Did my boyfriend just get married?
June 19, 2015 6:11 PM   Subscribe

This is such a silly question, but I would appreciate AskMe's perspective. My boyfriend and I are long distance, and yesterday I stumbled on "wedding" photos of him and his ex that were taken two weeks ago. He told me that it was from a video that his university is making for new students to show how glamorous graduate school life can be (he's a professor and an alum). Am I being irrational in doubting him?

As context, I'm a 23-year-old woman and he's a 29-year-old man, and we've been dating for the past year and a half after knowing each other for three years. We met during his graduate studies at my university, which was abroad for him.

The photos were from two weeks ago and posted by a student of his on Facebook. I was utterly shocked when I saw the photos. They look so real; he and his ex are both in gorgeous wedding attire and there's a crowd in the background and I just don't know what to think. There was even a framed family picture of them in one of the photos! I am actually wondering whether he just got married and I've been taken for a ride, which is CRAZY. I feel crazy. We've been long distance since last fall, and because of the distance, I've only been able to visit him twice in that time since we're in different countries. I'm not the most secure person in the world, but I feel like even for a normal, no-anxiety sort of person this would be an uncomfortable surprise. I would try to check whether there actually is a school video but unfortunately I don't speak the language of his country.

To be clear, when I stumbled on the photos, it was from a Facebook profile link he had sent me. He didn't seem nervous or confused when I called to ask about it (although I must have sounded frozen, since the photos looked horribly realistic). He even laughed when he said that some of his friends congratulated him because they were fooled by the photos. (That really did not make me feel better.) He hadn't told me about this video shoot for the school before, and he said he thought it wasn't important enough to mention to me.

If I think about all the time we spend IMing and calling and skyping, he couldn't possibly also be married, right? He is obsessed with his career—how could he have the time to juggle two relationships? I flip between feeling like I'm just being ridiculous and feeling convinced that I'm the affair. I don't want to bring it up with him because if I do, I would probably just fall off a cliff of crazy and alienate him. What would you do in this situation? I feel like I'm overreacting, but how do I tame my irrational fears?
posted by sockpuppetry to Human Relations (233 answers total) 116 users marked this as a favorite
Why on earth would a graduate school use wedding photos or video to promote student life? That seems super weird. Also, does it make sense to you that your boyfriend wouldn't mention being involved in a PR photo shoot? With his ex-girlfriend? This isn't passing the sniff test for me.
posted by amro at 6:17 PM on June 19, 2015 [106 favorites]

What do the captions and comments say on the Facebook photos? I imagine they could be very telling.
posted by amro at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2015 [15 favorites]

Were the people in the crowd in the background of the photo his close friends or family members? It would be strange to have a big wedding and not invite people who are important to him. I would be more inclined to believe his story if the crowd of people was comprised solely of distant acquaintances from school and/or strangers.
posted by jesourie at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sorry for over-commenting, but tell him to email a link to the video to you.
posted by amro at 6:19 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Are you sure she was an ex? Really.
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:19 PM on June 19, 2015

If it were just a demo photo/video shoot, why would his ex be staged as the bride?
posted by wonton endangerment at 6:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [53 favorites]

When you visit him, do you stay in his home with him? Are you publicly dating/in a relationship on FB - like do you post shmoopy things to one another and does he post pics of the two of you? Do you know his friends and family as his girlfriend? Did you socialize with people in his life during your most recent visit? Is he available if you just call him out of the blue? Is he unavailable often?

If this was some kind of graduate school promo thing, why on earth would they have picked his ex to be the "bride" to his groom? This sounds SUPER SUPER fishy. No school I've even gone to or heard of uses footage of a fancy wedding to entice students or faculty. They especially don't create extra family photos to include as props.

I think your suspicions are quite valid. This doesn't fit together well.
posted by quince at 6:21 PM on June 19, 2015 [63 favorites]

This is super weird and I don't blame you for being confused and anxious. I find it odd that he would be willing to have pretend wedding photos taken with an ex. I would feel weird about that if I were him.

But you know, being long distance with someone is not really much fun. So if he were back together with his ex and even going to marry her, I don't see why he wouldn't just have broken up with you. Unless he is doing frequent trips out to spend time with you, which it sounds like he isn't. Usually long distance relationships are just a pretty unpleasant holding pattern until you can be together again, so if he isn't ever going to be together with you again, he might as well have just told you so.

So by that logic, I think it's unlikely the wedding pictures are real.
posted by lollusc at 6:21 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Any way you can ask the ex about it?
posted by dinty_moore at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

I would probably just fall off a cliff of crazy and alienate him.

I would jump off that cliff and if he felt alienated 'cause I'm asking about recent wedding photos of him and a ex, then he isn't a person you should be dating.

Or, i'd just go ask the ex, 'cause fuck if this doesn't sound weird as hell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2015 [19 favorites]

I don't have any insight for your specific situation other than to say that, as a generally non-suspicious, trusting, and secure person, I find this super suspicious. You are absolutely not overreacting.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2015 [38 favorites]

Can you tell us what country your boyfriend lives in? It also strikes me as very, very strange that a university would stage a wedding to promote student life but maybe they do things differently in the Republic of Nuptialstan.

But, yeah, not passing the sniff test.
posted by stowaway at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]

Have you Googled his name? And her name? I don't know where you're located but in all of the Western countries I live in, most weddings end up in the paper and therefore with an online mention.

And this is SO fucking weird that frankly I would go to almost any ends for 3rd party confirmation. My first call would be his department secretary, I think. "Oh hi I'm an old student of Boyfriend's Name and I recently saw what I thought was a wedding photo of him online. I was going to send him a card at the University; do you know his wife's name?"
posted by DarlingBri at 6:25 PM on June 19, 2015 [60 favorites]

Even if this was 100% legit his reaction is weird and wrong on top of it. He should have already provided 3rd party actual evidence that this isn't real.
posted by bleep at 6:26 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Wonton endangerment: Because his ex goes to the same school, or they are on good terms or a dozen other reasons?

Contact the school and see what they say.
posted by boo_radley at 6:26 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

It can be hard sometimes to sort out the difference between "anxiety taking you for a ride" and "your valid instincts telling you something is wrong." Hindsight is only the way to know for sure, and even sometimes then it doesn't work.

With that being said, no one on mefi can say for sure what's going on, but I can understand wanting a sanity check. For what it's worth, I think it's reasonable that this would be throwing up all sorts of red flags and making you feel crazy. It seems like the two most likely scenarios are:

1) He's gas lighting you, has been in a relationship with someone else, and is now married.

2) What he's telling you is true, and for some reason this whole wedding was staged.

I hate to say this, but I think scenario 1 is more likely, as hard as that is to hear. And of course, it's easier for me, an internet stranger, to say that. But it seems completely nonsensical that a school would stage a wedding for publicity. Especially a fake wedding! Like, if I were a student and I found out a school did this, I would think that is kind of weird. More to the point, why would this be useful for a school? Staging a wedding isn't easy, and it's utterly pointless. I've been in school-related photo shoots that were 100% staged (other than me being a student/TA at the school), but we were in a lab and in front of a school statue. I could see going to a museum or something.

Again, I feel bad saying this because I'm sure it's such a mind fuck to have this happen to you, but I think he's probably a Grade A asshole/jerk/douchebag/sociopath, and he decided to come up with this story after the fact to rationalize it.

