Guest Post: Waiting for Tiger to Love Me Fully in America

Love doesn’t always happen when or how we’d like it to be — including when it comes to Tiger and Lea, whose 11-year flirtation has tugged them back and forth between divorces, difficult marriages and less-than-perfect timing.

Do you have a tumultuous love story you’d like to share, or something else you think would be perfect for Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn more about the guidelines for guest posting and how to submit.
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(Photo by Philip Edmondson via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Philip Edmondson via Flickr.com)

Flirtatious friendship. Tiger and I met at our mutual place of work shortly after I returned from giving birth to my only child. It didn’t make sense to me then, but I realize now that his interest in me was quite evident by his frequent visits to my work area each day to chat. I thought nothing of it since we were both married, hence, the easy breeze to our friendly conversations.

I’ll never forget the early instance when he sat on my desk and I thought to myself, “Who does this guy think he is – acting so casually as to actually sit on my desk. The nerve of him!” In that same instance, I remember looking into his eyes and thinking “But there’s something about this guy and I don’t know what it is.” Eventually, I found myself having reasons to visit his work area from time to time and on many occasions, I found him waiting for me at my car after work. Despite my confusion concerning his actions, I still took walks during lunch with him. They were welcomed afternoon breaks during the days of beautiful weather. We carried on that way for almost three years.

Courting. Tiger and I learned much about each other during our work-day friendship. He shared some very traumatic experiences he’d endured and I shared much about my unhappy marriage. We also found common interests and laughed a lot. During one of my visits to his workplace, I matter-of-factly mentioned that I had separated from my husband. At that time, he revealed that he had separated from his wife two weeks prior. I think that was the moment the door of possibilities opened.

For a few months, nothing really changed until I sent an instant message to him revealing a dream I had with him in it. From that time, we chatted throughout the day via instant message on the computer. We were becoming closer friends helping each other manage the heartache and disappointment of failed relationships. Neither of us was yet divorced, but in his mind, his marriage was already over (and unbeknownst to me, he was in pursuit of me).

However, I was still thinking reconciliation was possible for mine.

He started calling me in the morning on his way to work and in the evening on his way home from work – almost every day! I was happy to have someone to talk to. He became my emotional crutch, letting me vent and complain on any occasion. Eventually, we started seeing each other on the weekends for meals, movies, and just hanging out. During that time, I never questioned his intentions. He was just a good friend that I enjoyed sharing time and space with.

That was, until my feelings started to run more deeply for him.

Guilt began to set in since I was still married, so I initiated a hiatus in our regular communications with the noble statement, “I really want to explore a deeper relationship with you, but I can’t until I’m divorced. After that, I’ll be ready and willing to go to the next level with you.”

I could tell he was hurt, but he showed no emotion and simply agreed to cease and desist contact with one another. I was a bit hurt by his seemingly uncaring reaction.

For approximately the next 2.5 years, we were in a limbo status between no contact, sporadic texting, brief phone calls, occasional email, and spontaneous weekend romps. It seemed we could never go more than about a month and a half before one of us would make contact – even after he changed jobs and we were no longer working in the same building.

Finally, I filed for divorce and two weeks after it was official, I told him I was ready to take our relationship to the next level. That’s when he revealed that he was not ready yet and was getting back together with his wife for one last chance to see if it could work. I was devastated; so much so that I sought sanctuary in writing a poem to him about letting him go. To this day, I don’t know if he still has it nor can I believe I actually cried about it. Anyway, I valued our friendship so I agreed to stay in contact while he worked on his marriage.

Loosely dating. That was roughly four years ago when my declaration to end our so-called hiatus failed in its attempt to usher in bliss with my Tiger. Since then, we’ve been on separate, but parallel roller coasters catching glimpses of each other at the peaks and valleys through the grey mist called friends with benefits/lovers. He’s been adamant about not admitting how he truly feels about me stating, “We’re not on that level yet, so what’s the point of saying it?” For that reason, I’ve learned to keep my emotions in check (although he does appease my heart from time to time when he knows it’s hurting). I’ve also had a very serious internal conflict regarding whether he’s stringing me along or seriously and patiently planning and waiting for the opportune time to end things with his wife so we can finally start our journey on the same coaster.

