A cautionary tale of surviving a red car wreck

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red BMW

Some of you know about my story about meeting a man who brought a smile to my heart again, who enveloped me in bear hugs and told me that he believed in my abilities.  But sadly the relationship with Mr Red Sports Car is now little more than a car wreck, a part of my life that I wish to forget.  I am writing about it here partly to vent but also, in part, as a cautionary tale.  One to remind you, especially if you are a woman, to value yourself and your financial future.

So I met Mr RSC on Tinder. Yes, Tinder. He told me that he had strong family values and that he was big on integrity.  He was working in IT, ex army, and later I found out that he had worked closely with my father on a work project.  My dad thought highly of him.  He met my friends and everyone seemed to like him.  He took me out to some amazing dinners, listened to me and was a real gentleman.  He told me on our first date that I gave him butterflies in his stomach and that no-one had ever done that before. I thought, I really did, that it was the real thing and that it was mutual.

And yes, he told me he loved me. Often.  Including on a fabulous trip to Taiwan over Christmas and the New Year that included seeing in the year on a rooftop watching fireworks.  The trip was significant for me, back to my second home including visiting Tainan to pay my respects to my former homestay family, now deceased. Mr RSC came with me on all parts of this trip, including down south to visit my Taiwanese family. I interpreted for him the whole time – to the extent that some people we met actually thought I was his professional interpreter.  On the way to Taiwan he invited himself to spend Christmas with my family, and on the way back we were met by my sister at the airport.

So, what went wrong?

Cracks started to appear later that January. Hard to say really, but he became busy with work, so very busy.  And busy and distracted with finalising his divorce. He never had time – he said he wouldn’t be able to take a day or two leave to go away together until August.  He still hadn’t told his family he was ‘dating someone’, let alone dating me.  He rarely said he loved me, and he became quite self absorbed. It was always me cooking for him, giving him massages, listening to his troubles, caring for him, soothing his pain.  He had once promised to treat me like a queen, but I was feeling like Cinderella.

Things really were noticeable in early March when he asked me to attend a wedding with him.  He was cold and distant, with his back turned to me during the ceremony.  He made comments about other women’s cleavage.  He didn’t introduce me to people, or offer to get something to drink for me after I trudged off in search of  the table for bridal gifts (yep, Cinderella doing the duty for this one.)  When I went and sat next to him at one point (we weren’t seated together during the meal), he got up and left me alone while he spent 15 minutes talking to an attractive blonde woman. Yes, she was a friend.  But yes, I noticed.

I should have left. I should have got up and walked home.  But I stayed. I smiled.  “I do love you, you know,” he said to me later that night.  That was the last time I heard that.

Yes I promise you there is a cautionary tale here related to frugality, but let me carry on a bit with the sorry tale first.

I called it. I realised that for whatever reason he was no longer into me.  All those promises, all those words, they meant nothing without action.  When we broke up after 14 months of dating I didn’t so much as have a toothbrush at his house.  When I went to his house to collect some tupperware (I was always cooking for him) he didn’t even make proper time to speak to me to say goodbye. He was so cold and distant. “I’m sorry you are really wonderful, but I just can’t say those words to you at the moment,” he texted as we were breaking up. “I never wanted to hurt you.”

I was, understandably, gutted. We had become so close, spoke together every day, I shared so much of my soul with that man.  From the whirlwind trip at to Taiwan New Year where we were so close to this distance was awful.  I tried to keep in contact for the first few weeks then we didn’t talk for a while – I needed some space.  I had a new job, a new apartment, my kids were in a new school, and I got some new writing mojo.  I went on a work trip to central New South Wales, and I went up to the Gold Coat to visit my family.  I took myself out for a memorable date after I got my hair cut.  I threw myself into new projects.

Somehow, against the odds, something happened. I broke out of my cocoon. I emerged as a new being, more independent, stronger, more loving, more confident.  I pitched a business idea that was successful (and then knocked it back).  I formed a Mastermind group with friends.  I channeled love everywhere.  I discovered a hidden beauty within that I never knew I had. I went out on dates and flirted outrageously and met some amazing, and I mean, amazing men.  Some I liked and they didn’t like me back, but more often than not I recognised that while they were indeed special, we weren’t right for each other. If you are reading this now and we dated and I said ‘let’s be friends’, I was in fact genuine about this.  I have been truly blessed with the new people in my life and a value my friendships.

The key thing I guess I learnt was to recognise my worth. No way was I going to put up with some guy who didn’t even treat me like a girl friend, much less someone with whom he was in a valued relationship with. My time, my energy, is so much better than that!  I’m now only willing to accept a gold standard in conduct and ethics, and attitude towards me.

So far so good.

But then, you see, I still liked Mr RSC a lot.  He had also promised me, begged me, that we would always be friends.  This was a central theme for him during the first few months when we started dating.  We still kept in contact. We caught up a few times.  I invited him to some functions – he said he would like to see me and to come.  I flirted. He flirted.  We looked like a couple when together, even if nothing romantic was going on.  We spoke occasionally.  We texted, exchanged emails.  He sent me photos of a family gathering.  He recently delivered a spare key to my office. We gave each other a hug afterwards, and I told him how much I valued his friendship, and that when the dust settled a bit I would really like to be friends.  The day before last I sent him a draft blog post about the King Valley region, where we had travelled together, and he noted some of the good times we had had. ‘Chat later,’ he said.