I'm really sorry. There may be no way to fully verify this, but you are not wrong for feeling crazy, and you are not wrong for either DTMFA-ing or pushing him for more information. Either way, you are not crazy. This is a perfectly reasonable response to have. Please listen to your gut on this one.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:27 PM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]

Nope nope nope. Even if it's fake it's crazy, get out.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:27 PM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

Either you are in a romantic comedy Adam Sandler couldn't pull off or you're dealing with sociopathic-level behavior. Either way I would be very, very careful about talking to him about it.

The idea that people don't gain from fake internet relationships is a myth. Just look up catfishing.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:29 PM on June 19, 2015 [12 favorites]

You aren't overreacting and yes this is super weird.

Here's the thing. You have to talk about this with him and you need to really go with what your gut tells you about the conversation. Does he get angry? Shut you down? Laugh it off and then get offended when you "won't let it go"? Or does he talk about it calmly? Offer to do anything he can to reassure you? His response will tell you everything you need to know. A good guy would not laugh this off or get defensive or mean. So talk to him - as hard as I know that is - and see what happens.

Also, this is when I would personally break out some Google and try to do stuff like find the schools site to see if they have promos on it, or figure out her name and see if there's anything online about her getting married, or looking for a marriage license, or any number of things. Because you need some facts here, if you can figure out how to get them.

Also try to take care of yourself right now. This sounds like a very intense situation and you need to make sure you're eating, showering, exercising, sleeping, whatever you normally do plus a little extra. Sorry this is going on. Hope it resolves soon.
posted by sockermom at 6:33 PM on June 19, 2015 [14 favorites]

Yeah, even if it was fake, a caring partner would have warned you before you saw the pictures, if they didn't ask your opinion about him being in this photoshoot in the first place*, and would have been concerned about your reaction to the photographs. This is not a guy who sounds like he's concerned for your emotional wellbeing.

*So, I don't think people need permission to hang out with their exes or anything like that, but I think there's a huge difference between hanging out with someone they used to date and staging a wedding with them.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:35 PM on June 19, 2015 [15 favorites]

Whaaaaaaaat. Weddings (even fake weddings) are expensive. Stock photography is cheap. Even allowing that a university would spend money on staging a fake wedding, instead of, like, teaching students or researching things... I find it really really really hard to believe that somehow he just happened to get picked to do this with his ex-girlfriend.

Can you check the photos to see if anybody else from his life is tagged in them? Do you know any of his family, can you check any of their Facebook pages?

You are not irrational and you're not overreacting. Something is up here.
posted by pie ninja at 6:35 PM on June 19, 2015 [38 favorites]

You need disinterested third party or concrete evidence. If you've known him for three years and been going out for a year and a half, you must know some of his family members and friends.... right? (If he has never introduced you to anyone from his life by this point.... HUGE RED FLAG RIGHT THERE.) Can you contact one or two of them and ask them about it? Or can you contact the ex directly and ask her? You might also just google and see if you can find a marriage announcement or anything of the kind.

This is very strange, and yes, the most likely scenario is that your boyfriend did get married to someone else. Let us know what happens!
posted by orange swan at 6:39 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

AssuminIng that you have tried this, but in case you have not: Drop copies of the photos into google image. Follow all the links.
posted by Wolfster at 6:42 PM on June 19, 2015 [51 favorites]

This sounds like a good time for some intensive Facebook stalking. His relatives, his friends, his students, his colleagues -- search for anyone you can find and see what's on their FB pages. Were they at this alleged non-wedding?
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:42 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

No, this person is married, and probably a sociopath. I think you should congratulate yourself for figuring out that this is crazy, and walk the heck away. This is not a silly question, this is a very very smart question. This person is obviously very good at manipulating people, and you have just outsmarted him by asking mefi, and getting the opinions of people who have not been under his influence.

I'd recommend sending him a breakup e-mail then cutting off all possible contact - block, unfriend, e-mail filter to the spam folder, etc. It's probably worth letting your friends & family know the broad strokes - that you broke up with your boyfriend because he turned out to be completely twisted - just in case he decides to escalate the manipulation to include your social circle.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:48 PM on June 19, 2015 [32 favorites]

sockpuppetry: "What would you do in this situation? "

I would find out how to search the wedding registry of his native country, and search it. This is bizarre.

In the alternative I'd contact the ex and be like, "WTF?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:50 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

For what it's worth, a friend of mine recently was in a 'fake wedding' used to promote some sort of wedding services company - they published all the glamour shots in a wedding planning magazine or something. Now, the 'bride' was not his ex, but he put the photos up on Facebook and it looked just liked a real 'conventional middle-class american' wedding - rings, a crowd, cheering, kissing, all the right clothes, feeding each other cake, etc.

He's not a professional model or anything but just sort of a 'regular above average looking guy', and his gf was connected with an events planning company and that's how it all started.

So, this doesn't answer whether or not your guy is lying, but the concept of a 'fake wedding' that looks real is not exactly far-fetched.
posted by modernnomad at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm a bit confused about some things.

1. Does his ex work at the university?
2. Do you recognize anyone in the crowd? I assume you know some of his family and friends after knowing him for 3 years?
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:56 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

And is the ex on facebook?
posted by shesbenevolent at 6:57 PM on June 19, 2015

Oh yeah, I totally neglected the whole with an "ex" part. That exponentially increases the WTF levels of this whole thing. At the very least, he absolutely should have let you know about this ahead of time.

If I were in your position, though, I probably wouldn't be able to rest until I had something concrete to go on. Are you comfortable including the country or at least language where all of this went down? If you can't verify this with any of his family or friends, then maybe a mefite can help you do some sleuthing. Is his facebook all in a different language? It seems like the comments on there might be pretty revealing. And yeah, if all else fails, I might seriously consider hiring some sort of private investigator where he lives if feasible, but that should be a last resort.

Unfortunately, if you do confront him about this, there's a really high likelihood that he will continue to bullshit you the whole time, which might make you feel even crazier.

On preview:

but the concept of a 'fake wedding' that looks real is not exactly far-fetched.

I agree with that. However, the whole fake wedding for university promotional stuff is where this starts looking super sketchy.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Wow, no, that sounds awfully strange. You're right to be suspicious. You are not overreacting or crazy or irrational.

Does the photo have "congratulations" comments on it, or are there similar comments on his profile? Does he respond to all of those with "haha, no, this is for a promotional video shoot"? Does his ex have any telling clues on her Facebook page? Do a little bit of sleuthing, and if something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:01 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is super insane and his story doesn't begin to pass the smell test. I'd demand hard proof backing his story or be done. Hell, the fact he didn't warn you beforehand is arguably a deal breaker even if his crazy story checks out. And to be clear: I don't believe him and neither did my wife when I showed her the question.
posted by norm at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

If the ex is on good enough terms to do a fake wedding shoot with him, she's on good enough terms to Skype you to reassure you.
posted by acidic at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [26 favorites]

I work for a university in a role where we do video and stage photo shoots all the time.

If this is legit, someone in either communications or graduate affairs can answer your questions about it. Contact them directly.
posted by anastasiav at 7:03 PM on June 19, 2015 [33 favorites]

And echoing something said above...he didn't tell you beforehand (if it is fake) and that's absolutely not ok. I would not want to see my boyfriend 'married' to someone else. And I'm not a jealous person. Especially if it was his ex.
Even if it is fake this behavior is completely ignorant and disrespectful and you deserve so much better. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Seriously what the fuck.
posted by shesbenevolent at 7:06 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

So he didn't post these, a student did? You're sure it was a student? This whole thing on the face of it sounds like he's a scary manipulative person who has been lying to you and gotten married, but if someone got married while trying to keep their affair going, surely the actual family of the new spouse and so on would also be posting at least some of these and surely the groom would be expected to post something? I mean, surely all his friends would be like 'why did you just get married and Not Mention It On Facebook At All, that's weird'?

