We weren't monogamous, but I feel led on and lied to. He's acting like I'm off base. What do you think?
April 9, 2009 7:44 PM   Subscribe

We weren't monogamous, but I feel led on and lied to. He's acting like I'm off base. What do you think?

Last fall, I began a long distance, flirty friendship with a guy who was clear, initially, that he didn't want a long distance relationship.

We started talking for hours a day, for months. He began to tell me he was infatuated with me. After three months of that, he took a week-long trip here in December. We were intimate. He told me he was crazy about me. While he was here, he said again that he wasn't ready for an LDR/to be monogamous, but that if we lived in the same city, he'd want to be together. We agreed, then, that I'd come spend the summer with him.

He went home, and everything continued as before. Two weeks later, after he had gone home, he started talking about his feelings more directly than he had before. He asked me if I knew how badly he was into me, and said that, really, it was "a lot more." He asked me if I was "for real" and when I said I was, he said it made him extremely happy. He asked me what I was looking for in a relationship, and said that I could imagine why he was asking. He said he was obsessed with me and couldn't stop thinking about me. He said that what he wanted in life was to love, and be loved. He said he wanted to be exactly who he was with me and not hide anything. And then he asked me, if he were to move to my city, if it would be "too much, too soon." I said it wouldn't be. He went on to talk about the process he'd have to go through to move, and the timetable it would be on. We planned to see each other again in March.

Exactly a week after this conversation, apparently, he flew cross country to meet/"assess chemistry" with another girl, with whom he was having a similar kind of "relationship," unbeknownst to me. He told me an imaginative and detailed lie about what he was doing that weekend.

Everything continued as before, for the rest of January and February. We had many more conversations about the details of his moving to my city- when he would start a serious job search, where he would apply, where in the city he'd want to live. And we talked almost daily about how crazy we were about each other, how much we missed each other, and how excited we were for his March visit and for the summer. Early in February, he started telling people that he was falling in love with me. Soon after, he wrote me a letter saying again that he wanted to become more serious with me, and expressing hope that we could find a way to make it work.

About two weeks after that, apparently, he told the other girl, while he was drunk, that she should "give serious thought to being in a relationship with him." Later, she asked him if he had meant it, and he confirmed that he did in the days and weeks afterwards.

He continued everything as before, with me. Soon afterwards, a week and a half before he was set to come here for his March visit, he suggested to the other girl that the two of them should move to be together, and that he was start looking for jobs in *her* city.

*FOUR DAYS* after he suggested that to her, he told me directly that he was falling in love with me for the first time. I said it was mutual, and that I couldn't wait for us to be able to start something in my city. He said, "Let's do it. I'm ready to step up." He started talking about how it was only a week until his trip to me, only a month until we could be together, in the summer, and after that, hopefully very little time until we could live in the same city and be together for good. He said I was his primary focus from then out.

The next week, he came for his trip to me. (He told the other girl that he was "going underground" to study for exams.)

A few days after he left, I discovered the situation with the other girl. I found out that she was flying out to visit him two weeks later. And I was scheduled for arrive for the summer about a week after she was scheduled to leave.

When I found out, he canceled her trip, refunded her ticket money, asked me to be monogamous with him starting from then, and told her things were over between them. He apologized to both of us. The next day, he told her he couldn't talk to her anymore at all. He's been swearing up and down that I'm the one he wants to be with, he's sure of it, and he never had "chemistry" with her.

I'd like your opinions. I obviously have my own opinions on this, but I'm conflicted. A big part of me is clinging on to this thing I had for all these months, that was such a huge part of my life and so important to me. I had allowed myself to become extremely, extremely attached to him.

To be honest, what I want the most is to somehow feel completely okay about this, so that maybe I won't have to give this up. If that's not possible, I want to be so, so convinced that it was so messed up that I just want out. That's why I'm seeking our your perspectives.

This is the first question.

He's apologized to both of us, for hurting us. But I still have the sense that he doesn't think anything he did was really wrong. His justification seems to be that both she and I knew that we weren't monogamous. And that the two of us were misinterpreting him/misunderstanding the situation, making assumptions, and making more out of it than it was.

I find it insane for him to think either she or I were delusional/off-base in expecting that he was going to move to be with us; that we were headed for a serious relationship and in the process of making that happen. But what do you think? Did he lead us on?

Second question:

After I found out about everything, I told him one of the scariest things for me was that he had told her he'd move to be with her *so* recently. He said his feelings for me had changed/grown immensely in the past month. Looking at the timeline, and how nothing he had *said* to me had changed immensely in the past month, how likely do you think that really is?

My biggest worry there is that, really, he was hoping to create a bigger spark with her, and that he wanted her to visit him before I came to see if that would happen (apparently he knew she wasn't quite as into him as I was).

I feel like I still don't know what he was really hoping/planning.

Third question:

Can I ever trust him?

He says being in a monogamous relationship with me will be different. That he'll be completely transparent, open, etc.

But first of all, I think I have no idea what his definition of honesty is. I worry he's operating under some bizarre definition of honesty that allows him to lie frequently and feel justified and okay about it, and like he's still completely honest. That scares me.

All of his arguments about "technicalities" make me wonder if I can trust him at all, if he'll always be able to rationalize away everything he does.

I worry that like every time I ask him something, or he and I agree to something, I'll have to agonize over semantics and whether there were any loopholes in what we said.

Also, even while we were having that conversation, he was still stretching the truth. I had asked him if what the other girl told me was true, that he asked her to think about being in a serious relationship. He told me he said it once, while he was really drunk, and any talk of it after that was generated by her. Then I found out the truth, that weeks after that, while he was sober, he suggested moving to her city. When I asked him about it again, he said he couldn't remember what he said.

