Breaking up with a Cheater so They’ll Never Forget You.
I’ve always hated that my boyfriend and I lose things all the time, such as keys, phones, and debit cards. We were scatterbrained and thought ten thoughts at once, and in a way, that linked us together. But this time, it ended us and I couldn’t be happier.
We had been planning to go to New York City with my ballroom dance partner that weekend. There was a dance competition happening about five minutes from where he grew up, so my partner and I were training for it intensely and I was getting excited about seeing the areas of New York my boyfriend grew up in. I’d only been there three times: twice for choir in college and once for a spontaneous romantic weekend getaway with someone else I dated.
But I was more excited to see his own life. He seemed very lost in Boston since he moved a few months ago, and he seemed to run back to New York any chance he could. I enjoyed showing him around the city I know and love, introducing him to my friends (with whom he didn’t always get along with because of his strong personality), and I still wanted to show him many more places in the city when he wasn’t so busy running back and forth on the weekends for school, work and seeing his family in New York. But we had been seeing each other for months now, and I was going to meet the people that were important to him. Even though he had always treated me well when I was with him, I was always curious to see how he was around his close family and friends. You know, because the real test of who a person really is like is how they treat the people that they should have a loving, caring bond with. In addition, everything he showed me about Park Slope, the neighborhood he grew up in, seemed absolutely gorgeous and dreamlike. I wanted to share those cherished memories he had with him.
Unfortunately, planning this the week of was a little difficult. I stayed over at his place on Tuesday night that week and sometime between us stopping at the liquor store and coming back to his place, we misplaced his phone and we couldn’t find it in the morning. So Facebook messenger was our main form of communication, which was really hard since he didn’t have wifi available at his house. He was planning on coming over on Thursday at 5pm so we could book the hotel for the weekend since none of his family could let the three of us stay over.
I needed also to pick up some spray tan for the Latin dance portion, so I drove to a beauty place to pick some up. When I found out they didn’t have the brand that my more experienced tanning friend told me to get for competition, I started driving home. Darn! As I started driving back home to regroup and figure out what to do next since I needed a spray tan (I had tan lines that would show in my dress), and I tried to logistically think through my tan. Perhaps I can enlist my boyfriend’s help with this by asking him to scrub me down, examine my arms and legs for any areas of hair I forgot to shave down, and then spray tan me naked (you know, to avoid any tan lines). He was planning on coming by at 5, although he is notorious for being late.
I pull out my phone at the next red light to Facebook message him this somewhat-sexy-but-probably-not proposal.
Bzzz Bzzz. 3:13pm on Thursday, I heard the phone buzzing somewhere in my car.
HIS PHONE! IT’S IN MY CAR! He’ll be so happy to know I found it! Good thing I’m just around the corner from home, the thing is probably dying after two days and I need to call it one more time to find out exactly where in my messy-live-in car it is.
I pulled into the driveway and called it. Sure enough, it buzzed loudly under the seat. Of course it fell under the passenger seat, just enough so that it was out of sight. And just in time! The screen was just about to turn off, so it’s a good thing I found it before it died and was significantly harder to find.
But it didn’t turn off fast enough for me to see the one thing that changed everything.
Tinder push notifications. Two of them.
My heart died a little along with his phone when I saw that. No. There’s no way he would do that. I know he was on Tinder when we first met, and he told me without me pushing for it — SEVERAL TIMES, most recently about two weeks ago — that he uninstalled it from his phone. There’s no way.
I must be crazy. Maybe I just saw something that wasn’t there. Who knows? There’s only one way. I put the phone in my car charger (thank GOD he has a Droid like me!) and started driving so it could charge.
I didn’t know where I was driving. I guess figured if I drove in circles in one direction, my head would stop spinning in the opposite direction. But I just got more anxious. I wanted to turn it on now and just verify that the app isn’t even on his phone, that I just imagined the push notifications, that maybe he actually was just turning girls down out of courtesy from before we were dating. After all, he was the one that just insisted yesterday that this is the happiest he had ever been in a monogamous relationship. After all, he calls me all the time when I’m not with him, sometimes for up to two or three hours a day. After all, he taught me how to cook and encouraged me towards the dreams I have. After all, he told me he loved me in the car on the the way to the grocery store out of the blue and he was completely nervewracked that he did it because he meant it, but he didn’t want to say it so soon and scare me away.
