A couple of years ago, I met a very interesting girl in a WhatsApp group and we clicked. Then we DM’d and within minutes we were chatting like we’d known each other forever. It was epic.
We were talking about so many personal stuff that I didn’t imagine I would be telling anyone, let alone someone I “met” minutes ago. Simply put, we were in the deep web of chat.
Inevitably, we set a date as soon as our schedules would allow and by that weekend, we’d put faces to the names, having, of course, resisted the urge to exchange photos online or stalk each other.
At least I resisted. She was just fine with us meeting without first exchanging 100 photos. It’s not as weird as you think. We were from the same locality and there’s enough common background so we weren’t worried about all the risks that come with blind dates.
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Anyway, back to the date… Simple stuff, grabbing a bite at a KFC, she loves chicken more than anything, specifically KFC chicken. I’d never eaten out at KFC so it was fascinating for me.
We found we were fun with each other as much in person as on phone, so we kept in touch, as friends.
Then we started chatting three times a day, then four, then five. Within the second week, we would barely go two hours before getting to it. We weren’t kids by the way, or teens. We were both mid-twenties, past college, working and all so we found it rather silly that we couldn’t resist the simple and primal urge to chat on WhatsApp.
Then it happened. We’d dodged the question long enough because we were simply two cool people who had strong common interests and were fun around each other right?
I have no business with your relationship status so I won’t even bother asking. Oh, me too. Fine. Fine by me. Friends? Friends. Ten days later, “I know it isn’t my business but are you currently seeing someone?” There. In black and white, on the grey WhatsApp background.
You can’t run away from a question that obvious, can you? But then again, instinct says it’s not an innocent question. It’s loaded. Answer wisely. But then again, you can’t lie, she’s a wonderful friend to have. Smart, sapiosexual and all. Wait, am I even dating?
Oh yes, I am! Didn’t me and my girlfriend disagree and stopped talking to each other for a week? Irrelevant. What to do? How to answer without hurting feelings? Be wise.
So wise I was. I chose the middle ground. Half-truths.
“Yes, I am dating. But I can’t really call it that, my girlfriend and I fought about stuff, I think we are breaking up.” (The truth)
“What? why? Why not patch things up?”
“We’ve tried everything. I don’t think we will go back together again. I’m over her already.” (The not-so-truth)
“Oh, I’m single. Been single a while.”
That sounded so much like an invitation. Should I?
Long story short, I did.
A week later, we were dating and it was great.
But I had lied about trying everything and never going back together. It got harder to tell the truth as time passed. The strong rapport that we had didn’t make things easier.
Instead, it made the relationship thrive so fast by month two we were talking moving in and introducing friends and visiting parents, the works. How about planning a wedding? Let’s do this. Wait, what?
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Oh my God! What have I gotten myself into? Wedding?
We went to our new favourite KFC joint, planned to move in within six months, within which we would have met friends, family, a pastor, and saved up money. We left a few minutes to close of business and entered a bank, opened a joint account even. All this time I was thinking. What the hell have I gotten myself into? I want out! But I couldn’t bring myself to lose the friendship.
Eventually, later that day. I called and said on the phone was I was a coward to say in person. “I’m sorry but we can’t go on. I lied to you and we can’t build this on a lie. You deserve better.” It was terrible.
Worse than I expected. She didn’t cry, go hysterical on me or insist. Just a few questions for clarity. Eventually, I confessed I was still in a relationship and had never really ended it. Then she ended the call and refused to pick my calls or answer my texts afterwards.
I was so freaked out. I was worried about her. I don’t know what I expected but I don’t know what I didn’t expect either. Suffice it to say we became exes. I confessed to my girlfriend and we had a big fight.
Months later, after I patched things up with my girlfriend and almost forgot all about it, she made contact. Just casual contact. “Hi, can you help me with XYZ?” I thought she was joking so I said, “No, sorry.” “Ok, thanks.” End of conversation. I said nothing to my girlfriend. It wasn’t really necessary.
A month later, the same thing. “Hi, can you help me with ABC?” I thought, what’s going on here? No greeting, no warming up, no prologue whatsoever. That hi was more like a pronoun for my name than a salutation. Anyway, I decided to take it serious and said yes. To my surprise, she said, “I’d be grateful.” Then I helped. I put a note in my head to tell my girlfriend though, and quickly forgot about all of it.
