Can I learn to trust him? Is there any way to just kick him to the curb?
December 2, 2009 11:01 AM   Subscribe

It hurts to stay and it is too hard to leave...

Disclaimer: I know that spying on a loved one is wrong. I know it makes me a horrible person. Please, don't critique my choice to look into my suspicions.

My boyfriend and I, both early to mid 20s and in some form of college, have been together for the better part of 6 years. He is not my first or my only serious relationship, but my for a while I thought he was defiantly marriage material.

About 3 months ago I was contacted by a mutual friend who said he was breaking up with his girlfriend because she had been cheating on him with my boyfriend. He told me I should check his phone if I didn't believe him. I did so, and found some steamy texts exchanged which my boyfriend admitted to and swore he would never do again. I forgave him.

Two days later I got on his computer. He, for the first time ever, left his account logged in and his email open. The word "horny" in the open email caught my eye. I was about to go away for the weekend and he had told his best friend (female, in a different state) about it and mentioned that they could chat on webcam, but only if she was horny. He told me that he didn't mean to put the word horny. He claimed he was upset and it was a subconsciously added. He said that sometimes chatting with someone you can see can help, plus she's married, so I really had no idea on how to handle it besides believe him.

Now he hides everything from me. Hides conversations, deletes browser history, hides windows, deletes emails/texts/phone calls. Meanwhile he's constantly checking my browser history and listening in to every conversation I have. Mutual friend contacted me again and tipped me off to the fact that there might be other girls. An accident led me to figuring out his facebook password (like I said, don't judge me). On there I found a conversation he was having at work with a girl I've never heard of before. There was a lot of I <3 yous and I miss yous exchanged. I'm not sure how to take that. Our sex life sucks (the only sexual attention I get is butt/boob grabing that's, from the level of don't do that and then doing it anyway that is happening, is probably sexual abuse) and all it seems we do is argue anymore.

All the advice I've gotten up to now says dump him, that he's just finding a new girl before dumping me. And believe me, I've tried dumping him, but I always come back. I really want to think that everything since the first incident has just been a fluke. Also, I have another year an a half on my lease with him. I have no family in the area and no friends who can house me without payment, yet I can't afford two leases. It's a small one bedroom so renting out my half the lease isn't an option. He's also been in financial trouble recently, so nearly all of my money is in a joint bank account for his free spending. Financially it feels like I can't leave him. I would rather fix this relationship anyway. He was a great person before all of this (and most of the time even now), and even through it I feel know that he genuinely cares about me sometimes. It doesn't feel like I can fix it, though. Suggestions?

Have more questions? Is my boyfriend cheating on me with you? Story sound familiar and don't want to talk about it with everyone else? Insider information on how to get out of my lease? I can be contacted at
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (64 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
DTMFA. Get your own bank account, now, and take out what's yours. Do what you can to either get out of the lease or get him off of it; it's not good for either of you if you're broken up and living together, so it should be something that both of you want out of.

It's not a fluke. The relationship is over. Sorry.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:07 AM on December 2, 2009 [13 favorites]

well, if he's hiding everything from you, i'd hide the money.
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2009 [18 favorites]

Get counseling and/or legal advice. It seems like you need to get out of there, or get him out of there (even if you need to evict him) in order for your life to get better.

Whatever help there is in your area, as far as legal aid or counseling options, avail yourself of them.

As Dan Savage would say, you need to cauterize this. . .painful, but the only way stuff will get well.
posted by Danf at 11:09 AM on December 2, 2009

Read up on local renter laws, and if your landlord seems somewhat reasonable, talk to them about the circumstances and discuss options. Figure out how to live elsewhere. Pull your money out of the joint account.

You're living with someone who is leeching off you, financially and emotionally. You have no obligation to support someone else, especially when they're doing what he is doing. Figure out how to get out with the least financial pain, dump his ass, and eventually get into a relationship where you don't read someone else's mail.
posted by mikeh at 11:10 AM on December 2, 2009

I have read so many of these questions over the years and this is without a doubt the most DTMFA-deserving question I have ever seen. Close that checking account today. Right now. Go go go. Then come back and read the rest of these answers.

posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:10 AM on December 2, 2009 [35 favorites]

Get your money out of the joint account ASAP. Get rid of any joint credit cards and and any other financial ties to him. One way or another you're going to be out of a boyfriend very soon. You don't want to lose all your money as a result.

Your relationship has already ended. Accept it and start moving on.
posted by bondcliff at 11:11 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry. This sounds like a rough situation. Get your money out of the joint bank account. Make sure he has no access to it. Can you afford the lease by yourself? If so, then he needs to be the one to leave. I'm sorry to say this, but it sounds to me like he doesn't want to be with you any more but can't afford to find somewhere else. His accommodation needs are not your problem. You have no obligations to support him. Especially now.

You need to find the strength to not get back with this man. He's using you for his selfish needs while cheating on you. If he genuinely cared about you, he wouldn't be pulling this shit.
posted by IanMorr at 11:11 AM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Everyone is going to advise you to leave but two things stood out about your question.