Like, I could just barely see a situation where a student was all "oh look Dr. Smith's "wedding" pictures, ha ha". I would be surprised if the student were the only person posting those pictures if they were real.
posted by Frowner at 7:10 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

And maybe your could call the state, too?
posted by boo_radley at 7:13 PM on June 19, 2015

I'm doubting his real name, age, if he doesn't have multiple FB profiles under similar names, and pretty much everything else he has ever claimed.

You've only seen him twice this year? First off, that lends itself to the wedding being true, but also fortunately - you've had time to detach.

Nthing he's some sort of sociopath.
posted by jbenben at 7:15 PM on June 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

On top of the ridiculousness that is staging a fake wedding for a university promo video (what, why?!) and coincidentally casting his ex-girlfriend in it... You guys Skype and call/message each other often, yeah? I was long distance with my husband for over two years so I know. We'd talk about every mundane detail of our lives just to feel a little more connected with each other, even just to hear each other's voices for a little longer. How on earth did he get roped into a fake wedding video shoot and not mention even a peep about it to you? It's so fucking bizarre! If that happened to me, I'd be like, "You're not going to believe this, but I've been cast in a fake wedding video shoot! It's so crazy! I'm going to wear a tux and everything!" This is not the kind of thing he could've forgotten to mention. This screams LIAR PANTS ON FIRE to me.
posted by keep it under cover at 7:17 PM on June 19, 2015 [44 favorites]

I am so sorry. Relationship scams are the worst. Understand that you are a human with a heart who can get taken advantage of and forgive yourself.

I would never talk to him again.
posted by cacao at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [16 favorites]

Why would a professor be featured in a video about how glamourous graduate student life is? (And by the way, it isn't glamourous.)

He's married, ma'am.
posted by Scram at 7:22 PM on June 19, 2015 [39 favorites]

He told me that it was from a video that his university is making for new students to show how glamorous graduate school life can be (he's a professor and an alum).

It seems unlikely that this video exists, so it sounds like you will have some closure soon, after he never sends you a link to the video or any other 'glamorous' promotional pictures for the school.

Or, I look forward to hearing about the other faked representations of 'glamorous' graduate school life, considering how much expense the school put into just the wedding part. Maybe they did a moon landing, too?
posted by Little Dawn at 7:25 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

If if IF he is not lying and everything is as he claims, why on EARTH did he not tell you about it ahead of time? If I were in his shoes I would have told you "Hey, so look, this is a little weird because it's my ex, but I'm going to be in this video thing and it's uh, a wedding. Is that too weird for you for me to do?"
posted by Specklet at 7:30 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

The only possible way I would even begin to consider believing this is if he is attending graduate school for wedding planners and people who photograph and videotape weddings.

you can facebook stalk him and google stalk him all you want but all of this depends on you having accurate information about his real name and his real facebook profile. I would probably just call the school and say "i am interested in hiring the company you used to make that excellent-quality fancy promotional video of a wedding, may i have their contact information" and see what happens.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:41 PM on June 19, 2015 [15 favorites]

For all of you suggesting that the OP contact the school, please note she said "I would try to check whether there actually is a school video but unfortunately I don't speak the language of his country."
posted by Specklet at 7:45 PM on June 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

it's a graduate school that accepts credits earned in semesters abroad. someone there speaks english.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:48 PM on June 19, 2015 [38 favorites]

This happened to a friend of mine. She and her boyfriend (who was from Italy) were together for seven years. The last two years of which were long distance. She found out he was getting married EXACTLY like this. There were photos of the wedding rehearsal that ended up on facebook. And when she contacted him, he also denied that any of it was real... What he said was that it was for a part in a movie or something like that.

What my friend did was contact his "fake" fiancee via facebook... and that's how she found out it was in fact his real fiancee. So both of them found out about each other. At first the fiancee called my friend a liar, but my friend emailed her copies of their romantic correspondences and photos and basically told her "Well, I'm done with this loser. If you want him, you can have him- but if I were getting married to a guy who had been cheating on me the whole time, I'd want to know. So now you know. Take care."

I don't know if his fiancee still ended up marrying him or not, but my friend of course was fuming that she wasted 7 years on this loser who she didn't even know was engaged to someone else for the past year.

So- I don't know for sure, what's going on, but it's definitely possible that he's married because this exact thing happened to my friend. Can you confirm with his ex?
posted by manderin at 7:53 PM on June 19, 2015 [106 favorites]

yeah this is shady as fuck. If he is a normal, rational human being, he will not be put off by you saying "please understand that this looks and sounds super shady, that you "fake married" your ex in another country and never mentioned it. I'm giving you (3 days) to provide proof that this was a publicity stunt."

If he accuses you of not trusting him , it's already over. Again, anyone who is normal and sane would understand that the need to smooth over this sitcom-level "misunderstanding" takes precedence over your abstract level of trust.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:58 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Framed family photo?
posted by phaedon at 8:06 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Other people have covered most of what I wanted to say, but:

He even laughed when he said that some of his friends congratulated him because they were fooled by the photos.

His friends weren't fooled. They're offering sincere congratulations because he is married. He is lying to you about what happened and about what his friends' reaction means. He's a creep.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:07 PM on June 19, 2015 [35 favorites]

I have been thinking about this since you posted it, and I have to say: while I think there is at least a 50% chance that he is actually married (ugh probably he is), if he is faking it, this is legit HORRIBLE behavior for someone who ostensibly cares about you.

Like, if this is fake then I actually think this is worse than cheating. Because a) he was nonchalant about it, didn't even think that maybe it could hurt you, and didn't even bother to gauge your feelings on it or even give you a heads up; and, more importantly, b) having those pictures publicly available on his facebook -- to the extent that friends have congratulated him -- would make me feel, if I were in your place, extremely publicly humiliated in front of his entire family, his friends, and any mutual friends that we had in common.

This was a downright nasty thing to do to you regardless.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:09 PM on June 19, 2015 [42 favorites]

Everything everyone above said, wow, yes. Heck, share the school's name and country, and I bet mefi has someone that speaks the language fluently and would be perfectly happy to call and role-play... because this is freaking crazy.

And y'know, it's kind of telling that everyone is so shocked at the absolute NERVE of the guy - even if it does land in the teeny tiny chance it's true - that they haven't mentioned something else sort of important:

If (as odds appear to show) he's been totally scamming you, he's so incredibly unethical that he should NOT be a professor at a university, and someone there REALLY needs to know about this, despite the language barrier.

I suppose I should add, IF he's really even a professor there...
posted by stormyteal at 8:20 PM on June 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

surely the groom would be expected to post something? I mean, surely all his friends would be like 'why did you just get married and Not Mention It On Facebook At All, that's weird'?