What he neglected to tell me was that as he was writing those emails he was shacked up in a luxury hotel in southern Taiwan with a woman who was probably younger than his daughter.  Taiwan!  The place where we had spent a romantic trip together not six months before.  And that they had clearly been seeing each other for several months, having had multiple overseas holidays together. Once I realised what was happening on social media it was all there.  I think they connected within days of us breaking up or perhaps even before.

OK, we broke up. He has no obligation to tell me what goes on in his love life. But we were still friends, and by omission, he lied. Over and over and over.  He also took a new girlfriend to somewhere he had been to with me and shared a special time.  I feel so stupid, so dumb.  And kind of violated and a bit sick.  Like, OMG, I dated someone so shallow, so sleazy, and someone who is such a liar.  What else has he lied about?  I had introduced this man to my kids.  I tried to keep in contact with him as a friend, thought I was doing the right thing, genuinely hoped we could have a meaningful friendship.  I am incredibly glad he is no longer in my life. I never want to see him again.

I hardly slept last night. I am personally so big on integrity, and this just doesn’t cut it for me, whatever he or others might say about being technically okay.  But it is also my fault for one big glaring reason – he had cheated before. Specifically, he had cheated on his wife before I met him.  And he probably made promises to his ex girlfriend as well.  I met him over a year after separation, and I reasoned that he had been lonely, that he didn’t mean it, that he had been pursued, he had admitted it etc etc etc. I struggled with how this fit into my personal values, and early on broke up with him because I felt he was still behaving as if he was married and I was a fling on the side. I encouraged him to try to be on the best possible terms with his wife, to tell her how much he appreciated the past, to act with integrity in the divorce, to be amicable and fair. I even said I would understand if he got back together with his wife for the sake of the family.

What I should have done was to walk away.  I should have respected the global sisterhood. Yes, no-one is perfect but infidelity is never, ever right. Nor is lying. And karma came to bite me because he just cheated on me back. OK, maybe he wasn’t technically still in a relationship, but he still outright lied by omission.

Why is any of this relevant to frugality?  Because so many people enter into relationships putting themselves last.  This is especially the case for women, who often give up many years of their careers to care for their families either full or part-time.  Their career may progress slower because of it (or not at all), or they might contribute much less superannuation.  Or they might not earn any money at all and later on not be able to get back into the workforce. In my marriage, I was the main income earner but I didn’t have full control over my own money.  I do now.

Do you want to know the fastest growing demographic of homelessness is in Australia?  Teens?  Old men.

Women who are in their 50s and 60s.

Often these women are cast aside as a result of infidelity or violence.  Maybe they choose to leave – but obviously that is a hard choice when they don’t have a job and they need to sleep rough in cars.  Many women leave financial decisions to their husbands and partners, so even if there is money there they don’t know where the money trail is or how to get it.

Love your husband and think he could never be a cheater? I am not at all suggesting that because I have had a bad experience that your loving spouse is about to run off overseas for a tryst with an Asian woman half his age. And post bikini pictures of her butt cheeks on Instagram with an #asianhottie hashtag.  But over 1 million Australians joined the cheating online website Ashely Madison – apparently they lied too and there were many more men on that website than non robotic women.  You get the drift.

And of course women cheat, too, and are violent, or are just not very nice in relationships. It happens both ways.  The point is to realise that you can’t just subcontract out your finances in the hope that love will find a way.  Maybe it will, but statistically you need to know that one in three marriages in Australia end in divorce.  With this in mind, you need to always think about the best financial decisions for you and to have the courage to speak up for that.

As to that new little love in Taiwan, she sure looks cute.  And I do honestly wish them happiness because love is a fleeting yet beautiful thing.

Does she know that he is currently going through a protracted divorce and that he is spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees?  Does she know that he has a huge interest only mortgage on his house? Or that the remaining part of his corporate income is going to pay for his sexy red sports car, bought new of course and declining rapidly in value? Or that he has two adult children that are heavily economically dependent on him?  Or that his work is reducing jobs globally because of automation and changes to the future of work?

(Yes in retrospect I dodged a bullet there.)

I am guessing he won’t be able to pay for romantic rendezvous in luxury Asian hotels forever.  If she wants to have a family with him (and given her age I am guessing she will), then the hard realities of dollars and cents will start to bite.

For now, I am back to loving life and being grateful for those around me. I know that several friends will give me hugs today, and several already have.

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10 comments

  1. Thanks lovely. I really need those sunshiny hugs today. What I am really worried about it potentially becoming cynical about love and life. That is not how I am:) I just need to keep faith I guess in doing the right thing and believing it will come good eventually. I am so blessed to have such lovely friends like you.

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    1. Thank you so much. I did wonder if I would regret posting this – nah. My mother however was not sure it was the right approach. I think anyone who knows me understands that I feel hurt and violated and slightly sick. But not vindictive or spiteful. I was moving on and this very much reinforced that.

      I also appreciate your own bravery in writing what you do. It takes courage to follow the path that you are on.

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  2. Hi Serina, reading this belatedly, having been overseas. I concur with Christine. Mr Right will be there when the time is right. You deserve nothing but happiness and joy xx

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    1. Thank you:) Right now I can’t tell you how great it felt to frock up and dance a bit. I am truly blessed with the wonderful friends in my life, and I am sure that I will continue to attract and appreciate the good people I am surrounded with.

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