1) You ask "Can I learn to trust him?" Well no, no more than you could learn not to feel pain.

2) A lease is a contract between you and the lessor. I've had luck in the past going to my landlord, laying out the reasons why my emotional, financial and physical security have been jeopardized through no fault of my own by the lease, and appealing to them to be let out of it. I have a hard time imagining someone insisting that you continue to live in a place where you are abused. You should try this before concluding that there is no way to change your living situation.
posted by chrillsicka at 11:18 AM on December 2, 2009

There was a lot of I love yous and I miss yous exchanged. I'm not sure how to take that.

Really? Yes you are. Kick his cheating ass out, if you can afford the lease on your own. And there's a good chance you can, without him mooching off you.

It doesn't matter how long you've been together if the relationship is broken. If he's hiding info from you while acting suspicious of you, it might well be broken. IME, someone who watches you like a hawk is hiding something himself.

Need help staying broken up? Change the lock and don't give him a key. Delete his number, block him on Facebook, direct his emails to go straight to the trash.
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:19 AM on December 2, 2009

Listen to everyone prior: secure your money so your boyfriend can't access it. You don't owe him a cent. Contact your landlord and explain that you and your boyfriend absolutely cannot co-exist in that house and then discuss options like subletting the place. If he's broke, then are you paying the rent on the apartment? Because that pretty much means the power is in your hands should he dig his heels into moving out. Contact someone at student housing and explain your situation. College students break up all the time after signing purblind leases, they will work something out with you.

He has unabashedly lied to you (and not very well. He didn't mean to put "horny" in that email as much I didn't mean to roll my eyes through my head when I read that line). He has abused your trust and then reversed the power dynamic to make you feel like the untrustworthy person. I'm a huge anti-snooper, but you had every reason to leaf through his dirty little history. He's leeching you of your finances, sexually abusing your body, and cheating on you. Get out now.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:19 AM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

For all the stuff that you do know, think of all the stuff you don't know. DTMFA.
posted by bunny hugger at 11:20 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get out of this relationship however you can.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:21 AM on December 2, 2009

Get your money out of the joint bank account.

Find a friend, explain it to them. They might surprise you with what they can do.

Talk to your family they too might surprise you with the extent that they can help.

If my daughter, niece, or neighbors kid, Felt like she was being abused/trapped by a lying, cheating, sack of shit; You can bet the farm that I would help.


posted by French Fry at 11:22 AM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

He has no respect for you as a person. Take the advice given in this thread and get out as quickly as possible- you'll thank yourself when you've established some distance.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:25 AM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also, I have another year an a half on my lease with him.

Leases have early release penalties.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:27 AM on December 2, 2009 [12 favorites]

Sort out the financial side of things before he suspects anything is wrong (and has chance to rack up huge bills on a credit card, for example). And then DTMF.

I really want to think that everything since the first incident has just been a fluke.

This is called "denial". It's denial, because you're denying that there's a problem, when you're obviously aware that there is a problem. You don't want there to be a problem (which is completely normal) so you bury your head in the sand and hope it's going to go away. It won't. Deal with this now, or in six months time you'll be in a much worse position. Your guy sounds like enough of a douche to dump you and move his new girlfriend in.

He was a great person before all of this

No he wasn't. "Great" people don't behave like this.

This guy treats you like crap. Whatever you may or may not feel for him, he treats you like crap. You feelings have no bearing on that behaviour whatsoever. "He treats me like crap". Say that to yourself lots. Say it until you realise it, and it sticks, and thereby do yourself a favour.
posted by Solomon at 11:30 AM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

A: Two days later I got on his computer.... An accident led me to figuring out his facebook password...

B: He told me that he didn't mean to put the word horny. He claimed he was upset and it was a subconsciously added.

Is this a contest for who can invent the lamest excuses for their bad behavior?

If so, I think he wins, but not by much. You should both leave each other ASAP.
posted by rokusan at 11:31 AM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

I have to echo other folks who have said that this is one of the most clear-cut DTMFA cases I've seen on askme. This person has no regard for you or your interests. Take the money thats yours and cut ties as soon as you can.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:33 AM on December 2, 2009

Nthing what others have said. You know this too, you just needed to hear it in the daylight. Take care of YOURself. It won't be easy but you'll be okay and yes, you will look back on this and wonder what you were thinking.

Good luck and peace to you.
posted by Mysticalchick at 11:33 AM on December 2, 2009

I've been where you are, from the multiple excuses to the multiple other girls. I didn't want to leave either, and in the end, the choice was made for me. My life was turned completely upside-down because of it. I lived with him. My friends were his friends, so I had no one to turn to. My family lived halfway across the country. But if I could go back, I would buck up and DTMFA with a plan. No matter how he pleaded. No matter how much I missed him. And looking back, I also realize that what I missed wasn't him but my idea of him, and I feared having to uproot and change my whole life. Nobody likes to be lonely, but being in a relationship with someone you can't trust is lonelier than being single. Trust me. Rent and his shitty financial situation aren't reasons enough to stay. Leave and enjoy the breath of fresh air. You've already tried fixing this by forgiving the earlier transgressions. All he did was take advantage of your trust. This man doesn't love you. He's using you.

