AD and I were good friends, meeting about a year after I was married. He was funny, brilliant and nerdy in the best of ways. A lot of girls would tell me how attractive they thought he was, to which I would laugh and say, "You realize that he's got a Superman complex and is completely obsessed with comic books, right?" We were as good as friends as a married woman and a single guy could be.
Then, almost three years ago, AD and I hit the road together for his ride to law school on the East Coast. It had been my lifelong dream to drive cross-country, and his road trip buddy bailed at the last second. It was perfect, except for the questions about me. My intention at the time was not to leave my ex, but there were a lot of people who thought I was doing just that. At the time, I thought it was stupid. After all, what would be the difference if I did this same trip with a girl?
Our trip was the greatest adventure of my life. AD and I were purely platonic and there was never anything physical between the two of us. However, we became very close afterwards, learning a lot about each other while on the road. We were very open and honest with one another, and I loved that. It was one of the few relationships in my life where I knew, in my gut, that I adored someone and the other person felt similarly. To this day, AD is still one of the most incredible human beings I have ever known.
Less than 18 months after that, my marriage ended after realizing that some things just weren't worth risking, like my future children. It didn't end because of the trip, but the journey changed me in such a way that I began to look around and ponder why I was willing to take my ex's abusive treatment for so long.
AD was incredibly supportive right before and immediately after the split, listening and giving me solid advice like any good friend -- and finally admitting that he never liked my ex. What I did not expect was that, two months later, I would realize that AD was everything I had ever wanted in a man and a partner. The terror when I realized that my dear friend was someone I could see myself marrying one day was intense. Not only did I love him, but he was the only man I could point to in my life and say that unquestioningly.
I was scared because, like any girl falling in love with a friend, there is that great potential of getting hurt and losing him. But I also felt horrible because this build up of seeing him this way happened while I was married to someone else. And I read up on emotional affairs and wondered to myself, Did I have one and not know it?
I have no doubts in my mind that my marriage was over a long time before I hit the road with AD; the question was not if, but when and how. After all, AD didn't know when we were driving together that, less than a year after I was married, my ex tackled me to the bed and shouted expletives at me, or would tell me regularly I didn't live in reality or wasn't good enough. I was reduced to nothing. The fact my ex actually let me go with AD on the road was surprising.
Post-split, I was distraught by these feelings I couldn't control for AD, combined with the pain of leaving an abusive situation and having my life completely upended by divorce. I took out a lot of these feelings through bad, and sometimes embarrassing, behavior. The guilt, combined with the fact that I didn't want to be tied into a relationship again so soon and my feelings for AD were getting stronger, made a deadly cauldron.
Seven months after I left my ex, I tried to get AD to meet me for coffee so I could confess my love and tell him where I was at emotionally. It never happened; in a whirlwind of emotions, mixed signals and temporary insanity, AD's and my friendship exploded like a Hollywood-style fiery ball of confusion. We haven't talked or seen one another in almost a year. But even though we are gone from each other's lives, I have questioned his existence in mine almost every day.
I think about how threatened my ex was by AD, even though he knew about our friendship and I never hid anything from him about it. About a week before I left, a friend caught my ex checking texts on my phone, which were from AD and just normal messages, causing my ex to go berserk. My ex became convinced that I left him for my friend, which I knew wasn't true.
Every article I read on emotional affairs said I didn't have one: AD and I never hid our friendship from my ex and never declared feelings for one another. I remained dedicated to my marriage until it was unsafe to do so. Yet I feel unsure, and things don't add up. It's strange that, in our friendship, that AD respected me while my ex didn't, and cared about me and supported me while my ex tried to squash my dreams and self-worth. Is that an emotional affair? To this day, I'm still trying to figure it out.
Meanwhile, I'm also trying to grapple with what became of my brilliant, nerdy friend with a Superman complex who is flying out in the universe somewhere, probably not knowing that I still miss him and love him, wondering if he ever felt the same as me. And sometimes, not even a load of kryptonite can help you with the unanswered questions.