by Ree, “The (Ree)lationship Guide”
No, I didn’t knowingly go into this situation being the side woman. The guy I was dating at the time played me.
Here’s the backstory:
I was in my mid-20s and living in Dallas, Texas. Around that time, there weren’t many viable dating options for young Black professional women, so I decided to lower my shallow physical requirements (e.g. buff, taller than me, and chocolate) to broaden my dating options.
That’s when I met that guy.
Quick side note:
I’ll just refer to him as “that guy” throughout this post because this happened eight years ago, and I’m happily married and have no idea where he is or what he’s doing. For all I know, he could be a changed man, and I’d hate to play a role in diminishing his growth today for something he did nearly a decade ago.
The point of me sharing this story is to highlight how women can sometimes find ourselves in situations we didn’t foresee and what to do when you’re in that situation.
So, back to the story…
That guy was not “my type” in the physical sense. He was slightly shorter than me, a little chubby, and had a dry personality. HOWEVER, he was extremely intelligent, and that was the most attractive thing to me about him. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life and am always complimented on my extensive vocabulary, but that guy would drop words on me that I’d never heard before.
I once jested to a friend that he probably thought I was stupid because I’d often ask him “What does that [word] mean?” during conversation.
Well, as I would soon find out, he actually did think I was dumb. Real dumb.
Approximately five days before Valentine’s Day, he treated me to an expensive dinner ($100/person) where we chatted and shared thoughts and opinions. I thought the date night was going pretty well until he hit me with this line: “So, this is your Valentine’s Day dinner.” I thought to myself “SURELY he’s kidding. I mean, who doesn’t know that the side woman is catered to a day or two before Valentine’s Day?!” I’ve always teetered between being arrogant and self-confident, so I was absolutely insulted by his remark.
I quickly retorted, “So what are we doing on Valentine’s Day?” Noticing a swift shift in my temper and tone, he assured me that we would spend time together on that day but expressed concern for us not making it to dinner on the actual day due to his upcoming work schedule.
Here’s the thing: He actually did have a busy work schedule around that time. We’d already predicted a potential clash weeks prior, but I didn’t care because I know people will make time for things they care about. I made a mental note of his remarks that evening and decided to see how he’d play out his plan.
Just 2-3 days before Valentine’s Day, I noticed an increase in phone calls from him and a repeated effort to let me know he’d be “extremely busy” on Valentine’s Day.
I’d already informed my best friend that I would be breaking up with him but not before I disrupted his Valentine’s Day plans.
Here was my thought: That guy wasted my time, so I was sure as hell going to waste his time and make sure that the “main woman” in his life was aware that he wasn’t sh*t. And that’s exactly what I did.
On Valentine’s Day, the calls increased exponentially. He was practically checking in after every move he made — on his way to work, on his lunch break, after a meeting at work, etc. — continuously harping on the fact that he was exhausted and knew he’d be at work late. The whole while, I continued to insist on seeing him, hoping that he’d be audacious and silly enough to deny me that right as his girlfriend. He never did.
His typical work day ended at 5:30pm, but he called me from the phone at his office at 7pm saying “Hey, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I’m still here at work, so that you wouldn’t think that I was on B.S. or anything.” Puzzled as to why he’d made the latter part of his statement, I replied “Oh! (Awkward pause) Ok. Yeah, that didn’t cross my mind at all. I know that you’re having a late night. I’ll just see you when you get off.” He hesitated and then said “Oh. Ok…”
He made it home around 7:30pm and called me, once again claiming to be fatigued by his tumultuous work week. I let him babble on for about 30 minutes, and then I bluntly asked “So, do you want me to come over or not?” My direct question must’ve stunned him because he paused and said “I’m not going to tell you ‘no,’ Maria. You’re my girlfriend.”
That was it. I was in.
I told him I was on the way but didn’t actually leave for another 45 minutes, hoping that I’d get there late enough to completely thwart any plans he had with the “main chick.” It was approximately 9:15pm by the time I got in my car and made the 15 minute drive to his apartment.
I had one goal, and that was to simply disrupt his plans with the other woman and to also retrieve some items from him that needed to be given to a mutual friend. Since I’d already had plans on calling off the relationship, I knew that would be my one and only opportunity to help with that.