I talked to him about this for a really long time, over the course of a few days, and at the end, I felt that I had said my piece and was satisfied by what he said, and was ready to put the issue to rest.

But I'm finding it's hard to do that completely, in just a few days. The issues kept popping up in my head all last night. I hate to start rehashing the topic with him yet again, after I already said I was ready to put it to rest.

I've tried to be completely earnest and sincere here, so while I appreciate the effort of anyone who takes the time to read and reply, please go easy on snarkiness.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (82 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Being non-monogamous doesn't mean that lying is ok. DTMFA.
posted by electroboy at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2009 [14 favorites]

Honestly, it sounds like he's a manipulator and a player, and you should dump him and move on. He told fed both of you the same lines, who's to say there's not someone else out there he's stringing along as well? You keep thinking about it because, deep down, something in you knows that you can't trust him. He's already broken that trust, and my guess is he'll continue to do so. You deserve better than someone who lies to you.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2009

Oh my god, are you fucking serious? This guy is what is commonly referred to as a PLAYER and a SHITHEAD and you would be wise to steer far, far clear of him.

You do NOT WANT THIS DRAMA if you want a romantic relationship with someone. He is NOT IT.


Better awaits you, I stake my life on it.
posted by tristeza at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2009 [13 favorites]

This has nothing to do with monogamy. He sounds pathological.
posted by footnote at 7:54 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

What electroboy said. It doesn't matter what kind of relationship you had. Lying is not OK.
posted by prefpara at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2009

He told me an imaginative and detailed lie about what he was doing that weekend.

I was sympathetic and open-minded until that line. If he had been honest with you, he would have been just living up to the stated playing-the-field lifestyle. But that lying part seals it for me.

Thirding the DTMFA.
posted by rokusan at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2009

We know your feelings are all wrapped up in this, but we are here for you, and ours aren't.

If you get with this guy you are crazy.

Sounds like he cares about himself and that's it. And there are no guarantees there isn't a third girl out there, for that matter.

To help you get perspective, just read what you just wrote and imagine one of your friends was the author. What would you tell her to do?

Go do that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:57 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Based on what you've laid out here, I'm afraid that I vote for DTMFA. You can do better. Hell, you deserve better. I'm sorry. I'm a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. His actions here - well, there are no actions. It's all talk.
posted by different at 7:58 PM on April 9, 2009

He told me an imaginative and detailed lie about what he was doing that weekend.

Don't become monogamous with people who tell imaginative and detailed lies because they'll keep doing that sort of thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 PM on April 9, 2009 [5 favorites]

Can we get a button for DTMFA? Typing is so much work.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2009 [11 favorites]

He says being in a monogamous relationship with me will be different. That he'll be completely transparent, open, etc.

Being in an open/non-mongamous/poly relationship is not an excuse to be a lying, manipulative shithead. If you're an adult in a relationship, that is. He's not an adult. Don't be in a relationship with him.

I'm sorry this happened to you.
posted by rtha at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

What footnote said.
posted by amro at 8:11 PM on April 9, 2009

Long question, with a very short answer:

"He told me an imaginative and detailed lie about what he was doing that weekend" + "But I still have the sense that he doesn't think anything he did was really wrong" = DTMFA
posted by Pinback at 8:12 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

A big part of me is clinging on to this thing I had for all these months

No. You need to see that he's a pathological evil lying fuck who juggled the hearts of two trusting women with no qualms - until he was caught.
I'm not sure why you are even wasting a moment trying to make "non-monogamous" excuses for him. He told you he was moving to your city to be with you even as he romanced another woman. This is not a man of character. And he is guaranteed to hurt you even more deeply if you don't man up and cut him dead, as soon as possible.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:13 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Did he lead us on?

Yes, absolutely.

He said his feelings for me had changed/grown immensely in the past month. Looking at the timeline, and how nothing he had *said* to me had changed immensely in the past month, how likely do you think that really is?

One thing that never changed: his manipulating you.

Can I ever trust him?


posted by All.star at 8:19 PM on April 9, 2009

Non-monogamy is totally okay. But that takes absolute honesty, not "imaginative and detailed lies." I'm sorry your heart was broken, I really am, but don't even think about going back to him.
posted by you're a kitty! at 8:20 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Imaginative and detailed lies" are behavior you should probably develop a zero-tolerance policy toward.
posted by grobstein at 8:22 PM on April 9, 2009 [6 favorites]

If there is a way to start off a trusting relationship on the wrong foot, this is absolutely it.

He says he's "assessing" you and the other girl - to me, this means he thinks of you both as "assets."

I'm honestly not intending that to sound snarky because I completely empathize with over-investment in relationships... but this has gone beyond a misunderstanding or a slip of the tongue. This is intentional deception and if you give him an inch...
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:26 PM on April 9, 2009

I have been in explicitly non-monogamous relationships where the other person later said they felt led on by me, even though we had both discussed at length that there was no monogamy involved. So I came into this question expecting to say, "no, you weren't led on."

But that's not the situation here. If you're describing the situation accurately, this guy is a piece of work who you should stay far far away from.

Further note: being in love and building a relationship is very different from being infatuated to the point of obsession. Being obsessed, to my mind, is a form of projection, a kind narcissistic ego disorder. The fact that he was talking so much about how obsessed he was with you should have been setting off alarm bells, even before the question of the other woman came into play. He was in love with his own obsession, not with you. He never was in love with you.
posted by alms at 8:32 PM on April 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

There are too many good men in the world for you to waste your time with this dipshit. Seriously. You should feel enraged, not confused, that he would do such a thing to you, not to mention to someone else. If someone did this to your mother or sister, what would you tell them? Be honest with yourself.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:41 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The issue isn't that he had a non-monogamous relationship, the issue is that he thought it was OK to lie. And that he doesn't think there is anything wrong with lying to someone he claims to love. That is not someone you want to be in a relationship with.