Then the battery life hit 5%. I pressed the button to turn on the phone. The startup time was excruciatingly slow.
It’s okay. Just breathe, you’re going to look through his apps, not even his messages or anything. Just look and see if he has the app. Once you see that it’s not there, you can calm down and realize that you have the sweet, caring, hilarious —
I found the app under T. Tinder.
— …lying, womanizing, leeching asshole you’ve had all long.
I couldn’t even pretend that he just forgot to delete it because he got a new phone a month ago. He had to purposely install it for it to be on there.
Do I have the right to see what’s on that app? After a few seconds hesitation, I decided I did.
I know someone that is married and is on Tinder, and she literally just waits to get matches and for men to tell her she’s pretty, and then her confidence gets bolstered enough that she closes the app and has a lovely monogamous time with her husband (and her husband is okay with that!). Surely since I know I don’t give him nearly as many compliments as he would like since he’s always fishing for them, it could be a similar thing?
It most definitely was NOT a similar thing.
Based on what I saw, it looked like he spoke and made a few conversational connections with girls he talked to, gave them his number saying “it’s easier to text,” then unmatched them, presumably once they texted him. Only three girls were on his Tinder, and one of them he had a conversation with. One other girl he just matched with. Out of a little bit of spite, I unmatched her for him.
Freaking out, I texted my friend what happened. She started responding to calm me down. At this point, I was still willing to see him and have a civilized conversation with him about this, and she agreed that it’s healthy for me to do that rather than hold it in like nothing happened.
But here I was faced with two ways to look at the impending situation: society’s guilt trip of “why are you going through your boyfriend’s phone? Don’t you trust him?” and the girl power message of “you have a reason to! You saw a sign he might be cheating without looking for it and looked into it to confirm yourself. That’s 100% valid!” I wrestled with both thoughts, two conflicting ideas that were keeping me from going further down the rabbit hole. But the fact of the matter is, there are girls he’s giving his number out to and talking to. Did I have the courage to look through his messages and find out if he’s been meeting up with them?
My hand was shaking. I was taking deep breaths in. I don’t know if I have the courage to do it. I swallowed hard, stared at the ceiling of my car, and blinked. Then my hand shook enough for me to just press it mid-hand tremor. My body made the choice for me before my mind did.
3:52pm. That was when I saw the messages from his best friend from when they worked at the Empire State Building in New York. Just two days prior. I didn’t even have to scroll up to see them, they were just there. He was bragging to his friend that on Monday, he slept with a girl he met on Tinder and then came to my place to sleep with me. Then on Tuesday, he slept with another girl he met on Tinder and then came to my place to sleep with me.
The spinning came to a screeching halt. Nothing existed in that moment. Not a damn thing. The only thing that was in focus was this message that revealed my greatest nightmares. And then it disappeared briefly as my eyes swelled up. Blurriness ensued, and my mind was numb. Normally I have ten thoughts going on in my head at once, but in this moment, nothing in my head remotely resembled a language anyone could understand.
After a few minutes of feeling like I was in a vegetable state, a few thoughts went through my head.
One, my New York trip was now cancelled. I’d be an idiot if I went somewhere so close to his very large family, even for the dance competition, especially with what was about to happen with us next.
Two, the decision is easy here. I had told him several times that cheating is a 100% instant deal breaker for me. I catch you cheating, I don’t even have to say it. It’s assumed we are done. It’s not like I didn’t give him an out — I was open to the idea of an open relationship and us being the primary, but he insisted that he didn’t want to see other girls. Why he chose this over that situation is completely beyond me. But this made it really easy to know what to do next. I don’t tolerate cheaters, no matter how good the sex is, no matter what they teach me to cook, and no matter how much they may try to beg. And the swifter and more straightforward I can be about this, the better for both of us. He’s already humiliated himself by getting found out, so he doesn’t need to help by ugly crying or trying to come up with a pathetic excuse that even a dog wouldn’t believe. There is no explanation necessary here. It’s simply over.
