boyfriend has been cheating on me with countless people for the past 4 years. He doesn't know that I know. What now?
October 12, 2011 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I found out boyfriend has been cheating on me with countless people for the past 4 years. We've been having unprotected sex. He doesn't know that I know. What now?

I had been suspecting that my boyfriend was cheating on me about 6 months ago but I could never really prove it. So about a week ago I decided to made several fake profile on a social network he frequents as some people I knew he would find attractive. He ended up messaging those fake individuals to "hook up", he also told them he is single.

I decided to go further after this by hiring a professional detective to follow him. Let's just say the evidence is VERY incriminating.

I told him I had to go away for a few weeks as my mother is sick. I'm actually at a friends right now trying to figure out how I'm going to play this.

1. I could just straight out break up with him and not give him a reason why
2. I could get him to fly out somewhere to meet me far away, then break the news to him that I know everything.
3. I could send him the evidence I have and never talk to him again..

We had a "heart-to-heart" talk 2 weeks ago and he said he loved me and seemed really sincere and re-assured me I was the only one ect.

I'm really hurt that he's done this to me. Part of me wants revenge so he remembers me more then "just another one I played". I also just want him OUT of my life. I hate that hes friends with all my friends. None of them know about any of this.

I went to the doctor to get checked out last week. I'm clean - thank god.

What should I do next?
posted by audio to Human Relations (53 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You don't need to be elaborate but you don't need to spare his feelings either. Tell him you know what he did, tell him you're through, and tell him never to talk to you again. Then move on and never spare another thought for the guy.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:53 PM on October 12, 2011 [48 favorites]

I would go with option 4: Tell him what you know and break up with him. The options you listed will only drag out the breakup and create drama. As satisfying as your original options might be, a clean break is your best alternative.
posted by Nightman at 2:53 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Part of me wants revenge so he remembers me more then "just another one I played". I also just want him OUT of my life.

Are your possessions intermingled -- e.g. do you live together? Do you have logistical concerns about actually removing yourself completely from his life (aside from the friends thing), or are you just concerned with how best to break the news to him?
posted by John Cohen at 2:54 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Call him, tell him why and move on with your life.
posted by ob at 2:54 PM on October 12, 2011

Just dump him. If any of your friends ask, tell them you found out he was cheating on you repeatedly.

Waste no more effort on him. He's not worth it.
posted by bondcliff at 2:54 PM on October 12, 2011 [24 favorites]

Tell him what you know and break up with him. The options you listed will only drag out the breakup and create drama.

listen to this. That dude already took 4 years of your life. Why waste even one minute more on him?
posted by anti social order at 2:56 PM on October 12, 2011 [14 favorites]

I don't understand the point of any of your options except to be petty and vindictive. #1 will invite him to chase after you in order to find out, for sure, what happened. You may think you want that, but you don't. #2 is just... what? Why? Don't give him a reason to blame any of this on you. #3 is kind of creepy, and he may feel justified in doing what he did. And the guilty jerk will be looking for justification. Just tell him straight - in a note if you don't want to speak to him - that you know he cheated on you, that it's over, and there's no point in further discussion. Keep it brief. Business-like, even. Then never speak to him again.

I know how this feels, so I understand your wrath right now. Believe me, you'll feel better about yourself if you take the shortest route on the high road.
posted by katillathehun at 2:56 PM on October 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your situation.

If I were you, I'd break up with him as quickly as possible and move on with your life. Forget him, forget about revenge (is he even worth all that negative energy?) concentrate on you, move on to your better life.
posted by shino-boy at 2:56 PM on October 12, 2011

Wow, what a jackass. I am very sorry. If you just want him out of your life, tell him that you know about his extracurricular activities, you are breaking up with him and that you're not interested in discussing it any further. Don't listen to that douche bag's undoubtedly ridiculous lies and excuses either.
posted by Maisie at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2011

Thank God you're clean - seriously.

You might get some closure from confronting him with this evidence, but you're also SURE to get a lot of silver-tongued excuses. Don't give him the opportunity to squirm; that's just gross to watch.

I suggest you take the high road here and don't let him draw you any further into the muck. Pack your shit and bail, leaving him the packet of evidence to find and go through without you there. Don't pick up when he calls (as he almost certainly will), and don't listen to the messages he leaves. Try not to bash him to all your mutual friends, but do let them know what's up, and let them support you as they will.