Privacy settings. Can you look at his facebook page logged in as someone else? Even then, he might have more than one profile.
posted by ctmf at 8:26 PM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is arguably shady, but I understand that photos can contain metadata, including info about the location, date, camera settings and camera type. (I'm trying to scrub this stuff from the random photos I take for my anonymous blog.) The location info would be most useful, but you might also spot inconsistencies in the date. (Total speculation, but if a college filmed a fake wedding, I bet they'd do it during the week.)
posted by puddledork at 8:37 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

There are fake weddings aplenty; I've worked somewhere where a few of them were held. The last video of one I saw seemed 100% real: the bride carefully putting on her jewelry, hugging her family (or people who looked like her family), even reading vows in emotional, quivering voices. If I didn't know it was a video to promote all the vendors whose items were shown and the venue itself, I would 100% believe that I had just seen a real wedding.

However, being IN a fake wedding with your EX AS THE BRIDE merits mention. I mean, honestly, wtf, how could you not mention that beforehand. Even if his ex wasn't involved, I can't imagine being asked over Skype "hey honey how was your day?" and thinking "hmm, well I was cast in a fake wedding starring me, but that's not interesting enough." The fact that he said he didn't think it was important shows a massive lack of regard for your feelings. This is absolutely something he should have shared with you. This is something he should have taken the time to say "hey, I know this is crazy, but the university asked me, and I want to make sure it doesn't weird you out too much."

Long distance relationships require an extra, above-and-beyond level of communication to keep both parties on the same page, where everyone feels safe and trusted and trusting. Your boyfriend, whether he got married or not(!), is not doing that work and is dismissing your very valid feelings.

Also this:
I don't want to bring it up with him because if I do, I would probably just fall off a cliff of crazy and alienate him.

Women are socialized to do a enormous amount of emotional labor behind the scenes. We are constantly called "crazy," "emotional," and "irrational" when we express our feelings. We are told over and over that making a man feel uncomfortable is a terrible sin, and we must place 100% of that emotional burden on ourselves instead. Listen to me: You deserve to express yourself. You deserve to ask questions. You deserve answers. You can find out if he's married by asking him for clarification, and you can tell him that not telling you beforehand about such a weird event and dismissing your fears out-of-hand was hurtful and wrong.
posted by missmary6 at 8:41 PM on June 19, 2015 [169 favorites]

Crazy: calling him up screaming and crying, demanding to know the truth, and then believing whatever lame story he comes up with.

Not Crazy: slowly backing away from this fellow and moving on with your life.

I have to agree with folks above who point out that even if if if he's not married, it's a giant bag of NOPE that he was in a fake wedding video with an ex girlfriend and it somehow "slipped" his mind to mention it to you.

I mean that said - girl, he's married!
posted by jbenben at 8:55 PM on June 19, 2015 [12 favorites]

He would have at least given you a heads up, "hey, I did this promo video for my school. Don't freak out if you see pics on FB of me 'getting married' complete with fake family and all".
If you are in a relationship for that, something like this should NEVER be off-limits. Imagine if pics of YOU as a bride were posted on FB. Wouldn't you be going out of your way to assure him that they weren't real? Wouldn't you expect him to freak out at seeing them without prior warning?

Contact his wife. This is psycho level deceitfulness.
posted by Neekee at 8:58 PM on June 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Privacy settings.

To be clear, he sent you the link to the photos on his own profile, or he sent you a link to something else and you happened to see the photos?

Because I can totally see how he could have thought he had you blocked from them with privacy settings, then sent you to another person's profile who also had the photos, unknown to him. Then had to make up some bullshit story about the university on the spot.

I hope I'm wrong. It just doesn't sound like a boring routine thing that could just happen without him saying at some point, "Hey, here's an unusual thing I did today/this week. Funny, right?"
posted by ctmf at 8:59 PM on June 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm fascinated by this. But I totally think your dude is married. I mean, sure he's busy with his "career," but I think that "career" is his relationship with his now wife. I mean if he was busy all the time, it was probably to be with her. This is too weird and it's probably what it looks to be. I mean, is he a model or actor? Why would they cast him, and his EX? (Who is not his ex.)

Either way, just not mentioning it to you - even if it IS fake and he's telling the truth - is enough to be done with this dude. (My husband even said that when I read this question to him to get his take.)

And yeah, I wonder if anyone here can speak the language and help you out.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

He is obsessed with his career—how could he have the time to juggle two relationships?

My immediate thought is that he's using 'obsessed with his career' to cover all the time he is spending on this other relationship.

I mean, no of us can tell you what is actually happen here. But I'm a person who experiences pretty much zero jealousy in relationships, and reading your story still made me feel dread in the pit of my stomach. You aren't crazy to be suspicious about this.
posted by ELind at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [38 favorites]

Your boyfriend got married. Do you really need more evidence than wedding photos? YOU are not crazy, but this is definitely a crazy situation. Don't beat yourself up over it,
posted by WeekendJen at 9:18 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh my god, you are not being unreasonable or paranoid at all. I mean, yes, talk to him and ask him about it, but the explanation that makes the most sense is that yes, he was having an affair with you and didn't tell you about his fiancée. One of the bummer lessons I've learned as I've gotten a little older is that people will absolutely lie to you about having partners and even about being married. It sucks.

What a terrible, crazy-making thing to experience. I'm sorry you are in the situation. You are reacting like a reasonable and trustworthy person who is understandably shocked that someone would do something so shitty and weird to them.
posted by aka burlap at 9:42 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

In your shoes I would want to be independently checking out the whole story. Do you know someone who speaks the language and could make a phone call or two on your behalf (and on your dime, of course)? Or are there people you are connected to via Facebook who speak English whom you could message? Ev n just diligently searching using search engines, social media, and any other available sources might work unless both people have super common names.

This is a situation where I would want all the pieces to fit, and when some things look wonky and wrong I would worry until I found a way to resolve it. You aren't out of line at all to be wondering about this.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:52 PM on June 19, 2015

I know you said you don't speak the language, but you don't have to: Google Translate is your friend. Unlike this guy.
posted by mogget at 9:54 PM on June 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think this guy has been in a relationship with his "ex" for a long time, probably before you started dating him, and they are now married. That's why he doesn't want you to come visit him. That's why he's so "consumed" by his career. It's not that you'd be distracting him from his work, it's not him white knighting about all the time you'd spend on the plane to come and see him. If you actually went and visited him when you wanted to then his whole charade would come crashing down around him. You can only be his "girlfriend" from thousands of miles away because you're not his primary relationship.

At least now you know why. This is why. I'm so sorry and I'm so sorry you had to find out this way.

On the bright side, it's much easier to move on from a relationship that failed because the other party was being a shitty lying bag of dicks than from a relationship that just couldn't work out logistically. And trust me, this guy is a super mega bag of double-dealing dicks, as shitty as they come, and you deserve (and will get!) so much better.
posted by phunniemee at 10:10 PM on June 19, 2015 [17 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted; as much as I'm sure OP appreciates the spirit, please don't offer to get involved in public detective work on this case. Folks are free to contact each other privately, but don't bring any of the bf's info onto the public part of the site. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 PM on June 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

I had three relationships end with girlfriends cheating on me, over a seven-odd year period of my twenties. Two of these were long-distance. In each case, I intuitively knew, just knew, that something was off. In each case, I'd tell myself that I was overthinking, or being too neurotic. I'd talk myself out of my distrust, and -- almost as soon as I'd regain equilibrium -- I'd be "blindsided" by their admission.

It took me several years afterward to train myself out of freaking out whenever a girlfriend went out of town without me, hung out with an ex for legitimate social reasons, or even paused/used strange inflection on the phone. I'm glad I did retrain myself, but I totally understand the gut-churning, second-guessing awfulness you are probably feeling right now, OP. And although these later girlfriends did deserve my trust, and helped reset my instinctual "thermometer," this doesn't change the fact that my gut -- in the earlier cases -- enjoyed an impressive, 100% correct track record.

