle of the week and cmon we are all adults, but i just still felt bad about it because i really do ALWAYS make a big deal of anyone else. And this new fling asks if he could take me out for my birthday! I was like HELL YEAH! WOW! and off i went. We had an amazing time with intimate conversation and laughs, amazing time - oh did i mention my phone was going off our MOST of the time and here is my old love actually texting me and our mutual friend trying to see if i wanted to do something... UHHHHH i went about my night not really responding to either of them saying i was busy and we would catch up later.

So the next morning after my birthday, I felt horrible. This guilt of the secret was eating me up inside- i didn't know why, i was technically single even though i still very much carried for my ex that was 100 percent in my life. All i wanted to do was tell me previous partner about everything. I didn't want to hide it anymore. So i picked up my phone and asked where he was so i could tell him i needed to talk.  So i told him i had been with someone, i told him i went on a date. I told him how horrible i felt about keeping this because omission of truth was pretty much the same thing as a lie. I did not tell him every detail, because cmon that is just horrible. but i told him and i told him that it was a huge sign to me we needed to stop this limbo game of what we were doing. I saw him break, i saw him crack in two. I watched as i broke his heart. I caused someone i still cared about so much pain and felt horrible about it! 

In the meantime, the messages with the new.... lustful interest..? kinda calmed down. Nothing happened per say but they did. I felt a little upset, knowing i shouldn't, but didn't understand why. Things had been so passionate and now..... nothing. My old flame was trying to get back into my life and started even making strides to improve areas of his life that NEEDED to be worked on for his life. He would contact me and i felt ACTUALLY HORRIBLE i couldn't be around to help him. He would ask if he could see me and i would say maybe later- i know i know so bad- knowing i wouldn't. If i am being honest, i wanted to be there for him but i felt as though i had done enough damage. He called me late the next night drunk as a skunk having an episode about " ending it all" and I just couldn't. Messages from his family that i am the only one he will talk to flooding in- and so i called him back. I felt horrible and mad and angry this was all happening. I knew he would make it through the night safe, and held myself knowing how broken i felt inside about the circumstances and just tried to go to sleep.

The next day, my family had tried to plan an outing for me for a delayed birthday celebration. I was SO not in the mind space, between feeling like a horrible person and wondering why i had been ghosted  but by knowing it might just be better to occupy my mind, i put my best fancy top on, slapped on some red lipstick, took a selfie, posted it on the internet and tried to force myself to have fun. Who but comments on my post???? NEW homeboy and i know i shouldn't even say it but i was HAPPY! i know i know, i should never let the attention of an individual  have such an effect on me, but here we were. Little messages back in forth throughout the evening kept my smiling. Next for the surprise!!! My family calls in my friend from the beach house for dinner knowing i would want her there. I felt great.

The rest of the night was a blast, and my friend and i decided to go out dancing. I knew i had this huge secret i was keeping  from her, but  i still did NOT want to tell her and didn't think i needed to. So the night goes on and we get home. We were both intoxicated at this point She waits until things were much more calm after a night of fun- looked me in the eyes and asked me point blank if i had been with this mutual friend of ours from the beach house. I did not want to tell her- but i will not lie to someone's face - so i said yes. AND SHE WENT OFF!  Some extremely hurtful words, judgment of my character ... and then the bomb YOU KNOW HE IS MARRIED..................... ummmmmmmmm WHAT i say- because in every single shape or form did i not know. I felt gross, and terrible, and dirty, and i continued to try and stand up  to this friend who continued to say nasty things to me- that i did not know. But that didn't matter. She thought i knew and did this anyway. She made this whole interaction between me and this man about her, and was so hurtful in the process. I felt so betrayed, by him- we had had so many intimate moments talking and it NEVER came up by her- for her  not understanding that i made a HUGE mistake but that i didn't know the whole situation- that i was never trying to be a homewrecker as she continuously reminded me. She was hurt with my actions, i knew i had hurt my ex with my actions, i probably caused hurt to this man's family if they were to find out- and i was FOR SURE DAMN HELL HURT! I felt soo stupid and horrible.

