Our interviewer, Poorva, and Melanie were introduced to each other by a common acquaintance. Melanie was gracious enough to invite Poorva to her place one late Sunday afternoon. Over a cup of coffee in her beautiful balcony, Melanie opened up about a past relationship that changed her life. Admitting that it was the first time she was even openly talking about it, Melanie felt the time was right to let go and speak up on how being a victim of infidelity hurt her, but also made her see the truth about life. Read a gripping account of how Melanie survived infidelity.
Melanie Martinelli, 35 years, Entrepreneur, Bangalore
Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to give us an interview on infidelity?
First of all, I very often get asked to speak about all kinds of things or very often I get interviewed because I am a woman entrepreneur, which is always very work and career-oriented, and infidelity is something I have experienced myself and it was a life changer in the way I live my life today, so I thought talking about Infidelity would be different instead of always talking about work and career.
How did this change your life?
I have to go back a little bit. In 2009, I was engaged. I was planning to get married, and have a family. My fiancé was a guy from France, whom I had met way before I moved to India. We were dating for close to ten years and we were engaged for a little over a year. I met him in my early 20’s, and when I came to India he came along with me. In 2009, he was in France and one day he called me and said he wasn’t going to come back to India. And I found out later that he had found someone else, and he was cheating on me for ten years. For ten years I thought I was in a relationship where everything was happy. It was hard when I learnt I was cheated on multiple times. It really made me think, “What have I done wrong?”, “Am I unattractive?”, “Am I miserable in bed?”…I started doubting myself. It’s one thing to be dumped. I think you can move on faster. But the damage it causes when you learn that for 10 years the person you trust cheats on you not just once or twice but multiple times is extremely painful.
Now I tell myself nothing can be worse than that. Yes you might lose a business deal, yes you might miss a flight, get stuck in a freakin’ traffic , but so what… at the end of the day you also realize that the one and only thing you have for granted is yourself. There is no one else to make you happy but yourself. You have to find your way out of it. And I took years to find my way out.
How long did you take to move on?
It took me three years. It is interesting you were talking about sex a while ago. For those three years, there was no sex. There wasn’t even something like a kiss. I was in my own shell. I had a life with my girlfriends and my work. If a guy would even come closer, I would tell him to stay away. I didn’t want any guy close to me, because I not only felt hurt, but maybe it was also my way of paying back.
Did you feel like taking revenge? I would want to do something terrible to such a guy. Did you feel that way too?
To be honest, I felt so empty. I don’t think I felt anything anymore for days and weeks. I was like a robot. I went to work almost the next day. I tried to function, but I was in a shell. I didn’t want people to talk to me. I just wanted to move on and keep going. There was a lot of emptiness. I never went back. I don’t know where he is today. It was quite the opposite of revenge, or maybe you can call it revenge as well. I gave a shit about what he did. I had my life and I was going to be happy again. I was going to be happier than before, but I was not going to let him know that. That for me would mean that I was still lingering around him. Today is the first time after so many years I am even speaking about it. A lot of people don’t even know about this.
Of course, there were moments when I wished something bad happened to the guy, but then again how was that going to make me happier? For me it was really about realizing that someone might damage you a lot, and hurt you a lot, but it is also an opportunity to start all over again.
What kind of opportunity did this create for you?
I refocused my energies on my friends, hobbies and my work. It is kinda funny to be single again at 30, especially when everyone around me was getting married and having kids. But it was also a great opportunity because I found myself in a place where I had money for the first time and I could just blow it on myself. There was no one else to take care of (laughs).
Do you think you can trust someone again?
I think today I can trust someone again, but it took me a long time to get there. That’s probably the reason why for three years I didn’t let any guy get close to me. I didn’t want to get hurt. Then after three years I went to the other extreme, and jumped into a very nice affair to get back a little bit of confidence about my own sexuality, beauty and attractiveness, but with a very clear outlook of this is just for fun. And maybe that was a transition point for me to rebuild everything that was damaged. Interestingly after a year of that relationship, I met my current partner. It’s after I met him that I was able to open up again. I don’t know whether it had to do with him or me. We have been dating for almost three years now, and I don’t think there was a single moment when I thought he was cheating on me. I now realize that the fact the other guy cheated on me, was probably because there was emptiness inside him. It wasn’t just me that was a reason for him to cheat. It was probably there was no chemistry between us, it wasn’t healthy, and he went to look for it somewhere else.
As we come to the end of this interview, I would like to ask you – what does love mean to you?
(Laughs) love? Hmm…It is really hard to talk about love after talking about infidelity (laughs again). When most people talk about love, they refer to love for someone else. For me, love is about loving yourself. It is about being proud of what you are and what you do. Because only if you love yourself and are happy with yourself, you are able to love someone else. Loving yourself to the extent that you are not selfish, but are happy with what you are.
*For our readers – Melanie and her partner (Theater Actor Shashank Purushotham) are now married.