I met him while working at concert. We had spent three days setting up for the show, and it was our last day there. Before he left to go home he hung around and chatted with me, finally saying, “So do you want my number?” Although I found his approach cocky, I laughed and gave him mine instead.
We had been flirting throughout our time at the venue, and I was intrigued by how together his life was. He talked about how he had a good day job, his own apartment and was training to be a police officer. It had been a while since I went out with an older guy who looked so good on paper that he would impress my mom. I half expected him not to actually text me -- but he did the next morning, and every day after that.
I liked that he was attentive and wanted to keep in contact regularly. Since he was putting so much attention toward pursuing me, it didn’t cross my mind that there could be someone else.
We went on our first date a couple days later at a park. He picked me up in his blue sports car, waiting outside to greet me and open my door. As we walked through the trails and got to know each other better, I felt the return of butterflies -- something I didn’t think I could get anymore.
I’d never dated anyone who was so squeaky clean before: He had never done drugs, he barely drank, his family was tight knit and he even volunteered at church. The best part was that he didn’t push to get in my pants. He was a complete gentleman. I had been single for a long time, he made me re-imagine what it would be like to settle down with someone.
Then, after a week of texting non-stop and our second date, he told me he had a girlfriend. They’d been together for 5 years.
I was shocked. I was angry. Part of me felt like I was special -- like maybe this was one of those rare occasions where we had a spark that he didn’t have with his girlfriend and that he would leave her for me.
Regardless, I met up with him the next day, telling myself that I was going to end things with him. I wasn’t going to be a home-wrecker. But something stopped me. As we talked, he told me that he wasn’t getting what he needed from her -- they fought all the time and they didn’t have sex anymore and that he had more fun with me in the past week than he had in years. I was naïve; I bought it.
Part of me felt bad for him. He talked about how he had tried to make things work with her for years and how poorly she treated him. He wasn't sure what he was going to do, but he said spending time with me made him happier than he'd been in a long time.
In retrospect I feel like an idiot for believing a word he said, but at the time I felt like if this perfect-on-paper-kind-of-guy treated me so well and wasn’t able to be monogamous, then maybe no one was. At least if I was dating him, I knew what he was up to.
The next month was a whirlwind romance -- and it would have been perfect if guilt, jealousy and paranoia hadn't slowly been seeping in. Although we spent more time together than he did with his girlfriend and he was completely upfront about what they did together -- insisting that they hadn't had sex for months -- it all started to take a toll on me. I began to feel more like a therapist than someone he was dating, and every time he mentioned that she was complaining about something or nagging him to do something it made me think about what would happen if I started complaining or nagging.
I felt this immense pressure to be as fun and carefree as possible, worried that he would get tired of me. Where was the line between girlfriend and fake girlfriend?
He told me that he was incredibly good at lying and that he would have no problem keeping me a secret from his girlfriend -- and I believed him by just looking at how immaculate he kept his apartment. I watched as he talked to her on the phone in the mornings while we lied in bed naked, changing his voice to baby speak and telling her that he couldn’t go out for breakfast with her because he wanted a “me day.”
His “me day” consisted of him taking me out for breakfast, going for a walk in the park, watching movies and lounging around eating junk food, playing video games and fucking. Seriously, between him texting her consistently about how his day was going, we must have had sex almost a dozen times in a 24-hour period.
He never once talked about using condoms. He knew I was on the pill, but he didn’t ask me if I'd been tested recently -- and to be honest, I hadn't. When I asked him about this, his response was that I didn't look like someone who slept with that many people. He just assumed I was STI-free by looking at me.
Even though he and his girlfriend supposedly weren’t having sex, what if they did down the road and he gave her something I had given him? On one hand there's emotional disrespect, which I'm not condoning -- but then there's a whole different kind of disrespect when you put your partner's health at risk.
When I asked him if he felt bad for cheating on his girlfriend, he told me that he didn’t. According to him, she had put him through enough turmoil to deserve it. He said that he wished things were different and that he'd met me 5 years ago.
I found myself wanting to drink more when I was with him to numb the pain that was eating me up inside. I didn’t know his girlfriend, but despite what their relationship was like, she didn’t deserve to be lied to like this. He would sneak me out early in the mornings before she was to arrive an hour later. After she left his place, he would text me asking if I wanted to spend the night. I couldn’t believe he had the energy to juggle two women.
One morning ,while I was getting ready to leave before his girlfriend was coming over, I purposely left makeup in the sink hoping that she’d find it. When he left his phone in the bathroom, I contemplated texting her, “He’s cheating on you,” and on the train back home, I had stared at her Facebook page, urging myself to send her a message. But if I were his girlfriend would I really want to hear it from another woman?
“I can’t do this anymore,” I texted him later that day. As soon as the words were on the screen, all the anxiety I had been carrying around was suddenly lifted. Of course he kept telling me that we needed to talk, that he wanted me to wait for him to make a decision and that he wished things could be different. But as much as I had enjoyed spending time with him and as amazing as the sex was, I had lost all respect for him. Even if he did break up with his girlfriend I'd never be able to trust him. It’s amazing how you can have feelings for someone and think of them as a lying piece of shit at the same time.
The thing is, he may have been secretly cheating on her when she wasn’t around, but he was cheating on me right to my face.
It may be exciting in the beginning to be the other woman because you feel special, but you become stuck in the trap of being a vacation of a girlfriend. You try to keep up his fun, carefree image of you, hiding the not-so-sexy parts. You work on covering your tracks by cleaning up after yourself and wearing his cologne – not because you’re protecting him, but because you know how much it’ll hurt his girlfriend.
I know I deserve a better partner than someone who’s already taken. Part of me feels like it’s not enough that I left him -- I thought about telling his girlfriend that he cheated on her over and over -- but would she even believe me? Would he convince her to forgive him? I sincerely hope his girlfriend realizes that she deserves better than him and causes him as much pain as he caused her on the way out the door.
Send your stories of cheating or being cheated on to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "CHEATERS."