adultery, affair, Betrayal, cheating, dating, divorce, infidelity, loss, Love, moving on, unfaithfulness

Dating and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It has almost been 4 years since I discovered my husband’s affair. It would be an understatement to say that I have been very slow and cautious to re-enter the dating scene. Overly consumed by everything left for me alone to handle, the needs of the kids, the financial concerns, the legal proceedings; dating was just another item on my to-do-list that eventually would need to be checked off but it was not a priority now.

My needs were completely met by safe, adult, male friends.  During the first year of my separation, 2013, Rob would come over and sit on my back porch with a fire burning just to talk.  He would hang out with me all day when I had garage sales saying he would try to pop by but ended up showing up at 10 a.m. and staying until 5 p.m. and then would go with me to get something to eat afterwards.  We would make plans to meet for breakfast at 9:30 that turned into going to the farmer’s market and then just going for a drink on a patio overlooking the ocean and then deciding we really needed some food so we would find a different patio for a 2:00 p.m. lunch. We would meet for lunch at 11:30 and then he would order a couple of desserts that he didn’t want just so we could remain and we would leave the restaurant at 3. Even though I hadn’t seen him really at all last year, he was the last one to leave my surprise 50th birthday party in the summer.

Martin is my fantasy. He entered my life in 2014 through a mutual friend and we have had so much fun together. I would show up at his house to pick him up and he would answer the door with no shirt on.  He has the hardest body. I commented that he made 50 look good and he said, “I make 50 look damn good!” We always went to the same restaurant and after discussing what we wanted to eat he would tell the waitress, “My fiancée will have….” And then the waitress would say, “Oh, congratulations!”  We would carry on with our pretend story improvising details never sure how the other would respond.  We would close down the restaurant.  When we went to a comedy club there was a silent auction.  He bid on a ballet night with dinner.  I mentioned my surprise back at our table with several people listening and he responded, “Darling, I always told you I wanted to take you to the ballet.” He would flirt shamelessly with me and would always invite me in for a hot tub afterwards.  I always declined.  He said if I ever wanted pillow talk I knew where to find him.  He would text me with a beautiful note afterwards making sure I was home safely.

Dan was my golf partner the summer of 2015. We played almost every weekend.  We would hang out with mutual friends at BBQ’s and game nights and he would plan day trips for us like going to Saltspring for Apple Fest. He had a very dry sense of humour and was fairly quiet and reserved but he would shock me every now and then by revealing something very personal that was so out of character to what I would have expected from him.

Around this time, my girlfriend mentioned one day, “What do you think of Brian?”  I was thinking, and she continued, “He thinks you are very sweet and wondered if you would like to go on a date with him.”  I had to ask, “Who is Brian?” “We went for dinner the other night”, she said. “Your Uncle Brian?” I asked incredulously. “Yes”, she said.  “He really liked you.”  “Your dad’s brother?” I laughed. “My dad’s youngest brother”, she defended.  “He’s very successful, has lots of money and is super nice.”  “He lives in Vancouver”, I said, “so it won’t work and besides I would have to make you call me, Aunty”.   This was also the time another friend said to me, “You really need to start dating for no other reason than to learn about yourself.”

In 2016, I dated 3 men. They were all nice, two were highly successful and they were all okay looking (one was 35 years old!) but after the 3rd date, they ended it with me (although the 35 year old still texts) and one of the other guys sent an email in the summer just asking how I was doing. I always enjoyed my time with each and they planned great dates–The Floathouse; a ghostly walk; beautiful restaurants, dinner on the beach…but I never wanted to take it further. I never let them come to my place,  I only kissed them good night and I wouldn’t go back to their place. I still didn’t feel I had the time to invest in a relationship.  I would never put a relationship at this point ahead of my 14-year old daughter’s needs and all I wanted was for someone to go out with every now and then.  My female friends were really meeting my needs in this area anyways.

So on New Year’s Eve, I declared my New Year’s Resolution to my girlfriend as being that I wasn’t going to date at all in 2017. I was just going to get my divorce finalized, resolve my legal issues, get my place in order and work on me, inside and out, so that I could attract the right person without any negative distractions.  Wouldn’t it figure that within the next hour after my declaration this very lovely, 6’2″ man started to talk to me.  He was very complimentary and he said that he would like to take me on a horse carriage ride and that if we enjoyed each other’s company that he would like to take me to dinner afterwards.  I told him my new year’s resolution.  He laughed but wasn’t deterred.

