You know how sometimes you hear a story that makes you frown, knit you brows, shake your head, and utter WTF over and over again? I heard one of those recently. Not only did it result in uncomplimentary facial gestures on my part, but it gave me a moment of disdain and embarassment on behalf of my sisterhood community. It also had me wondering why the hell any woman – or any human, frankly – would do that to a fellow human. Pull up a chair. I’ll tell you about it.
Our cast of characters in this tale of woe are a man (a work colleague of mine) and a woman, his now ex-fiancé and love of his life. The guy, whom I’ll call Steve, met the woman, let’s call her…oh, what the hell. Let’s call her Lola. Steve met Lola while he was in a stale, sexless marriage. Like any good femme fatale, Lola played Steve with the virtuoso of a concert pianist. She seduced him into leaving his wife and eventually spending (he says) over $250,000 of his life savings on trips, expensive baubles, and other assorted gifts for both her and her son. But Steve, well, Steve thought he’d met “the one” and – truly blinded by love – gave her everything her wily heart desired.
Why wily, you may ask? Turns out, Lola was cheating and lying and using Steve to get whatever she wanted right from the get-go. Not even for a minute was she the faithful, devoted fiancé she’d led him to believe. After taking her all over the world – Thailand, Greece, Montenegro, just to name a few – declaring his love and slapping a giant ring on her finger, Steve came across emails Lola had written to not one, not two, but several other men, in several other countries, telling them the same thing she’d been telling Steve. She loved them, wanted to spend her life with them, wanted to have their babies. He was, in a word, crushed.
When Steve confronted Lola about why she was lying and cheating on him, Lola said it was because Steve wasn’t really serious about divorcing his wife and therefore hadn’t “proven” his love to her. Apparently, in her mind, the filing of divorce papers and giant engagement ring were still suspect. But the clincher that left me so gobsmacked about this story was the way in which Lola treated Steve when they were a couple. Here’s an example. They were visiting her family in Lola’s native country. They’d had what Steve said was a perfectly nice visit. They then packed bags and headed for the airport to fly back to the U.S. At the airport Lola told Steve she’d forgotten her passport. She’d have to miss the flight, she said. Steve was flummoxed. He said he told her they’d just return to her home, get her passport, and book another flight. No no no, said Lola. She told Steve to go on ahead, she’d book another flight later and follow him. Steve could find no logic in her bizarre behavior but did as she wanted. The next day, Steve later found out, Lola left for a trip to Thailand with another guy.
Now, I do recognize that I’m hearing only one side of the story. Who knows what Lola would say should she be asked. But when Steve confronted her about why she did it, Lola went back to the “I don’t think you’re serious about us getting married” excuse.
Most recently – I’m talking about in the past two months – Steve, who yet nurses a broken heart, decided he couldn’t take not hearing from Lola and contacted her. He said he missed her, he loves her, and he’d pay for her to come to the U.S. if she’ll just break up with the guy she’s now with and dump all the other guys she’s keeping on a leash. Lola agreed. Yay! Right?
She told Steve to call her back in a week and she’d let him know when she could free up her schedule to come. They agreed on a time when he would call back (they’re dealing with a significant time difference between the U.S. east coast and where Lola resides). At the agreed upon date and time, Steve called back. Lola didn’t answer. Steve texted her. She didn’t respond. He emailed her. Zilch. Then Steve got in touch with Lola’s nephew. The nephew was confused. Why would Lola come to the U.S. to be with Steve? Lola is married.
Steve didn’t believe it and after multiple attempts finally got in touch with her. She denied everything in a tearful Skype conversation. Lola said she’d come and visit Steve at the end of January and all would be straightened out. In fact, she added, they could even try to have that baby they’d talked about. Then she flashed him her breasts and Steve was happy. But, um, it’s now February and Lola’s nowhere in sight. Turns out, she’s moving to England.
Who does this? And why? Is it desperation for a better life? Thirst for power over others? A weird narcissistic urge for attention? Exploiting someone’s vulnerability and using it to your advantage is an utterly contemptible thing to do. Of course it is. But the writer part of me, the one who loves to explore people’s psyches, can’t help but wish she could sit down with Lola to hear her side of the story and get to answers to the simple question of why.