I grew up wanting to be married. In fact, I was so devoted to finding my life partner that I was ready to say “I do,” twice. See, for many years, especially in my twenties, I was happily part of the clich heterosexual dating pool that’s engulfed in serial monogamy. I had serious, exclusive boyfriends and accepted the proposals of two men. Each vowed to be there for me, to love and cherish me. Both promised they would be devoted to building a life and family with me because I was the woman for them. Each accepted my unconditional love and devotion. Both betrayed our trust, honor and love. That was my twenties; by my thirties, I had a new attitude. I decided that monogamy left way too much room for disappointment and I was over it. I no longer had the emotional fortitude to give any man my all — especially when I couldn’t expect reciprocation. So I had a new game plan. Who needs exclusivity? I decided that casual dating would be my thing… the more relaxed the expectations, the better. I was a love Scrooge. I didn’t want someone to be “my man” or a husband anymore. I wasn’t on the hunt for men in relationships, I just didn’t turn them away. During that time in my life, I dated a few men who were in “open” relationships… well, at least on their end. More importantly, around that time I met Eric, the man who made me re-evaluate the direction my life was taking. There’s only one word to define Eric: smooth. That’s exactly what helped him slip into my life, and heart, sans flowers, candy or even real dates. One day Mr. Smooth walked into my office to utilize my company’s services. We’d never met, but I was definitely impressed by his charm and wit. Ironically, he’d recently rented a tour bus to take his family on a trip across country. Since the monster vehicle was parked near both of our offices — and everyone swore it was secretly housing a superstar — Eric took me on board for a tour. Afterward, we exchanged numbers. I did my due diligence and asked Eric to run-down his vitals. He told me he was divorced, childless and an entrepreneur, which seemed reasonable. Soon Eric and I were enjoying daily meals and great conversation at his business office. When I asked why we couldn’t go out on “regular dates,” he explained that running his company kept him at the office 90 percent of the time, so it was easier to connect there. His reason seemed plausible. His company was a 24/7 kind of business and it was thriving. More importantly, I enjoyed his companionship and since I wasn’t trying to be serious, I didn’t probe. Seven months later Eric and I were still enjoying our unique from of pseudo courtship. I invited him to a co-ed weekend getaway with my friends and he accepted, but canceled at the last minute. I decided to go anyway and texted him periodically about the events. I never heard back from him. I did get a call from someone else: his wife. Mrs. Smooth vetted me with such ease I knew she was an old pro. By the end of the conversation she informed me that her husband had four other kids that she knew of and she was surprised that he was stepping out with someone so long in the tooth — he typically picked them younger. Honestly, I was disappointed but not too shocked, all the signs were there. Still I decided I was no homewrecker and ended my relationship with Eric. Thing is, he didn’t want to end it all. He called my job, home and cell phone incessantly. I Ignored it all… for a while. When we finally spoke in person he told me he couldn’t live without me and reiterated that things were over with his wife and he had the papers to prove it. I believed him — though I never actually saw the papers — and we rekindled our romance. Then things got crazier. Eric was arrested for gun possession and was sent to prison. I supported him during this time and even called his wife on three-way with him to help sort out his legal woes. I never spoke on the calls but I did listen. His wife would rage on about their divorce and how it was over. Secretly, I was happy. I believed once he got out of jail we could start over. And that’s what we did. He spent more than one year in prison, but when he came home it was on. I introduced him to my family. We moved in together. We made love… and a baby. Eric moved our family into a great condo and I believed that it was time for us. I was so wrong. He stayed true to who he was: a cheater, hustler and liar. I left. Abusing me was one thing, but I knew I could not do this to our child. I’m happy to say I never went back to Eric, but it saddens me to know that one day I will have to explain my poor choices to our son. Eric is not in his life. Today I’m balancing forgiving myself for my jaded thought process in the past and thriving with my new family — my son and I. The experience has taught me so much. I realize that I was being selfish about love and only thinking of the feelings of others, such as Eric’s estranged wife. I also had to evaluate why I couldn’t cut the relationship off once I found out he was married. I’m in a new relationship and once we became monogamous I shared my story with my mate. He can accept my past, and so do I.