Also: get your bank account now, before you end this. Look for ads for roommates on Craigslist or various roommate-finding sites. Rent will be cheaper, and you won't be alone. Talk to the apartment management about getting out of your lease. There are SO many things that can be done to get yourself out of this.
posted by katillathehun at 11:34 AM on December 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

Seldom have I seen a thread on here quite so worth of the "DTMFA".

If it's a joint account, you probably can't close it without both of you consenting, and you probably can't remove him. I've been there, tried that.

What you can do, however, is set up a new account in only your name, and drain all the funds from the joint account into the new one. Then cancel all ATM cards and destroy all checks associated with the joint account. Don't chance being stiffed by his running up overdrafts.

Beyond that, I'd say move out yourself rather than kicking him out. There will be much less chance of him either getting belligerent or talking you out of your actions if he is not there. Line everything up, then pack up and scoot while he's out of the apartment.

A year and a half left on the lease is not a huge obstacle. Leases have exit clauses. You may take a financial hit, but that only hurts in the short term. It will be well worth it.
posted by kaseijin at 11:39 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is this a contest for who can invent the lamest excuses for their bad behavior? If so, I think he wins, but not by much.

Close friends of hers started contacting her about her boyfriend's infidelity, and said boyfriend had access to her bank account, and wouldn't fess up to her confrontations, and lied repeatedly using lame, lame excuses, while also engaging in sexually abusive behavior? And apparently they're engaged in a contest about who's worse because she went snooping and found irrefutable evidence? Really?

That guy is lucky if he doesn't end up in a wood chipper.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:39 AM on December 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

He told me that he didn't mean to put the word horny. He claimed he was upset and it was a subconsciously added.

This may well be the dumbest response to catching someone misbehaving that I've ever seen. His response is as foolish as punching someone, then when confronted, saying "I didn't punch them, I just held up my arm and the wind blew my fist into his face." That response is insulting enough to me that I would have ditched 'em over that response alone, never mind what prompted it. Between that and the ass/boob grabbing, he either has the mental capacity of a 4-year-old, or he thinks that you do.

I've tried dumping him, but I always come back.

Look, you need to separate your feelings for him and your own insecurity from the facts at hand: he's spending your money, he's treating you like crap, and he is going to keep doing this until you dump him or he finds another girl who has more money. The only possible good ending for you -- in the short term, and in the long term -- is to be the one who ends it, ends it now, and ends it for good.

First, get the money into an account in your own name. Then find out what it'll cost to terminate the lease early if your deadbeat can't find another roommate, and what your options are for terminating your portion of the lease early and formally with the landlord so you owe nothing. Make sure the utility bills get out of your name, too.

Then get yourself out of that house, into a month-to-month lease in a studio, or a woman's shelter, or ANYWHERE. Just get away from him. You have a job, you have money, and your short-term financial obligation (the lease) is a problem that can be solved -- and if you feel like that's a situation you can't deal with, consider that he will be putting you in that situation very, very soon. So do it on your terms rather than his.

Oh, and if he cries and tells you he loves you and wants you to stay, HE IS LYING TO YOU AND YOU NEED TO GET AWAY THAT MUCH FASTER.
posted by davejay at 11:40 AM on December 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

All of the above could be right. However, it sounds like he's gone through a serious personality change. I assume he was a good guy for most of the time you were together and now he's acting really strange. He's paranoid, he listens to all of your conversations. He's apparently obsessed with sex but gropes you like a fumbling inexperienced adolescent. Weird!
Could he be in the early stages of schizophrenia or something? I am not a therapist.

Is he willing to go to counseling with you?
posted by mareli at 11:41 AM on December 2, 2009

I have read so many of these questions over the years and this is without a doubt the most DTMFA-deserving question I have ever seen.

Also this, from an earlier commenter. This question may go down in history as the definitive DTMFA question.
posted by davejay at 11:44 AM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Protect your money, walk away, and find a therapist who can help you figure out why you're tolerating this treatment from a person who is supposed to love you. You can--and should--do much better than this lowlife. Good luck.
posted by balls at 11:44 AM on December 2, 2009

Why the fuck would you not dump this dude? Staying in a relationship with someone because of a lease is pretty stupid. Someone who lies to you with some regularity? Yeah, you need to RUN. Has anyone you've spoke to about this suggest you stick around and try and fix things?

Please, dump this dude.
posted by chunking express at 11:45 AM on December 2, 2009

Definitive DTMFA.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:57 AM on December 2, 2009

I think people are missing the point of her question. She's saying that she KNOWS it's right to DTMFA. But she keeps going back, and wants to know how she can make it stick since she keeps going back to him.

FWIW, everyone here is right on. The subconscious thing is the lamest excuse ever. He's clearly lining you up because he doesn't want to be alone (either for sex or companionship), and keeping you around just in case these other ladies don't work out.

