A Different Kind Of Love

Mel, 28, thought she had the perfect husband. Then she met the perfect girlfriend. Here’s what happened next.

As told to Virginia Sole-Smith

ur friends and family thought Rob and I were the ideal couple. He was a “great on paper” husband—college-educated, good job, and a beautiful house. We grew up in upstate New York, dated in college, and got married at 25. Rob was content to stay in our hometown forever—but I felt like something was missing.

My lifelong goal was to be a stand-up comedian. Rob was supportive, and two years ago we decided that I would move to New York City for a while to pursue my dream, then move back home when we were ready to have kids.

The day that changed everything
About a month after arriving in New York, I met Jen while we were getting our nails done at the same salon. Jen’s the type of person who befriends homeless people because she can
“I knew I was falling in love. It could have been so confusing, but it felt right.”
talk to anyone. I was thrilled to make a new friend, and I thought she was the warmest person I’d ever met. She told me she was an artist and invited me to hang out that night and introduced me to the girl she was dating. I’ve had many gay friends, and was fine with Jen’s sexuality. But a few weeks later, she began making jokes about being attracted to me. I was surprised and flattered, but I didn’t take it seriously—after all, she had a girlfriend and I was married!

I had never looked at another woman in that way, but as we became better friends, I realized that I was starting to think about what it would be like to be with Jen—and, surprisingly, it was exciting.

A few months later, I had to have minor surgery. Jen came over the night before with two banana splits, took me to the hospital in the morning, and picked me up when it was over. I realized I’d never had a friend who wanted to take care of me that way. That night she brought me up to the roof of her building to show me a picture she’d painted of me. I knew I was falling in love. It could have been so confusing, but it felt right.

Two weeks later we made love, and it was more passionate than it had ever been with anyone else, including Rob. I knew I felt differently about Jen, but I also felt awful about cheating on my husband.

Trying to make sense of the situation
After that happened, I decided it would be just a fling, and we tried to end it, but we couldn’t stay away from each other. Rob and I still talked all the time and he was getting suspicious. I began to get sloppy, forgetting to call, not telling him who I was with. In the end, I didn’t have to—two months later he broke into my e-mail account and discovered
“At one point he said, ‘I know I can’t offer you that passion.’”
everything. There was a huge confrontation and Rob asked me to move back home so we could go on with our lives.

Instead, I stayed in New York and continued to struggle with the decision for eight months. I didn’t know how to choose—did I want to go home and start my life as a soccer mom, or stay in New York with my girlfriend? So much about my future with Jen was uncertain—I had no idea if this was the real deal, or just a phase. I didn’t even know if I trusted myself.

But I also knew that I never loved anyone as intensely as I loved Jen. I think Rob realized that. He could offer me so many things, but at one point he said, ‘I know I can’t offer you that passion.’ It’s ironic—when I’m out with Jen, I can’t show how I feel. Society doesn’t want to see us kiss or hold hands. It’s more acceptable for me to kiss Rob, someone I’m not in love with, than Jen, the love of my life. I knew it would be hard to explain to my family and friends that I was now in a homosexual relationship.

Making the break
Later that summer Rob and I attended our high-school reunion together. All of our classmates were married with kids, and everyone talked about how much they love our hometown. I couldn’t relate anymore. I missed Jen so much and I knew I had to follow my heart. I told Rob that I needed to be with Jen. It was over.

That was almost a year ago. As happy as I am, it kills me that I hurt Rob. It’s also tough for my family and friends—they want to support me, but they don’t understand my decision. Which is OK because I don’t always understand my decision! Some people think I’m crazy for leaving the perfect man for an uncertain future. But they don’t have to live my life. And I know that taking this risk with Jen has made me more sure of myself than I’ve ever been before.

Virginia Sole-Smith is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Seventeen and Modern Bride.
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