But I couldn’t forget it so I started digging. After a bit of digging, I learnt something that I couldn’t forgive myself for.
I learnt that my ex had been hurt so much she went into depression. Lost her job, her friends (she had very few of those, being extremely introverted), and even her urge to live. She mostly just locked herself in her house and slept, ate, pooped. Literally and in that order.
She didn’t bathe for days and she didn’t wash her house for weeks. Eventually, she had used up all her savings and things were getting worse. By the time she reached out, she’d decided to seek help and psychiatrist medications had contributed to her wiping up her savings so fast, having no insurance because she’d defaulted after she stopped working.
Her landlord was threatening her, so she urgently needed a bailout. But for some reason, she’d not told her parents and was determined not to. Come rain or hailstorm. For some reason, she reached out to me for help.
When I learnt this, I was so … I don’t know the English word for it, but I wanted to do something to make it right. I felt I was the reason this happened or at least a significant part of the reason. I couldn’t even tell my girlfriend about this. But I decided I’d help in all ways I could.
I paid the rent, went to visit her five days a week after work, with fruits and food. Sat with her for hours and mostly left at midnight or past midnight. We stayed some two kilometres apart so this was not a big problem.
But sometimes, after cooking for her and sitting with her, I’d fall asleep on the carpet and she’d fall asleep on the couch, waking up around 3, when It’s too late for me to get public transport back home, given that neither of us had a car. In those days I’d just go back to sleep, make breakfast very early and urge her to eat while I rushed to shower and change and go to work. Most of the time I’d come to throw away the food and breakfast because she didn’t eat much.
It went on for two months. Then the rent became too much because of some financial constraints on my part and she had to move to a smaller house. The process of looking for a house and finally moving, plus the medication, helped make her a tad active and more receptive to help.
We no longer just sat after cooking. She’d bathe more often and cook sometimes and even talk about things, but not our relationship that never was.
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I felt good and decided she was progressing on well. Another challenge came when the meds ran out. I decided the only way I could help was create more time. So I left work, bought grocery, but also brought movies and series, which we watched together. Then something weird started happening.
Somehow she started desiring physical contact. It’s hard to define. She specifically knew she didn’t want a relationship at that point, much less with me. She said as much. But at the same time, she wanted to be touched, caressed, hugged, kissed and generally loved.
It was the most complicated situation for me to be with my ex. By this time I was not helping merely because I felt responsible. I enjoyed helping and I felt great that she was making progress toward her recovery.
She even talked of plans to get back to her feet within such and such a time and called to ask whether I’d be coming and could I please bring this or that with me (small things like candy or a specific movie).
But I had no experience here. I was out of my depth. I had never before tried to help my ex whom I may have led to depression overcome the same bout of depression without letting my girlfriend or her family know what was going on. It was like having a little secret, except, it was nothing little. It was life and death. In fact, she variously texted saying she was going to jump. It was crazy.
Eventually, I gave in. I touched her and we romanced. Sometimes we just cooked and watched a movie and I slept or left. But sometimes we played a board game, talked for hours, watched a movie and romanced for hours. Somehow, it helped. I just made sure I never took advantage of it and stopped when she wanted us to stop and never once did I let her feel guilty about it.
After two more months, she felt better, despite having been out of medication for four weeks. She eventually got herself together and is now back on her two feet. I eventually told my girlfriend everything, and she understood forgave me and we got married months later.
Now my ex and I are in a relationship that is hard to define. We have a special kind of friendship. I’m the guy who selfishly lied to her so terribly that it sent her world spiralling because she trusted me so much. We had so much chemistry. At the same time, I was the guy who selflessly stood with her through a storm (irrespective of the cause) that might have consumed her.
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So, to answer your question. Doing the things I did with her when she was suffering from clinical depression is the craziest thing I’ve ever done with an ex while in a relationship with someone else. But please, don’t try that. It’s not fun crazy. It’s shit crazy. Trust could be impaired. Lives could be lost.
Good luck with your relationships.