My internal conflict led me to reading more about Chinese culture and men. It was easy since I’ve always had a keen interest in Eastern Asian culture. Tiger’s interest in me took me completely by surprise since I’ve never been attracted to Asian men, nor did I think they were attracted to me. However, I’ve since learned that they are very discreet, which explains why I never noticed if any were attracted to me. Now, I can easily tell and, to my delight, I’ve discovered that I indeed turn some Asian heads – but I digress.

Two years ago, Tiger fathered another child with his wife. He insisted he was drunk and she took advantage of his altered state. He also continues to declare abstinence from sex since that fateful night of conception. I have reason to believe what he says may be true. Even so, I still can’t seem to let him go. I know he thought for sure he’d hear me say, “Oh, you have a kid now? Okay, have a nice a life”, but I didn’t. Again, I valued our friendship more than my desire to have him for myself. By American culture standards, he’d be deemed a liar and a cheat because he’s still “there” and, to add insult to injury, he had a child too. But, I believe him to be honorable and loyal.

He continues to show his feelings with subtlety. For instance, he planned and paid for a weekend getaway for us on my birthday this year. Of course, he was nonchalant about it so as not to seemingly make a big deal of my birthday, but he made it a point to let me know beforehand that our status had upgraded to “loosely dating”. According to him, it was for my benefit of course, since I’ve always said he’s not mine yet. I was overwhelmed and I wanted to believe it was his way of letting me know how much he cared.

Three months later, I’m still adjusting to our new status because in my heart, nothing’s really changed. I can’t help but wonder if his declaration of this new status is a milestone more for him than for me. He’s a man of few words when it comes to matters of the heart; and as a Westerner who enjoys free expression at will, and considering the circumstances around our relationship over the years, it’s been a challenge for me.

What now? Well, our daily calls/texts/weekend romps continue. In fact, just this past weekend Tiger warmed my heart once again by accompanying me to an outdoor festival despite his obvious fatigue. He also acknowledged and validated my efforts to refrain from pressuring him and to provide sanctuary for him. Again, to the typical American, I probably sound like a fool for accepting such circumstances. But in my Tiger’s case, I hope I’m not wrong so I continue to pray that I’m not wasting time. After all, it’s been eleven years already. My daughter will be on her own in a mere seven years, and we’re not getting any younger. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on this way wondering if he is saving his heart for me. Only time will tell – if I allow it, I suppose.

To be continued…hopefully with a happy ending.

Lea is a biracial American woman who is still waiting for her Tiger to love her fully.
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16 thoughts on “Guest Post: Waiting for Tiger to Love Me Fully in America

  • September 25, 2015 at 10:54 am
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    Wow, I can’t believe how much of my heart I poured out when I wrote that. Anyhoo, I’ve taken another hiatus from Tiger. It hurts, but somehow I feel a bit free from angst. May the next time for us be perfect, in timing.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 11:30 am
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    ” Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on”. It’s a quote I stumbled across yesterday…..however the 1st step of ” letting go” is the hardest .

    All the best to you Lea

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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    Wow, Lea, that is really hard to read. I hope your dreams with Tiger come true… I really do.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 1:35 pm
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    One chapter has to close for something new and beautiful to begin.

    I wish you nothing but the best. Maybe your new chapter will be with Tiger or maybe not. No matter where the road leads, I hope it is one full of happiness and love.

    Jocelyn, Happy Moon Festival!! In Taiwan, there will be the smell of barbecue in the air this coming weekend. Do people in China also celebrate by heating up the grill as well?

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm
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    All the best finding your happiness.
    I feel you are doing the right thing for yourself, taking a break from Tiger.
    Find a life of your own with new people who will

    I would be wary about committing to someone who still treats you that way after knowing you for so long, and knowing what you want.
    You deserve someone who will be with you all the time, not someone who you have to make concessions to and excuses for just to get a few hours of happiness.

