After I met Anwar at a cigar lounge and went on a date with him, we went to his friend's party.
At one point, his friend pulled me into the bathroom and told me Anwar was married with children.
I learned everyone knew but me. I later blocked him when he reached out with three separate numbers.
Anwar picked me up in a pristine, old-school Mercedes-Benz with blacked-out windows. He was wearing a black leather jacket and boots with aviators. I laughed when I saw him and wondered whether he had just watched "Top Gun."
We had met a few months earlier at a cigar lounge and went out once a couple of weeks later. He was funny, intelligent, and incredibly confident but a little too smooth and a little too cool. I could tell he was an experienced dater.
We grabbed a quick dinner and headed to his friend's house, where a group was gathered to watch a big UFC fight. Anwar opened the bottle of wine he brought for me.
I hit it off with a pretty, blond woman named Tatiana. I could feel Anwar's eyes on us as we chatted, and I knew instinctively that he did not like that I was talking to her. She made a couple of jabs at him but laughed and said they were all friends.
When I connected with his friend, Anwar started to act strangely
At the party, Anwar was handsy and needy, which annoyed me. He'd been a bit grabby on our first date, but this was ridiculous. I felt like he was putting on a show, but I liked the girls at the party so much that I told myself to avoid his advances and enjoy the evening. I had just met everyone, but they were all treating me like we'd known each other for years. I felt like a part of the group, and it was nice.
Tatiana and I continued to chat while Anwar worked the room and shook hands like an overly eager politician. While filling tiny solo cups with whiskey, she told me about her pending divorce, and I sipped. She said her ex dealt with addiction and that she should have left him a long time ago. She was 30; I told her I also divorced at 30. We bonded over our shared experiences. I noticed Anwar was still watching us talk from across the room.
Tatiana left to grab a bottle of wine from her car. Immediately, Anwar was back at my side and in my ear, telling me to watch out for her.
"Watch out for what?" I asked, laughing.
"Just be careful with her," he said. I wondered what he meant.
More people joined the gathering as the main UFC event began. All the women were friendly, but I noticed the men just looked at me, keeping their distance. I didn't know what to make of it.
I was cornered in the bathroom and learned the truth
When Anwar headed outside to smoke, Tatiana grabbed my hand and pulled me into a bathroom with her. She closed the door and blurted out, "You know he's married with kids, right?"
"No!" I replied, because I didn't. However, I believed her — I had no reason not to. Everyone at the house seemed to be friends with Anwar. I asked her whether everyone at the party knew, and she said yes. I felt humiliated.
There was a knock at the door, and Tatiana opened it slowly. She pulled in a guy named Lev, whom I had briefly met earlier in the evening. He looked at her expectantly, like he knew what she would say.
"I told her," she said. He shook his head and replied: "We're not supposed to talk to Anwar's girls." It became clear this had happened before.
"I am not Anwar's girl," I protested.
Lev turned to me and said, "He treats you good, right?"
I looked at him incredulously and said, "He's freaking married."
Tatiana said, "Us girls have to stick together."
Lev gave her a look, like, "Here we go."
No one seemed to notice or care when Lev, Tatiana, and I all left the bathroom together, except Anwar, who looked panicked. He immediately escorted me onto the back patio. "I don't trust some of the people here," he said as he aggressively sucked at his cigarette.
I looked at him and decided at that moment to feign ignorance. "Really, why?" I asked.
"I just don't," he said, flicking ash. He looked down at his feet, then my face, and then his feet again, and I knew he was terrified that I had found him out.
I wanted to beat Anwar at his own game
I decided to teach Anwar a lesson. If he could pretend to be single, I could pretend to like him. I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine and see how he liked it.
"I'm having a great time," I said, smiling. But Anwar continued to fidget, flicked his cigarette, and looked searchingly into my eyes. I looked at him blankly and asked with mock concern, "Do you want to leave?"
"I don't know," he said. Again, I reassured him that I was enjoying myself.
For the rest of the night, Anwar hardly left my side. He was practically guarding me from Tatiana, who smiled at me widely from across the room. I found the whole thing hilarious, especially when I thought about texts he'd sent me over the past few weeks saying he'd love to get married one day and have a family — the audacity of this guy. I decided to take it one step further, just for fun.
"We should take a trip," I said, leaning into Anwar and touching his thigh. He lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Really? Yes, anywhere you want to go. Just tell me when, and I'll make all the arrangements," he said, grabbing my hands.
I noticed a few guys watching Anwar. We walked over to talk to them, and one asked me, "He's a romantic guy, isn't he?" I put a hand on Anwar's chest and said, "Oh, yes."
The party started winding down. Anwar grabbed my hand, then told me we were going out for a nightcap. I laughed and reached for my phone to call an Uber.
"I've seen you take at least seven shots. I'm not letting you drive me anywhere," I told him. Anwar looked at me in disbelief.
One of the sober wives of the men at the party offered to take me home, and I accepted her offer to avoid waiting for an Uber while Anwar continued pressuring me to leave with him.
He reached from 3 numbers, which I blocked
Anwar started blowing up my phone while I was in the woman's car. She said, "You know, don't you." I laughed and said yes. She asked me how I knew, but there was no way I was going to rat out my girl Tatiana, so I just told her I figured it out.
When I got home, I spent an hour blocking Anwar from not one, not two, but three different numbers he tried to contact me from. He kept asking me via text and voicemail what was wrong, why I wouldn't answer his calls or texts, and, finally, why I kept blocking him. I didn't respond to any of his messages, but I have to admit, I was curious if he knew I had found him out.
That night taught me to trust my instincts
Months later, at the same cigar lounge where I met Anwar, I ran into some of the guys I met that evening. I was sitting at the bar with an old-fashioned when they invited me to join them at a nearby table. I was still feeling curious, so I did.
They tried to cover for Anwar by telling me he's a great guy. They made it sound like he and his wife had some kind of arrangement, but I reminded them I had no such arrangement, nor was I aware that he was married with children. They shook their heads as though I was blowing things out of proportion, and I wondered how often they ran interference for him like this.
Later that evening, I got a WhatsApp message asking, "Why did you block me everywhere and stop talking to me?" I blocked that number as well. Is it possible that he really didn't know I knew, or did he just want me to confirm it because he enjoyed drama? I still haven't figured it out.
Ultimately, the whole situation is an excellent reminder to trust your instincts. I knew from the moment I met Anwar that he had a player energy about him, yet I went out with him. I'm learning to trust my initial feelings about the people I go out with, and so far, I've been able to avoid married men — at least, to my knowledge.
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