Mareli might be on to something, did something major happen in his life recently? A huge job change, or a death in the family? Try to see what's bugging him.

But yeah, since you have a lease, tolerate living with him until you're able to move, and/or seriously consider breaking the lease. He'll find a new roommate soon enough. Then run. Close all bank accounts. Regain your self-respect. It hurts like hell when someone you keep going back to doesn't return your feelings, but he doesn't and is dragging you down in the process. Cry at the loss, but move on.
posted by Melismata at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Look, you're being abused and it has wrecked your sense of personal integrity, your belief that you have a right to act in your own best interest. I know what this is like, and you have my sympathy. Leaving the dude will feel very dark, but the sun will rise again for you in a way you can't even imagine right now.

Get out. You can have a new bank account established and your money isolated in what -- an hour from now? You're terrified of that step, of course, because it will provoke a confrontation with the idiot. Find a friend's couch to crash on, if that's the best you can manage, but, get out. Not only is there nothing valuable to save here, there is ongoing psychological damage to avoid. Out Out Out Out Out.

posted by jon1270 at 12:09 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

He's not even trying that hard to hide what he's doing - oddly, I find that almost as disrespectful as his cheating. He is being shady as hell and other people are calling him out on it.

Even if you can't make the decision to leave right now, take some steps to protect yourself. At least so that you can be on a little more equal footing. Get your own bank account and take your name off the joint one. Remove yourself from any joint credit cards. Talk to the landlord about what you would have to do to get out of the lease.

You don't owe him financial support. He isn't respecting you very much right now, or really worrying about how his actions are negatively impacting you - why do you owe him so much more than he is willing to give you?

He may have been and may still be a great guy. Separate yourself and see if he will go to counseling with you. This situation won't get better on its own, no matter how much you wish and hope and are willing to do 100% of what it takes.

You don't have to keep going back. Figure out why you do.
posted by KAS at 12:09 PM on December 2, 2009


Leaving this relationship is going to be unpleasant, but the longer you wait, the bigger a nightmare it's going to be. You need to take your money out of the joint account today.
posted by EarBucket at 12:18 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

He genuinely cares about you "sometimes?" You'd rather fix this relationship?

Get your money out of his control and leave him. His finances are not your problem. And get therapy to discuss your self-destructive behavior.

He said that sometimes chatting with someone you can see can help, plus she's married, so I really had no idea on how to handle it besides believe him.

Sure you did, you could have told him that he's obviously totally full of shit, laughably so. I'm going to put on my tough love face now and tell you that you should drop the damsel in distress helpless thing before you wind up getting hurt a whole lot more.

Look, maybe this guy isn't a total and utter jerk, maybe this relationship has just turned irrevocably sour. But if you keep looking at your life as a series of circumstances that are beyond your control, you're always going to have someone mooching your money and lying to you.
posted by desuetude at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

Don't feel bad for snooping a little.

Oh, and dump this bastard immediately.

posted by General Tonic at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

If this exact situation was happening to anyone else in the world, a friend or a relative or some other anonymous relationshipfilterer, what would you tell them? Would you say "gee, well, it sure sounds like he's a cheat and a mooch, and that's an awful lot of giant red flags with no real reason for you to stay, but it's possible there's a perfectly harmless explanation for all of this and he's actually a great guy"? Or "he may have cheated on you repeatedly, but it's probably not going to happen again"? Or "well, you signed the lease, you're stuck"? Or "I bet you can fix him, lots of abusive boyfriends can be turned around"?

Or would you tell them to get out?

Would you recommend that anyone tolerate this kind of behavior from their partner?

I know it's easier said than done, and it's so much harder when you're right in the middle of it and you've still got strong feelings for this person and financial/practical concerns. But you can do it, and you need to do it. Do it now - starting with the checking account - and don't look back.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:27 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's a resource on how to close joint accounts from NOLO, the self-help legal publisher.
posted by yarly at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make sure you have your ducks in a row first, before you tell him you're leaving. Get your money out TODAY. Find a place to crash TODAY, until you can find something more permanent. I do want to caution you though, while it's important to make quick decisions, don't do anything rash. Don't lash out emotionally at him. Just play it cool until you're really ready to leave.
posted by chara at 12:35 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Withdraw all the money and get out. Get a family member to help with the planning.

Best of luck.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2009

And apparently they're engaged in a contest about who's worse because she went snooping and found irrefutable evidence? Really?

I said they were in a contest about who could make the lamest excuses, actually. Not for "who's worse."

She should definitely dump this guy, I don't think there's any question. There are no apologies for his crap forthcoming from me, I promise. But the original question was about handling what came next, too.

See, "I accidentally figured out his facebook password" is cringe-worthy, too, and the fact that the spying turned out to "work" doesn't make it okay, and doesn't bode well for future relationships.

Again: this guy and this relationship are not worth saving, clearly. But I feel sorry for the next guy in advance, because no matter how great he might be, she's going to have an even harder time trusting him after this, especially after this round of spying was so... "successful", that's all.