I loved his energy, his smile and his eyes.  He was dressed nicely and smelled great.  We exchanged phone numbers and talked constantly by phone and text for 2 days.  He works shift work and was moving on January 2 into a smaller place that he had just bought but we went to dinner on the 3rd (I told him it was too cold for me to enjoy a carriage ride). We were at the restaurant for 4 hours. I loved his life experience from his search and rescue career leading a jaws of life team and rescue diving to being a dad of 3, owning a car dealership that he couldn’t wait to sell, traveling to every state in the US, being an extra in several popular movies, winning a BBQ contest and getting a cooking segment on a local TV channel, losing everything in the Calgary flood, etc. He seemed to have his values in check. I really was attracted to this man. He told me how great that he thought I was and how he didn’t want our date to be over. After dinner,  he walked me to my car and asked if he could kiss me.  I loved it.  It was hard to stop. He told me that I was a great kisser and that he didn’t want to let me go.  He said he felt so comfortable with me and had told me how happy he was that we met. He invited me back to his house and as much as I wanted to go, I did not.  He promised he would never put any pressure on me to do anything and that we would always go at my speed.

We got together as much as we could over the next 3 weeks and we talked all the time.  He cooked for me or I would bring food to his place.  We loved to just stay so we could have our privacy, talk and cuddle and really get to know each other.  We would try to watch a movie but we were very distracted by each other. We were both so tired one day that we just fell asleep and it was really nice. He made me feel beautiful, desired, sexy and it was very hard to leave his place.

On Thursday, I was heading back over to his place. He had just come off a string of late, 12-hour shifts but had 3 days off.  He had spent his first day off with his son. He wanted to finish getting his house in order from his move and his son offered to help.  He spent the day moving things he had dumped in a spare bedroom to storage and then he took his son out to dinner for his son’s birthday. I had told him that Wednesday was the best day for me to spend with him as I had no commitment to pick up my daughter that day but he made plans with his son instead and I understood his need to get his move behind him.

We had 6 hours planned to spend together on Thursday and then he said I had him all of Friday as well. He asked me at noon what I wanted him to cook for dinner and I told him instead that I wanted to take him out to eat. He said that was okay and he would just continue to work until I got to his place (I did have things I wanted to do–yoga, lunch with a girlfriend and letting the dog out before I came over and made these plans because I was sure we were going to have the day before together) He was fine with that though as he had work he wanted to finish.

Just when I was about to leave to go over he texted telling me to wait because he just received a text from his son that he was being picked up by his son and his son’s girlfriend for dinner at 5. He said he texted his son back but wasn’t getting an answer so he was very confused with the text.  He said that he still wanted me to come out until he had to go to dinner.  I instantly felt sad and texted him telling him that but said I would still come out.  During the drive to his place my mind was turning.  Why was he going out with his son again and why would he want to go to dinner with his son and his son’s girlfriend instead of spending time with me? He spent the whole day with his son yesterday.  Why didn’t he cancel with his son and say he was double booked?  Why didn’t he invite me to go (he told me he told his son about me)? It was actually his son’s birthday that day and it was his son’s girlfriend’s birthday on the same day.  Why would they want his dad there during their celebration?  Why would their dad want to be there and not just tell them to enjoy their birthday celebration together? He had already celebrated with his son.

When I got there I had a pit in my stomach and it was hard to swallow.  I got to the door and he wasn’t there waiting for me with it open like he usually does so eager to hug and kiss me.  I knocked (which I have never had to do) and I was shaking.  He yelled at me to come in.  I opened the door and he was hurried,  coming from down the hall into the kitchen and then doing something on the counter maybe with his change and wallet but I just stood there.  He barely looked at me and said, “What a crazy day. I thought the plans with my son were on Friday for dinner…” and then I just burst into tears.  He came over to hug me and hold me and I just sobbed into his chest. I don’t remember him saying anything except maybe sorry but I wondered why he wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t put my arms around him but had my hands in partial fists at the side of my face.  It was when I heard him mention about plans with his son on Friday when he told me that he was spending all of Friday with me that did it. I was shaking and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I am not a crier so I had no idea what was happening.  If it is fight or flight, I fight.  I have never been one to retreat or run away but I had to get out of there. The energy was weird. I could barely speak but I said I had to leave and I did.

8 hours later I was the one who texted first to see if he was home.  He texted back saying he walked in the door 20 minutes earlier and asked if I was okay. I hadn’t seen the earlier text he must have sent during my drive to his place, until after I left in tears, saying that he asked his son if he could come at 6 instead of 5 so he could have more time with me and telling me that he had Friday free now but I was thinking that would mean he had at least a 4 hour dinner with his son.  Was that normal?

He texted, “I’m feeling not so good.  I didn’t like how I felt when you left.  I never like hurting anyone.” I responded, “Well I was hurt.  I also wonder if you were lying to me.”  He said, “I was not lying to you. That’s not me.” And I said, “but I don’t know you.”  He responded, “I’m sorry for upsetting you. It was a mistake in dates is all.  But that being said I’m not good with hurting anyone and especially someone I care about.  Having that same person call me a liar cuts deep. I’m sorry for everything.”

I told him that I wasn’t calling him a liar.  I was very vulnerable and I shared where my mind went with everything and what I was thinking to try and make sense of why he bailed on me.