Three, I need to drink heavily with friends immediately after this ordeal is over. As the strong independent woman I am, I have friends that are drawn to me for my strength and will want to make sure that I’m mentally okay so I can continue helping as many people as I can.
And so the plan started.
4:13, I pull into the driveway. I stop and text both of my room mates, “So I’m going to warn both of you now. I’m going to have a really ugly breakup and I expect it to start at 5.” I roll my eyes as I say this though. He was always late, so the likelihood of 5:30 or even 6 when he said he’d be here at 5 was more likely.
Then I paused in reflection for a moment. It made so much sense now. This is why he was always late. This is why he told me to come by his place at 7. This is why he didn’t want me coming over without me telling him. I opened his phone again and scrolled up.
Yep, confirmation. He slept with girls right after work before he saw me. One weekend when I thought he was away, he spent it with a girl in her hotel room and “used all her holes, Bro.” My heart was in my stomach and it felt like a ticking time bomb that threatened to explode any minute. I can’t believe this never registered in my head. This is the man — no, not a man, man child — I thought was loyal and amazing, and he was everything but.
I wanted to get sick to remove this feeling. Instead, I walked into my house, my makeup bag in hand from when I made up my face this morning haphazardly in the car.
One of my room mates was still home. We never really got along until it was confirmed he was moving out at the end of this month. For some reason he’s been super nice to me now. He stares at me and says, “Did you see my message?” I look down at my phone.
“Sounds like an excellent time to go for a walk and grab the cupcake mix I’ve been hankering for…”
He was just trying to make me laugh. But all I could say was the truth.
“He’s been cheating on me,” I croaked, eyes swelling up with tears threatening to spill. “At least five girls this month. And who knows how many before then since he lost his phone.”
My room mate looked at me wide-eyed, let out a sad moan, then his eyes turned over with pity. He stood up and outstretched his arms for me. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
Tears didn’t fall, but I sobbed a few times before saying, “I just feel so stupid for not seeing this — “
“Nonononono, this has nothing to do with you!” He started shaking his head. “NOTHING. You hear me? It’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with him!”
Who would have thought the room mate that my boyfriend couldn’t stand the past few months would be the one to comfort me like this when that same boy shattered my heart? Not me, that’s for sure.
I grabbed my makeup bag. “I want to look drop dead gorgeous when I do this.”
My room mate clapped his hands approvingly. “Do it up!”
I went to the bathroom mirror to wash my face down. My foundation is going to be flawless, I think to myself. I’m going to pick just the right shade of pink for my lips, I’m going to use purple eyeshadow to really bring them out, and eyeliner — just the way he likes it. I texted my friend I was messaging earlier the newest installment, and she makes plans to see me out in Harvard Square — ironically, very close to where I first met him — to recoup and comfort. I text another friend of mine he really liked and wanted to have a threesome with (ugh), and tell her to come out with us because I really, really need her comfort. She agrees without me telling her anything. I’ll tell her in person.
I look at the messages his friend and him exchange. Is he the only one that knew? No, because based on the conversation, he talked to his brother. That fight he had with his older brother claiming he grabbed my ass in public sometimes, and when his brother reprimanded him, he brought up his transgressions of cheating on his wife? No, the fight was his brother telling him to stop cheating on me and be loyal. What was the reason he gave to his friend? “I’m young and I have a high sex drive.” Who is this person? I barely recognize him.
He never struck me as a Bro. He almost never said it and claimed that working in a gym was an “intellectual prison.” But he seemed to have no problem using Bro at the end of every other sentence with this friend.
I remember thinking, he’ll never forget how I looked when I broke up with him if I took a picture of myself on his phone. What if I sent it to his friend now? He has no way of finding out that I know already. He’s mid-transit to my place without his phone, most likely stopping to get his dick sucked along the way.