Our gut instincts are bad tools for higher-level logical decision-making. Our gut instincts are perfect tools for figuring out that a romantic partner is deceiving us.
posted by credible hulk at 10:47 PM on June 19, 2015 [10 favorites]

To be clear, when I stumbled on the photos, it was from a Facebook profile link he had sent me. He didn't seem nervous or confused when I called to ask about it

You're probably filing that under 'reasons he can't be lying', because who on earth would do that if they were lying, right?

Sadly, some people would indeed do that. Just from my own social circles, I've known one situation where the cheater actually went out of his way to introduce his girlfriend to his wife (while somehow concealing his relationship to either of them), and another where the man in question recruited his girlfriend into brainstorming wedding ideas and finding suppliers "for us one day!" Nope - for him and his actual fiancé in their upcoming wedding, it turned out.

God only knows why anyone would act like this. Maybe they get a kick out of getting so close to being caught, maybe it's about being in control of the situation or pre-emptively setting up their excuses. The why doesn't really matter, though - what matters is that yes, some people would indeed do this.

You are totally within your rights and reasonable to ask for proof he's telling the truth, here. Please don't accept "well this would be a bizarre thing to do if he's lying" as a substitute.
posted by Catseye at 12:05 AM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all of your comments. I've been doubting myself so much, and they gave me the confidence to see that I really did need a serious talk with him about the photos and that how he responds would be as telling as what he says. And after all your posts I knew exactly what to ask him. Thank you for being here for me. Hug.

And thank you so much too for the offer to help. I'm sorry that I can't give you more details, and I know that AskMe would be an amazing sleuth. His name is so unusual that it's likely this post would end up near the top of a Google search if I did, and I want to spare both of us that.

I just finished calling him. He was understandably reluctant to talk about the photos, but he took the time to be patient and to explain. He told me that he didn't tell me because he knew I would be upset, and that he could send me the video in a few weeks once it's completed. He gave me lots of details, ranging from his makeup to the student organizers. His ex-girlfriend was a member of the faculty too once upon a time, although she's in industry now. (Oh, she was so very beautiful in those photos.) The graduating class this year thought that it would be a great love story of two professors, although they chose to exclude the breakup. I asked him if shooting the wedding was expensive, and he said that it wasn't because it was in a small wing of a hotel. He also said that if he were married, she would be with him at home, and he wouldn't have been able to Skype. I think that's true, although thinking about that and not hearing him say then that he loves me made my chest pang a little.

I think I believe him for the moment, although I feel tired, and I think your advice said the same: Even in the better scenario, I'm still hurt. I'm jealous. I don't feel like enough. And that conversation must have been exhausting for him too, to be mindful of my feelings—maybe he's tired too. I'm still processing what happened, separate from the relief that at least he hasn't led a double life.
posted by sockpuppetry at 12:35 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, sockpuppetry, but I still don't buy his story at all. Why would the graduating class make a a movie about two professors falling in love and getting married? What would be the purpose of that video?
posted by whitewall at 12:46 AM on June 20, 2015 [74 favorites]

Yes, he is probably married. You can search public records for the marriage license.

He hadn't told me about this video shoot for the school before, and he said he thought it wasn't important enough to mention to me.

You deserve a million times better than to be in a relationship with someone who has photos of them getting married two weeks ago then plays it off like it's a no big deal duh just a lark photo shoot. Even if it is, which it so 99.9999% isn't, that is not cool.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:51 AM on June 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

Missed my edit window...

he said he thought it wasn't important enough to mention to me.

follow up

He told me that he didn't tell me because he knew I would be upset

You are being played. I'm sorry, but it is really textbook at this point.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:57 AM on June 20, 2015 [63 favorites]

understandably reluctant to talk about the photos

No, see, here's the thing: there is not one legitimate reason for him to be reluctant to talk about these photos.
posted by jesourie at 1:00 AM on June 20, 2015 [94 favorites]

I'm really sorry you're going through this, it must be hard to hear what everyone's saying, but he's almost certainly lying.

He was understandably reluctant to talk about the photos, but he took the time to be patient and to explain.

It's not understandable for him to be reluctant. You are totally right to be concerned, and he would be downright eager to explain, if he was innocent.

Trust but verify, as they say. It's very easy for him to provide any details you might ask for, it's just a matter of making things up. Seek third-party confirmation.

The story is wildly implausible. "Grad students decide to promote the school by staging a fake wedding between a professor and a former professor who broke up a long time ago" is just not a thing that happens. Grad students don't have a lot of spare income to spend on such a thing. And if the school wanted to fund a promotional video, surely they'd prefer to have a video showing off the campus, the facilities, introducing the faculty, etc.
posted by equalpants at 1:05 AM on June 20, 2015 [44 favorites]

If he's someone who has had no problem hiding an entire other relationship from you, coming up with lies on the spot for why there are wedding photos would be a breeze. It's especially easy to come up with believable lies if you are able to weave as much truth in them as possible. I have no doubt that it did take place in the small wing of a hotel and he did have some makeup done. It makes lies more believable when for a large part of the time you are telling the truth. Sometimes the lies don't really make much sense, for example it still really doesn't make any sense why the school would put all this effort into making a wedding video of him and his ex. But we accept the nonsense because it is surrounded by so much detailed information that how could someone possibly make all this up? The detailed truthful information is the sugar that helps get people to swallow the bitter pill of lies.

Ask yourself how he would react to you telling him tomorrow that you've decided to fly over next week for a visit. Would he be enthusiastic that he gets to see you, his beloved girlfriend that he hardly ever gets the chance to be with? Or would he insist you not come, he doesn't need to see you right now, he's just so busy right now with academics you understand, he's got to stay focused on his career?
posted by CarolynG at 1:11 AM on June 20, 2015 [42 favorites]

So, all the best liars will tell you to use a grain of truth in your lies. I'm thinking this guy is on that level.

It's completely possible, and seems likely to me, that a graduate school WOULD use the wedding of a professor and a grad student in promotional materials, those magazines they send to alumni to beg for money, etc. That is, they would use a REAL wedding. So his story and his ease and confidence in telling it could be due to these partial truths- he's just smoothly gliding right past the "real/fake" part.

And God, I hate to say this to you, I really do, but a 29-year-old professor seems more likely to marry a presumably slightly younger grad student than a 23 year old foreigner he's in a long distance relationship with. I mean, I really don't want to be cruel to you, but you kind of had to know on some level that long-distance is basically always a long shot, yes? You are young and in love so you get a pass- he knows this well and he's the creep here taking advantage of human nature.
posted by quincunx at 1:13 AM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

Obviously in the United States or many other Western countries this promotion would be extremely weird, but just reminding everyone that he's in another country. I'm not going to publicly speculate on the country but in some cultures this wedding love story as a way to promote the school is not really far-fetched. (Not saying he is or isn't lying, just pointing out that with the knowledge we have to go on, we don't know that the story is so implausible in wherever it is that the OP's boyfriend is located.)
posted by tiger tiger at 1:15 AM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm afraid he's probably telling his new wife that he has to Skype some important academic/business contact whenever he talks to you.

I agree with everyone who says that even if this is legit (and I strongly doubt it) this guy is a sneakweasel and you can do better.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:15 AM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm sorry, but I also do not buy his story, not at all. Obviously none of us here have a crystal ball to be able to discern with absolute certainty what the truth is in your situation. But I think equalpants is exactly right, that the story is wildly implausible, all around. And just focusing on one point that I find particularly unconvincing, why would being married mean he couldn't Skype with you? Would his wife never leave the house, ever, when he is at home?? That's just silly.