I didn’t hear back from him for 2 days and when I did he sent the following text: “Robyn I have had time to think about the other day.  After reading the text messages over and over I have decided that I am not going to continue with our relationship. I have decided to focus on my work and just stay on my own. I’m truly sorry that I upset you. I did go back through my son’s messages and in fact he did ask me to dinner on the wrong day so it was not my mistake. However, seeing you so upset really made me feel horrible about myself. I never wanted to hurt anyone at anytime. I wish you the best. You truly are a special person.  I am just the wrong guy.  Take care, Gord.”

I sent him at text asking if we could talk telling him that his cancellation of our time together and then finding out he had made plans on Friday  without considering me made me feel unwanted and unimportant.  (I had told him that I had to pick my daughter up from dance on Friday at 5 so I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he made plans Friday for dinner because of that) but I just wanted to talk it through. I told him that I was more surprised probably than him about my reaction.  I said in one sense it made me feel human again to have feelings. I never heard back from him though.  I sent a final brief text on Monday, so I could have closure, basically telling him that he is on his journey, I am on mine and that he was a nice stop along the way.  I wished him happiness, peace, health and love.

When I shared with a psychologist friend about my experience she said it was post-traumatic stress. She said that is what happens when after a traumatic event (being betrayed) you have unexpected and unforeseen triggers from a seemingly random misunderstanding. She said that situation took me right back to the experience of finding out about my husband’s affair. The flashback made me doubt Gord’s feelings for me, wonder if it was all a lie, suspect other motives, assume cover ups and question whether he was really working or with his son or doing what he said he was doing. Every lie I uncovered about my spouse and then the aftermath of everything I went through as a result of the deceit was relived again in that quick moment.

Or maybe my gut was right.

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Dating and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  1. So sorry it didn’t work out. I can understand completely. I haven’t really dated because I know that I wouldn’t be ready. My ex left in 2011, we divorced in 2014 and I haven’t had a special someone in my life other than that married man I was stupidly having an affair with back in 2012. I have to heal from both of those toxic relationships. And it wouldn’t be fair to include an innocent person in my madness. I want to be clean and ready for the next man to come into my life. As little baggage as possible will be attached to me.
    I think you will be just fine. And when the time comes, another great man or an even better man will come into your life at just that most awesome of a time!

  2. dora1983 says:

    Trust your gut! He sounds like a flake. Otherwise he would have told his son that he had already made plans with you…or invite you to come along.I mean, he had ALREADY made plans with you!Maybe he had another date. Then he acted so strange when you came to his house! Better to find out now than later..
    You will meet someone better!

  3. I think its probably a bit of both. He might be a flake. Sure. But you my dear have triggers. You should. You have been through an incredibly vulnerable thing. When you’re not holding on to all the reigns, you’re liable to freak out if weird pops up. He sounds like a turd for breaking up by text. I dont know if he knows all your story but someone who’s been betrayed is always going to shy away like a spooked horse at the sight of “the story doesn’t follow, there are half truths or lies or misunderstandings about” …. Im sorry.

  4. I agree. He told me that his wife had been unfaithful. I said to him (by text) when I was trying to explain maybe why I just burst into tears “betrayal has to be the worst thing someone can do to you; shouldn’t we of all people be able to be kind and patient and understanding with each other?” I received no response to that, just the break up text.

  5. first I agree with everything you thought and second if he had that big of a problem with your reaction you don’t need him anyway – like I tell my daughter boundaries separte the wheat from the chafe if you set standards for what you are and are not willing to accept and those are violated and THEY don’t want to make the effort to step up than they aren’t for you – I mean it very could have been he was telling the truth (don’t think so) but even if he was his reaction clearly indicates he can’t handle a woman who expresses her feelings and doesn’t try to cover them up to make a man feel better – unfortunately its hard to find a man like that or so I’ve found but I’d rather be alone than stifle my feelings and thoughts if he can’t handle them then he ain’t the one for me – good for you for standing up for yourself

    • Thank you so much for your reply. At this stage in my life I am not settling for anything. Experiences like this enforce to me that I am confident and secure in who I am and that I can trust myself to make wise decisions for my well-being. If I meet a man who can add good things to my life, great. This man was a huge draw to me because of how he treated me and made me feel. Then when he couldn’t accept any responsibility for when he made me feel lousy (he checked his message from his son and it was his son’s fault–hello, I am not in a relationship with your son) I felt like I couldn’t trust him. How he responded after that made me distrust him even more. I have daughters too and what they see from me and how I carry on in my life after the split from their dad is very important to me. They are watching. Love the advice you gave your daughter! I want my girls to believe they never need to lower their standards or values just to have a boyfriend.

  6. It’s great that you’ve shared your thoughts through this blog post. If a partner is making you feel unwanted, it’s the first sign you should not have him in your life. Coping with infidelity is possibly the hardest thing to do, and post-traumatic stress can manifest itself in different ways. But, always trust your gut.

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