If you were in my shoes, would you have believed John?

Hamilton Island 2016— Great Barrier Reef, Heart Reef

This is my story…

I met “John” in Feb 2016 in Singapore, we established that we were both single, he was almost 40 and I was 37 at the time, and we wound up spending the entire trip together.
Our meeting was completely unexpected. Neither of us had been looking to meet anybody and although our initial time together was short, we’d managed to develop an instantly strong bond — something neither of us had anticipated.

When we returned to Melbourne, I wasn’t sure if we would continue to see each other however John pursued me and we wound up dating. Everything about John was exciting and new, our connection was growing deeper and both of us wanted to explore where it would go.

Around a month into seeing each other, John called me and with a serious tone in his voice, asked if he could come to my house for a talk. When he arrived he was uncharacteristically nervous, fumbling his words and even dropped his keys a few times.
He then shared that he’d not been 100% truthful about his situation and that there were some important things that he should have spoken to me about sooner.
He took a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing to say that he‘d been married for around 10 years but had separated from his ex wife over a year ago. He said their separation was amicable and that he’d fallen out of love with her many years ago.
John then became a bit emotional before sharing that he was a proud father to three young children — 3yr old twins, a girl and a boy, and a school aged son.
He then told me that he was still living in the same home as his ex wife, in separate bedrooms (him downstairs and her upstairs) until the twins reached kindergarten age — in early 2017.
As the separation was amicable, John stated that both he and his ex wife were dating other people. John explained that he had dated two other women in the year prior to meeting me, but he hadn’t introduced them to his ex wife as they were not serious relationships.
Upon hearing all of this at once, I felt overwhelmed.

I hadn’t ever dated anybody who was going through a divorce, and wasn’t sure how I felt about his living arrangement.

In addition to this, while I love everything about kids, I wasn’t a parent and had no prior experience having a partner with children.

I just wasn’t sure if he was the right partner for me.

After thinking about it a lot, I chose to break things off.

I was heartbroken and suffering, and so was John but I thought it was for the best.

As time ticked by though and with encouragement from friends, I started to see things in a different light. I began to second guess my decision.

I felt horrible. Like I’d been too quick to judge and punished John for telling the truth and trying to be a good father.

Slowly, I started to understand the sacrifices John was making for his kids and how difficult it must have been for him to be so open and honest with me.

He’d had no way of knowing how I’d react to his situation — yet he’d cared enough about me to be honest and share his life story with me.

I started to see things differently from this point onwards.

After quite a few sleepless nights thinking about John, I came to feel that I’d made a mistake breaking up with him.
So… I contacted him and we decided to get back together.

Our relationship from this point onwards became more serious, it was exciting, he was charming, thoughtful and before we knew it we’d fallen deeply in love with each other.

As time passed we began seeing each other almost every day and were together during special events (his 40th birthday, Easter, etc). I got along with his inner circle of friends (who also confirmed he was separated) and same in reverse with my friends. He also introduced me to his family members, I met the team who worked for him (even helping them move office) and he my team too.

John also had me at his home in Brunswick West a few times, to show me where he lived along with his separate bedroom downstairs.

Martha Cove

Travel was also something we loved to do together and we did a bunch of short trips away to Sorrento and Martha Cove. We also did a few longer holidays to Hamilton Island in September of 2016, Margaret River in July of 2017 and Airlie Beach during September 2017.

I also admired John for his empathy and considered him to be very thoughtful. A good example of this was when his ex wife had a major operation and he visited her in the hospital as well as calling her while we were on vacation to provide support. He seemed like a very genuine person who really cared for others.

Outside of our travels, John felt it was important for me to have exposure to his kids, so I could start to understand the joys (and challenges) of parenting. John encouraged me a lot in this regard, and we looked after his kids together on several occasions.

Initially we had lunch with his older son, after that we did a day trip with all 3 kids to a convent. We also looked after the kids together at his home in Brunswick West and even took the twins to a 1yr old Birthday party followed by a trip to the Gallactic Circus to play arcade games. It was hard work taking care of the kids however with John guiding me, I felt relaxed and my confidence was growing.

Despite our good times together, I began to feel that John’s living arrangement was putting strain on our relationship. I’ll admit as a result of this, we did hit a rocky patch where for a couple of months in March and April 2017 we had a break to think about our future together.
The break was extremely hard on both of us… we were miserable. We kept in contact sporadically during this time to support each other however….. and by the end of April, we found ourselves back together again.

Something was different when we got back together this time though, as he seemed more committed than ever and willing to take the next step in our relationship.

In June 2017 a couple of months after being back together, John took me to a special dinner in Malvern. As we arrived at the restaurant John became anxious, fumbled his words, began perspiring (which he never did!), and insisted on shifting to a more private table in the restaurant.
Once we were settled into a cosy table in the restaurant, John took my hand in his, looked deep into my eyes and began to speak.
He started by saying that when he first met me in Singapore, his best friend had asked him if he would marry me in future, and that he’d said “Yes.”
John then went on to say that after spending over a year together, that he felt we were soul mates and that he’d never fallen so deeply in love with anybody else in his life.
It was at this time that he said that wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. That he wanted to grow old with me and would never let me go.
As if this wasn’t already enough, John expressed that he wanted to have a baby with me. He thought we would be wonderful parents as we had similar parenting values and that our child would benefit from having step siblings.
John then expressed that he didn’t want to live apart any longer and that he wanted to move in together by the end of 2017. He also explained that he didn’t like renting, and asked if we could buy a home together in a suburb like Port Melbourne so we wouldn’t be living too far away from his three children in Brunswick West.
I was so happy that John and I could finally be together and believed that he genuinely wanted to be together for life.
John will probably never know this, but that night was probably the happiest I’ve felt in my life. I’d never felt loved that way before.

