Catching a cheater

The first thing I noticed was how he wouldn’t look at me.

Sometimes his glance would flicker in my direction, but his eyes were always searching, always hunting. Once he noticed someone attractive, his eyes would linger on her, looking her up and down, taking her in. He couldn’t even drink a cup of coffee without scanning the room.

The next thing I noticed was the way he hid his phone. If it was on the table, it was facing down. But it was usually in his pocket. When he took it out, he would turn his body away from me, holding it with two cupped hands.

He stopped holding my hand in public. His body turned away from me when we talked.

Suddenly our time together was rushed. He was short, clipped. He was constantly looking at his watch.

Something was different. But when I tried to talk to him about it, he brushed me off. “Everything’s fine,” he said. “You’re acting crazy for no reason.”

Have you ever been with someone like this? Then you’ll know how it keeps you up at night. I would constantly throw the covers back to check his social media one last time

It makes your chest hurt. Everything felt twisted, strained. Eating wasn’t enjoyable. Coffee would just fuel the anxiety. I’d have to hold my hand over my heart and breathe slowly to stop it from beating so erratically.

When I was alone, I found myself looking at other girls, too. But it was because I knew he’d be looking. Every time I saw a beautiful girl, I felt myself shrinking.

One day he came to pick me up in a polo shirt and new jeans. His hair was combed and gelled; he had on new cologne. He spilled a drop of coffee on his shirt and was aghast, pulling napkin after napkin to try to wipe it off. “FUCK!” he exclaimed.

I thought it was strange to be so concerned about an outfit that only I would see. He looked at his watch. He checked his phone. 

“I’m taking you home,” he said. “It’s getting late. You’re not going out tonight, right?”

The next day, the photographers at all the clubs in the city started posting their pictures from the night before.  I sat at the computer anxiously reloading my screen. I had caught him this way last Sunday. He had been adamant that he was going home, but I saw him posing for a picture alone at a club. “I DID go home,” he had said. “I didn’t plan on going out again.”

Once the pictures were uploaded, I scanned through them like a hawk, looking in the background of each one, zooming in on every blurred figure. I looked for the polo shirt. 

He wasn’t there. But I didn’t believe it.

I knew he’d never admit it. I knew he’d continue to hide the proof. I’d have to go about this in a different way.

When I was in high school, my friend told me that whenever her 15-year-old boyfriend was acting suspicious, she would say to him, “Is there anything you want to tell me?” He would say no, then ask her why, and she’d simply say, “Okay.” Then she would wait.

I knew that wouldn’t work on someone in his mid-20s. But what if I escalated it a bit?

I spent all afternoon rehearsing what I planned to say. Then we sat down to talk.

“I saw one of your friends when I was out the other day,” I told him. I took a breath, and I continued, trying to look as straight-faced and angry as possible. “He told me what you’ve been up to.”

Now, for the first time in weeks, he was really looking at me. 

“About all the times you lied to me.”

He was silent, so I continued on. 

“He told me about all the girls you hooked up with.”

He was still quiet, so with all the conviction I could fake, I finished with, “I know EVERYTHING.”

There was a beat where he said nothing. I maintained eye contact but started to feel a creeping sense of doubt. Then he slammed his fists on the table. “WHO WAS IT? Who told you?!”

I swallowed down a laugh and tried to look overcome with emotion. “He told me not to say.”

When we ended for good, he decided to show me who he really was. One day he gave me his phone. “I want you to look,” he said with a smile. “I want you to see.” He showed me half naked pictures of girls he had been with on those nights out. He showed me a group chat with stories of conquests and pictures of naked women who didn’t realize they were being photographed. I scrolled through pages and pages of texts, pictures, laughter. I knew some of the guys in the chat. I had seen them out, said hello, kissed them on the cheek. The women they slept with had no idea.

A year later, he got engaged to a girl in another country. He told me he was trying to sleep with 100 different women before the wedding.

Then he said, “I’ve been spending this whole time trying to think of which one of my friends betrayed me.”

He shook his head, “I can’t believe it. I can’t figure it out. None of it makes sense. You have to tell me who it is.”

This was a situation with no winners. It was sick and demeaning and low and embarrassing and so much worse than I could ever admit to strangers on a public blog. The only small victory I ever took away from it was looking at him and saying, “I’ll never tell.”

2 comments

    • Thank you! I’ll never understand why people decide to cheat. I’m just grateful that in every situation this has happened, I’ve eventually found out and have gotten out. I hope you didn’t go through the same thing, but if you did, I hope you no longer have to deal with it now.

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