But most important is this: "He gave me lots of details . . .." OP, this is exactly what pathological liars do.
posted by merejane at 1:16 AM on June 20, 2015 [26 favorites]

So he didn't tell you because he knew you would be upset, but then sent you a link to the photos after the fact with zero proof it's fake? Even if this is legitimately a fake wedding that is shady behavior. I feel like any normal person would think, "This is going to look bad to my long distance partner" and make sure to talk about it with them before, during, and after it was in the works.

Also I just never trust the logic "I didn't tell you because I knew you would be upset" anymore. I've been burned believing that in the past. People use that excuse as a free pass to lie and manipulate to control your feelings.
posted by blackzinfandel at 1:17 AM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

What I mean by all that is: best case scenario the wedding is fake and your boyfriend is astoundingly inconsiderate of your feelings.
posted by blackzinfandel at 1:19 AM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

So I sent the OP some info, but if anyone is curious on how a professional would solve this, in my humble opinion and some expertise in public and private databases:

1. County records for marriage licenses
But! You need to know how quickly they upload these so you can call and ask or compare recent paper announcements to if they are in the records

2. Paper announcements! No one can resist the newspaper.

3. Facebook, astoundingly easy if their friends are viewable and you find a relative... old relatives never understand privacy and will be tagged/tagging.

4. The actual wedding website, but that would be way too easy.

5. Pick up the phone, call the woman and ask to talk to the guy.

None of these require being on site and most can be done in shockingly little time. Best of luck.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:28 AM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'd only buy the fake promo wedding if it's a college that has a top-notch performing arts or AV/Photography program, and doing a credible wedding could be used as a recruitment tool.

And even then, that doesn't excuse the silence. If I was doing a fake wedding shoot, I'd probably mention that casually ("oh, I played groom in a fake wedding for college stuff today, nothing much"). If the bride happened to be an ex, I'd probably go quick to tell "don't freak out, but I had to do a wedding shoot for college, and x happened to be the bride". So, he's still an asshole.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:39 AM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

I know you want to believe him. He had answers for everything and you love him and you want to give him the benefit of a doubt and it would be so much easier to believe him. For your sake, I hope he's telling the truth. But I think, in this case, you need to be in a "trust but verify" kind of mindset.

What with being in different countries and you not speaking his language, he could be telling you anything. And then one person has some different privacy settings on Facebook and suddenly he's gone from never mentioning it to "haha funny joke! It wasn't even important enough to mention" to "I didn't tell you because I knew you'd be upset"? And it's only during the last Skype call that he's suddenly got all of the answers (including the "I couldn't be Skyping" "alibi" that's worthless)? Please do the things that OnTheLastCastle suggests. Trust but verify.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:43 AM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

This may sound crazy, but I'm going to ignore if your boyfriend has secretly married another woman. Let's say 100% he has been faithful to you, and yes it's a totally fake wedding for promotional purposes in a very different culture than the US so it doesn't make sense to this American because I am not of that culture and background. He has, ostensibly, done nothing wrong.

Your boyfriend is still being a terrible boyfriend.

I'm sorry to dump on your relationship. If you are sticking with a long distance relationship this guy must be pretty special in some ways. But he has done you seriously wrong, girl.

He had no reason -- 0 reasons -- to be reluctant to talk about the photos. His girlfriend unexpectedly saw photos of her boyfriend getting married to his ex. That is 100% reason to explain the provenance of said photos and grovel for forgiveness that you saw them by surprise. He gets ZERO points for being "patient" and deigning to talk to you. What a crazy-making thing to see even WITH advance notice! He HID this event from you, he said so straight up. You are his partner, his teammate, you are 100% understandably upset about an extremely upsetting thing, and he's RELUCTANT to explain? to make you feel better? to apologize?

And that conversation must have been exhausting for him too, to be mindful of my feelings—maybe he's tired too.

Being mindful of your feelings is the lowest of low bars in a relationship. If you are not mindful of someone's feelings you are barely an acquaintance. Hell, I'm mindful of stranger's feelings. So is most of humanity.

Dump him. You are young, he is far away, and he is treating you terribly. There are millions of men out there who are considerate of other people's feelings. This man you are dating does not care about you.
posted by missmary6 at 1:48 AM on June 20, 2015 [134 favorites]

I agree with Tiger Tiger, we can't use our western value judgements here. While we don't know what country is involved, we know they're not an english speaking country so so that rules out most people's experience.

I can totally see this being used in a recruitment video in countries where family is super important, especially if they're trying to recruit more female students - showing them they can get a graduate level education and still find a husband, have a family etc.

Why did he send you a link to one of his students facebook profiles?
posted by missmagenta at 1:52 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Wanted to add to the chorus: you aren't imagining things; something seriously dodgy is going on here. Please drop him for your sanity's sake.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:03 AM on June 20, 2015

I feel compelled to add that, while above I say trust but verify, that's because you seem inclined to trust him. I sure as hell don't. I think the thing that's bothering me about your update is that he was so ready with all of the details and innocent explanations and wife would be home "alibi" only after you had confronted him and then he had some time to come up with a story before your recent Skype call. I think the fact that he offered his alibi unprompted when, as others have pointed out is meaningless as she could be anywhere that wasn't right in the room with him at the moment, strikes me as fishy. Like some kind of bullshit nonsense I'd come with if I were frantically trying to lie my way out of this.

I also think that the existence of a real promotional video does not mean that he's definitively not married. Which seems more likely? That a college got two professors (one ex professor?) who used to date years ago to fake a wedding, procure dresses and tuxes and guests and framed photos, and do all of that to make a promotional video? Or two professors, one of whom spent a year or two abroad, are reunited and got married and Hey! We can film it and make a promotional video!
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:06 AM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

One more thing; do people really take photos at fake promotional events and then post them to Facebook as if they were real? (Genuine question, I guess. Do they do that?)
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:14 AM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm not quite as anti-him as alot of you are. I live by a saying "never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance" - people are generally stupider than they are mean.

Students do lots of weird stuff, and fake weddings aren't expensive - real weddings are mostly expensive because you buy everyone dinner and drinks in a big venue for a day, grabbing a room for an hour in a rented tux and dress probably cost next to nothing with those companies doing it for pr and to support the Uni.

It's certainly a bit odd, and you should definitely keep talking to him about it, but I wouldn't jump straight to "leave him".
posted by chrispy108 at 2:20 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Weeping angel, yes of course, I've got a few friends in pr, they have loads of fun and weird days which end up on Facebook, just as everyone else shares there day. I've seen one 'singing' at a big venue at a fake concert and another covered in fake blood for a zombie advert. They had a fun experience so they shared it.
posted by chrispy108 at 2:23 AM on June 20, 2015

What I would do is search the marriage registry of the country in which the wedding took place. He probably won't know you did this.

That said, this is a very bizarre thing to have done. Were I in a relationship that I cared about (long-distance notwithstanding), I would not dare to be in such a suggestive situation with an ex-boyfriend for fear that my current boyfriend would get the wrong idea and then leave me.
posted by rozaine at 2:34 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, back to the work of relationship, then! Intercultural relationships can have their own sets of challenges and joys, even when not long distance.

