SOMETIMES, in a ruse disguised as discretion, a man can convince a woman to keep their relationship on the down low, and she's the last to know that all along she was the secret, the mistress, the number two. This realisation can be devastating, especially if it happens when she discovers her man's other life via social media, or on the cusp of some major milestone in his life — like his wedding. Then she may ask the question, how could she not have figured it out before — this secret relationship? What were the signs, if any, and how does one deal with the devastation that's sure to follow?
“I saw it in the newspaper,” Jodi C told All Woman, explaining her brush 10 years ago with the man she calls 'the most skilful player'. “He had got married over the weekend and the paper had a picture from the nuptials. I didn't even know that he had a girlfriend, much less a fiancée. Actually, he got married on the Saturday and was with me the Thursday and had not uttered a word. Throughout our relationship he made it seem like we had to be discreet because he was in a powerful position in the army and was constantly in the media spotlight, so our dates consisted of drive-outs to the country and late-night rendezvous at my place. And because of my job we would often see each other when he was on duty. But we dated for a whole year and this man never told me there was someone else, worse, someone so serious that he was planning marriage. To this day he hasn't offered an explanation, and I was totally shut out of his life after the wedding.”
Indeed, many people find themselves in these situations where they are knowingly or unknowingly involved in secret relationships. All Woman asked a few of them to explain what it's like.
Tony M, welder:
Well, when you are in a secret relationship, it's like you are a single man. We didn't go out. I couldn't go to her place; she always came to my place. We only saw each other at night because she didn't want people seeing her face and all of that. It was a waste of time.
Shadae S, blogger:
To me it's not a relationship any at all, because your friends and family can't know about it, and you have to hide and do things. I'm in one right now and I don't mind, because I am not looking for anything serious right now.
Amoy D, university student:
It is awful, especially when you don't know, and everybody knows. People talk behind your back and laugh at you. No one thinks they should come and tell you that the guy has his real lady. My ex made me believe that he had a lesbian friend who lived overseas. But she was actually his girlfriend. It was when he stopped communicating with me and didn't come back from a trip overseas that the truth came out. But I should have known, because he never introduced me to his family, not even his siblings.
Nick E, cook:
It's annoying, because everyone is concerned about your dating life. My mother and sister are always trying to set me up with people, and I can't say I'm dating someone. I have to make up excuses.
Chelsea C, office administrator:
It is lonely and heartbreaking, because he was never readily available when I needed him. I only saw him for short periods of time because he had to get back to her. Social media made it even worse, because I would see photos of them together with family and friends, and on vacations.