If you met Jack, you would have liked him from the start. He was friendly and respectable. He carried himself well in front of people.
We worked in the same company and were introduced at an event. Since we clicked so well, we exchanged numbers and began texting incessantly after.
It wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven. He doesn’t understand my admiration for Conan O’Brien, and I don’t understand his obsession with Warcraft. However, that didn’t stop us from a first date to laugh it off. Like most love stories, that one dinner date escalated into a series of weekend brunches, movie nights and shopping dates.
It was three months into the relationship when the first signs of trouble appeared. A stranger called me and said, “Are you, Cheryl? Jack is my boyfriend and I want you to stop texting him right now!”
After she slammed the phone on, I was mortified. Tears of anger and humiliation ran down my cheeks. Who was that? Did that asshole just cheat on me?
When I approached Jack about it, he did what he does best.
He made up an elaborate story about how his psychotic ex-girlfriend can’t let go of him, and how she went ballistic when she found out about me. Back then, I believed every word.
“Why are you getting mad at me?” he asked me, incredulously. “I don’t know why she called and said those things to you. I’m with you now. I swear that I only love you. I swear she means nothing to me”
Of course, it was a lie.
A few months later, I found out that he has a secret Facebook account while using his laptop for work. His profile was registered under a completely different email. Sensing something amiss, my instinct told me to log in.
What I found was a series of explicit messages between him and his ‘psychotic ex-girlfriend’. Reading every line of their conversation enraged me. They had been sleeping together all this while.
Then, I discovered more pictures of them during their secret getaways, date nights, and even their anniversary dinners. My heart sank. After all these months, Jack continued to meet her and I didn’t have a clue.
When he walked into the room and learned what I saw, I bolted out of the door and drove straight home while bursting into tears. My emotions shattered and my heart crumbled into pieces. Why have I been so clueless? He said she meant nothing to him. Why did I believe every single word he said?
What surprised me was how naive and forgiving I was throughout the relationship. Every time I caught him cheating, he called me repeatedly and begged for another chance. He blamed the other woman for flirting with him.
“It was her who came up to me. She knew I had a girlfriend, but she didn’t care,” he said. For years, he conditioned me to lay the blame on the other woman, not him. For years, I forgave him over and over.
Surviving a relationship with a serial cheater is hard. I battled constantly with the anxiety, fearing that he would cheat again; the jealousy from seeing him with another woman; and the devastation that he never changed. Here are the other truths I learned from being a relationship with someone like Jack.
1. Your perception of relationship changes
Jack and I argued so often that it became normal in our relationship. The cycle begins with him getting caught, us making up, and then back to square one. It happened so often because I believed good things will come my way if I persevered.
But you can’t change someone else’s behaviour. Once a cheater, always a cheater, they say. When you’re dating one, it’s unlikely that they’re an exception to the rule.
2. Your self-worth takes a back seat
Most nights, I can’t help but blame myself for his cheating streak. Am I not good enough for him? Have I not been listening attentively to his problems? Had I not been there when he needed me? I slowly began to feel that I was the reason he was always searching for someone else.
That mentality took a toll on my self-worth and confidence. Throughout my relationship, I never felt good enough.
3. You become a stalker
One day, I googled his name and found his OkCupid profile. By a stroke of luck, he used the same password on the website. Then, I accessed his inbox to find messages of him with different women. There were 12 different women, altogether.
He used the same move on every one of them. He imparted a sob story about dealing with his girlfriend (me) who had trust issues in the relationship. “She doesn’t realise how much I loved her. She always thinks that I’m with someone else,” he wrote.
These poor, unsuspecting women consoled and comforted him with words of advice. After chatting with them for a few days, he asked for their number under the pretence that the woman understood him. “Can we meet? It would be nice to have someone to talk to. I can’t do this anymore”.
Naturally, a fight ensued. The more skeletons I uncovered in his closet, the more heated our phone conversations became.
Eventually, my stalking activity spiralled out of control. My new found skills led me to three other Facebook accounts where he posted ‘In a relationship with (insert another woman’s name). While my jealousy and insecurity took its toll on our relationship, I became a stalker and wasn’t proud of it.
4. You feel alone
Dealing with a cheating partner is hard, more so if you don’t have the help and support of other people.
In my case, I didn’t share my problems with my friends, because I was ashamed of it. I wasn’t ready to admit that my love life wasn’t perfect.
Sometimes, I wish I could have shared my relationship problems with others. I know that if I hadn’t dealt with it on my own, I would have bolted out the door sooner.
Five years later, I decided enough is enough.
Discovering a picture of him spending his birthday weekend with another woman was the final straw for me. I was done being disrespected. I said what I needed to say, and cut off all ties with him. Part of me knew that I should have ended it sooner, and I regretted taking so long to get to this stage.
It’s been a few years since we last spoke to or seen each other. If I were to meet him one day, I’d forgive him for the pain he had caused. Still, I pray that no woman would have to suffer at the hands of this serial cheater.
Have you had someone cheat on you before? Tell us about it in the comments below.