I tried to get the lighting right in my bathroom, then I put my hand up and gave a solid middle finger next to my perfectly primed face. Before sending it, I wrote in the caption “Got caught Bro.” Sent. If nothing else, when he talks to his friend, he can look at my titillating, taunting face.
Now for the plan for the breakup. I thought through how I wanted it to look while I grabbed the two pairs of his sweatpants I had, one pair of clean underwear he left one time (arguably this was indirectly encouraging him to go sleep with another girl immediately after all of this happened, but I really didn’t give a shit what he did after he left as long as he didn’t destroy property), the awful perfume he gave me that smelled like my grandmother, and the small gift of the Constitution on stained parchment I bought him when it reminded me of him and his government studies while I was looking through Cracker Barrell’s country store. I resisted the urge to write “CHEATING WHORE” on the paper bag — if he saw it before I gave it to him, he would have too much time to prep himself and start the excuses. I know better. He lost any chance of a respectful conversation when he decided to cheat on me over five times. But I wasn’t going to be the lady that screams and shouts at him. I wasn’t going to name call, I wasn’t going to cry or otherwise express with sadness how much he actually hurt me. I wasn’t going to punch him or run over him with my car… no matter how much I wanted to. No, I know if I did any of that, he could brush that off and recover from that easily because then he could position me in his head as the crazy one. The way I wanted to break up with him would be much more memorable, and it would cut off any chances he has at recovering quickly. If he clearly knew this was wrong and it would hurt me to see this, as evidenced in his messages to his friend. I was going to react in a way that would stand out as the woman that took him down perfectly and that he was stupid to ever cheat on, because no woman would ever react as calm and collected the way that I did after he smashed my heart into the floor repeatedly.
I put on my high heels so he could get a better look at my ass — since I know he loved looking at it so much — one last time before I leave his lying, cheating ass.
5:10. He’s not here yet and probably won’t be for a while. I looked at the phone again. He had one good friend I was really looking forward to seeing. I checked the messages he had with him. They all seemed innocent and happy, only talking about me and how happy I make him. My heart agonized over this a little. Clearly he wanted him to think he has been a better man. But even if this was true, he still hurt me. I’ll have to tell him later on Facebook what really happened because I doubt he’ll tell the truth. His friend would later respond in a caring, loving way towards me because he knows that it hurts and no one deserves that pain, but he’d still defend my boyfriend. I looked at his phone and saw the messages he sent to other girls. He even called some of these girls “Fraulien,” the same name he gave me when he met me. He told me it was German for young woman. I found out later from my German-fluent friend that it was a condescending term equivalent to “naive little girl.”
That’s when it hit me. These girls have no idea what’s going on. I had not a spec of anger towards any of them. If anything, I was worried. He’s clearly a predator, and these girls are his prey. These girls think he’s an innocent, outspoken, charming man. I never got his test results, and I didn’t even know if he was clean still… and neither did these women. They simply thought he was a single guy that didn’t get to explore Boston much yet since he moved here and he had a “friend” that got him familiar with areas north of Cambridge. Ugh.
I got my notebook out and started writing all of their names and numbers from his phone that I could identify as even remotely possible that he slept with them or interacted with him on a romantic level. I’d text them in a group the next day to tell them that I was his monogamous ex-girlfriend that found out he was seeing all of them while dating me, and that for medical purposes they should get tested as soon as possible if they ever were with him just to be sure. Their responses were loving and so apologetic that I have to go through this. One girl never met him but was going to, and I saved her from a lot of pain and remorse by telling her and helping her decide to not see him. She said “Loyal and kind men do exist, you just have to keep searching. Good luck! :)” and that made me feel a small amount of hope for not just me, but other women as well.
