I at all times condemned infidelity – after which I fell in love with a married man

‘I love you so much.’ Those whispered words made everything better – and when my soulmate and husband died five years ago, I really believed I would never hear them again.

And then, almost four years later, a miracle happened. A wonderful man soothed my grief, healed my pain and made me love again. Best of all, he loved me too. I felt happy, safe, and valued. The fact that he knew my husband – and they got on and got along well – made it seem all the more correct.

I will never forget the moment when we both realized we were about to go from being casual acquaintances to being lovers. The long-forgotten tingling premonition that surrounds this first kiss. The feeling of arms wrapped around bodies leaning together like lovers. The realization that something that is joyfully familiar should be welcomed right back.

And so I went from caressing an oh-so-familiar body that had been loved and adored for more than three decades, to another that was unfamiliar in its contours, but just as passionate, gentle and loving.

I expected to feel fresh grief. Or a feeling for something strange. I felt neither. Just met. And happy. Happier than I have been in a long time.

But there was also guilt. Not because I felt I was cheating on my late husband – although there was an element of it. But because I knew the man who awakened my heart, body and soul was married. And in a matter of hours, I went from being someone who had always wholeheartedly condemned all kinds of infidelity to someone who was having an affair with a married man.

We had known each other for a while, so I knew he was just a marriage in name and his life revolved around his work. I know that’s a cliché, but I believed him. I had known him as a friend for a few months and he had mentioned that he and his wife were very separated – that they never ate or went out together or touched or talked.

I just believed him. Everything he said was calm and measured and sounded true. He said that at some point he and his wife would need to have a conversation about how the marriage was going in the long run.

And on the grounds that I had never met his wife and that she was ignorant of my existence, I allowed myself to fall in love – and even justify my decision.

“He loves me and I love him,” I told a friend. “His children are grown up. It is time for him to have a life too. ”Like so many others, she condemned my actions and made it clear to me how easy it is to judge others from your own perspective. And how complicated life can be.

“I would never have an affair with the partner of someone I knew,” I said, feeling the need to defend myself. She shrugged and pointed out that no matter what, the victim is injured. And I had to agree, causing a fit of self-loathing that lasted until that evening when it dissolved into the tender embrace of the man I now loved.

Over the weeks and months I had many opportunities to reflect on my happiness in finding not one but two great loves in my life. Gradually the world became a better place, full of smiles, laughter and warmth. Why should I give this up? I asked myself. It was like waking up from a deep sleep.

My lover laughed when I said that. “You are like the princess,” he said and hugged me.

We were careful. Neither of us wanted trouble. We drove for miles to walk and have lunch where neither of us was recognized. I loved the times when we could walk hand in hand, sit at a table and laugh together – like a real couple.

Lockdown added another layer of deception to the process. Our concern for one another and our families prevented any physical contact. But when each period ended, we spent every spare second together. It was intense.

And then, maybe because we really got to know each other, I realized I loved this man enough to let him go. I was fed up with being the other woman. We both deserve better.

I ended our love affair late last year. I’m still not entirely sure what the catalyst was. Maybe in the end it was just a deeply ingrained sense of moral outrage. A feeling that I was just a bad person. In the extremely unlikely event that our affair had been exposed, I would have likely been convicted of a predatory whore who did not care about the sorority.

Or maybe I just got tired of the secrecy. Not being able to introduce him to my family and friends. Whatever the reason, the result is the same. Two people deprived of the love that rarely appears. A love that makes you feel like you’ve come home.

The breakup was predictably chaotic and hurtful. We both said things we didn’t mean. Neither of us got in touch, but we both know that each is thinking of the other. Because you can’t just turn love off. Most of all, love for the kind of intensity this man and I shared.

Most of the time we were together, I was happy with our casual arrangement. But as time passed and it became clear that we were both falling head over heels in love, we had addressed the possibility of having more one day. A real life together. A home. Whether that would ever have happened or not, who knows?

If I’m being honest, I regret my decision to end things between us now that this wonderful, warm hearted man is no longer in my life – who tells me that I am beautiful, that I feel safe and loved -, even though social values ​​tell me it was the right one. It is as if life were complete again for a while – and the loveless void that arose after my husband’s death has reappeared, only this time it is more of a yawning abyss.

I haven’t had the strength to delete my ex-lover’s contact details yet, and some days I struggle with myself not to just dial his number and try to revive what we had. That didn’t happen – but hand on my heart, I can’t swear that neither of us will give in. Because I admit that I have a fantasy that has a fairytale ending. Yes, marriage and all that. And a large part of me desperately hopes that the fantasy can come true after all.

I still don’t know exactly what I wanted from a relationship most of us would simply call an affair, but I know what I’ve lost: the love and camaraderie of someone who made me laugh and make me feel to be adored and beautiful – and happy.

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