I had just discovered that my older man, Marco, had left his cell phone at home and he had some unread messages. As I stood there drinking my coffee, staring at the flashing light on his phone that indicates a new message, I was caught in a serious moral dilemma. Would it have ever crossed my mind to even check his messages before we had that conversation about marriage and kids? We were playing house, living like a monogamous couple, and yet the alarm bells and gut feeling were too much to ignore. Each time that light flashed, I felt a stronger and stronger impulse to just open the damn messages.
Instead, I called my mom. I told her everything I was feeling, the conversation, about the phone, and about his frantic attempts to reach me, which I was hoping were just because he was trying to wake me up so I could drive his phone to the airport for him before he took off. With a heavy sigh, my mom said to me, “If your intuition is telling you something is off, trust it. It probably is. Being that he travels a lot, maybe he has a lover or two in places that he travels to often.” He was headed to Toronto for the third week-long trip. My heart sank, but I was hopeful.
I took a quick shower and decided, “What the hell!” As I opened Marco’s phone and read the messages, my heart sank lower than ever before. He was, in fact, having an affair with another woman, and she was in Toronto. She had sent him pictures of herself partially nude, or in lingerie, holding up signs with handwritten words like, “Miss you love,” “Can’t wait to hold you again,” and, “Landing strip just for you.”
That last one really got me for a few reasons. First, I’d never seen pubic hair shaved like that, and plus, why did I never think of doing something creative like that? And second, she wasn’t any more attractive than I was. I couldn’t understand it. She was older, a little heavier, and I didn’t personally think she was anything beyond average. If she were drop-dead gorgeous, I would have understood, maybe even been OK with it. But she—Karen—didn’t make any sense.
I cried for a while, until I got a text from Marco. He’d landed and was going to call me from the cab. I didn’t respond. I just cried some more—after seeing the word “landed” in his text message, all I could think about was her “landing strip.”
I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I straightened myself out and prepared to talk to him, hoping he would bring it up first. While I was waiting for him to call me back, I called my mom quickly and gave her a very quick synopsis. She obviously was taken aback and was hopeful for my sake that we could work things out. She tried to warn me that guys like this were smooth talkers and to be careful, but she also said that he could just be flirting innocently and didn’t mean it. She gave me a hypothetical synopsis of him still flirting online with the dating profile he’d met me with. There were plenty of stories or reasons I could have chosen to believe.
It wasn’t until six-and-a-half hours later that Marco finally called. By this time, I was livid, and I knew without a doubt that he’d probably gone straight to the hotel and either had Karen meet him there, or maybe he went straight to her place. At least that’s what I told myself. He was calling me from a restaurant where he and his clients were having dinner. He was bidding a job for his company and wasn’t having much luck. I asked him if it was because something was distracting him while he was there, or if his focus was elsewhere.
Marco got very quiet before realizing and remembering that his phone was with me.