Thanks everyone who commented on my previous post. Now some comments from me.
First of all, TDK makes an interesting point:
People seem determined to understand the question wrongly as “is she cheating?” rather than “is she lying?”
This is important, because I think the logic is that provided she’s not cheating then the lying doesn’t matter. So I’ll furnish you with some more background info.
Lucy was at university studying English when she met Pete, who was twelve years older than her and married, but with no kids. His wife was apparently open to her husband sleeping with other women, which allowed Lucy and Pete to see one another. But Pete, a freelance IT consultant, lived a weird hippy-like lifestyle which involved copious volumes of Class-A drugs, which Lucy soon got tangled up in. She used to smoke weed when they first met, but soon she was onto the harder stuff: cocaine, acid, and anything else that Pete could get hold of. She started to spend more time with him, cooped up together in her student flat or staying with his friends in other cities. She became more sexually adventurous, and had several threesomes with Pete and a woman called Amy who he met online. Her studies began to suffer, and within a few months she’d quit her course and taken an admin job at a magazine, but all the money she earned went on rent and feeding her drug habit. She loved Pete and believed he loved her in return, but after a year she began to regret quitting university, and wondered where their relationship was going. She was only 22 after all, but already her friends had graduated and some were settled down with men their own age and talking of starting a family. In the year that followed, nothing much changed for Lucy. She lost her job at the magazine and cut down the drugs, but when Pete got divorced and her hopes rose, he told her he didn’t want to be tied down again. They finally split up on her 24th birthday, when he confessed he was seeing another woman. Lucy was sad, but she understood: exclusivity had never been part of the bargain with Pete, but she didn’t want to share him any longer. For the few years she maintained the lifestyle, sleeping with Pete’s friends occasionally, and even dating one of them for six months, a man she’d known since the time they first met. On the odd occasion she’d bump into Pete at a party they’d usually go home together, but even that stopped eventually. She fell into depression and spent a month in rehab, and had several therapy sessions when she came out.
Her life took a turn for the better at 31 when her parents moved to London, allowing her to live with them while she went back to university and completed a degree in pyschology. She was working in a hospital and earning a reasonable salary when she met the narrator, an industrial chemist, who was 36 at the time. She’d not been in a proper relationship in the intervening years, just had the occasional fling. He gradually learned of her background and relationship with Pete, and they’d been dating four months at the time of the conversation I posted.
As the narrator goes on to say:
“I didn’t care she still spoke to an ex-boyfriend, nor even that she’d lied about it. In isolation we could have recovered from that, but this Pete was different. The only way I could overlook the sex, drugs, and the whole fucking lifestyle was by knowing it was in her past and she wanted to forget it. Her being friends with one of the main players cast doubt on that, and I’d put far too much faith in her already. The onus was on her to build trust with me, but she was doing the exact opposite.”
In short, the narrator never suspected her of cheating but considered it important to know whether she was still in touch with Pete. Her lying – if that’s what it was – therefore mattered.
Also interesting is what Watcher said:
It would hardly be surprising if people therefore discounted this as a form of serious interaction, even if it was quite regular.
In a way the key question (to Lucy, about being in contact, not to the commentators) is from the 1970s, but poised in the 2010s – it lacks key qualifications.
This is true, but as the narrator says:
“This why I went through the pantomime of asking if she could get hold of him. I had to be sure there were no misunderstandings.”
One thing which surprises me is that despite Lucy being asked several times whether she could get hold of this guy if she had to and her saying “no”, people – especially women – still think the question was open to interpretation, as if she didn’t know what he meant. It’s hard to think of how the narrator could have been more clear.
When the narrator finally confronted Lucy, the conversation went as follows:
‘Why did you lie about losing touch with Pete?’
‘Lucy, he left a comment under your photo a few weeks ago, and you replied to it. You comment on his stuff, too. You’re in regular contact.’
‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’
‘He’s called Pete Navardauskas, it’s a Lithuanian name. How many do you know?’
She emitted a nasty, bitter laugh. ‘Well, I can’t be expected to remember every comment made on my photos. And I’m not interested in these arguments any more. It’s over. Bye.’
‘You lied to me, Lucy.’
‘Well, we’re just gonna have to agree to disagree on that,’ she said, and hung up.
Later, he remarked:
“There’s no way you’d overlook a comment from an ex-lover with whom you had that shared history, let alone several comments. You might not remember the precise remarks but you’d not forget the interaction, and you couldn’t say you’d lost touch without lying.”
And I think that’s important. This isn’t some random guy she met years ago, it’s a man she was in love with, slept with, shared a huge chunk of her life with, and had considerable influence on how her life turned out. Would it slip your mind if somebody like that was commenting on your photos ten years later? No, it wouldn’t.
Watcher was right about one thing, though:
It’s also the sort of question that would be a big red flag to me that this relationship had problems (not being a fan of tension and jelousy in relationships).
Yes, the relationship was fucked.
Thanks for the participation, everyone. It’s been a lot of fun.