I'm sorry this has happened to you. I hope you can move on quickly. Good luck.
posted by Pecinpah at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

If you two were having unprotected sex I am willing to bet he was having unprotected sex with one of his hook ups. People that are willing to not only cheat but possibly give you a nasty STI are below consideration. I think you owe it not to him, but to future people that he might fuck, to tell him that you know and that he is not very good at covering his tracks.

But first things first. If you two are living together you need to get out ASAP. This is just the sort of time to call on favors to get your friends to move you out of there quickly. Once you and your possessions are safe dump him and tell him.

One more thing. Get tested again in three months. You are clean now but it takes HIV a few months to show up on most tests.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:00 PM on October 12, 2011 [23 favorites]

I agree with katillathehun: don't do anything dramatic, vindictive, etc. You might think this is a golden opportunity to plan your revenge on someone who deserves it, but he could seize on a dramatic situation as a way to try to manipulate you into giving him another chance. And who knows, he might just enjoy the drama. After all, he has to know he's courting drama by doing all this.

I read a quote the other day that reminds me of this: "Never wrestle with a pig in the mud. You get dirty, and the pig likes it."

In other words, don't overdramatize this. Don't behave badly toward him just because he's behaved much worse toward you. Take the high road -- away from him.
posted by John Cohen at 3:02 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I want to just plain ignore him from now on.
I always have to answer my phone for work. He knows how to set his number as private.
How can I screen his calls?
posted by audio at 3:04 PM on October 12, 2011

I have been in your shoes. I am so sorry, this really sucks.

The best revenge, in my experience, is moving on with your life. You don't need him, and you certainly don't need his shit. Life is too short. Just cut him loose, tell him exactly why, and be free already.

Also from experience: whatever you do, do not ever consider taking him back. He has shown you what his pattern is, and he may swear he'll change, but he won't. Don't look back.
posted by ambrosia at 3:05 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I understand that the best plan is to move on with your life in an adult way. That said, have a little fun with it. Have him fly somewhere to meet the "girl". Waste a bit of his time as he's clearly wasted so much of yours. Then, when he calls you from his "work trip", tell him the truth and never talk to him again. Disclaimer: IANAL but he could possibly sue you for the money spent on the trip though I doubt anybody would dare or win.
posted by Raichle at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2011

I always have to answer my phone for work. He knows how to set his number as private.
How can I screen his calls?

"Hi this is audio"

"Hey I want to talk ...."

* click *
posted by bitdamaged at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2011 [52 favorites]

Plus if you live with him, this would be a good time to move your stuff.
posted by Raichle at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2011

If he calls you at work just tell him you can't speak to him because you are working...and if he calls you to the point that it's harassment, then it's harassment and you can charge him for it.

I am also concerned about 'upping the drama'. Just break up with him, tell him why, and if he questions you just tell him you have printouts from the hookup sites and eveidence from a PI. But no arguing, no drama because once you are done, you have to be done. Risking your health is not OK, never ever take him back or engage further with him (if you don't want more drama- you of course can make whatever decisions you want!).
posted by bquarters at 3:14 PM on October 12, 2011

I totally understand the "ignore him" impulse, but he'll use the "you never told me why" guilt trip to get back in touch with you. So tell him why, and then tell him never to contact you again.

So far as answering his calls, is there someone sympathetic and discreet you can talk to at work about getting a new number? A quiet, drama-free conversation with your boss or HR may make this happen. Just explain you broke up with someone who is taking it badly, you'd like to make it more difficult for him to harass you (because if he continues to call after you've asked him to stop, that's harassment).

Also, if he does get through, your script is "Never contact me again." Then hang up. Make it completely robotic, no matter how many times he calls.
posted by psycheslamp at 3:15 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Re: Phone - That can be rough, a few screamed words at the beginning of a call can be nasty. Ask your employer if you can change your phone number due to personal reasons, HR should be able to help you with this, possibly exchange numbers with a co-worker for a while. If unwanted contact continues, you can get a restraining order pretty easily to help warn him off.
posted by Garm at 3:16 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with the folks who are saying keep the drama low and take the high road; I completely understand wanting to screw with his head, but I really think down the line you'll be glad you ended it simply.