He walked up to me — fully dressed in his work attire — as I parked. We hugged, kissed, and he handed me the items I needed to give to our mutual friends.
The first thing I noticed upon greeting him was he was more anxious than usual. It seemed like he was annoyed by my presence. I didn’t care because I was annoyed by his willingness to insult me, so all was fair as far as I was concerned.
When I entered his apartment, I sat on the couch and grabbed the remote. I could see his phone lighting up in his pant pocket, and he kept running back and forth the bathroom. Meanwhile, I remained on the couch and watched TV. After a while, he joined me, snatching the remote and flipping the channel to sports. His lack of eye contact, conversation, and overall anxious demeanor let me know that he was pissed off, and that brought me a great deal of satisfaction.
I stayed at his apartment until approximately 11pm. He practically pushed me out telling me how tired he was and that he was about to get in the shower and go to bed.
Any other time I’d stay at his place after 9pm, he’d say it was too dangerous and too late for me to drive to my apartment alone, but amazingly enough, he had no problem with me leaving his apartment around 11pm on the evening of Valentine’s Day.
We hugged, and I got in my car, phoned a friend, and laughed my ass off about the night.
Just minutes after I departed, that guy beeped in on the other line. I was stunned by his call, but I answered “Hey! What’s up?”
“Nothing.” He spoke as if we hadn’t just seen each other moments prior.
“Oh. Ok. I thought you were in bed now.”
“Naw. Not yet. Hey, did you know that Jason Terry has five kids?” I wasn’t sure why he was engaging me in basketball player trivia on Valentine’s Day, but obliged: “No, I didn’t.”
“Oh. (Awkward pause) Where are you?”
“What?!” I was growing agitated by the forced conversation he was attempting to have.
“Where are you? Are you still outside of my apartment? It sounds quiet.”
I’d reached a breaking point. “Why in the hell would you ask me that?! What makes you think I’d want to sit outside of your apartment?! I’m on the highway!”
He apologized and quickly got off of the phone, claiming that he was just tired and needed rest. I was floored.
The next day he called me, but I hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to say to him, so I told him I’d call him back and I never did.
The following day he called me again, and I told him I’d call him back. When I did, I got straight to the point: “Hey, I’m aware of your cheating, and I don’t want anything to do with you. Do not call me, do not email me, and do not text me again.”
He was stunned. “Hello?!” I shouted in the phone, wondering if he’d hung up.
“Yeah. I’m here,” he said, with no emotion.
“Ok. Well, like I said, we’ll never talk again, do you understand?”
“I mean… if that’s how you feel…”
I cut him off and firmly stated: “Yes, that’s how I feel.”
And that was it. The conversation was over, and I enjoyed dinner later that evening in the company of friends. I do appreciate the fact that he never attempted to call me again — unless he was the person who called me from a private number a couple of days after the breakup.
Did I handle the situation in the best manner? Of course not. I was petty. I was spiteful. And, if I’m honest with myself, I reacted like a brat with a bruised ego. I could’ve ended the entire thing very firmly and cordially the moment he told me our Valentine’s Day dinner was FIVE DAYS before the actual day, but I decided to play games, and that didn’t make me any better than him.
We waste a lot of our time playing games and giving people opportunities to prove that they’re not worth our time — when we already know that from the onset. Can you imagine how much I’d been able to achieve personally and professionally if I’d not wasted hours of my life affirming that guy was not “the” guy for me? Ironically, my life partner (whom I’ve recently married) visited me a day before the Valentine’s Day with that guy. We were strictly friends at that point in our lives, but even then, I’d secretly wished he and I lived in the same state so that we could date (neither one of us were into the whole long distance thing at the time).
Here’s another thing: I strongly discourage petty behavior when you find yourself being played. I know… It’s hard, but seriously, just let it go. I learned a valuable lesson about myself after dealing with that situation, and I’m grateful for that. I’ll probably never forget how that guy played me, but I refused to allow him to jade my experiences with other men. Again, it was a lesson learned.
Oh yeah, one more thing: You’re never too pretty, too educated, nor too successful to be played. No one’s above reproach when it comes to having their ego bruised in an insignificant relationship.
Ultimately, my experience with that guy was humbling and empowering. It made me grow up, check my ego, and dedicate time to the man I’ve committed my life to. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.