So I guess I'm saying (1) get out of this mess, of course, but also (2) try very very hard to trust the next guy, at least until you have a very good reason not to.
posted by rokusan at 12:42 PM on December 2, 2009

I'm with everyone else who says to DMFTA, but I just want to tell you this" PLEASE do not feel guilty about his financial situation! It's obviously not his priority, if he's as deeply involved in cheating as he seems to be, and that's nobody's fault but his own. You should tell him that when you're telling him to leave.

You should, by the way, be telling HIM to leave, not the other way around, if at all humanly possible. Once again, it's HIM who screwed up (and around)--not you, and therefore you should be the one who gets to keep the apartment. AGAIN, he should have thought of that before he started screwing around. Talk to your landlord about changing the locks, and give the dumpee a specific time frame to move out before they are changed.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:58 PM on December 2, 2009

(2) try very very hard to trust the next guy, at least until you have a very good reason not to.

I want to suggest that you have no reason to believe she didn't do exactly that with this guy. I agree that the broken trust in this relationship will be a challenge in future relationships, but that's a hell of a burden to dump on her right now.
posted by jon1270 at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

It hurts to stay and it is too hard to leave...

Here's how you need to rewrite that sentence so that you can actually stop feeling trapped in a terrible relationship that clearly shouldn't be saved: It hurts to stay and it will be hard to leave.

"It's too hard to leave" implicitly paralyzes you. If something's "too hard," it suggests that it's impossible, that the pain will be unbearable, that the challenges will be unsurmountable -- therefore, you can't even try, right? This is a bad mental trick that I call "catastrophizing": you mistake your fear of a particular worst-case scenario (in this case, the level of pain or difficulty in leaving) for the reality of the situation. This does nothing except paint yourself into a corner from which you can take no action.

By contrast, saying that "it will be hard to leave" accomplishes two things: 1) it acknowledges the challenges and pain you will face without assuming they are insurmountable, which 2) gives you the mental space to conceive of actually taking action.

Yes, it's going to hurt. Yes, it's going to be hard. It will suck, maybe for a short while, maybe for a long while. But I've found that if there is one single secret of becoming a grown-up, it may very well be this: understanding that sometimes, the best thing to do is also the painful thing to do, and choosing to do it anyway despite the pain. There is no super-secret way to eliminate all pain in our lives. You can either deal with pain constructively and in a healthy way, or destructively in an unhealthy way. But pain will be there, regardless.

So if you can face the fact of the difficulties that lay before you without believing they will crush or destroy you, you will free yourself from an enormous burden of feeling helpless or thinking that it's your obligation to fix a relationship with a guy who treats you like dogshit. This will also be a great gift to yourself in the future -- you know, the future where you're over this guy and moving on (because believe me, you will be over him one day and you will feel better)!

If you feel overwhelmed by what you have to do, try to think of it this way: this chapter of your life is closing. The next chapter will be hard. The chapter after that will be better. Or even more simply, tell yourself this: "whatever happens, I can handle it."

I wish you well.
posted by scody at 1:04 PM on December 2, 2009 [21 favorites]

(2) try very very hard to trust the next guy, at least until you have a very good reason not to.
I want to suggest that you have no reason to believe she didn't do exactly that with this guy.

I know that. I didn't say she did otherwise, in fact. I meant that the possible shallow takeaway from this experience ("it was justified!!!!") is dangerous, and it could make it hard for her to not think snooping is a great idea in future. And that's just poisoning future relationships from ever being healthy.

I don't mean to be cruel, not by a long shot, but she wanted forward-looking advice too; she already knew she should ditch the guy, so DTMFA isn't much of an answer. My own forward-looking advice, while she's building a new life away from this loser, is to never lose track of the fact that it's STILL wrong to snoop, especially such active snooping as "accidentally figuring out" someone's password and then using it.

I feel bad for the OP and have no sympathy for the guy based on the info presented. But all the obvious short-term banking and moving out advice has already been well-covered already.
posted by rokusan at 1:29 PM on December 2, 2009

echoing advice from above - imagine if this was your best gal pal telling you this story. you know his excuses are full of holes. you know there is more you haven't discovered. you know that you didn't just happen to catch him the first time he ever did something wrong.

your friend left his girlfriend because she was boning your boyfriend. it wasn't just texts. he was setting up cybersex dates as soon as he was out of your sight. he's combing all of your information to make sure he still has control, that he still has the upper hand.

even removing all the cheating, lying, spying bullshit - you admit that there is a serious lack of intimacy between you guys.

this isn't a relationship worth saving. you deserve more than this guy is giving.

first things first - put a bios password and windows password on your computer. make them 2 different passwords, neither of which are guessable by him. shut down your computer every time you're not directly in front of it. if he acts all butthurt, state plainly "i don't trust you".

next - open up your own account and drain the money from the joint account. again, when he gets offended "i don't trust you"

then - talk to your landlord. buying your way out of your lease is far preferable to paying two rent payments.