5:28pm, he rang my doorbell. Showtime. But I was hoping to get a little bit more prepared for the situation, so I ran with it. I slipped his phone in my back pocket behind my phone so he couldn’t see that I had already found it. As far as he knew, it was still in my car and dead as a door nail. I took my notebook with the girls’ names and numbers in one hand and the bag of his stuff in the other hand and, after checking the mirror to make sure everything fell into place, descended the stairs to my back porch. He was waiting at my front porch, but I wouldn’t let him get a chance to get in my house, or I know he’d rain down hell on me before leaving.
I pretended not to see him as I opened my car door and put the bag and the notebook in it. I made sure to lock it quickly so he couldn’t lunge for my car.
I turned around and saw him. “Oh, hey!” I said, flashing a smile, trying to not let a flicker of a clue cross my hazel eyes that he always loved staring deep into and complimenting. He had mentioned that he was bringing a surprise for me, but that got pushed out of my mind when I found out he cheated on me enough times to have a fucking freshman frat boy orgy with all the people he cheated with. The packaging looked like it was Thai food? Probably not since he mentioned at one point Thai food makes him sick, but I never got to look to find out what kind of food it was. My one regret in this entire master plan was not taking the food from him before I set everything into motion.
I reach towards my car and tell him that I meant to clean it out a little bit before he arrived since we’ll be riding in it tomorrow after work to New York City, but I really should pull it out into the street so I can access everything better. “Okay,” he said tightly, “But can you please just let me check your car really quick for my phone? I really need my phone.”
If for some reason I had any benefit of the doubt for him up to this point that he clearly did not deserve, it was eradicated in reading his facial expressions as he said this. The tightened jaw, the panic in his narrowing of his eyes, and his slight hand tremor as he stood on the grey stairs to my front porch, restraining himself from lunging at my car to claw for his phone… the only thing that would have made this all better for me would be if it was raining, knowing what I was about to do next. I got one good last look at him in his cheap suit for his receptionist job at a television station, his oversized dress shoes that were probably borrowed from his older brother, whom he all but worshipped, that gorgeous jawline of his that gave his face a chiseled-to-perfection finish with his clear complexion, and those rich milk chocolate eyes that swallowed up women’s trust like a shark swallows fish. Today those eyes I fell in love with were clouded with fear.
He was attractive and he knew it. If only he knew that being honest would have set him free, made him more attractive, and given him even more happiness than he was experiencing now.
He did not have a single, minute clue.
“Let me pull my car out into the street first. I can get at the passenger’s side a little bit better if I do that.” I sweetly called to him. He took a breath in, appeared to hold in, and slumped slightly onto the gray stairs before he saw me pull out further down the street than he probably figured I would. Then he propped himself up a little bit until he saw me stop. I put my car in park, my blinkers on and reached for his bag of stuff I put in the passenger seat, trying to look like I’m looking for his phone. He did not rush any faster, just kept at his sauntering pace. I think at this point he had an idea of what was going on, but I gave zero fucks if he did. His house of cards was already crumbling into a foundationless mess. I grabbed his phone out of my pocket, making sure it was on the messages with his friend that got him red handed in the first place. I placed in on top in the bag and rolled down my driver’s side window.
“Hey! I found your phone!” I said, continuing to be as sweet as can be. I figured if I kept this same, even and loving tone, it would hurt him more knowing that I was killing him with kindness.
His pace quickened just slightly. “Yeah? Where is it?” he said, his head perked up just slightly. I wasn’t sure if he was nervous or relieved, but I didn’t really care either way. The next few actions happened very quickly.
“It’s on top of this bag here,” I called to him, still as sugar-coated loving as ever, although I was starting to sicken myself for maintaining this demeanor with this filthy fraud. I pulled the bag out of the driver’s side window so as to hang it slightly out of the window. He came up and took the bag. He said nothing but reached for the phone.
Before he could even look at what was on the phone, I put my car in drive and turned my wheels towards the street away from him. I smiled cutely again to him, sugar coated toxic oozing from my next actions. He looked up briefly just before I smiled and said my kind, piercing departing words and drove away fast enough for him to not be able to catch me as I drove to a bar with two of my girlfriends that were waiting for me to drink my weight in wine while they supervised: