Two years ago, I was at my desk in the office of a freelance writer, a friend of mine, when the phone rang.
It was a man who’d written a piece for FourFourtwo about a woman who had come to me to say she’d met a guy she’d been interested in, but then, unexpectedly, found herself on a first date with another man, one she’d only recently met.
I asked if he was married, and he was, he said.
“It’s not like we’ve never done it before,” he said, as he hung up the phone.
He told me his story, in which he’d met and fallen in love with another woman he’d never met before.
I was struck by the way he spoke about his experience.
I knew that he was in his twenties, and I knew I’d never heard of it before.
But I didn’t know if I would have ever experienced it myself.
When I had met my first wife, she was 30 and I was 22.
At that time, I had never met a woman in my 20s who was younger than me, he told me.
He was a young, ambitious, well-off, successful young man.
But he had not yet realised that it was possible to find someone in your twenties who was older than you, and to find that someone, he had become obsessed with finding her.
It felt like a huge leap, and at the same time, it was an opportunity to make me feel like I was not only a man, but a part of the community.
That was a huge shift in my life.
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that, after having lived my whole life in the city, I suddenly found myself in a rural area.
I felt like I’d come from somewhere else, and that was a real, real challenge.
I began to wonder what he was experiencing.
It’s not just a relationship, he’d told me, it’s a life.
When he had met me, she had been single and living with a single parent, and she’d come to him for advice on a business she was starting.
She’d met the man, and now he was looking for her.
I met the woman he met in a café in the village of Allepo, and we became engaged in a year-and-a-half’s time.
She told me her story: she’d never had an affair, but she’d had a relationship.
She had been with her first boyfriend, but he’d been married.
She said she was worried about what would happen to him if she were to break up with him, and, to be honest, she did feel that he wasn’t happy.
She was a very ambitious woman, she told me: she wanted to be a lawyer, a journalist, a professor.
She wanted to go to university.
She’s now got a degree in psychology.
She went to a Catholic school and had her own daughter.
She married him.
She now has three children.
The next year, I met another woman who was living in the same place as her.
She didn’t want to have an affair.
She just wanted a man.
So she met him, but I thought, I’m not seeing her anymore.
She never told me that she was engaged to a man in her 20s.
I didn- It was the start of a relationship that I was completely unaware of, he wrote.
It became very intimate.
She came to me one day and told me she was single.
I told her that I wasn’t going to see her again, and told her I’d be glad to come over.
We had an awkward conversation.
I said I had a lot of respect for her and her work.
I also wanted to do what she wanted, she said, but if I didn, she wouldn’t be happy.
“I had no idea you were going to say that,” she said.
But it didn’t matter.
After a few weeks, I told my wife I’d seen her and she felt the same way.
We decided to go on a date.
I went to the local coffee shop, and the man she’d dated, a local barista, asked me to come with him to his coffee shop.
I’d had the idea of going on a casual date for about two months, I said, and it was now my turn.
I bought her a coffee, she sat in my lap and asked me what I was going to do, and then we went to our own place.
We’d gone for a coffee in a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere, and my wife was in the back seat.
I took my phone out of my pocket, and put it on my ear.
It started to ring.
It wasn’t a voice message, I thought to myself, but rather, I’d have to ring my wife.
When she came out of the kitchen, she saw