If you're living with him, get him out of the house for an afternoon, get multiple friends to come over and get all your stuff. Leave him a *short* note telling him you're dumping him and why. I'd leave out the fact that you hired a PI, but I would probably let my anger show about the worst thing he did ("You're an absolute piece of shit for having unprotected sex with me."). Tell him you want no contact from him ever, period.

I'm so sorry.
posted by Specklet at 3:24 PM on October 12, 2011

Holy shit. What an asshole. I'm so sorry. Everyone has great advice here, especially Pecinpah.

I mean, what, this guy clearly likes attention and drama and having his ego inflated. And if he's gonna get dumped, what better way to stroke his ego than to have this girl he "played" go through some elaborate set-up to break up with him?

He's not worth any of it. You know what hurts this kind of person the most? Dropping them like a sack of hot turds and never looking back. Don't even spend another full sentence on him. To know that he's worth so little that you can walk away after 4+ years without a word, without even showing how upset you are? That's gotta sting.

Get your things together and sort out living arrangements beforehand if necessary. When that's done, leave him the evidence if you want, but just break up with him simply. Shouldn't take more than 2 minutes: "I know you've been cheating. That's not ok, and it's over between us. You won't change my mind. Don't ever try to talk to me again." Then GO.

If you pick up the phone and find it's him, hang up right away. Hear a message from him? Delete it as soon as you hear his voice. Get an email? Delete without reading (or if you MUST have a copy of it: don't read it, forward to a good friend, then delete it from your account).

I know that would drive me insane... to rank so low and matter so little that someone won't even read an email from me. If you're feeling particularly vulnerable one day and feel you MUST read/listen to that message, get a trusted friend to do it instead, and distill out whatever important message there was in there for you. (Hint: there probably won't be any important message.)

The real point besides making him feel bad, of course, is that you get to live your life, be happy again, and stop wasting time on this d-bag. Good luck.

PS: Yes, please get tested 3 again months later, just to be sure. Also I find it's best to de-friend/block troublesome ex's from all forms of social media. You can even install free webpage blockers so you *can't* see his profiles, etc. even if you tried. Knowing you can't easily "check up" on him and not seeing his updates popping up every where makes the moving-on process SO much faster.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 3:28 PM on October 12, 2011 [26 favorites]

just let all private calls go to voice mail. return the legitimate calls.
posted by elle.jeezy at 3:41 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

What should I do next?

Have a confrontation. Tell them you know they've been cheating. Explain that you have the evidence. Say that you expect him to come clean and every denial will be another lie.

Then when he admits it, says he'll never do it again, etc., break up with him. Tell him that if you ever want to contact him, you'll do it, and that he will not contact you again. Explain that if he tries, you will get a restraining order.

No need to fly far away.

I've been exactly where you are now. I did this.

Drop the bomb.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Change the user pics on all those fake profiles to pictures of yourself with him.
posted by milk white peacock at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2011 [32 favorites]

He doesn't know that I know. What now
Don't tell him how you found out, that would be teaching him how to become a better cheater in the future. Just dump him and move on.
posted by Lanark at 3:47 PM on October 12, 2011 [17 favorites]

I want to just plain ignore him from now on.
I always have to answer my phone for work. He knows how to set his number as private.
How can I screen his calls?

Again, if he calls you, get a restraining order. Nothing like the police to make the screening unnecessary.

You have the power. You can use it. Make sure he does as you request.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The answer you already know, the one which *must* be implemented is DTMFA. However, I advise taking your time, planning it carefully and intimately. Make sure that the moment you reveal that you know, it's as though that voice from Mortal Kombat just said "FINISH HIM!"

In short, it's ending. End it on your terms, and on terms that you can tell awesome stories about in years to come. You know, the kind of stories that Vikings write songs about, which they sing whilst drinking mead.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:59 PM on October 12, 2011 [8 favorites]

I'm really hurt that he's done this to me. Part of me wants revenge so he remembers me more then "just another one I played". I also just want him OUT of my life. I hate that hes friends with all my friends. None of them know about any of this.

You have every right to tell them. The ones that are worth keeping will choose you over him.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:33 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sorry you're going through this.

Can you set your phone to "ignore all private calls?" If he calls, he'll get a message "this number won't accept private calls, call back with the Caller ID turned on." At least you'll get a warning.
posted by Marky at 4:36 PM on October 12, 2011

Call your phone company and ask them if they can block his number - they may be able to do this even if his number is marked private. If you work for a big company their HR department may be able to help you with this and/or with legal options in terms of a straining order if necessary.

