The Side Chick That Almost Was

I promised myself I would never place myself in a position to develop feelings for anyone in a relationship. Friends of mine would tell me stories about men they dealt with who already had women and I’d chalk it up to them getting caught up. I thought I’d never make that mistake. Too bad I never thought I’d meet Jason.

I met him two summers ago at a newspaper job that fulfilled me professionally and socially. I tagged along to so many networking events, parties and interviews that I hadn’t really thought about that “summer fling” I was known to have just about every year. Just as I was coming to grips with my seemingly single summer, my boss introduced me to Jason. I instantly felt butterflies.

I told myself to take it light and not think about him as much. We didn’t even work in the same department—I worked in editorial, while he was in circulation. But, before I knew it, I was wearing figure-flattering sundresses to work, checking my makeup in the back and finding every excuse to go up to his department. Our exchanges became a little flirtier as time progressed, going from casual second glances to shoulder touches that took a little too long to settle. We definitely had sexual tension and people at work took notice.

One of my coworkers pulled me to the side one day to tell me something that Todd failed to tell me during my many department visits: he had a girlfriend.

“Wait, he never told you?” she said with one of those loud whispers.

“Well, no. But, I’m pretty sure he’s going to tell me eventually. He’s probably just trying to find the right time.”

“Girl, it’s been two months.”

Well, another month went by, and Jason still never told me about his girlfriend. In fact, he never told me about her during our walks along the bridge, phone conversations and nights dancing in the club.

The tension exploded when he dropped me home one night after a long day at work. It was 3 ½ months at this point and there was still no conversation brought up about his girlfriend except the one my coworker and I had. I could’ve brought her up myself, but just as much as he didn’t want to bring up his relationship, I felt the same way of not wanting to hear it.

“Alright, have a good night,” I said and went in for a hug. This time, though, our hug was a little bit different. We hugged each other a little tighter and held each other a little deeper. I felt my heart beating through my chest as our eyes locked. I knew I could’ve asked him to come inside and he would’ve agreed, but I stopped myself. Although he didn’t mention her, I think he knew I was familiar with his girlfriend situation and doing anything physical—anything that tangible, real and intimate—would’ve made it hard for me to look at myself the same.

Although nothing ever serious happened between us—no kissing or making out—that summer, I still felt as if our emotions could’ve put us in deeper trouble. I may not have been his jumpoff, but I was certainly becoming his emotional sidepiece. Someone who he felt he “could talk to for hours,” “open up to and tell everything to.” There was no evidence of nudies from me on his phone, kissy faces or flirty exchanges; nothing concrete.

As much as I still remember every feeling, I knew that succumbing to them would’ve haunted me later. Jason may not have been in a perfect relationship, but he was still in one and I didn’t want to be the cause of its demise.

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