Ask a Married Dude: Bob and Eli
Going to try to be concise here, but I have a feeling that won’t be easy and I might skip over some of the stuff that won’t make me seem like a total monster, but oh well.
Rewind nine years to me as a fresh-faced and vaguely promiscuous 23-year-old working at a dream job in Boston that was perfect for me. Enter Bob, an account guy at my work 14 years my senior and so incredibly wonderfully grumpy and brusque that what could I do but fall head over heels in love with the guy? He had just left a ten-year marriage and wasn’t ready to give me a chance to be his girlfriend, but he was ready to bone me, which he did very enthusiastically a few times but never really pursued it beyond getting off. This sorta broke my heart. but I left the dreamjob and didn’t have to look at him anymore, so the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing kicked in and I was ready for the next one if I couldn’t have the one that had my heart.
In walks Eli, a super sweet and available guy. Ten years my senior and ready to settle down. He is an insanely smart tech guy and just thinks the sun rises and sets in me. Knowing that the one I really want doesn’t want me, I dive into a relationship with Eli. We move in together almost immediately. Eli is amazing and open, and tells me he loves me and I fall in love with him. He goes on a trip around the world for a year, and I go with him. He proposes, I accept. Then I run into Bob and sleep with him. Repeatedly. And it’s amazing. Whoops. I know, I know. I’m awful and I know it, but I don’t want to hurt Eli, so I just do the right thing and buy a house with him and marry him without ever breathing a word. That’s okay, right? No? Whoops again.
So I’m married to this great guy and live in an amazing house and we’re happy and since Eli is ten years older than me, he is ready to have kids. So we throw out the birth control and try to spawn. Now don’t get me wrong, sex with Eli is fine. Him on top, only, but very skilled with hands and tongue before he climbs on. I can’t help but compare this to Bob. Bob was more than fine. He was some sort of sex god (at least for me) and will forever be the one I compare everyone else to. Including my husband. That I’m trying to have a baby with. All this sex with my husband just makes me think of Bob more and I email him. We meet. We have le amazing sex. Repeatedly. Like really emotionally-connecting lovemaking and finally, Bob is on the same plane as me and we start wondering out loud how to move forward together (when we aren’t screwing around like horny teenagers). Then it happens. The pregnancy test comes back positive. Super whoops. I don’t tell Bob or Eli and when I miscarry, I feel like it’s a divine omen for me to Behave with a capital B. So I stop calling Bob. I erase all his information out of my life and devote myself to my sweet and available (and utterly oblivious) husband. Eventually Bob stops calling and I finally get pregnant by the wonderful Eli and I for sure know that it’s actually his baby and not Bob’s. Whew. We have a baby boy and I try to stop thinking about the what-if.
The other shoe drops. Me, all new motherly glowing and still lumpy, pushing my four-week-old baby around the grocery store with my sweet husband. Hi Bob. Fancy running into you here. Bob sees my baby and husband and the look on his face KILLS me. Well it kills me until he turns to this pretty lady with the protruding stomach and introduces her to me. AS HIS WIFE. HIS PREGNANT WIFE. WE WERE HOOKING UP A MERE YEAR BEFORE AND HE WAS SINGLE AND HOW IS HE MARRIED TO A LADY SIX-PLUS MONTHS PREGNANT?!! He is burning holes into me with this look and I’m sure it’s the same look on my face. I feel a bit faint and say I need to go. I send the husband off with the stroller to get some fruit or something and I hide by the car, sobbing like a baby. I eventually scrape myself together and push those feelings for Bob way down in my heart and try to accept that the guy I’ve been in love with for four years is married and gone. I pick myself and my heart up and we move across the country to San Francisco for Eli’s dream job. I settle down?
Eventually, I friend Bob on the evil Facebook because I am still friends with everyone we worked with. I read his posts but try to just keep it cool and as distant as possible. Even when he posts pictures of his gorgeous baby girl with the name that I once told him was my favorite. Two years later one of the people Bob and I work with dies and I reach out to him via email, only to find out that his marriage to the grocery store lady is already over and he is single again. I push my feelings down yet again and stop emailing him. Meanwhile, my marriage is fine. Lovely little family with a great job and all seems perfect but my husband won’t touch me and hasn’t initiated sex since before our son was born. He is busy, I am busy, we sleep in the same bed, he gives me a peck on the cheek when he gets out of the car. It’s fine. But it’s not.