finally - leave his lying, cheating, manipulative ass.

do NOT keep living there after the break up. do NOT let him prove to you how much you mean to him (if he wanted to prove it, you would have found NOTHING but sparkling behavior after his "first" indiscretion. any wallowing now is just manipulation).

to keep broken up with him, read up on codependency and realize that you have an addiction to him that needs to be cut off just like if it were heroin or booze. either find a way to get your head straight on your own or go to a shrink. there is some reason why you value yourself so little that you'd allow this kind of behavior. i would wager from your posting that you avoid confrontation and allow things to happen to you instead of directly controlling your path and demanding your own happiness.

something that took me too long to learn about relationships - love between romantic partners isn't and shouldn't be unconditional. there should be a set of behaviors and actions that diminish and remove your love for a person. if you go into a relationship thinking you will forgive and forget everything and love them no matter what, you're setting yourself up to be a doormat for every manipulative jackass out there.
posted by nadawi at 1:35 PM on December 2, 2009 [9 favorites]

See, "I accidentally figured out his facebook password" is cringe-worthy, too, and the fact that the spying turned out to "work" doesn't make it okay, and doesn't bode well for future relationships.

I disagree. My ex acted exactly like the OP's boyfriend, down to the "I accidentally typed horny instead of something completely platonic." His suspicious behavior drove me crazy; yes, I was the one who snooped through his computer and I was in control of my actions. But I've never had the urge to do the same to a boyfriend who acts completely above board. Never.

To the OP, the first instance was not a fluke. He lied, you fell for it. The second time you caught him was in part because he got away with it the first time. He got lazy, he realized there weren't consequences. If you don't leave, pretty soon he will be flaunting this in front of your face because he can. Because you'll let him. Because you'll be so insecure that you'll do anything, anything, for him to stay with you, up to and including making excuses for cheating that you cannot rationally deny.

As everyone else has said, reclaim your life. Get your money out of his reach, as well as anything of value. Make arrangements to stay somewhere else, contact your landlord about breaking the lease. Start eviction proceedings if it's only your name. Contact your school about counseling options; you will need it to leave this relationship. Then gather up all your resolve and break up with him, and everytime you're tempted to go back to him, remember how you felt when you saw that Facebook message. Remember the sinking feeling in your stomach, the fear, the hurt. Remember it and hold on to it and promise yourself that you won't put yourself through it again, because that feeling will not go away as long as you stay in a relationship with him. The pain of breaking up with him will be sharper in the short term but it will not last as long. It will not be as damaging in the long run.

Also, cut off contact with him after the breakup. Do not meet for coffee, to exchange things, do not return text messages or emails (don't even read them!). Avoid, avoid, avoid for at least six months. That's the easiest way to keep from going back to him.

For all the stuff that you do know, think of all the stuff you don't know.
Quoted for truth.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:54 PM on December 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

There are many people in the world who "need" to have a girl/boyfriend at all times for their own reasons. Sometimes it's personal and emotional... and sometimes they just need someone to sponge off of.

He's obviously the latter, he's running the prototype playbook: pretend to be decent human being just enough of the time to get into and maintain a relationship with someone who thinks you're "marriage material" (or actually marries them); constantly push at the edges of the relationship to see how much you can get away with; keep feelers out at all times for possible replacements if you get caught or find a better deal, or stay where you are if you don't. I've seen three friends deal with this guy -- that I know of for certain, with a few more strong suspects. Here's how those three went:

- one ended with the guy running off to the "better deal" girl when his wife insisted he get a job and seemed to actually mean it this time;

- one ended with the guy failing in his attempts to find a better deal amongst some very poorly-chosen targets (i.e., her friends), so he quickly married her and convinced her to ditch all of those lying friends (even though she knew full well that he'd previously pulled the upgrade routine to her from one of those friends);

- and the worst of the three ended with the discovery of an encrypted folder on his computer that featured a ridiculous amount of incriminating material, including video of him cheating on her with dozens of women she'd never met, as well as bathroom-cam style footage of herself and various female friends that had visited their place.

The scary thing here: he is doing what you need to be doing, taking action to protect himself. You "caught" him, but the timing sucks because he doesn't have anyone lined up to take over for you right now (he just has the people he's playing with and/or working on). So now he's watching you like a hawk to make sure you aren't about to dump him, and either behaving or pretending to while meticulously covering his tracks... because he's got a pretty good deal right now that he can't afford to lose.

Take action to protect yourself, please.
posted by Pufferish at 1:59 PM on December 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

...which reminds me. Mine ended with finding a folder that contained hundreds of photos of him with other women he'd met on his travels, and I wasn't even snooping. He was just that stupid. Then I stooped to snooping and found a detailed list of everyone he'd EVER slept with, ordered chronologically and then duplicated by preference. There were several names after me on both lists. Leave before you find something similar.
posted by katillathehun at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like your boyfriend is a lazy bum who lies and cheats on you regularly. Get out now. In a year you will not believe you allowed yourself to be used by this loser.
posted by xammerboy at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2009

Here's a question for you. He's apparently been cheating on you unrepentently and blatantly lying to you about it. He shows an astonishing lack of respect for you, and I don't believe he can really love you.