A big part of me is clinging on to this thing I had for all these months, that was such a huge part of my life and so important to me.
IMHO you didn't become attached and fall in love with the real him, you fell in love with the "fake him" that he projected to try and reel you in. The man you love doesn't really exist, its not his true self.
posted by Joh at 8:43 PM on April 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

I talked to him about this for a really long time, over the course of a few days, and at the end, I felt that I had said my piece and was satisfied by what he said, and was ready to put the issue to rest.

I understand that you're trapped in this thing in which you invested so much emotional energy, time, etc. but this should have never gotten to this point. This guy lied to you over and over and over and over and over, even while explaining his previous lies. Yet you were almost ready to put "the issue" (ie his pathological lying) to rest?

You need to strengthen your internal BS detector. The first huge warning sign was his asking about moving in with you TWO WEEKS after explicitly stating he was not interested in a monogamous relationship. Then the lying started.

Fool me once...

You know in your head that he's not worth your time. Don't let your irrational emotional attachment continue to throw you back into this negative feedback loop. Don't talk to him again, ever. Never. Defriend on Facebook. Block his e-mails. Delete his phone number.

No scumbag has the right to affect your emotions in this way.
posted by hamsterdam at 8:53 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

He sounds like a con artist up to the part where he dumps the other girl. I would not follow through with hm.
posted by fructose at 8:56 PM on April 9, 2009

Don't beat yourself up over investing months of your life into this guy (many MeFites have done sillier things, myself included) but don't fool yourself into thinking that you've got to run this thing into the ground. Cut your losses.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:03 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

people are jumping all over this guy!
he may not have led you on much, depending on what you created in your head.
also, although u typed a lot, its not really clear what was agreed.
so maybe he was doing his best with a complicated situation.
the simple fact is, talking on the phone a lot, and maintaining a strong true relationship together, are two toally difference things.
u wont know if it will wokr till u find common ground and try it.
posted by edtut at 9:05 PM on April 9, 2009

I lost a year trying to make it work with a guy I KNEW was bad news. I would really like that year back, but it's not going to happen. Don't waste your time with a guy you know very well is untrustworthy.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 9:11 PM on April 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

He told me an imaginative and detailed lie about what he was doing that weekend.

chances are slim here.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2009

Nothing about this guy sounds very solid.

A big part of me is clinging on to this thing I had for all these months, that was such a huge part of my life and so important to me. I had allowed myself to become extremely, extremely attached to him.

That's really hard, but look at it this way; do you really want to invest anymore of your time and heart in something that seems so wrong?
posted by nola at 9:16 PM on April 9, 2009

I'm no expert, but I agree that this guy sounds pathological. Walk.
posted by adamrice at 9:19 PM on April 9, 2009

I think even if he's not technically a cheater, he's very much a pathological liar. Cut your losses and move on.
posted by Ugh at 9:19 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Walk away, and don't let him try to "make it up to you". Even if he tries to move out to your city and goes through all the motions, do not take him back. He's proved he's a liar and doesn't really care about you, and he knows exactly what to say to make you believe him. You deserve better.
posted by lilac girl at 9:29 PM on April 9, 2009

Total douchebag. Dump him.
posted by delmoi at 9:39 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The absolute best case scenario is that he is very, very confused. Perhaps he feels like he should want monogamy, and tries to mean what he says?

This is a very generous reading, though. If he were really conflicted, I would think that he would not put so much energy into such elaborate lies.

The second best case scenario is that he is very, very confused (about how to treat fellow humans) and needs therapy because he's a narcissistic twat.

But regardless i think it's fair to say that this guy is not capable of being monogamous, and that yes, he will be full of rationalizations the next time, and the next. If you want a monogamous relationship, cut your losses and move on.

He doesn't sound mature enough to handle an open/poly relationship, and you don't sound interested in this option. But if I'm wrong, by all means propose it...and don't be surprised if the level of transparency and openness required is a turnoff for him.
posted by desuetude at 9:41 PM on April 9, 2009

You already have a lot of responses here, and in the short term the advice above is good. Having been in a similar situation, doing some research on pathological behavior may be helpful to you in at least seeing patterns, even if you don't truly understand them. It will help you walk away feeling cleaner and clearer, and stop second guessing that decision. I'm sorry for your loss, these things aren't supposed to happen. My advice for the longer term is rather than letting this situation undermine your trust in people in general, you try to look at this as a bad draw getting a pathologically lying person. You can learn to screen for them, and if you do its unlikely you will have to go through this again. Some of the things you wrote indicate to me that deep down, you know what the screen is. Don't let this undermine your whole trust in mankind in general.
posted by iiniisfree at 9:58 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Hoo boy. No WAY should you ever have anything to do with this guy ever again.

Asking how you can "get over" the feelings of hurt and distrust and move forwards with him are like asking how you can make fire stop burning you.
posted by orange swan at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Whether he apologized or not, he's still a liar, and he's not going to change -- especially if he doesn't understand what he did was wrong. He sounds like he was only sorry he got caught. The lying is a huge, huge problem, regardless of whether he can argue that, technically, you two hadn't agreed to a monogamous relationship. He can say you were wrong to expect monogamy, but he's a dipshit if he thinks you shouldn't have expected honesty.