I post a picture on Facebook of a new hairstyle and Bob likes it. I post about a new promotion, Bob messages me. Uh oh. We message back and forth for a couple of days and then I send him a drunken message with my # attached and tell him to text me. He sends me a message back and tells me how much he wants to be drunk with me. Then the texting starts. It was witty and semi-flirtatious at first and then we dove into our history and rehashed all of that. No more questions. He was in love with me from the first time he saw me. He was just out of a painful divorce and didn’t know what to do so he did nothing and he has been in love with me all along. My long-squashed feelings crash out of me in rambling text messages about how mad I am at him for letting me go. We grow intensely close over text and phone and now we have plans to be together when I am back east over the summer. I love him. I know I do. I am in love with Bob, and he is in love with me. He tells me he wants me to be his partner. He gets frustrated at the distance and my husband. My husband that I don’t want to destroy. I feel like I am being eaten alive by this what-if serpent that has transformed into the what-now monster.
I told him that we will be together over the summer for a couple of weeks and see if this works. To see if we’re good together. He wants me to come stay with him and meet his daughter that he says he wishes he’d had with me and be his girlfriend, and I want to punch him in the face for taking nine goddamn years to get on the same page as me. I tell him that we will cross these difficult and painful bridges when we come to them, and that for now we just need to get to know each other again. I respect Eli too much to ruin his life, but I can’t be his roommate forever. I don’t want to take my son away from his dad. I think if you look up Between A Rock And A Hard Place in the universal encyclopedia, this novella will be there.
Is this too little too late? Is it ever too late to have your heart’s desire? What if the one that got away comes back? HELP!
P.S. Please don’t hate me.
This is a gut-wrenching question. Should I try to meta-enable it with Newt Gingrich, or with Eli Manning and “Boston”? In the end, I chose neither.
To chew off and swallow one piece of this griefburger at a time, I’ll start with him using your favorite name for his daughter. To me, this says he’s got a connection to you that goes beyond just sex. Or that he’s the most underhanded, creatively challenged person ever, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
It’s not abnormal to see sex plummet after the birth of a child. For all sorts of reasons. It may be heresy to those who weigh the strength of a marriage in orgasms (or my 20-year-old self), but I have spent months in a 3 a.m. baby-rocking state of exhaustion so deep that 15 minutes of sleep was far more attractive than a roll in the hay. Granted, that does pass and it sounds like you have a far graver issue of sexlessness. My only recommendation is that some guys aren’t always sure exactly when the all-clear signal is, post-birth, and need a little help.
I worry that you say Bob gets “frustrated at the distance and my husband.” That Bob’s marriage didn’t work out could mean a few things. It could mean that he was in love with you and using her to attempt to forget you. Or it could mean that he grows weary of the monotony of being a happy person and, eventually, would tire of being in love with you, too. “Wonderfully grumpy” can easily become “emotionally unavailable.” Indeed, did you ever find out why his first marriage failed? The second. While it’s maybe possible one — or both — of these marriages failed because it “was not fate,” I’m a pragmatic person who believes many marriages fail for far more mundane, ultimately unsexy reasons. You won’t learn anything from the honeymoon-like couple weeks. It’s my guess that only three years down the line will you know if you made the right decision.
Not that this matters, as it seems you have made up your mind. It is too little too late, but probably for you and Eli, not for you and Bob. I don’t hate you and you’re not an “awful” person, you’re just a person. Though I cannot vouch that Eli will concur anytime soon. Or ever. This may just be the price to pay to have what your heart desires. If you’re lucky, the pain will fade. Look on the bright side, some people never live to get either.
Here’s the thing. In addition to being a married dude, I am a dad dude. In fact, probably like a lot of married dudes, I consider myself a dad dude first. Eli will get over you, or at least, over time, he will live to push memories of you out of his daily thoughts. His limited access to his children, however, will hurt forever. It’s not like you don’t know this.
But no matter if you agree with my advice or not, there appears to be at least one thing we can all agree on from this story: both Facebook and Boston will ruin your life, so stay away from them at all costs.
Previously: The One, the Affair, and the Infuriating Family.
A Married Dude is one of several rotating married dudes who don’t claim to know everything about marriage. Do you have any questions for A Married Dude? (300-word max, please.)