I couldn't believe it- how was i this person. I went back through every detail over and over to see how i had missed this huge bomb about him. I did end up contacting him the next day and surprise surprise- he said he thought i knew the situation, he thought i was okay with it, that he apologized and never intended on hurting me or making me upset, that all his words that he "felt" about me were true but he always thought i knew. OK great, so in one decision i decided to selfishly make for myself- i was able to hurt soooo many people including myself. My friend said she didn't want to talk to me, and HOW DID I STILL WANT TO  hear from this person- like stockholm sydrome- i really did think he liked me and i liked him. I thought i was special for getting this person's attention that normally wouldn't look my way. I thought i was special.... and now this. I got caught up in how great i felt when i got to talk to and be with him. I blame his actions, i do  but i blame me too. I guess i should have asked- not kept the 2 of us a secret, known that my selfish choice would be bad. I do blame him, but i blame me too. It takes 2 to tango so i take responsibility here. I know this will not go any further with this individual, because- no- i can not be the person everyone thinks i am okay with being- but the whole situation makes me feel empty and even more alone now than before. 

I guess thank you for listening, and as i said, i am not perfect. I made a huge mistake that ultimately feels like i ruined so many aspects of my life. I never set out to intentionally hurt anyone and yet i find myself here anyways. 
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Thanks for sharing your story.m. From what I can tell, you did nothing wrong. 

Your ex partner, from how you describe him, had his issues and was difficult to be around. The relationship was over, but it wasn’t a clean break. You still felt some attachment to him and I suppose he felt attached to you too, and that’s where a large part of the problem originates. You weren’t together but you weren’t quite apart. There were no clear boundaries.

To my mind, you were free to see whoever you wanted. You had no genuine reason to feel “guilty” for “cheating” on your ex because he was precisely that — your ex. He is your ex for a reason, so bear that in mind. 

The other guy, the married man — you didn’t know he was married. If he didn’t make that clear then how were you supposed to know? If he was, as you say, a “popular with the ladies” kind of guy, in spite of being married, then why are YOU responsible for his behaviour and his decisions? He is responsible for his actions. You can only be responsible for you. If you believed he was single and unattached you can’t take on all that guilt and shame. 

As for him saying “I thought you knew”, that’s too much like gaslighting. He didn’t say. He didn’t give that impression. He made your lack of knowledge work in his advantage. So don’t stand for this blame-shifting tactic.

From what I can tell, I think you need to take some time to work on yourself and rebuild your life without being involved in toxic relationships.

Firstly, I’d suggest going full on No Contact with Mr. Married-Ladies-Kind-Of-Guy. Completely. Block his number. Block him on social media. He’s not going to do you any good. He’s just using you. He’ll move on to the next one soon enough. 

Secondly, take a little break from your friend. Not necessarily forever, but just until the dust settles. You need someone who isn’t going to judge you for what happened and she’s not there yet. Remember, you didn’t know the guy was married, but he certainly knew he had a wife and was prepared to lie by omission not just to you but also to his wife. That’s his decision. Not yours. 

Thirdly, your ex. Remember, he’s your ex for a reason. You need to decide on some clear boundaries. You need to ask yourself how you see your life in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years time. If you don’t want some on/off doesn’t-quite-work relationship then you need to ask yourself what DO you want? Do you want to move on and be free to make a new life for yourself as a single woman, and keep your options open for the future, OR do you want to be on the end of a piece of elastic going to and fro attached to a relationship that doesn’t quite work?

My conclusion — think single, and make a better life. 
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I’m a BS. And if you didn’t know, you didn’t know. 

But now you do. It’s time to decide what kind of person you want to be from here on out. It seems to me you are already heading in the right direction, by finding this place and posting... but I completely agree with what has been posted above.

you need a break. From being in any relationship. Both the relationships in your life are toxic at best and disastrous at worst. Neither your ex or this cheater are good for you. 

Take the steps to cut the cheating married man out of your life. Don’t make yourself into someone who is a home wrecker intentionally. You’re better than that. Block him, delete his numbers and any way he may have or contacting you. Do NOT go there again. As for your ex? He certainly has issues. There was a reason you needed to break up. Do not forget about them. 

I disagree with and hate the whole ‘you’re 30, go break some rules, have some casual sex’ attitude as a solution to relationship issues. It just doesn’t work (for me). One of my friends said that to me. I told her that I couldn’t do that because that’s just NOT who I am. It’s what she did when she was having a relationship breakdown with her ex. She got involved with a married man too (sigh) and it screwed up her life for the next few years. 

Honestly, after coming out of one toxic relationship, the thing you really need to do is take some time out, NOT be involved in yet another messy relationship and just work on you. 
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