Are you learning his native language yet? I've found learning a partner's language is both a satisfying way of getting through times apart, and a concrete means of becoming closer. If his language is on Duolingo, that's a fun, free, easy way to get started.
posted by wonton endangerment at 2:48 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Any time someone tells you "I didn't tell you because I knew you'd be upset," mentally add "if you found out" to the end of that sentence. He was hoping you'd never find out. People who care about you will tell you up front when a potentially upsetting thing happens, so you can talk through it and resolve or minimize any bad feelings.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:53 AM on June 20, 2015 [79 favorites]

So, ok, the photos were taken by a student at the video shoot. Where are the photos of all the behind the scenes production? The ones of the "couple" getting TV-ready makeup. Of production crew wearing jeans or other casual attire not appropriate for a wedding. Of the "family" joking around off-camera about being related? Of the camera operator(s) setting up for good angles. Of the person holding the boom mic. Or did they were hidden lavalier mics?

The photos of ONLY the "wedding" part of the shoot do not suffice as an explanation. Somebody somewhere at this video shoot has to have also produced photographic evidence that a video shoot took place. And it would involve way more than photos of the "bride" and "groom" looking very much like a bride and groom.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:09 AM on June 20, 2015 [18 favorites]

You need to call that hotel and verify his story- Ive had to make phone calls a lot in the last few years where living where I don't speak the language... This is how you do it.

Dial. Ring ring. They answer.

You: hello, english please? (Preferably say please in their language)

And then wait- they will find someone to speak to you. 9/10 times you'll be sucessful, if not try back later.
Then ask if there was a wedding or a movie wedding there on x date.
posted by catspajammies at 3:32 AM on June 20, 2015 [20 favorites]

He also said that if he were married, she would be with him at home, and he wouldn't have been able to Skype.

Oh, really? It's not possible that she was in another room, or had gone out, or something?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:49 AM on June 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

OP, please evaluate this in the context of your entire relationship. I don't think this is one isolated blip. I remember your previous question here and all of the problems from that one can be explained by this guy having a primary relationship with someone other than you. This fits.

Please listen to yourself if you won't listen to us. Write down every relationship oddity you guys have had. (That he doesn't want you to travel to see him, maybe he's the one who initiates all the Skype calls so he's not actually available to you 24/7, that you only feel reassured in your relationship after he IMs you something flowery (as opposed to saying he loves you over Skype), etc.) Write down all the facts, not the nice things he says, or the apologies he makes, but things that are real and tangible. Write down all the ways you have been made to feel less than or shitty in this relationship, and really try to look at them with a critical eye.

If they hold up, then ok, they hold up. But I suspect that all the supporting details will paint a picture that can most easily be explained by him being in a relationship with someone else.
posted by phunniemee at 3:56 AM on June 20, 2015 [31 favorites]

So now the story has changed already from a promotional video to a student lark promotional video at a small hotel--sure, things are possible but generally doing a photo shoot at a hotel with hair and makeup is not actually cheap. I am not sure in which culture students find a break up story Between a professor and a now-in-industry student so romantic that they are compelled to stage a full-scale wedding. What about the story about how he went abroad and met a hot foreign student and fell in love and they Skype every day!

Oh and by the way ha ha ha how could he Skype with you if he were married ha ha.

First, OP, you are going to be okay in 5 years no matter what.

It sounds like for whatever reason you want to believe him right now. I think you will swiftly learn he is married, but there are some easy ways to go forward.

The biggest one is that he needs to include you more in his life. My guess is he has two Facebook profiles, one in English that focuses on his career and life abroad, and one in his native/local language. Keep an eye out for that, and who is actually on his Facebook. Do image searches and name searches and call him up at odd times.

Secondly, make sure you are a part of his life. Book a next trip there as soon as you can possibly afford it. Ask to Skype with or old-fashioned write to his family. If you've been dating that long it's time anyway. If he starts putting you off, well, that's more information.

Message the guy who posted the pictures and ask him for the link to the video when it's done.

Be aware that if he is lying and you start contacting people he will probably tell them you are a foreigner who is mysteriously obsessed with him but what can he do? He is, at 29, apparently a rockstar prof whose personal life inspires videos and play weddings with exes who despite full time industry work dress up to play bride. What madcap adventures.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:14 AM on June 20, 2015 [23 favorites]

My dear, my heart is breaking for you.

I believe he is lying to you, and to his new wife.

Google his name and her name with "wedding registry" or the city where they live. Use Google Translate. And bear in mind that students shooting a video would not create a wedding registry.

You sound like a beautiful person who is full of love and trust and loyalty. You deserve to have all of that returned to you in a relationship. I hope you can spend some time exploring why you will put your energy towards a person who is capable of disrespecting you in this magnitude (if he is lying).

Be well and be brave.
posted by mibo at 4:32 AM on June 20, 2015 [16 favorites]

Have you met his parents? Siblings? Do they know you as his girlfriend? I would start there. If you don't know them, now is the time to say to your bf that you want to meet them, even if it is only over Skype. It does not matter if you don't speak their language. Use google translate or find a friend who speaks it, and prepare signs you can hold up into the camera saying "Hi, I am your son/brother's gf from X country. I hope to meet you when I next visit your country."
posted by girlpublisher at 4:55 AM on June 20, 2015

Not only do I doubt the wedding story, how many 29 year old professors have you met? Pretty unusual.
posted by KateViolet at 5:21 AM on June 20, 2015 [17 favorites]

He even laughed when he said that some of his friends congratulated him because they were fooled by the photos.

So assume he's telling the truth: it's a staged video, he's long since broken up with the ex. Does "congratulations" seem like the most likely response a friend would have to seeing those photos? Rather than, say, "wtf that's your ex, when did you two get back together and how come you got married without even mentioning it and what happened to that foreign girl you were seeing?"
posted by Catseye at 5:22 AM on June 20, 2015 [77 favorites]

If he is telling the truth, there is no reason to fear attempting to contact the woman I'm the photos directly to ask and verify. If he is telling the truth, this will not be a problem for anyone.

And if he is not telling the truth, this will straighten his shit out quick.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:35 AM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

I know you know this man better than we do, but it took him hours to come up with a (frankly unbelievable) story, it's exhausting for him to tell you this completely innocent story in a way that takes care of your feelings, he's changed the story from "school shoots a video to show glamorous grad student life" to "grad students shoot their own video to show a fake love story between two exes, one a prof and one an ex-prof", he couldn't be bothered to tell you about a wedding shoot that must have taken hours, his friends congratulated him instead of being surprised that he married his ex.

It's possible that all this is true, I suppose, but even if it is all true it's not great news, because this is not a nice way for him to behave.
posted by jeather at 5:46 AM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Check the wedding registry in his country. It's a low-drama way to proceed, and then you will be sure.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:13 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry OP, but after reading your follow-up... You're kidding yourself if you think there's nothing shady going on here. You're also being way too easy on this guy - there's no reason he should be reluctant to talk about the photos or exhausted from being mindful of your feelings (???).
posted by amro at 6:27 AM on June 20, 2015 [14 favorites]

This whole relationship doesn't add up to me just down to the fact that you've known him for 3 years and been "together" for half of that and you don't know a single person in his life that can corroborate or refute his story? He can't even offer up a single person you know to get on the Skype and tell you how it's all fake? Ask yourself why this is. How do you know so little about his life? Is it because of his own excuses?

