I was always athletic and loved sports. Weekends as a kid in Long Beach were spent playing volleyball on the beach, surfing in the ocean and biking up the coast. The youngest after three older brothers, I had to be tough to keep up. And so I did. We were a tight knit family and Mom insisted that the boys take me along with them wherever they went. So I grew up comfortable being the only female in a group of guys.
From a young age I was trained that I could do anything I set out to do. Without any apprehension, I went to law school and became a successful and tough trial attorney in the District Attorney’s office. As a strong, 5’10” athletic woman, I found myself attracted to softer men. I found such a guy in Elliot, a forensic investigator I met working on one of my cases. He was easy to talk to and be with for hours on end. We kept the courtship secret until we had been going out together for over a year. Eventually we got married.
Our love life wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. I didn’t know any better. I had always been focused on my academic success and my career and hadn’t dated much before Elliot. Certainly there were moments when it was nice, but overall it was a comfortable enough relationship, rather than exciting. I was busy with work and life and my sex life just wasn’t a high priority. And then it was…
One month, about four years into our marriage, Elliot had been acting strangely. By this time we had a beautiful toddler who had just learned how to walk. I was preoccupied juggling a full time job and nanny care for our baby. For these reasons, I didn’t pay much attention to Elliot because sometimes in the type of work he did, investigating murder cases or gang-related cases, the work became gruesome. I didn’t expect much of him for conversation or small talk. But this was different. He was doing more than just being quiet, it gradually felt like he was avoiding me. Avoiding us. I let it go on until I was certain something was off, and then one night after our baby was in bed, I confronted him. “Elliot,” I said, “what’s up?! You seem to be avoiding me.” Elliot gave a long, sad stare and said, “I guess we have to talk.” What?! This was not the answer I was expecting. In fact, I was floored. I sat down slowly and my mouth went dry. I knew something was about to happen. He cleared his throat a few times and looked down. “I met someone at work.” He paused and I was about to pounce on him. He said, “wait, there’s more... It’s a man.” Suddenly the floor felt as if it had disappeared. I was grateful to be sitting. What now?
Elliot wanted to stay married but create an “Open Relationship.” We could each be intimate with whomever we wanted, but we would still present ourselves as a married couple. We had a toddler to raise together and Elliot didn’t want to give up all we had built as a couple. But at the same time, he felt he could no longer deny his sexual orientation.
Has this happened to you? What advice would you give to someone in this situation?
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