Elaborate, imaginative lies would be a huge problem even if he hadn't cheated on you. I'm so sorry this happened to you, but things can only get better from here.
posted by Nattie at 10:17 PM on April 9, 2009

The guy is a lying sack of dickcheese. The fact that you've swallowed his manipulative bullshit and are even starting to question your own common sense is kind of scary. Iiniisfree is right in suggesting you do some research on pathological behavior.

Please don't waste another day tormenting yourself over what could have been with this prick. Kick him to the curb and thank your lucky stars that things didn't progress further.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:17 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think you really already know the answer. The issue of monogamy is a red herring. He led you to nurture feelings about him and to make decisions with the potential to drastically change your life under completely false pretenses. Answer to question number one is of course he led you on. Of course his position wasn't reasonable.

As far as question two, which I guess is what was he really up to, you'll never know. It could be the scenario as you paint it, it could be he just loves the thrill of the chase and he never would have moved in with either of you, maybe he has not idea, he's just compelled to push everything he stumbles into to the furthest limit possible. The problem is that with this individual's history you could never feel completely certain you know what's going on. He's demonstrated that as long as he feels like he's justified in his actions based on his own standards, he doesn't feel it is wrong to be completely dishonest about what's actually going on with him. But one thing is completely clear about his motivations: they were totally selfish in nature. The only person with anything to gain from his dishonesty was him. Romancing someone while remaining silent on another serious prospect in the wings is an utterly selfish, self-serving act.

On to the third question of whether you can trust him. I think you know that to expect an individual to be honest, after demonstrating himself to be an egregious serial liar, is absurd. There's no real reason to believe he's being straight with you now.

The fact that you're even considering giving this guy another chance shows how manipulative he is. His actions since you found him out appear nothing so much as a very calculated attempt to cut his losses - to not end up with no girl on the line instead of two. One minute he's planning a long visit with both of you pretty much back to back, the next thing well gosh, you're the only one he's interested in at all and ever really was! What a coincidence that he conveniently realized this right after he was found out in a bunch of lies.

I would tell any person I cared about to run from a person who had behaved like this without the slightest doubt or reservation.
posted by nanojath at 10:19 PM on April 9, 2009 [14 favorites]

He says being in a monogamous relationship with me will be different. That he'll be completely transparent, open, etc.

What kind of Moon Logic is he using here? He was up-front with you about not being monogamous; you accepted that. He had no reason to lie, and he did anyway. So now you're supposed to believe that monogamy will magically make him truthful?

posted by tomatofruit at 11:08 PM on April 9, 2009 [9 favorites]

Can I ever trust him?

That's a big negatory. All of us lie from time to time, but this guy is the type who leads freakin' double lives. He apologized to you because he got caught, not necessarily because he's sorry. And even if he is genuinely sorry, I'd guess he has some deep-seated pathology in which he feels compelled to cheat and lead a double life (see the Thomas Hayden Church character in Sideways for a comparison).

At the very least, dump this guy now and cool off for a month, six months, a year. I'd advise that as mandatory. You really shouldn't be conflicted here; if you stay with him, then you'll be conflicted and worried and confused as to his motives every minute of every day. He's not worth it, seems to me. DTMFA.
posted by zardoz at 11:12 PM on April 9, 2009

Drop this guy, and fast.

As was suggested above, he sounds genuinely pathological.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:19 PM on April 9, 2009

I know it may be difficult to appreciate right now, but you really are dodging a bullet if you dump this guy. I think it was Joh up-thread who said what I was also thinking: the man you fell for does not exist. He told you what you wanted to hear, pulling you in until he had you just where he wanted you, adoring him and being happy and secure with him. God knows why some people get off on this, whether he's just a complete narcissist, utterly lacks a conscience, or derives his self-worth by getting validation from others. Whatever the reason, you were coming from a place of openness and sincerity, and he created a persona you would fall for. I'm really sorry you are going through this heartbreak, but he is not worth your time, feelings, or consideration.

This sentence really struck me:

I worry that like every time I ask him something, or he and I agree to something, I'll have to agonize over semantics and whether there were any loopholes in what we said.

You know longer trust him, for good reason, and you never will again, for good reason. I think in a healthy and happy relationship, you will know the other person has your best interests at heart, and you will have a sense of security with them. You don't have that with this guy, and you never truly did.
posted by JenMarie at 11:20 PM on April 9, 2009 [6 favorites]

You sound so lucid and rational in analyzing this. That you're still considering trying to build a romance with this sociopathic clown is testament to the literally mind-altering strength of chemical cascade that accompanies "falling in love".

If you decide to try to make a go of things with him, everyday will be like that: trying to reconcile in your mind your feelings with his lies and preverications, desperately trying to rationalize his latest dodgy weasellng, trying to find legalistic loopholes to excuse his misrepresentations, cheating, and lying.

Now if that's your bliss, Marry the Motherfucker Already. But just to underine it: no, there's no way this relationship works out to your benefit or happiness.
posted by orthogonality at 11:37 PM on April 9, 2009 [5 favorites]

(uh, "no longer trust him," not "know longer." damn homophones.)
posted by JenMarie at 12:18 AM on April 10, 2009

it's great and it's fun to have lovely sweet crushy relationships, and it's great that you got to have those wonderful times together. But for your sake *and for his own*, nothing can come of it. It's so sad. If he had only told you the truth! If only he hadn't insisted on blowing up and over-magnifying his feelings for you! You aren't the one who pushed him here. He's the one who tried to escalate, and honestly he sounds like a con artist. I was reading that waiting for the part where you send him money for the plane ticket, and never hear from him again.

