After I wrote my piece this morning on emotional abuse, I got thinking about my relationship with James. It was an on and off relationship that went on for many years. Too many years. 19 years to be exact.
Now first off – we didn’t date all that time. We met when I was 20 and dated casually for a couple of months. But he worked in the oil patch and was out of town a lot. He would disappear sometimes without communication – yes I know. I sure know how to pick these guys, right? Like a moth to a flame, someone said to me recently. I’m working on this.
While dating James, I met Cory who I connected with quickly. Cory was a nice guy, lived at home – but he was dependable and we communicated daily. It was a nice change.
I knew I had to make a decision on what guy I wanted to stick with – and wound up seeing both guys on the same day!
James and I went for a quick lunch date before he dropped me off at work. And Cory stopped by MOMENTS later to say hi. I mean, the guys just barely missed each other.
My supervisor at the time who turned into a good friend, because we worked the late shifts together – he laughed his ass off, literally – when Cory walked in the door. He shook his head and went into the cooler and told me later on….
“You need to make a decision”
And so. I picked Cory. And we dated for three years. It was at a time in my life that I wanted to settle down – but he wasn’t ready.
In the third year of our relationship, James contacted me again and wanted to hang out. He always seemed to know when I was emotionally unstable. It’s like he had radar.
We hooked up after Cory and I broke up. Dated for a couple of more months. Then he disappeared. And this was a repitive pattern for many years.
I dated other people when he disappeared. But I always felt like I loved him and he was the one I was meant to be with. I was just “waiting for him to grow up” which he never did.
We became really close in 2012 for about six months. Probably the closest we had ever come to an actual relationship. He was over on the weekends. We had dinners together. We even talked about a hiking trip.
But that’s all it ever was – talk. He would bail last minute every damn time we had plans. I finally caught him later in 2012 when he was texting me from Hawaii.
I did a search for his name – this is around the time Instagram became popular. I found out that yes he was in Hawaii – and he wasn’t alone – he didn’t need hugs – he was traveling with his GIRLFRIEND.
Who would become his wife a few years later. And mother of his child. Something he swore to me for 19 years of our friendship – something he didn’t want. He swore he would never marry and he never wanted kids.
But what he was really saying – was that he didn’t want to me marry ME. It was me. He was never serious about me like I was about him. And that destroyed me for a while.
At least until I reconnected with Trigger – whom I dated off an on for four years.
I’m still thinking of writing a book about this romance. If you can call it that. I think he loved me in his way. But James was a pathological liar and serial cheater. And it took me a long time to accept that I would be nothing more than his “side chick.”
And so, today – I’m going to share some warning signs that I ignored so I can spare you some grief I put myself through. I knew deep down what was going on – but I refused to see it.
See, the one thing about James that confused was he would often spend the night when he came to see me. When most guys are looking for a “side piece” (I hate that term, for the record) — they will text or call you and ask to hook up late at night.
Signs that you are just a “side piece”
In my experience, like with Trigger, he would often stop by after his shop closed. He would stay for a couple of hours and then leave. I always suspected he had someone waiting for him – but I never wanted to admit it. I’m stupid when it comes to men. It’s partly why I’m single now.
With James, he would stay overnight – make plans with me for the following day. We’d have breakfast and coffee together in the morning. He’d check his phone – and then he’d find some excuse to bail on me.
I wouldn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks. This was a vicious cycle.
So, if a guy comes to visit you late at night and bails the next day – or leaves right after sex – there’s a good chance he’s rushing home to someone else.
He’s protective of his phone
James almost never took his cell phone out when we were together. This is why it was so hard for me to believe that I was just his side piece. When we were together – we were together. We talked. Watched movies. Cuddled. And then spent the night together.
He was caring. Kind. And attentive. And let’s face it – the sex was good too. I mean, there’s a reason I kept going back to him.
Trigger on the other hand – was very protective of his phone. He would leave the room to respond to texts. He almost never took calls in the same room. And he never let me see his phone.
That should have been a huge red flag and it was. I just – ignored it like all the other red flags.
Because again. Love makes me do stupid things.
James was terrible for this. We’d have a nice conversation via texting and I’d ask him a serious question. And then boom. Radio silence. It seemed like every time I asked him a question or if the conversation got intense, he’d drop the conversation.
I once outright asked him if he had someone with him which he denied. We got into a huge argument one day while I was at work when he finally responded to me.
He said he didn’t think that he should have to maintain regular contact with me to “be my friend”. I told him I didn’t sleep with friends – I slept with partners. And if he wasn’t my partner – then what the hell was he?
He told me he “at best a part-time lover”.
And that’s when it hit me – I would never be more to him than just someone he could call when he wanted “companionship”.
You never meet his family or friends
This one bothered me with James. When we dated early on – when I was 18-19, I met his parents. He was renting the basement from them and I met his mom first, then his dad.
I invited James to parties, birthday parties – family events – but he never showed an interest. He never showed an interest in my birthdays at all. Or Christmas. He always seemed to disappear around the holidays too.
I never met a single friend of his. Not one. I did however, meet someone who knew him. Several people actually – it’s a small world in Edmonton.
And they all confirmed what I was suspected – James had three or four women on the go most of the time.
I don’t regret my relationships with James or Trigger. They were the two major loves of my life. At least, I had convinced myself I was in love with them. They both said they loved me.
Our relationships were not conventional. I’ve never been the marrying kind. I can’t even live with people – I need my space. But these two guys – I was head over heels in love with them.
Love blinded me. I felt so stupid in the end for having let the relationships go on as long as they did. And this is a big part of why I’m single now. I don’t trust my judgment when it comes to dating and trusting people.
But I still say — I’m a much healthier and happier person now. I’m getting my life back into place. I have plans and goals. I know where I want to be in the future. And I know what I want out of relationships and friendships. Or even just companionship.
I know now – what warning signs to look for. And I am able to now finally – speak my mind without picking a fight. I can communicate without sending angry texts or emails. I can set boundaries and expectations and follow up with what’s expected of me.
I know when the timing is right – love will find me again.
But never again. Will I allow myself to be the “side piece.” Because I deserve better than that. Everyone does.
So ladies, and guys too – don’t let yourself be a side piece. I’ll leave you with this quote that stuck with me:
And on that note, I’m going to have a rum and coke and order in some pizza.
Never make someone a priority when you are just an option for them.
Thanks for reading.
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