I have a theory that when we’re in a vulnerable position, certain people come in from the margins, or near-margins of our lives, sensing an opening that might fill their needs. When we’re in a good place, we’re blind to the peripheral predators, some of whom move in plain sight. A friend told me at a wedding reception that her only fear about getting married is meeting someone else. I don’t think it’s possible to “meet someone else” when you’re in a relationship that’s honest, where both peoples’ needs are being met. If the relationship’s at risk, sure. That interesting person might be incredibly attractive and available, because you are putting out the call. If the relationship is working, the same person might pass by without the faintest notice. People stalk the periphery of our lives, looking for an opening, a way in, for various reasons. I advise my friends to keep a close watch of their inner lives, lest they attract the notice of one. It’s less complicated in the long run to make a decision based on personal honesty, than through another person.
I was first approached by a peripheral predator when I spent a long weekend in a group of guys, getting drunk, going to shows and throwing a party. One of the men was from out of town, and displayed unwavering interest in me from the moment he arrived. We spent most of the weekend by each others sides, while my new husband drank and partied nearby. He friended me on facebook. He commented on my posts. He private messaged me and asked for my number. He wanted to talk about his divorce and recent breakup. We quickly began to talk up to 30 hours a week, via gchat, phone, texting and emailing. He completely understood me, and wanted to hear everything I had to say about anything. I was falling in love with a man I’d met one weekend who lived across the country, and it was wonderful. I left my marriage to explore this extraordinary relationship, only for it to pop like the ephemera it was. I spent many months in quiet contemplation of how this man (who, quite honestly wasn’t really my type, at least physically) had lured me away from my new marriage with the man to whom I’d been fiercely attracted for years. And that’s when I came up with the concept of the peripheral predator.
There’s a difference between people coming out of the woodwork to lend support because they sense something’s amiss, and those who watch for weakness, and exploit it to meet their own ends. In my case, I was presenting an emotionally open, listening ear, with no impulse control while drinking. The predator saw someone he could tell his relationship woes to, who would abate his loneliness, someone readily available and willing. The distance between my husband and I was growing rapidly, and we were too busy partying to notice. But he did. And he came right for me. I truly believe that had my spouse and I been enjoying our newly married life together, this man would have registered only as the friend of a friend, nice guy. Or if we had been honest with ourselves that our new marriage was starting off as a disaster, we could have saved time and money, working it out together, without the distractions of third parties.
Keep your eyes peeled for those people stalking the periphery. Don’t see them? Good! Keep doing what you’re doing. See someone making a beeline for you? Stop, evaluate your situation and allow honesty to take you where you need to be. Is there something you’re not getting they appear to be offering? It may be an illusion, and I encourage you to look at the offering as a message for you to seek what you need in this life, elsewhere.
Your honesty is refreshing, wow. And I love your terminology. A very thoughtful post.
Thank you! It was a surprising discovery, and I’ve tried to educate people since. I think assessing our lives for these folks can be a very helpful self-check in.
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