Is there anything he could do - any situation you can think of - that would make you dump him, and not come back to him? Is this not enough?

You know this is not right. You should not have to live like this. It will be hard, but you will just have to steel yourself to do it and move through the unpleasantness. It's scary leaving such familiarity, and a relationship that's taken up a quarter of your life, but it will be so much better for you in the long run. I know there are financial issues, but you owe it to yourself to sit down and figure out a way, any way, to get out of this relationship. Metafilter is rarely so unanimous on such matters.
posted by bent back tulips at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have two options:

1) Continue to date a man whom you know cheats on you repeatedly, lies to you consistently, spends your money without contributing financially to your shared life, and doesn't even respect you enough to come up with plausible excuses for his behavior.

2) Break up with him and move on with your life.

Doing the latter will be painful, to be sure. But when you think about the pain that breaking up with him will cause you, don't think about it in a vacuum. Think about it in comparison to the pain of staying with him. That pain is potentially boundless. I'd take the short-term pain now rather than subject myself to the pain of being endlessly and not-very-creatively lied to indefinitely.

Also, the likelihood is that you're going to have to do the getting on with your life part eventually anyway. Either you're eventually going to break up with him, or he's going to find someone with more money than you who asks fewer questions than you do about his lies, and he's going to leave you. It's better if you're the one who breaks up with him, both because it allows you to control the circumstances (you can make sure, for example, that he doesn't run off with all of your money) and because you'll avoid all of the pain of being jerked around for as long as it takes him to decide he's ready to leave you. Don't wait for him to do it; take control of your life.
posted by decathecting at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

And believe me, I've tried dumping him, but I always come back. I really want to think that everything since the first incident has just been a fluke. Also, I have another year an a half on my lease with him. I have no family in the area and no friends who can house me without payment, yet I can't afford two leases. It's a small one bedroom so renting out my half the lease isn't an option. He's also been in financial trouble recently, so nearly all of my money is in a joint bank account for his free spending. Financially it feels like I can't leave him. I would rather fix this relationship anyway. He was a great person before all of this (and most of the time even now), and even through it I feel know that he genuinely cares about me sometimes. It doesn't feel like I can fix it, though.

You came back before. This time you're going to dump him and stay the hell away from him. Okay? You can do it.

If you have to, think of what you would advise one of your friends if she were in this situation. You would tell her to get out. You would help her stay strong throughout it. You're going to be that friend to yourself.

Get a new bank account today and transfer everything to it. You can definitely afford to stop supporting him. He is contributing nothing; he should be the one who feels that he's financially stuck with you, not the other way around. It's what you would advise your friend to do, so take courage.

Go to your landlord and find out how much money it will take to break your lease. There is probably a renter's association in your area who you can call if s/he makes this difficult.

Don't tell him you're breaking up. Just go. Leave a note if you have to. Don't let him try to make it better. Don't continue living with him after the break-up. Don't give him the chance to beg, plead, or get violent. Block his email and his phone number.

Cry. Every day, for months. Remember the good times, but DON'T CONTACT HIM. Bask in the relief of not being sexually harassed or wondering who's laughing behind your back. Listen to Fiona Apple until you're also "better than fine". Eat a lot of ice cream. Get a cuddly cat. Work out. Join a book club. Meet new friends. Wonder why you ever put up with that crap.
posted by heatherann at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm a guy who tends to be more conservative than most on MeFi, and I say he is full of shit without a doubt. You need to leave him, it will not get better.
posted by mattholomew at 3:51 PM on December 2, 2009

I think people are missing the point of her question. She's saying that she KNOWS it's right to DTMFA. But she keeps going back, and wants to know how she can make it stick since she keeps going back to him.

Well yeah, she's living with him. It'll be much easier to stay away once he's kicked out.
posted by rhizome at 3:56 PM on December 2, 2009

My ex wrecked my (perfect) credit, caused me to sell the house I'd bought at the tender age of 22 (when I say my credit was perfect, man, I mean it), cheated on me, lied, and left me for another man. When confronted, he whined pitch-perfectly about how he didn't want to break up and wah wah wah and then -- the night the car I co-signed with him in a fit of stupidity got repossessed -- called me to bitch and accuse me of having it repo'd. Oh, did I mention it was also my birthday? 'Cause yeah, that sounded like a real birthday party of a thing to do.

Short version? We've been there. Really. More of us than you can imagine. You will never know just how amazing it can feel to be rid of this ass until it's done. I loved mine. I appreciated his talents and all the good times, but there comes a time when you need to get out, and you, my dear, need to get out. Don't waste any more time or resources trying to fix the unfixable. Good luck.
posted by at 3:58 PM on December 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

You're supporting him, he's screwing around (emotionally, physically, or both), and you're feeling guilty because you violated his privacy? Take whatever money is fairly yours, and put it in a new account, in a new bank. Suggest he move to a new place that he can afford. If not, get a new place and let him pay the rent on the apt. Warn the landlord, and tell the landlord you'd be happy to stay, without the bf. Landlords want to get paid, so the landlord is likely to want you there, and not him.