And now you have a whole summer to use however you like! Yaaay! Isn't it nice to figure all this stuff out before you're trying to stay at his place, in his city, without your own means of transportation? Don't go. He will be very good at making you feel guilty about it, and acting all put-upon and heartbroken. And then you will have to remind yourself that exactly what he needs is to actually BE heartbroken and maybe figure out that this pathological lying thing is costing him something important. There are other fish in the sea for both of you (seems like he already knew that one); the life lesson here is more important. And if you forgive him, get with him, etc etc the life lesson will be totally lost.
posted by Lady Li at 12:33 AM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

Hol-ee-shit! Run, now.... this guy is not only poison, he's a raging narcissistic asshole. Seriously. DTMFA...TODAY!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:54 AM on April 10, 2009

Wow, this guy is el dickheado extremo. Is he a lawyer? I mean that question seriously. His behavior sounds precisely like the worst stereotype of lawyer behavior -- make an "agreement," and carefully hew to the letter of it so he has a crack at the moral high ground (hah), but totally violate the spirit and manipulate you and someone else with false implications and suggestions of things that were totally unreal.

Kick this lying sack of shit to the curb. Give him the business card of a good shrink on the way out. DTMFA.
posted by paultopia at 1:05 AM on April 10, 2009

You were in the same non-monogamous LDR as him, gushing out your hearts... now imagine the reverse... what if it were you that was talking to another guy about moving to his city, planning his visits around the other guy and LYING about what you're really doing. You would never do that, right? It's not honest, it's cruel and insensitive. That's why everyone is telling you to DTMFA. Look at his history, he's lied, he's manipulated your feelings, lead you both on... NO way should you trust him to suddenly change. He told the other girl the same gushy things and yet now he's ready to get serious with you? Tells me he doesn't mean what he says. Stay away from him, he likes to play mind-games.

posted by MuckWeh at 2:48 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Think about it, if you hadn't caught him do you think he'd still be doing this juggling routine or not? The difference would be that you would have made major commitments in your work and living arrangements and he'd still be making up detailed lies so that he could fly off and visit her. It's hard to drop something that seemed so important to you, but you can't ever trust this person again.
posted by fire&wings at 3:19 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I found out, he canceled her trip, refunded her ticket money, asked me to be monogamous with him starting from then, and told her things were over between them . . . The next day, he told her he couldn't talk to her anymore at all.

Do you only know these things because this is what he told you? Honestly, what proof do you have that he isn't still "assessing" her?
posted by contrariwise at 3:39 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

This guy is either a liar and a player or has some serious issues that he needs to spend years in therapy resolving. Based on what you are saying, he doesn't seem to have any concept that he has issues.

If someone lies and cheats, you can forgive them, but this situation is a very extreme version of that. I say, move on.
posted by hazyspring at 4:02 AM on April 10, 2009

Warning signs:

More into porn than he is into you
More into playing the field than he is into you
Makes promises then never keeps them
Wants to keep you around just in case Plan B doesn't pan out
Makes a lot of encouraging noise to pull you in and once he's got you
keeps you hanging on and on and on and on
Keeps making dates then breaks them
Doesn't answer his emails then tells you he's swamped

But you still don't get it.

Time for Second Phase to commence:

Therapy at a nice exclusive codependent center in another state
so you don't have to repeat the above with another Mr. So Unreal, So Not Right.
posted by watercarrier at 4:30 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can I make this any more bold
posted by kldickson at 4:39 AM on April 10, 2009

This isn't how non-monogamy is done.

This is how infidelity is done.
posted by srrh at 4:41 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would that be dump the mother fucker's ass?

I couldn't tell.

And maybe the OP couldn't either.

Why pussy foot around? SPELL IT OUT. Simple minds need to know.
posted by watercarrier at 4:57 AM on April 10, 2009

Fair enough to see a couple of people at once before deciding to embark upon a relationship with one of them. I can even see why he might obfuscate what he was doing that weekend when he flew to meet her, if he was getting seriously into you but had been talking to the other woman for a similar amount of time, and wanted to satisfy himself that they weren't as good a match before making a decision as to which of you to more seriously pursue. But why then the need for all the leading on, the prompting of both of you into considering a serious relationship with him, the making of concrete plans to move to both your towns, etc etc? That's nuts! If both of these were long-distance things and he needed to meet you first, then by all means, meet before making a decision to take things further: that's perfectly sensible. His timing for doing that just doesn't match up with the intentions he states, though. Once he's agreed with you that he's going to move to your city to be with you, and told you that he wants to love and be loved and all that serious stuff, that's the wrong time to be asking other people to consider something serious with him.

I think for him he thinks he's said, "We're not being monogamous yet," and that means that he's forgiven for anything he wants to do until such time as he speaks the official words, "Let's be monogamous." However in the meantime he has said multiple things that all express seriousness, if not in those words. He said if you lived in the same city that he'd want to be together (and then set about planning the move to your city), he asked you what you wanted in a relationship and more of less said he was asking because that's what he wanted, he expressly wrote you a letter saying he wanted things to be more serious with you, etc etc etc. You don't say those things unless you're wanting to assure another person that it's appropriate and good for them to be feeling serious about you too. If he was trying to evoke those feelings in you, AND in her, while the feelings he was expressing were true in at most only ONE of those cases for him -- then he's a jerk. One more for DTMFA.
posted by springbound at 5:17 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

it's Dump the Mother Fucker Already. It's a Dan Savage acronym.

also, 55thing DTMFA.
posted by cali59 at 5:24 AM on April 10, 2009

This is as clear-cut as it gets. The guy you think you are in love with does not exist. He is a character made up by a pathological liar. I mean, I'm sorry, but just be glad you found it out now. DTMF with extreme prejudice A.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:26 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, one more vote for ditching him immediately. He's a liar of the more manipulative variety, and I don't think you'll ever be able to trust him at all.