    You call your relationship a ‘flirtation’, but it sounds more than that to you, but maybe no more than that to Tiger.

    Matters of the heart as always difficult, especially in the midst of strong emotion.

    “I have spread my dreams under your feet.
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
    ― W.B. Yeats

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm
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    Reading this, I feel frustrated/conflicted for you, Lea!! I’m left wondering, is he still trying to salvage his marriage, staying it in for the children, staying in it to save face? You’ve been sooooooooooo patient–if you two are meant to be, then I hope he comes around soon and gives you his heart 100%!!

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm
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    I’m a bit disappointed by this post. I’ve been reading this blog on and off ever since I came to China and married a Chinese man. I don’t always have to agree with everything I read. But, this blog post has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

    I just don’t think I like how the writer has skillfully avoided calling this “love story” what is really is… an affair. It may “warm her heart” to be intimate with another woman’s husband… but, it churns my stomach to read about it. Especially since I feel a little duped by the description “..tugged them back and forth between divorces.” This is obviously not “between” anything – this man is still married and this woman went outside of her own marriage. If this was titled “the other woman” or something like that I would have just skipped it all together.

    All I could think of while reading this were the poor kids tangled up in this mess. This affair *is* hurting them. I’ve known people who have grown up in households where the parents had affairs. It always hurts the children. Even if they aren’t “aware” of it.

    I’m fully aware that I have no idea of the “whole story.” It’s her life and her choices. But, I have zero respect for someone who goes outside of their committed relationship (I’m speaking of both “tiger” and the author here). If you are unhappy in a relationship – you end it. And if the person you love is in a committed relationship – you exercise some self-control and just don’t go there. There are kids and another woman who is married to this man… it’s beyond selfish to have an affair with him.

    In the end – I feel bad for everyone involved with this story. It’s a sad situation. I also don’t like how this story was sugar-coated, either. If someone is cheating on their spouse – just call it what it is. This is definitely not something to be romanticized, in my opinion.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2015 at 10:42 pm
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    I disagree Rene, though I see your point very clearly. We can’t deny the authors feelings, or what has transpired. Regardless of your moral views, it is what it is … It’s too late to take the high road. The author is clearly conflicted, and in my opinion, rightly so. To the author: This guy is calling the shots and leaving you, his lover, hanging. No relationship should be this complicated. Seriously! Move on. It’s not that his married. Or has children, it is simply the way he is not showing commitment and taking advantage of your caring and patient personality. You really do deserve better! Don’t grow old and disillusioned because of this man. Pull away and be true to yourself. There’s truly gorgeous men out there. Go and find them!

    Reply
    • September 25, 2015 at 11:42 pm
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      Blossom, what do you disagree about? I’m a little confused as to what you mean by that. I’m not saying to change the past or denying that the feelings of love/attraction were there. But, I do not agree with having an affair when one (or both) of the parties involved are married. If you disagree with my point of view on that – it just means we have different morals.

      And I disagree with one thing you said.. you can always change. It is never too late to change. The author can put a stop to an affair and start “taking the high road.”

      But, you are right that “it is what it is.” So why try to act like it’s not cheating on spouses or lying to others? No need to sugar-coat it. And just because “it is what it is” doesn’t mean everyone has to accept or respect that.

      Reply
  • September 26, 2015 at 1:12 am
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    Thanks to Jocelyn for posting this. Life is not black and white, and nobody should judge the two people involved here. Bystander vision, like hindsight, often seems to be 20/20, but nobody can have a true grasp of all the messy nuances involved, or how difficult it is, in such a situation, for someone to be sure enough of their own decisions to get up and leave either the marriage, or the affair. What I want to tell the OP is that she is not alone in her dilemma.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2015 at 2:50 am
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    I have mixed feelings about this post. And I have mixed feelings about even commenting on it.

    On the one hand, Lea is admirably open. She gives a pretty good description of the tumultuous, addictive, on-and-on of a dysfunctional relationship. I think Lea did her best to do the right thing when she was in her marriage.

