I fancy an ex-colleague – who is recently married. Having a certain degree of morals, I found it disconcerting to admit this to myself. Lacking further morals, I continue to maintain a friendship with this man.
To do him credit, he never makes "my wife doesn't understand me" type comments. And he has never made a pass at me.
He has a tendency to make comments such as: "I sometimes just want a temptress to make me do naughty things" (ok I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the picture).
I am certainly not going to be this temptress. A child of divorce myself, I don't fancy running even the slightest risk of making a contribution to another child's pain. So thankfully, we are safe – because he clearly does not want to be the one to be in the wrong.
Absolve yourself of any responsibility
I remember having a fling with a man who was not married but did have a girlfriend. I remember sexting him over a long period of time, and he would hint that he would like our fantasies to become a reality. Like my married friend, he was determined to be seduced, rather than be the seducer.
"I would love to meet up with you. It would have to be an accident though, like we just happen to bump in to each other somewhere, and one thing leads to another..."
It is as though these men forward think the scenario to when they are justifying themselves to others. "She came on to me, what was I to do? I'm only a weak man!" or "It just happened – we were drunk – it was a mistake".
They are covering their backs so that their lives can carry on as normal when they've decided they've had enough of me - their throwaway plaything.
I do have a conscience, and the angel on my shoulder gently whispers admonitions whenever I entertain fantasies involving my married friend. But there is another reason for keeping my barriers up: self preservation.
By entering in to an affair with a married (or otherwise attached) man, I am not only opening myself up to the censure of those around me, but I am also making myself vulnerable to heartache.
He would never leave her. (And when my conscience is engaged I wouldn't want him to.) But he would take my heart.
He would be able to have all the security and stability of a family, but also drink up a Peter-Pan-style elixir of youth by entering in to a butterfly-inducing romance in the guise of a young, single man.
In the moments when we are together, we would forget the other reality – the wife, the home, the job and the family. We would be caught in our reality: the sexy, carefree, refreshing allure of something new and exciting. Amidst this forgetfulness, I would imagine that what we felt for each other was true love.
It could only ever end in tears.
As Nina Simone sings in "The Other Woman":
The other woman is perfect where her rival fails...
But the other woman will always cry herself to sleep
The other woman will never have his love to keep
And as the years go by,
The other woman will spend her life alone
When he goes back to his wife and carries on with his real life, I will be left daydreaming of when I will next see him again; the more time I have alone, the more my fantasies will consume me. My life would become about him, and then I would be neither free to enter in to a different relationship with more potential, nor able to move our own pitiful excuse for a relationship forward.
So I must rejoice in this man's lack of conviction; the power of my own happiness – as well as that of others - is in my hands. Perhaps I too had been hoping to be seduced, to be able to have the excitement but deny responsibility for taking it. But I do have a responsibility – to walk away from our friendship. Because this isn't friendship at all – it's foreplay.