We had been dating for five years. The last two years of the relationship were long distance because my job had taken me to New York (he lived in California, where we met). I loved living in New York because that’s where my family was and I was working my dream job, but it was hard on our relationship. We flew to each other a few times a year but it started to take a toll on our relationship. We talked about him moving to New York, but he couldn’t easily relocate with his job. I started applying for jobs in California again. I missed him. He was the love of my life and we wanted to buy a house together and get married within the next few years. As much as I loved New York and being close to my family, I loved him more and realized that if I wanted to be with him, I would need to move back to California.
A few months passed and I was offered a job in Los Angeles. He flew out to New York, helped me pack up my tiny one-bedroom apartment and we drove 3,000 miles across the country – back to California. I moved into his condo and felt truly happy.
When I say he was the love of my life, I mean it. We were soulmates. I couldn’t even fathom loving someone else as much as I loved him. We had so much in common, we loved to take backpacking trips on the weekends and travel to as many countries as possible during the summer months. He was the most gorgeous man I had ever met. I always told him he could have been a model if he wanted to. We were a true pair. Even our friends frequently made comments like “God, you two really could not be more perfect for each other” or “I hope I can find a relationship as strong as your guys’ someday.” When we were together, we felt stronger. More comfortable and more happy.
The first few months of living together in his condo had its ups and downs. We had little arguments – all the little arguments couples who have just moved in together have, but overall we were both so happy.
A month later, we decided we were too crammed in his condo. We were ready to buy a house. We looked for several weeks until we finally found our dream home. It was a little pricey, but it had everything we wanted so we put in an offer and it was accepted. If everything went as planned, we could close and move into our new home in 4 weeks.
The following week, he had to travel to China for a business trip. I dropped him off at the airport and headed back to the condo to start the packing process. I decided to start with the office. After a few hours, I took a break and decided to start looking for a moving company. He had left his iPad at home, so I grabbed it and started googling moving companies in our area. After a few minutes of searching, an email notification popped up at the top of the screen. The subject line read: RE: Bottom looking for experienced, kinky top.
I wasn’t too alarmed at first, figured it was just some kind of spam. But I looked at it again and noticed the “RE:” meaning it was a reply. I’ve never snooped through his phone, I never felt the need to. I trusted him completely. But what could he possibly be emailing about with a subject line like that? I couldn’t resist. I opened it.
He had replied to a man’s Craigslist ad. An ad placed in Craigslist’s casual encounters section under M4M (men looking for men). The ad he replied to read “Hey guys, clean, DDF 32 year old bottom here looking for a masculine top. You must also be DDF, athletic and around the same age. Reply with a pic for a response.”
This couldn’t possibly be true. It had to be some kind of mistake or joke. But as I read the thread and saw my boyfriend’s responses, I couldn’t deny the truth. He was looking for a man to hook up with.
It felt like my entire world had just come crashing down. I didn’t cry at first. I sat on our bed and felt like I had just entered a coma. I felt numb. A million questions filled my head.
Was this his first time? Has he had sex with men before? Is he gay or bi? He can’t be gay if he has sex with me, right? How long has this been going on? We just bought a house together, what am I supposed to do now? How am I going to bring this up?
He wouldn’t be home for another six days. I called my best friend. I sent her screenshots of the emails. I was still naively hoping I had just misunderstood these emails somehow. She confirmed I had not. Reality started to sink in. We were supposed to be moving into our dream home in a few weeks and I just found out the man I thought was my soulmate likes having sex with men.
I had six days to figure out how I wanted to approach this and what I wanted to do. I went through stages of feeling disgusted that he would do this to me and stages of thinking this wasn’t the end of the world. If he was willing to buy a house with me this must just be some fantasy he wanted to experiment with or something. We had a great sex life so he couldn’t possibly be gay. We could work through this. I decided I would talk to him when he came home. I decided I would do whatever it took to work through this with him because I couldn’t imagine living a life without him in it.
The day arrived and he came back from his business trip. I picked him up at the airport. I was shaking I was so nervous. He tried to kiss me when I picked him up from the airport, but I pulled back. Told him I thought I was getting sick. We got home and he said he was exhausted and wanted to lay down. He asked me to lay down with him and I did – or at least tried to. We laid on our bed and he put his arm around me and pulled me close to him. I couldn’t stand it. He fell asleep within minutes and I wiggled out of his arms and went into the bathroom and started bawling. Like a serious, ugly cry.
I had managed to pull myself together while he napped. He woke up, came out of the bedroom and I hadn’t meant for it to happen like this, but without even meaning to, my mouth blurted out the words “I know you’ve been sleeping with men.”
He looked at me and laughed. “Haha, what?” I told him about the emails and his face turned white. He didn’t say anything for a few seconds, just stared at me and I could see tears welling up in his eyes. I started crying. He came over and hugged me – hard. He wouldn’t let me go and just started repeating “I love you, I love you, I am so sorry.”
He told me this was his deepest, darkest secret. He never intended for anyone to ever find out. I asked if he was gay and he said no, he never wanted a relationship with a man, just enjoyed having sex with men. He said this was the worst day of his life.
We decided we were going to work through this. A week later he told me he couldn’t be with me anymore because he would never get over the embarrassment of me knowing his “disgusting secret.” I had just left my friends, family and career in New York for this man and now he was breaking up with me and I had nowhere to go.
I considered trying to describe how heartbroken I was after our break up in this post, but there aren’t words. I’ll just say it was excruciating.
This happened two years ago. We tried to remain friends, but there was always this enormous uncomfortableness every time we were together. He refused to ever talk about the emails again. If I ever brought it up, he would immediately shut me down. Our friendship slowly died.
We don’t speak anymore. He hasn’t dated anyone since our break up and I have tried to but can’t seem to move past what happened with him. He really was the only person I truly loved unconditionally. I often joke with my friends that I can’t date anyone because I have relationship PTSD. I say it jokingly, but it does kind of feel that way. I feel too damaged from that experience to ever get close to someone else again. The first few months after it happened, I told myself “you just need time, you’ll want to date again someday.” But now it’s been two years and I still don’t want to date again. Maybe I won’t ever want to date again. Maye some breakups are so painful that they break the part of you that’s capable of loving other people.