...when you fall in love with a cheater - part 3

    Voldemort and I were officially over in January 2014—after weeks of antagonism—but continued cohabiting and co-parenting until our hatred for one another dissipated. Thomas was the first person I told. Coincidentally, he was also in the process of moving Nat out of his apartment. A decade later, regardless of how far we had come, I was still complaining about Voldemort to him. I was thankful for Thomas—the only friend I was speaking to at the time—but was ignorant to what I later realized was an obvious attraction. My experience with men had ruined my perception. In my eyes, he was just being nice—nothing for me to pursue. Besides, he was planning to leave for the west coast; and I was too busy thinking about Rizi.
    Several weeks had passed since I first read his email. It seemed he cared about me; but I was unable to ignore that while he had finally done what I wanted—broken up with his girlfriend—it took him only two months to find someone new. Still, I decided that I would send him an email.

I've received your message, and always start to reply, but can never bring myself to send anything. You've been on my mind a lot lately; I hope you're doing well. You seem happy. I would like to regale you with tales of New York, and how my whole life is somehow coming together, but the truth is that besides my zip code and friendlessness, everything's pretty much the same. I'm learning to see the good in every bad situation, and feel better for it. My life here is more difficult, but has the potential to be more interesting. Right now the plan is to keep moving forward—"if I look back, I am lost." I miss you.

    Rizi and I exchanged several messages in the span of two days, and were soon flirting again—trying to preserve a platonic friendship, but unable to stray from our usual pattern. I knew he was seeing someone, but it did not matter. I felt truly wanted again, and began sending him pictures at his request; but he would not let me forget that it could never go any further.

I love sending you pictures because I know you love them, and I’m an exhibitionist at heart. You make me feel sexy enough to take pictures; so why not send them to you for further validation? My problem is not with the pictures, but rather with the fact that you feel the need to remind me that we cannot be together. I know we can’t be together. I don’t think I would actually want to be with you if we could be together. You’re dishonest and unfaithful. I love a lot of things about you, but you’re not exactly in a position to give me what I need—and there’s a huge possibility I would constantly be paranoid that you’re off making some other unsuspecting girl fall in love with you. I’m trying to keep this where it is, even when I express my feelings for you. Don’t confuse my trying to absorb every aspect of this infatuation, with my wanting a relationship beyond it.

    I planned to see Rizi in Nashville that upcoming March, but could not wait and resorted to stalking him on social media—soon finding his girlfriend. I was inundated with pictures of the bouquets he had sent her, their smiling faces pressed together, and her captions—best boyfriend ever. I could no longer ignore that what we were doing was wrong, and started to slowly distance myself.

I’m afraid I want to pull away, and soon. It’s frustrating, feeling like you’re giving someone a part of you, and they in turn give that part of themselves to someone else. I know you say it’s not too serious, but that doesn’t matter to me. It exists, and that’s serious enough. I’m using you as fuel, but I can’t let you burn up anymore of my love. I can’t wait for you. You’re setting up a life for yourself and I don’t see what role I can play. The only one that seems obvious is not one that I’m willing to fill. I gravitate towards you because something about you reminds me of the person I want to be with forever. I’m not interested in less. I can’t live my life looking forward to the small bit of attention you’re willing to give me. I know that what I want is someone to be that person for me, but I know I can’t sit around waiting for that. I need to live my life. I thank you for the boost you’ve given me. But I’m not sure if you need to stick around. I’m not sure I can go visit you. I don’t want to be another notch for you—it’s not worth it for me. My feelings for you are a constant reminder that I want something more—something you can’t give me. I enjoy our friendship, but can’t enjoy the flirtation any longer.

    Rizi sensed my distance and started to claim that he would breakup with his new girlfriend for me; but I suspected he was simply leading me on and ultimately, it no longer mattered. I knew we could never have what I wanted—a loving and trusting relationship. As much as he seemed to be the opposite of Voldemort—what with his goals and aspirations—he also seemed too much like him for me to ignore.

The words you use sketch an inaccurate, impossible image. You claim to feel things that you do not feel—to want things that you do not want—creating an erroneous outline for me to color in. “I want to be with you,” you say—causing me to picture a future. I imagine us together, holding hands, laughing, making love. I see you and me at dinners, walks, and movies. I suddenly want the life I’ve invented. I want it so much that I confuse my desires with necessity. I forget that everyone is merely a step in our growth. I let my evolution end as I wade in thoughts of day trips, dancing, and the sweet romancing you promise. But you can’t keep this up for long. The mask slips. “I don’t know how we could make it work,” you whisper. The future I envisioned with you lifts away. I notice your distractions, detachment, and deceptions. I start to notice you for who you are and not for who you want me to see. You are the impatient texter with utter lack of empathy—I can’t take ten minutes to reply but you’ll leave me waiting hours for a response—the disloyal flirt that will make anything in a skirt feel special—motivated by the chance that she’ll make you feel special by losing her skirt. Sure you’re smart—you’re a snob about it; okay, you have determination—for career goals, not physical, relationship, or spiritual; and yes, you are charming—but it’s a repetitive charm that grows stale very quickly. I can tell you’ve carefully constructed this persona that manipulates most to your whim. I’m no longer hooked on your line, but watching with clarity as you cast it out into the waiting, willing waters. I finally see you as you are: someone to help lead me to my fated future, and not the painting I’ve created from your colorful words.

    I wanted to end whatever was happening between us, but Rizi would not let me go. He continued to send me unwanted texts, until I threatened to contact his girlfriend; but the silence between him and I was brief. He doubted I would actually do it; yet after receiving another text, I sent his girlfriend a message on Facebook and a direct message on Instagram.
    She never received my messages—her silence dictated as much—but I could not put it out of my mind. I dreamt one night that the two of them had gone to my apartment to clear out their belongings. They were moving in together and were ignoring my efforts to stop them. I then saw her mother and told her everything. She thanked me for my honesty, saying she would see to the relationship’s termination.

    The next day, I awoke with newfound determination. Scouring Facebook, I found and messaged her father—briefly describing the situation. She responded days later, gave me her number, and asked that I send her screenshots of the texts her boyfriend and I had exchanged. Rizi had his phone records subpoenaed, hoping to prove I was lying; and it seemed to work until a few weeks later when I received his final text: “Well, you win. We’re over.”


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