I'd get your stuff while he is gone, don't touch/wreck his stuff. In fact i wuld take pictures after your stuff is out showing that all his stuff is still in place and undamaged. You don't want to give him any excuse to interact with you by claiming damages.
posted by bq at 4:48 PM on October 12, 2011

Okay, been here.

He is NOT worth this trouble. Repeat. He is not worth the trouble.

Get your things, and get out. Don't go and see him, call him and say you are done and he will sink back into the muck and leave you alone.

Thanks goodness that you did not let this go for any longer.

You are Lucky that you did not marry this prick.

Be happy, it is the sweetest form of revenge.
posted by ibakecake at 4:57 PM on October 12, 2011

you have my sympathy - I dated a compulsive liar/cheater long ago, and it totally sucks. Drop this jerk as fast and as simply as you can. Tell him you know he's been cheating, and to never talk to you again. Taking the high road feels like a cop out now, but years down the road, you will feel like a better person for it. It's good to know that you aren't the asshole that he is, that you have some integrity. That feeling will last you a lifetime. There is no point in letting him explain himself, or giving him a chance to talk about things, because it will all be lies.

Also - don't hesitate to let your mutual friends know what you have discovered. You don't have to give them all the details, and you shouldn't vent all the vitriol you are feeling (ok except maybe with your very closest friends, there you can let 'er rip) but make sure that the truth is known, because i can pretty much guarantee that he has said some horrible lies about you behind your back to justify his actions.

The sooner you get on with your life, the better, he's not worth another minute of your time or another iota of your consideration.

I'm glad that you took the trouble to find out what he was up to. you don't deserve to be treated that way
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:03 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If he's friends with all your friends, contact them and let them know what happened, and that you are not interested in hearing about him, or in them passing along any messages from him (should he try such). Hopefully your friends will take your side and dump him too, but make sure they know the score. I mean, you have ironclad proof; there's no real debate about what's happened.

Then yeah, do what everyone else has suggested. You won't be sorry.
posted by emjaybee at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

As far as your work number is concerned, you may be able to talk to one of the phone guys and ask covertly what blocking a number set as private would take. If you're expecting a problematic situation, a pre-emptive setup would be good. The phone guys at Citi (back when) had lots of options in the system.

Otherwise, write a short explanation, get anything there you don't want to lose out, read him the short speech, turn around, walk out, and excise him from your personal universe. He does not exist there; you no longer recognize him as being in the universe. Solipsism is your friend at a time like this, and you can reorder your universe however you want.

Tell your friends what he did - don't be mean, be clinical, so they can't say you're being overly dramatic. I know it sounds weird, but I've been doing some social media research and consulting lately, and more and more what I get is that you need to control the message before someone else takes over for you. As 5_13 above me said, he's probably told some lies about you, so if you can be dispassionate and clinical about the situation, that control gives you a certain air of fortitude that may help overcome any reputation he's spread about you.
posted by mephron at 5:23 PM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Really crucial: does he have a key to your place (if you have separate living quarters)? If so, change locks *before* ending the relationship, or immediately thereafter. People react in unexpected ways to rejection, and you need to play it safe.
posted by fish tick at 6:22 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you tell him why, he is likely to tell you that you've got it all wrong, it didn't happen, that detective was making shit up, he really loves only you, baby, you know that, etc, etc, etc. I can't imagine any scenario where he doesn't start gaslighting you and making you question what you know and/or guilt-tripping you.

This guy is a creep and you owe him nothing. If anything, he owes you. I vote no explanation -- just get out of his life.
posted by ROTFL at 6:43 PM on October 12, 2011

Some brief advice on communications hardening:

1. Email. This should be easy. Add a filter for his email addresses to your email program, or whatever cloud email provider, like gmail, that you use. His emails get deleted automatically. Bam!

2. This depends on your cell phone model. If you have an Android smart phone, there are a few call blocker apps. A pretty good rundown here. If you are on an iPhone, the only way to block calls currently is to jailbreak. I am currently using an jailbreak app called 'iBlacklist'. It's good. Perhaps IO5 will fix this issue, but I have not looked into it yet.

3. Tell your friends that you don't want to hear about him, and that you would appreciate their not passing on any messages. As others have said, you will need to tell them why. Be calm and reasonable. Control the story. He is the asshole - your friends will see that.