In short, you deserve to be treated better and valued, and you are never going to get that from this guy. Move on (painful as that is), and find someone who will treat you with dignity and respect, monogamous or not.
posted by Forktine at 5:43 AM on April 10, 2009

I agree with the consensus here: He's probably a guy in love with two women who fucked up and would rather be with you. If you feel you can't trust him by all means DTMFA but honestly I don't really think what he did is a big deal.

What? Oh I was kidding about the consensus. I know everyone is saying he's evil etc, but I don't think anything he did necessarily indicates that this is equivalent to cheating or that he is naturally a liar. Being a "player" doesn't exclude you from being honest. The fact that he came clean once discovered makes me think that he's just confused and serious about both of you, and didn't want to rub either one of your faces in it before he figured it out.

Perhaps I'm being charitable, but really it strikes me that if he had cut things off with this other women and gotten together with you and you never knew that he was courting both of you at once then it would have harmed no-one. You have every right to be upset, angry, annoyed, distrustful and discombobulated, but if I have to assign blame, I blame whatever unfortunate mechanism informed you of his affections for the other woman before he had figured out what he wanted to do about them.

People can be interested in more than one partner at a time. If you want him to be monogamous, look into his soul and ask him if he can do it. If you believe him, forgive him. If not, swim on fishy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:58 AM on April 10, 2009

It is classic manipulative douche behavior to try to convince you that it's somehow your fault that you're mad at his douchey behavior. It's good that you've mentally caught him doing that, because it's surprisingly easy to fall for the trick.

Break it off with this guy, and I mean a clean, total, non-negotiable break where you block his emails and lose his phone number. Cut the tumor out with surgical precision and don't give it the chance to grow back. It's likely he'll want to talk it over, apologize, explain himself, and try to weasel his way back into your heart. Don't allow it. Don't give him another second of your time after you tell him "it's over."

I wasted some of my time on very similar guys. It hurts like hell now, but the good news is you will get over it, you'll be wiser for it, and you will not only learn to trust again, but you'll be better able to distinguish who deserves your trust.

MeMail me if you want to talk more about it. I wish you the best.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:25 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Being non-monogamous only works when all the parties tell the truth. He didn't. He didn't even lie by omission, or tell a white lie to spare anyone's feelings. He consistently and repeatedly lied to both you and the other girl about where he was going and what he was doing while one or the other of you was visiting. He set up a double life.

You're very right to take notice that he has apologized to both of you for hurting you--not because he feels that he did anything wrong. I've found this to be a really important factor in people, including myself. Those who can apologize for being wrong or doing wrong are more sincere and less likely to do it or something similar again than those who apologize for "hurting someone's feelings" or are "sorry that you feel that way".

I don't think you can ever trust him again, but more importantly--why would you WANT to?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:35 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

"All of his arguments about "technicalities" make me wonder if I can trust him at all, if he'll always be able to rationalize away everything he does. "

"I worry that like every time I ask him something, or he and I agree to something, I'll have to agonize over semantics and whether there were any loopholes in what we said." That too

You don't need this pain and worry in your life; move on.
posted by pointystick at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2009

Oh, anonymous, I feel so badly for you. I wish you had a throwaway email, but since you don't, here's my story. Except it was much more convoluted in that I had known the guy (and his family!) for much longer. And it came with a marriage proposal and shopping for an engagement ring. Only the surprise ending came when the night he was supposedly arriving at my apartment from driving across country to move in with me.

Turns out that he never left his house with his wife and his three kids (I knew about the kids, but didn't know that he hadn't divorced his wife and was still living with her). He hadn't shown up about 8hrs after his supposed arrival time, so I became somewhat alarmed and started calling around to see if there were accidents. I eventually sent State Troopers out to his house. He had even gone to the trouble of calling me every hours telling me that he was at specific spots along the way of the route, so imagine my surprise when the troopers told me HE was the one that answered the door.

Girlie. These guys are *sick*. They're fucked in the head and nothing you have done (or can do) makes it OK for them to treat you that way. The lying and deception - it's got absolutely NOTHING to do with monogamy.

I know how much it hurts. God, do I know. I can't tell you how much I cried over that motherfucker. First for how STOOPID I was in believing his lies, but also because of how alone I felt. Don't do that to yourself.

And for the record, he continued to call me. For months and months, but I would just hang up or not answer the phone. Even after I moved in with Mr. dancinglamb I would get hang-up calls that I knew were him (the beauty of caller-ID).

So, please, I implore you. Don't waste another minute on this asshole. Give yourself more worth than that. And absolutely Memail me if you want to talk more.

Big hugs to you.

Oh, and I've heard from his father that the guy is now remarried to somebody else and apparently had a fourth kid; though he's got little, if anything, to do with his first three girls. So, these guys really do continue to play their warped games.
posted by dancinglamb at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2009 [9 favorites]

wow. my kingdom for the ability to edit typos. *sigh*
posted by dancinglamb at 6:41 AM on April 10, 2009

This guy is an emotional con artist. However you wish to explain away his behavior, this is scammy, con artist behavior. As I was reading your description of what he did, I was amazed that the patterns of the lies he was telling are the sorts of things people say as they are bilking elderly or gullible people out of life savings. The kind of duplicity he was engaged in reveals an utter lack of moral compass, a view of other people as targets to be manipulated and milked of whatever "assets" they have (in his case, he seems to be after emotions, not money) ... but fundamentally, the patterns and actions are typical of con artists, grifters, and scammers.

