When the Marrieds Are Unfaithful
Not long ago, I thought the love of my life had returned to me.
We met when I lived in another city, when I was in my twenties. He’d had a whole marriage between when I last spoke to him years ago and our reunion. However, he was not technically single: the divorce would be final soon.
Cue the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. Mute the quiet admonishment of my married and soon-to-be-married friends. Picture me trying to roll with it.
Because he was handsome. He had a good job. He didn’t have any kids. He said he loved God. He was a black man without a record.
I know you feel me.
The rigamarole that followed included a lot of texting and allowing him stalk me on Facebook. It took me weeks to realize that I had let myself become a side chick. I had done a couple of things that I promised never to do -– settle for less than I deserve and get involved with a married man.
Symptoms of side chick status include the following:
- I knew nothing specific about his intentions or his feelings for me.
- I had a feeling that he was not being clear on purpose.
- He never answered his phone when I called.
But I like affection and attention. I believe we refer to these things as human desires. I had been single for SO LONG.
I am a work in progress on the patience front, though. I especially don’t have patience for entanglements that feel like relationships and sort of look like relationships but aren’t really relationships. Because they’re suspect.
So, I did whatever it’s called when you disentangle yourself from someone you’re not in a relationship with. He claims I dumped him.
I felt freeee! Because in the space between everything he didn’t say or tell me about his life, I was doing what writers do: I was telling myself a story about us that was probably not even true. And that’s never healthy.
Also: He was still married. I want a love of my own, not half of someone else’s. But when you make a proclamation like that, sometimes God will test you to make sure you really mean it.
A month passed and I met a friend of a friend who was in town visiting for about a week. I drove him and his friends around for a couple of days because of the strength of our mutual connection. Three days and a lot of game later, when I start thinking about how sweet and gentlemanly he is and how much I like getting to know him and how nice it is to be flirting with another educated black man, I find out that he is married. With kids. Plural.
(Good looking out, Google.)
No, he didn’t mention it -– you know, the way people will drop “we” in every single sentence when they’re married or coupled. No, he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. He said it was because the marriage is complicated. They’re together for the sake of the kids. It’s a rather unhappy marriage.
Yeah, I told him. I figured that part out.
But why did he think that by being kind and joyously single that I was actually putting in an application for side chick status?
“I don’t get a lot of opportunities, so I figured I’d take the opportunity.”
The moral of these stories is that our culture’s obsession with marriage and black women’s failure to join the cult of true womanhood by getting ourselves married does not factor in the unhappily marrieds. It is more culturally and socially problematic, to say nothing of ethically and spiritually corrosive, to support the silence around unhappily married dudes and women who are on the prowl, on the down low or just overt and regularly on some Me & Mr/Mrs. Jones stuff.
These shenanigans persist because people who don’t really want to get married but end up bowing to societal pressure end up acting out their real heart’s desires eventually, no matter what the consequences, and no matter who it hurts. Sometimes, they will attempt to use trickery to get what they want.
This is a problem. It’s a quality of life issue. I call it that because I believe most of the animosity in our culture leveled at unmarried people has to do with the presumption that we are sexually immoral, unethical and down for whatever.
So, if that’s you, then OK. It’s not my place to judge people who don’t believe in Jesus or karma. But please don’t believe that me saying that I’m content with this season in my life during which I don’t have a partner is code for saying, “I’m available for shenanigans.”
Not the case, homie.
Also: you’re unhappy in your marriage? Get a divorce! If you’re not really all the way divorced yet, let folks know before they roll up thinking you’re available. Married, single or semi-partnered: Tell people where you stand. Don’t let Facebook tell you that “It’s complicated” is a satisfactory answer. It’s not.
What’s your stand on being a mistress or the person on the side? Do you get hit on by married men or women? Do you think it happens more to singles than those in relationships?