4. Work phone - don't answer any calls that are marked private - just let them go to voicemail. Anyone business related who is calling you will leave a message or email you. If he starts making threatening or harassing phone calls to your office, you can request a different number, and look into getting a restraining order.

Good luck. You deserve better than this motherfucker.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:08 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

PS - iBlacklist will also block text messages on the iPhone - the Android options also do this, I think.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:22 PM on October 12, 2011

You can set up Google Voice as your voicemail provider; you can then set it up screen calls/txts & require callers to ID themselves before forwarding the call to your number.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:41 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hi everyone, just an update.

* I sent him an email with the proof, short and sweet.

* He lives in my residence, so I had a friend put his stuff outside in boxes. A locksmith is going to change the locks tonight before hes back from a trip tomorrow.

* Filtered his email

* Re-directed my number to google voice, so I can screen calls..

* Set my privacy settings more tight on all the social networks ect.

* Informed close friends.

I think I'm all set. I went for a run tonight in the rain. Felt good, like I was washing the dirty off me.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
posted by audio at 8:19 PM on October 12, 2011 [60 favorites]

Good for you, audio. Nicely done.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:06 PM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

Yes, good!! Some people don't remember ot change the locks on their house. Next -- do you have a car? Consider getting those locks changed, too.

If you are social-network friends with someone who's particularly close to HIM, you may wish to remove them (or create a custom setting without them), in case they start spying for him. Ask me how I learned that one the hard way...

Sounds like you found a good outlet -- running in the rain may just be your new activity. I've found that hot showers with some really nice soap can do the job as well. Set aside some time and make it a ritual (as in/formal as you want! Praise Dog!) once a week to keep washing that stress and Dirty right off you. Toast yourself with your beverage/food of choice (who says you can't have a toast with cheesecake...) and celebrate being you.

Congratulations. Let us know how it's progressing -- I love hearing about others like me getting their lives back.
posted by Heretical at 10:41 PM on October 12, 2011

He lives in my residence, so I had a friend put his stuff outside in boxes. A locksmith is going to change the locks tonight before hes back from a trip tomorrow.

If he has paid you rent, this is probably a crime under Alberta law, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. This will provide an excellent way for him to keep screwing with your life, if you think he is likely to do that.
posted by grouse at 11:21 PM on October 12, 2011

I would consult a lawyer. Usually there is some provision for folks who are roommates as opposed to tenants.

By the way, well done on the swift action!
posted by zia at 11:25 PM on October 12, 2011

Nicely done, audio. Hears to a quick forgetting!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:05 AM on October 13, 2011

Put his stuff in a storage unit or drop it off with one of his friends. Leaving it outside is a big no-no.
posted by 6550 at 2:56 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't suggest a restraining order. You do that and they could become an actual danger to you instead of an annoyance. I have an ex who still stays in touch with some of MY friends. I don't like it but whatever. I'm not enticing the animal more by slapping an order on him. I've done fine never looking back. Though, I will talk about my experience with some.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 3:29 AM on October 13, 2011

Try not to be around when he returns from his trip...
posted by xammerboy at 4:22 AM on October 13, 2011

Leaving his stuff outside is also going to screw with your ability to control the narrative with your mutual friends, and increase his ability to paint you as the crazy one.
posted by endless_forms at 7:14 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nice work and good on you for the running! Exercise through troubled times is so cathartic.

Also wanted to add: when he starts with the notes/emails/flowers at work/etc. SAVE ALL WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE. Just tuck it away in a folder. You never know if you'll need it later for whatever reason.

Sorry to hear about this, but you sound like you're doing everything you can. Stay strong and be happy and ignore him. That's the best revenge.
posted by floweredfish at 7:57 AM on October 13, 2011

UR doing it right. Awesome! Stay strong, and "wash that man right outta your hair"!

I do think it would be better to not leave his crap outside, esp. if he's paid you rent at all. But you don't have to be there to return his stuff - leave the boxes inside your home, and have a friend/family member (or several, if he's the psycho/physical type) let him in to retrieve them.

(Not sure if you are a student, but I know the U of C has a legal-aid system run by law student volunteers that is free or at least inexpensive. According to their website, they'll also offer services to non-U of C students. Might be a good place to contact for some advice about your legal rights/responsibilities.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 9:18 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

On preview you may want to look at this website.
posted by zia at 11:43 AM on October 13, 2011

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