The moral vacuity that underlies these habits is not something that can be cured or switched off. The reason so many people are saying "he sounds pathological" is that behavior like his is NOT NORMAL even in an "open" relationship. He is a manipulator, a user, and a remorseless liar and cheat.

Someone who would cheat you emotionally and lie like he did, is fundamentally a scammer. Letting him into your life in a romantic relationship would tantamount to finding out that someone's last job was as a Nigerian 419 scammer, but hiring them to handle your investment funds anyway because you believed they were "just doing the 419 scam until they found something more permanent."
posted by jayder at 6:48 AM on April 10, 2009 [9 favorites]

Tell him that you won't be in a relationship with him or see him romantically unless/until he moves to your city, at which point you can evaluate. If he moves to be with you, it means that he made a stupid mistake, but he loves you and it may be worth a shot. If he stalls and makes excuses and doesn't move, it means that he's a lying jerk, or at the very least, that he doesn't care about you as much as he says he does.

My suspicion is that he'll do the latter and you'll never see him again. But I'm willing to be proved wrong. The point is to put the onus on him to prove that he's choosing you, since you have evidence to the contrary that needs to be overcome.
posted by decathecting at 7:11 AM on April 10, 2009

Even if he didn't mean to string you both along, even if it was an honest mistake - you'll never be able to trust him again. Even if he never does anything wrong ever again, there will always be that little voice in the back of your head. It's not worth it. You deserve to be in a relationship where you can feel secure.

That said, I don't buy that it was an honest mistake. He's an emotionally manipulative player asshole. Dump the motherfucker already.
posted by marginaliana at 7:16 AM on April 10, 2009

1) No you can't trust him, at all. That he lied about her, and then lied about you to her (saying he was "going underground" to study) says exactly that. If he were entirely open and honest about it, I'd be leery, but at least he'd have been honest. Retroactive honest counts for very little. You cannot now or ever trust him.

2) He was unfair to you. I know you "weren't monogamous," BUT once it gets to the point of saying he's falling in love with you and would consider moving to be near you, that's a point at which "assessing" other people should end. Never mind considering moving to HER city. No. If he REALLY was that emotionally involved with you, his emotional involvement with someone else should be done.

Sorry, he's a scumbag.
posted by davidnc at 7:26 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Having participated in my own share of relationship trainwrecks, I'd like to share some incredible advice I received last year:

"...The hell of it is, these people are absolutely gangbusters at counterfitting love. They've got all the right words, all the sighs and lingering looks down cold. They know how to do it, because it feeds their addiction to their own validation. Some of them even believe it...but it's crap. It's just a show to get what they want. OF COURSE you couldn't tell that he was evil...these people have to be fantastic at faking it, or they can't operate. No one can tell these people apart until they show their cards. And I really think that the less bankrupt that you are, the harder it is to spot.

...He doesn't have the capacity to relate to anyone in a normal way. And this way, it gives him the added bonus of power. Power over himself, since that way he could lie to himself that it's not his fault that he can't have a normal relationship. And certainly power over you, which is really the only relationship dynamic -- not love, not intimacy, not friendship -- that makes sense to his shriveled little soul.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. You're essentially the victim of the natural disaster that is this man. It's not your fault. There's nothing that you should have done that you didn't. You were operating under the premise that this was a man who could love and be loved by you.

It's not your fault."

posted by grippycat at 7:28 AM on April 10, 2009 [6 favorites]

He's just saying things about how he feels and what he wants and hoping they are true. In his mind, this will never count as lying.
posted by hermitosis at 7:46 AM on April 10, 2009

If you're looking for a literary analogue for your situation, the guy you're thinking about seeing again is suggestive as heck of the unnamed cad in Brief Interview #3 from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (page 23), from which I have painstakingly cut and pasted the part of the story that mirrors yours.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Dump him unless you want to relive this scenario again . . . and again. . . and again. When I run into people like this (and honey, you are not alone; there are a lot, unfortunately, of people like your soon to be ex) I am always reminded of an old Dr. Who episode in which the Master (the Doctor's arch nemesis) is busily sacrificing young women in the back of a Victorian theatre to, I don't know, power a tardis or get eternal life or destroy the world or something. At one point he screams out in the best mad scientist tradition: "One woman is no longer enough! I must have TWO women! Bring me another woman!"

Well. In a nutshell, that's the guy you're dating. And one woman is never going to be enough. You see, not only is it more fun to have TWO - or more - women, the intrigue feeds the drama beast within him. He's an emotional danger/drama junkie. When life gets boring, he'll find a way for you or the other woman or the other other woman to find out about each other - how did you find out about her again? Through some inexplicable slip of his? Yeah. - so that he can get his fix and enjoy the two women hysterical and fighting over him.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:02 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Anyone who does so much talking "I'm so crazy about you" blah blah is fake. I wanted to roll my eyes at him and at that before I even read about the other girl!!! These are lines he uses on ALL girls, because it seems to work somehow. Don't trust him. Don't waste your summer with him. He's probably lying about cancelling the other girl's trip. There is NO WAY he would even consider seeing or assessing the other girl (what asshole uses that word?!) if he actually had ANY feelings for you.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2009

You are incredibly lucky to have discovered his true nature only a few months into the relationship. Fate has been kind to you, and given you an opportunity to escape from this manipulative liar. If you choose to ignore the warning, and further entangle yourself with this person, you risk wasting years of your life. Do not do this. I know it is painful, but please: cut off all contact, and never look back. Months or years from now, when you're in a healthy, honest, real partnership, you will look back on this time with amazement that you even considered this a real relationship. I promise.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:24 AM on April 10, 2009

Grippycat's quote says it well. I think this guy is pretty pleased with himself on having figured out how women tick. He must really enjoy saying 'the right things' to get someone intelligent and clear-headed like you to genuinely and seriously fall for him. Can you imagine how empowering that must be to the jerk?
posted by Dragonness at 8:47 AM on April 10, 2009

As someone else said upthread, I, too, am a relationship trainwreck. Despite having what I'd consider an above average brain, I am divinely horrible at relationships but have hammered out some things over the years that might serve you well. Don't be me: don't ignore the fifty-seven waving red flags, don't rationalize this as ok behavior, don't think you're losing some great prize here.