    However, Rene has a point. Lea and Tiger had affair. You can dress it up prettily by focusing on the never-fully-fulfilled romance or call them star-crossed lovers, but it is still an affair. And there were children. As a child with multiple parental units from multiple divorces and some affairs, I am not a fan of the affair.

    It’s one thing if consenting adults engage in open relationships.

    Having an affair when a married party has kids is another matter entirely. I don’t care how how the kids are conceived. If a person has offspring, I firmly believe their children are owed the majority of their parents’ time and emotional energy. And if a parent is busy texting/ sexting instead of changing diapers, or if a parent is having a “weekend romp” instead of watching their child’s soccer game…well, that person has skewed priorities and issues. Yes, yes, we can’t know everything that’s going on in a relationship. No one can. But I do know what it’s like to be the kid who fell through the cracks when her parents were focused on “other things.” And it sucks.

    The problem with affairs isn’t just illicit sexual intimacy. It’s the emotional roller coaster that becomes a person’s whole world, to the detriment of their original/ legal family.

    But there are certain people who have a hard time with real intimacy and are only comfortable in relationships where the other party is not fully available. And Tiger sounds like one of those people. Every time Lea came toward him, Tiger was like, “Oh, sorry, I’m reconciling with the wife,” or “Oh, wait, I had a kid, but REASONS.”

    So, Lea, I am glad you dumped him. I’m not surprised you feel less angst. I hope you can make that hiatus permanent and find someone who is emotionally available. Cuz, seriously. Based on this post, the guy is not a Tiger. He’s a dick.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2015 at 4:33 am
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    Translation: 2 people with co-dependence issue, who both are not mature enough to make clear cut decisions.
    Instead, they decided to pussyfoot around and hurt themselves, their (ex) spouses and unfortunate children.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2015 at 11:25 am
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    Agreed with the poster who called it a sad situation for all involved. A guy stringing around a woman insisting that he is going to leave his wife. . .This is the oldest story in the book and has nothing to do with Chinese or Asian culture. It seems painful that this situation has been allowed to continue for 11 years.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2015 at 10:13 pm
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    I can understand how this relationship started but I honestly can’t wrap my mind around how someone could allow this to continue for so long–regardless if the parties involved were married, divorced, or single.

    Maybe this post is a cry for help. Lea, I think you already know what you should do but have been denying it for YEARS. Get away from this man. He is a user that is stringing you along. Sure, I don’t know the whole story, but I don’t need to. In any romantic relationship, you need to grow as a couple and it doesn’t sound like you’ve ever done that. Words are empty; actions are what matter.

    Do what’s right for you and your daughter. Find someone who can truly love and can commit to you! As for him, his wife, and his child, that’s up to him. He may continue flirtations and affairs on the side whether it be with you or someone else. He may just be that type of guy. But do the right thing for yourself and everyone involved and don’t keep being a part of it.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2015 at 2:35 pm
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    I really feel for the author of this.

    I have to say though, just being aware of the nature of these sorts of relationships and reading advice columns regularly, that there’s a fair chance Tiger’s wife has no idea whatsoever that he’s seeing somebody else or in any way planning to leave, and there’s a fair chance he isn’t planning to leave – staying with his wife because it’s what’s done, but chasing what he wants on the side.

    This isn’t related to him being Asian in any way, this behavior is common everywhere.

    Reply
  • September 28, 2015 at 7:39 am
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    I am not really sure about the actual timeline of the story and the way its written tends to glaze over the specifics. So its easy to misconstrue what actually happened. To me it sounds like a connection that was mutually chipped at over a long period of time due to other relationships (marriages), which makes this sound like a very messy situation.

    I won’t judge the author or her Tiger. Its easy to but probably not very fair. I also don’t see a “cry for help” so I guess I’ll keep my “suggestions” to myself. But I do think that being your truest self, without any guilt, wavering feelings or baggage is probably the best way to experience love. I hope these two people (and their respective spouses) can find it with someone.

    Reply

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