It honestly doesn't sound salvageable. But if it could be salvaged, or for your next relationship, you'll be so mush happier if you value yourself more, and don't let yourself be taken advantage of. So stop putting up with 100% of his crap, right this minute.
posted by theora55 at 4:29 PM on December 2, 2009

This sounds like a textbook abusive relationship to me- there's cheating, monitoring, sexual abuse. Even if he's not hitting you, it is still emotionally abusive. I would contact a domestic violence center in the area to find an advocate, who may be able to help you break the lease without financial penalties. The Violence Against Women Act has housing protections for victims of domestic violence- to my understanding, it is illegal for the landlord to penalize victims of domestic violence for breaking their lease. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have to file charges to make that happen.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:22 PM on December 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh Lord, I was there. Not as extreme a situation as yours, but there are parts of your experience that really resonate..

OH HOLY HELL GET OUT. But you knew that.

For the next while, you need to be your own best friend. Look out for yourself in exactly the way you would for that friend.

Would you stand idly by and let a friend suffer treatment like this? Would you ignore the fact that this fella is absolutely chock-full of shite? Would you leave your friend completely unsupported?

Ask yourself those questions, if you haven't already. And once you're out, on the other side as it were, fill your life with all the great stuff it seems like you have no time (or other resources) for at the moment.

The very best of luck.
posted by psychostorm at 5:38 AM on December 3, 2009

You absolutely do not need this guy. The reason why you keep coming back is because you think you need him to be happy. You absolutely DO NOT need this guy to be happy.

Once you are out of this relationship, cultivate new (and old), loving and supportive friendships, and think long and hard about why you chose this guy in the first place, and what you can do so that you don't choose a guy like him again. This is incredibly important so that you never let yourself get into this situation again with another man.

This is a life lesson, and a painful one, but now you know what you don't want (a lying, cheating, boyfriend that does not respect you). That's a wonderful thing to know, because when you know what you don't want, you can work towards what you DO.

I wish you the best of luck and I am so sorry that you are going through this.
posted by DeltaForce at 8:25 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

GO GET STD TESTED! Leave like everyone else is telling you to do, but you should also put STD screening on your to-do list as well, right after "take your money away from the thief"
posted by fuq at 11:00 AM on December 3, 2009 [6 favorites]

Domestic violence support and STD testing are excellent suggestions. If he ever seems angry, drunk, high, or otherwise out of control, exit the situation as soon as you can safely do so.

I also suggest taking all of your important documents and sentimental possessions (like photos) and putting them in a safe place.

If you feel the need to leave, leave, don't wait to get all of this stuff, but having access to all of it after you leave would be helpful.

--your government IDs (passport, social security card, driver's license, birth certificate)
--utility bills in your name, paystubs, work ID, anything you can use to prove your identity in case you lose your main photo ID
--a copy of your lease
--a credit card that has some money on it in case he cleans out your joint account and/or some cash (ideally both)
--medical insurance card or contact info for your insurance company
--a list of your medical prescriptions and the numbers of your doctor(s)
--phone numbers and addresses of friends, copy all the numbers you have in your phone onto paper, you might also want to email them to yourself
--your college ID, diploma(s), contact info for college security and your professors
--backups of any papers or projects you're working on

If you can leave some of these things and a change of clothes at a friend's place, do so, but remember that your first priority is your mental and physical well-being.

Take care of yourself, and memail me or email me if you're anywhere near the NYC area.
posted by kathrineg at 3:31 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, if you have prescriptions that you can't miss taking for even a day, or if you can't see without your glasses/contacts, keep extras with a friend.
posted by kathrineg at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2009

You might find this web page useful: Baggage Reclaim: Breaking up and Moving On By Cutting Contact. It addresses the situation where women know they should DTMFA, but find themselves missing him and compelled to go back. The comments section has stories from other women in situations similar to yours, and sometimes they talk about how they finally got rid of their guy.

Good luck.
posted by cheesecake at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2009

I know I'm late to this thread, but I wanted to mention that whatever it costs to break the lease (a fee, a few months' rent, etc), is almost certainly less than what your boyfriend will spend of your money over the next year and a half (till your lease ends). So finances are NOT a valid reason to stay with this guy since in the long run it sounds like it would be much cheaper to leave.

(That's not to say there aren't a billion other reasons to leave this guy - OP, I'm just trying to refute your reason for supposedly being unable to leave him.)
posted by whitelily at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2009

One more thing - a really difficult lesson I had to learn the hard way:

No matter how great a guy he used to be, what matters is the guy he is today. Maybe he was marriage material at one point, maybe he was super caring, maybe he was Prince Charming. But he isn't that guy anymore and you need to keep reminding yourself to focus on the present.
posted by whitelily at 10:26 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

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