When Carly*, now 35, got together with Jack*, she believed they would have a wonderful future together, but her insecurities got in the way.
I’d known Jack for years. He’d been in a band with my husband, Max*, when they’d been in their early twenties. However, unlike Max – who’s a big drinker – Jack was a quieter soul. He seemed kind and thoughtful, and I always enjoyed his visits. We definitely had a rapport. The rest of the music crowd were all about competing with each other with outrageous anecdotes. I think Jack enjoyed the fact that I listened to him.
Occasionally, when life was chaotic due to Max’s drinking, I’d find myself wondering how different things would have been if I’d ended up with someone like Jack – or actually Jack, if I’m honest. I definitely had a crush on him.
As my 30th birthday approached, my marriage was crumbling. Life with Max was, at best, incredibly boring – all the rambling repetitive stories and the ill-tempered hungover days – and at worst, upsetting and stressful. When Max started to talk about us having a baby, I knew I had to get out.
The minute I walked into the pub and saw him, I actually started to shake.
A revealing message
We split up, got divorced, and he moved onto a new partner in no time. I was relieved to be single, supported by a group of close friends. Then one night, a girlfriend came over and after a bottle of wine, and we got around to talking about Jack. Tipsily, I admitted I’d always fancied him and she dared me to send him a Facebook message.
I sent a brief, 'How are you doing?' type of message and waited with bated breath for him to read it.
As the little dots appeared, signalling that he was replying immediately, my heart leapt. 'Lovely to hear from you,' he started. 'I often think about you.' Jack thought about me? I was thrilled. We started messaging and quickly tipped into flirtation. He said he’d always thought I was beautiful. I could barely function. But, after a couple of weeks of intense messaging, we arranged to meet.
The minute I walked into the pub and saw him, I actually started to shake. As we hugged, I could feel his heart hammering beneath his shirt. When we finally left the pub in the pouring rain, he opened his coat and let me snuggle into it. We kissed, deeply, in the street – two 33-year-olds acting like teenagers. For the first time in years, I felt fully alive.
The first night we spent together was incredible, and from then on we couldn’t get enough of each other. Max had been difficult and unpredictable, but Jack was like a sweet puppy, and I adored him.
The only fly in the ointment was Ellie*, a singer whom Jack had dated briefly some years before. They were still in a band together and met once a week.
This might have been bearable if theirs had been a four – or even three-piece band – but it was just the two of them, writing songs and playing the odd gig together.
I trusted Jack but I couldn’t get over my annoyance that Ellie was still a huge part of his life, especially as she’d been a little cool with me when we’d met. One evening, when I knew he was with her, I ended up drinking wine on my own, and started firing off texts to him.
I trusted Jack but I couldn’t get over my annoyance that Ellie was still a huge part of his life, especially as she’d been a little cool with me when we’d met.
I started in a neutral way – 'How’s your night going?' – but really, I was trying to goad him. The more I drank, the more fury bubbled up in me that he wasn’t replying. I started texting things like, 'I wonder if you really love me?' when he’d demonstrated, without a doubt, that he did. We’d been together for six months and he’d never given me any reason to doubt him.
'What’s going on? You OK?' he replied finally. No, I wasn’t okay! I was drunk and insanely jealous. Jack was big on emojis – usually the heart-eyes one. But it wasn’t heart-eyes that night. It was the sad face one.
'Still with Ellie?' I texted back. It was midnight and the wine bottle was empty. 'Yep,' he replied – and that did it for me. I didn’t even warrant a proper reply. I sent one final message: 'Well I guess you’re perfect for each other.' Then I tottered off to bed.
'What’s going on? You OK?' he replied finally. No, I wasn’t okay! I was drunk and insanely jealous.
I woke in the morning with a creeping sense of dread and grabbed my phone. When I read his message I knew that no amount of apologising could repair what I’d done. 'You’ve killed the magic,' Jack had texted – at 1.30am. I called him but he didn’t pick up, or answer my increasingly distraught messages.
Finally, he texted to say it had been lovely but that he couldn’t handle the fact that I didn’t trust him. The thing is, I did.
But I’d come out of a bad marriage where it was all drama and I didn’t know how to behave with a straightforward, loving man. I’ve since met someone else and he’s lovely. But even now, two years on, after a couple of drinks, I have to hold myself back from messaging Jack.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
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