Six year ago my husband had to go for training in Missouri before we moved to Guam. I went to stay with my mom in Oregon for a year, and I dated a guy there who was kind of a mess, but nice. We’ll call him Kevin, since he just has a generic white guy name anyway and they’re all the same.
Anyway, Kevin had been married for 20 years and was in the process of getting over it. I thought he could use a little fun, so I took him along to the kink clubs of Portland and showed him a good time. It wasn’t thrilling or anything, but between him and the gorgeous young pet I kept while living there, I entertained myself.
When I left Portland, gorgeous young pet wandered off into drugs and hippy festivals in the woods, and I haven’t heard from him since (though I hope he’s okay.) However, Kevin stayed in touch. We met up several times over the years (since he lived near my mom) and things seemed fine other than him still being a bit of an Eeyore about everything.
Now that I am living in Hawaii, all of a sudden everyone wants to “come visit me” (by which they mean they want a free place to stay in Hawaii.) Kevin was among those who asked to stay, and I agreed. He’d had a run of bad luck between his daughter’s suicide attempt, losing his job, and his older son having trouble in school due to being autistic. It was a lot to deal with and I thought some beach time would help.
However, Kevin had never spent any time around my husband. I just assume everyone who claims to be poly can handle that. I really wasn’t prepared for what a jerk he was about to be…
See, I knew Kevin had issues. He made the choice to stay in an unhappy marriage long enough to learn some bad behaviors. However, I don’t think I really understood that I was about to see all of them on display at once.
In every interaction he observed between my husband and I, he tried to find conflict. My husband and I do not fight, but Kevin tried to look for the hostility that he thinks is behind every word and gesture in a marriage, and it was exhausting.
I would say some innocuous thing like:
“Where are all the spoons?”
This is code for:
“Husband, I know there is a pile of tea cups on your desk with spoons in them. Bring them to me for spoons belong in the kitchen.”
But Kevin would immediately see hostility in my calm tone of voice and say:
“Dude, she sounds pissed off. You better get her the spoons.”
It’s hard to show exactly how shitty it is to have someone gas-lighting your every conversation by trying to turn it into a fight when it’s not. And yes, I know that it’s not his fault because clearly he has a huge hangup about the idea of marriage. I get that. But, it’s no excuse to spend a week trying to see fights in every single thing a couple does.
Then there was the mocking. My husband and I do try to keep affection to a minimum in front of company. However, we’re really happy and we really love each other, so sometimes we can’t help ourselves. And there was Kevin using a tone only a school-yard bully would use: “Yeah yeah I get it, you’re so fucking cute.”
Obviously I saw no reason to have a big breakup while he was here, since I had to drive him the airport and it would have been awkward. However, I breathed a sigh of relief when his cloud of misery and anger was safely dropped on the curb. Then, I sent a Dear John letter post hast.
It’s weird how you can know someone for six years and safely avoid their deep-deeded issues. And then all of a sudden, that shit can all jump out at you like a boogieman in the dark.
I’m so disappointed.
Plus, one thing that sucks about being poly is that I never feel like I’m allowed to be sad about a breakup because I have this beautiful husband who brings me chocolates and loves me to pieces. And yet… six years is a long time to chat with someone, hang out with them, and exchange holiday gifts. It’s the end of A Thing.
I guess if the husband hadn’t been in training in Missouri the whole thing would have fallen apart six years ago when I realized how miserable and bitter Kevin was towards married people. However, things just happened to align in such a way that I didn’t find out until I’d already gotten attached, and that sucks.
Anyway, it’s okay to be sad when you break up with someone even if your life is still full of love and joy. Emotions are weird and complex, and we have the capacity to feel a lot of things at once.
One last thought: I am sick of the trope of the “crazy ex-girlfriend.”
Women tend to find someone new pretty easily, and it’s usually the men who end up brooding and getting weird. So I want to point out that I have a crazy ex-boyfriend who needs a lot of therapy, and it should be more acceptable to talk about how nuts men can get after a breakup. After all, a “crazy ex-girlfriend” refers to a girl who slashes your tires or tells your new girlfriend that you have Herpes. But ladies, we all know that a crazy ex-boyfriend can be dangerous. I live an ocean away from mine so it’ll be fine, but some women live in the same city, and many are murdered by their crazy ex-boyfriends.
May you all stay safe and happy, and may you avoid the ones with hidden issues.