Let my relationship trainwreckness be your guide:

1. Recognize that your jerk-o-meter is broken, as mine is. That means you have to be a bit more vigilant with yourself and listen to others a bit more than the average person. That's ok, it really is, as long as you are aware and accept this fact.

2. Recognize there are people in this world who seek out women with broken jerk-o-meters, so people like us are especially at risk. Kinda like a disease: if you know your family's prone to it, take steps to prevent it. In this case, in the future, you can avoid odd LDR situations, take steps to introduce him to your wisened friends who can seek out weirdness, etc.

3. Embrace the shittiness. Read what you wrote. Does any of that sound like good times? No. And you know that because you appear to be an articulate person who senses something is very wrong. Accept that you feel like crap and don't like how you're being treated. That's ok, too. And maybe get a little mad - at him - not at yourself.

4. Rip off the bandaid. Are you up for another round or ten of this kind of behavior? Because here you are in the honeymoon phase being lied to and that doesn't bode well for the post-honeymoon phase. Concentrate on moving forward with people who care about you. Chalk this one up to lesson learned and indeed do so. Ramp up for some bad times ahead, but those bad times are better than the staying-with-him brand of bad.

5. Don't beat yourself up over this; he's done that already. You didn't fail at anything, you shouldn't feel ashamed. You put yourself out there emotionally and were a good, kindhearted, trusting person. What is there to be ashamed of in that? Shit, if only all people on this earth were like that. This guy has this approach down to an artform and all this experience says is that he's good at what he does (after all, there is yet another woman - or maybe more - out there who fell for this too). When you watch a sad sappy movie, you cry because you're emotionally drawn in due to good acting. Same case here. No shame warranted.

Good luck to you. Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself go through the whole bargaining/grieving/acceptance thing. Understand your emotions are all over the place and it'll take some time to relinquish the shadow with which you were smitten. Find a friend with a bottle of wine and cry it out, let yourself hurt over this. But let it go and don't look back, with the exception of falling back on it once in a while as a lesson from which you've learned.
posted by December at 9:19 AM on April 10, 2009 [17 favorites]

1) Yes.

2) Extremely unlikely, unless multiple personality disorder is a possibility.

3) No.

DTMFY--Dump the motherfucker yesterday.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2009

What everyone else says (except edtut and PotomacAvenue, that is).

The only thing I have to add is that trying to make you seem like YOU'RE the asshole is the secret weapon of manipulative assholes worldwide and since time immemorial. Don't fall for it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:24 PM on April 10, 2009

Mygothlaundry is spot on. Once a long time ago, I was there, and it broke my heart into teeny, tiny particle-sized pieces. And here's the best part: all the shady things that don't quite add up, all the uncertainty, the unnecessary half-truths and the hurts inflicted by his narcissistic behavior? Those will always somehow be your fault in his eyes. It sounds like the jerk you're dating is perfectly willing and able to rationalize his own underhanded creepster ways into being your problem until he's blue in the face. Please believe me that this is your sign to walk away. Loving people like that is like throwing your heart into a bottomless hole that will never truly be able to give anything back--after all, it's just a hole. A hole that will never be full, no matter what you do, and will keep looking for new hearts to swallow up to sate itself--whether he's "in love" with you or not. You deserve better. Wash your hands of this emotional vampire and go find someone who will be happy for the chance to treat you like gold.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:14 PM on April 10, 2009

He's acting like I'm off base. What do you think?

Oh, do I feel for you - not pity, but sincere empathy. You should not even begin to buy into that crap. Your post clearly shows that you are an intelligent and caring person.

But as so many have already stated: YES, you were misled (not your fault); NO, his feelings likely didn't change that immensely in that short a period of time; and, NO (I am so sorry), I don't think you can trust him again. Like you said, "every time I ask him something, or he and I agree to something, I'll have to agonize over semantics and whether there were any loopholes in what we said."

I agree, and that's a sucky way to go in to a monogamous relationship.

Did you ever meet any of his family members? I suspect he has lied to and manipulated them as well.

(What you describe of his actions reminds me so much of the brother of a friend of mine who is a complete narcissist scamming asshole who the rest of the family reluctantly tolerates, sometimes even enables, but also completely agrees that he's a douchebag to pretty much everyone, especially *his women*.)

You didn't mention his family, but my guess is that they wouldn't be surprised to hear of his actions. (No, I'm not suggesting you contact them.)

Best of luck to you, anon, as I know it is so difficult to turn off those feelings and do what your head suspects is right but your heart won't acknowledge. Start planning a fun and exciting summer NOW and yes, DTMF.
posted by ourroute at 6:25 PM on April 10, 2009

Let's see, alcohol problems, two-timing and rationalizing self-centered bad behavior... RUN.

There are, what, five+ billion people on the planet these days? There has to be at least ONE other than this idiot for you.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:18 PM on April 12, 2009

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