I’ve been on a few dates now, and I’ve had to tell a few people that I just wasn’t interested in moving forward. 

Last Monday, I noticed 2 blocked calls coming to my cell and chose not to answer them on principal.  On Tuesday, I went to bed early, but woke up to a series of missed blocked calls – 11:00 PM, 11:20 PM, 12:44 AM.  And a voicemail.

“Joey, hi, this is [Adam Morgan’s] wife calling you? And I just wanted to let you know that he is HIV positive so that you don’t get HIV.  Just FYI.  If he’s calling you to mess around with you, he messes around with a lot of women.  He’s had a lot of affairs.  He has a lot of escorts that he deals with. He messes around all of the time.  Just FYI. This is his wife [Rhonda Morgan] calling you.  He’s HIV positive.  Goodbye.”

Getting a message like this in the middle of the night can be very unsettling.  Although I realize that this woman had no way of knowing where I lived, I still felt as if my life had been invaded.  I lay in bed, listening to the message a second time. 

I hadn’t dated [Adam Morgan].  I certainly hadn’t messed around with him.  He was actually a candidate I had presented to a client for a job.  I had given him my cell number so he could follow up after his interview and tell me how it went. 

I wondered about the woman who would leave a message like that.  To be someone’s wife (if she actually was who she claimed to be) and to feel compelled to leave that kind of message.  Her voice was not shaky or wavery.  There were no tears or anger in her voice – just hardness.  As if it was a message she had left several times before.

It reminded me of a call I had received back almost 20 years ago.  The woman identified herself as [Neil’s] girlfriend.  Neil was a co-worker.  He and I worked in different states and had never met in person. We had developed a heavy flirtation, and had exchanged a few funny cards in the mail. I had no idea he was living with someone.

His girlfriend had found the cards in his gym bag, and my phone number in his wallet.  When she called me and identified herself, I immediately apologized and told her that I had no idea that she existed.  I would have never flirted with him had I known.

She, like Rhonda Morgan, told me that this was something he had done several times before.  I asked her why she was still with him.  I suggested she dump his cheating behind.  She thought I was just saying that so I could have him for myself.  It became obvious that she wasn’t going to listen to me, I was the other woman. I apologized again and hung up the phone.

More than once, I’ve found out that the one I was with wanted to be with someone else.  Even though it would hurt me to know it, I would rather have someone tell me this and break up with me, than to cheat on me.  My last boyfriend told me this, and I accepted it.  I didn’t like it.  But I accepted it.

Only once did I ever contact the “other woman.” I sent an email to let her know that I existed.  I told her that if she chose to continue to email my husband, she would be knowingly breaking up a marriage.  I told my husband what I did, thinking the shame would stop him.  It didn’t.  It’s demeaning to stay in that kind of relationship.  It’s mentally debilitating and degrading to your worth as a human being.  But that inferior attitude is something many of us allow to occur.

I no longer believe in staying together and staying miserable.  No religious invocation can convince me that this is the way. I will no longer leave midnight messages.  I will simply walk away.