From that night onwards our relationship went to another level and we started planning our future together.

It was at this time that John decided to move out of his Brunswick West home and in with his Sister in Brighton. He did this for me, so we could see each other more often and our relationship grew stronger.

John also made a point share with me that he’d met with a lawyer to continue his divorce proceedings.

Everything was moving in the right direction.

We then started talking about the elephant in the room — the right time to introduce me to his ex wife.
Originally John and I had agreed to wait until June of 2017 for the introduction, but with our breakup in Mar/Apr we decided it would be better to give it a little more time — and so we decided we would wait until Nov 2017 as by then, we’d have been together almost 2yrs.

The timing to introduce me to his ex wife was important to us for other reasons too. We had a wedding to attend in the country in January of 2018, where John was best man and his ex wife would be in attendance. By allowing a couple of months for John’s ex wife to adjust, we hoped she would accept me. Either way, John and I wanted to be respectful of her wishes and figured we were all adults so we would need to work it out.

As for the kids, John was planning to have them every other weekend from Thursday until Monday as soon as he’d moved into his own space. He wanted to allow six months before I was introduced as his partners, which was around the time we would had planned to buy a home together.

With that said, and just a few weeks after our July vacation to Margaret River, John announced that he was going on a trip to Hawaii for his kids — and that his ex wife was going too. John explained to me that he’d booked the trip when we’d broken up in Mar/Apr, and that he and his ex wife would be staying in separate rooms. While this made me feel uncomfortable, I did my best to put my feelings aside and tried to focus on how good it would be for the kids.

While he was in Hawaii, John made an effort to call and video chat with me every night before bed. John also confided in me during his trip that he was fighting with his ex wife quite a bit around differences in their parenting of the kids. Upon hearing this, I suggested that he offer to take the kids on a day trip to the beach for a day so his ex wife could have a break and to keep them occupied (and get them tired). He went ahead and did it and he was really happy because the kids didn’t have any meltdowns and slept all the way back to the hotel.

When John returned from Hawaii, I admittedly had some trust issues and while we continued to talk about our future together, I noticed a shift in his behaviour. Something had changed.

Within a couple of weeks of arriving home from Hawaii, John and I went on vacation to Airlie Beach with friends as a way to reconnect and rebuild my trust. While we were there, John gave a heartfelt speech over dinner about our relationship together and even extended his trip by a day so we could return home to Melbourne together. That said, it wasn’t all smooth sailing during our time away as he became very needy and got angry if I wasn’t focusing all of my attention on him.

Upon arriving back home to Melbourne airport John seemed a bit stressed out. He told me he needed to drop in to see his Mother and eldest sister before they jetted off to Turkey for three weeks. So, part way through our trip from the airport to my home, he dropped us off at Hungry Jacks to grab an Uber. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have minded, however as I was very sick at the time, I got a bit grumpy with him.

Later that same day after arriving home to rest, I received a message from a concerned friend.
The friend told me that they’d just seen family photos of John and his ex wife on Instagram from their trip to Hawaii. While this was upsetting, I knew they’d gone together and figured it was inevitable that there would be group shots. Beyond this however, my friend noticed a picture of his ex wife on Instagram from Christmas 2016 that showed her wearing a wedding ring. My friend had then checked the ex wife’s Facebook page and noticed that her relationship status was listed as “married”.
Upon hearing this my stomach dropped….. I felt physically ill…

I didn’t know what to think but also didn’t want to jump to any conclusions without first speaking with John.

The very next time I saw John I asked him why his ex wife’s Facebook page would list her as “married” and his response was that her profile was outdated. I then showed him the Instagram pics from Hawaii on her profile, and while he seemed visibly annoyed (towards the ex wife), he reassured me that he’d moved out of home for me, was changing his entire life for me and that his ex wife was probably just posting things to social media out of spite.

From this point onwards in our conversation however John’s demeanour changed and he seemed agitated.

He started saying that I hadn’t given him enough attention during our trip to Airlie Beach and was uncharacteristically short with me. After all the loving, heartfelt words he’d spoken just a couple of days earlier — he then went on to say that weren’t suited long term and that he no longer wanted a child together.

He then said we should break up — permanently.

It’s all very raw as it’s only been a few weeks since our breakup. As I reflect on our relationship, I also can’t help questioning things.

I wondered if he’d ever really meant the words he’d spoken to me during our dinner together in June. We’d been dating for 18 months now, and it had only been a couple of months since that night — how could things change so drastically?

Moreover though, I’m wondering if it was possible that John could have been living a double life? Telling his ex wife one thing and me another, and even fooling my friends who he’d spent a great deal of time with as well.

Update: John wrote to me after we broke up to share that his feelings were real and that he had truly fallen in love with me. He said he didn’t care if I believed him or not but that he knew what he felt and that he’d never felt that way before…. and that our relationship was real for him.
He said that there were obstacles that we could overcome, without giving examples, and that one of us had to end our relationship — and that he chose to be the bad guy.
He stopped short of saying that he’s been living a double life though, so the question mark remains in this regard.
Thank you to everybody who’s commented on this and direct messaged me. You advice is much appreciated.

With time, I will forgive John — even if he lied to me about everything. I will also forgive myself and learn from the breakup so I become a stronger person.

I know John loves me, even still, and I still have those feelings for him as well — but it’s time to move on.