You said you originally found the pictures because of a Facebook profile. Does your boyfriend have a profile on Facebook? Check his wall, see what his friends (that you don't even know??) posted to his wall recently. Copy paste them into Google Translate. It's not great but it will be enough for this purpose. See what his responses are to their comments. Is it "Haha no guys this is fake!" Or "thank you!"?

Let's say he doesn't have a Facebook profile. Go back to the student's one (the one with the wedding pics) and see if anyone else is tagged or mentioned in the comments. Who commented on the pic? Who liked the pic? What are the comments? Go check out their profile pages. Do they have pics of the wedding too?

These acts do not take super sleuthing, you can do this in 10 mins.

If I were you I would just point blank say "you need to prove to me this was fake because I'm not feeling good about this. Don't tell me, show me."

You are NOT being irrational or needy. This is VERY weird and you have every right to ask. A proper boyfriend will take you seriously, not make you feel bad.
posted by like_neon at 6:29 AM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

And that conversation must have been exhausting for him too, to be mindful of my feelings—maybe he's tired too.
I think everyone else has the rest of this covered, but this line is exceedingly problematic. Why do you think that it's exhausting for your own partner to be mindful of your feelings? Being mindful and caring about how our partners feel is just a baseline ground-level requirement for a healthy relationship. You can do better. Go no-contact with this likely sociopath and work on being mindful of your own feelings. Your gut was not wrong and continues to not be wrong: this is not a good relationship for you, as it seems to make you feel bad on a regular basis.
posted by sockermom at 6:44 AM on June 20, 2015 [27 favorites]

If you need help with the internet sleuthing suggested above, please feel free to MeMail me details and I'll help you. I'm pretty good at cyberstalking.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

I can read some Korean if that is of any help. Take care.
posted by like_neon at 7:05 AM on June 20, 2015

If this event was staged for a video, why is there an album of photos at all? OP, you didn't mention that this event was also being used to generate photos for something like a promotional brochure for the school (not that that would make sense anyway) - so really, why would this album even exist (unless the event were real)?

If the wedding was staged for a video, possibly some of the people involved might have taken a couple of snapshots, but this sounds like a professional photographer - or at least someone who took a bunch of composed, real-looking photos - was involved. Why?

I could maybe understand assembling a fake wedding album for something like a photographer's portfolio/website, but it makes no sense in this context.

Nobody would take so many photos, or compose an album, without a purpose. The only two possible purposes this could have been done are "to portray this fake event for ____ reason" (which 100% does not add up here) or "to show our friends and family how it looked when we legit got married."
posted by jessicapierce at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

His story makes no sense and you are being lied to. I'm sorry.
posted by gerryblog at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

If it's for a university, the video would have been made on campus. Why would the university want to promote a hotel?
posted by Neekee at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2015 [16 favorites]

The graduating class this year thought that it would be a great love story of two professors, although they chose to exclude the breakup.

Even if this is a legit promo event, it's still shady for all involved (bride, groom and the entire graduating class)- great love story except the players aren't together anymore? But let's not tell anyone that! Let's make it look like a real love story! That's shady and untrue.

You know why they aren't mentioning the breakup?

Because there never was a breakup. They got married and I bet it's a promo event to boot. Because it's a love story between two faculty (even though one has moved on to a new career) who met through this school.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2015 [14 favorites]

He told me that he didn't tell me because he knew I would be upset, and that he could send me the video in a few weeks once it's completed.

Consider that a few weeks is plenty of time to edit together a "real fake" video out of actually-real wedding footage.

Or to come up with a reason (a lie) for why the project fell through and the school decided not to go forward with the video after all.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

He's putting responsibility on everyone but himself: it was the grad students, it was the school, it was that you'd get upset. His behavior toward you shows that he doesn't think telling you the truth is important, and if you hadn't found the photos by accident he wouldn't have told you at all.

I reiterate: he's a creep.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

If he is being truthful and it was really that he, a professor, got roped into doing a fake wedding with his ex by students who thought it would be a cute tale, that shows, to me, a really troublesome inability to make and maintain proper boundaries. Both professionally and personally.

What I am saying is, he should have known to say "No absolutely not, that is completely inappropriate." Even setting aside the whole being in a relationship with you and not telling you about the shoot.

Something to consider if you decide to believe him and work through this.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

You could just give us the name of the university and country. If a promo video is in the works, without naming its participatants, we could find out.
posted by Neekee at 7:56 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hate to say it but even if it was legit, you're wasting your life in a years-long LDR where you've only seen each other twice. Been there. It sucks. Get out and live where you are. I know other peoples' opinions will vastly differ here, including my own in different experiences.

But on top of all that, as others have said, this dude seems like a full-on manipulative sociopath. Just walk away, detach, get on with life.
posted by ephemerae at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2015 [24 favorites]

Even if he's from a very different country/culture in which this would be "normal" for a university to do, HE KNOWS that your culture is not like that and that he owes you an explanation and a heads up when something like this happens.

I'm sorry. I'm not buying it either.
posted by divina_y_humilde at 8:20 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your question asks how you can tame your irrational fears. To me and most everyone who has commented here, your fears sound entirely rational. I think you should start trusting your gut and listening to it. It's worrisome that you assume the worst of yourself - that your fears are irrational - and assume the best of him in the face of so much evidence to the contrary.

The reason you feel so panicky and afraid is that you know the truth and it's terrifying to face it. Learn to be strong and love yourself. You are smart, worthy and deserving of love from someone who is honest and decent. Hold your head up high and walk away from this relationship. It's not what you think it is.

You're 23. You will look back on this in a few years and shake your head. But for now you need to look forward. And you need to listen to those very rational fears and when your gut tells you something, don't doubt it. Feel what you feel and explore where it's coming from. Don't be so quick to put yourself last.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:35 AM on June 20, 2015 [13 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, I know this is an odd situation and the desire to dig into it is understandable, but if the asker is choosing to not add identifying details we need to accept that and not push for them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:53 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think you should've confronted him with this at all. I know a lot of people suggested that, but I was hoping you wouldn't. What good was it going to do? He was just going to continue saying what he was saying and on top of that- now that he knows you're asking more questions about this he's just going to try to cover his tracks even harder than before and tell his buddies not to mention anything to you etc and have told his ex (who may be his new bride) to not accept any messages from people she doesn't know because he has "crazy" ex-girlfriends or something.

You need to get your answer from a reputable THIRD party. Not from him. I'm sorry, but he's in secret wedding photos with his Ex-girlfriend AND his OWN family members. His entire family was involved in this "fake" photo shoot? The chances of him lying are huge. You shouldn't be taking words out of his mouth or any explanation from him as proof of anything. You shouldn't accuse him of anything either. You need to find out the truth from elsewhere. See if there's a marriage licence or something in that country you can get a hold of, or see if you can contact the school or his ex.
posted by manderin at 9:00 AM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

he's in secret wedding photos with his Ex-girlfriend AND his OWN family members. His entire family was involved in this "fake" photo shoot?
Am I missing where OP said that?
posted by amro at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

My creep radar went off when I first read your question, but there seemed to be abundant and good advice already.

In light of your update, I'm joining the chorus because it's frightening how much he's made you feel intrusive for asking completely legitimate questions, to the point that you say, "understandably," about his reluctance to answer questions (no, that is not understandable if his story is true--not even slightly).

Please do what like_neon suggested. It will take a bit longer, but running the comments and his responses through google translate could be very telling. Please note, though, that "thank you" type responses are something he'll explain away (and easily, because naturally you want to believe him, and he knows that). This should only put your mind at ease if responses are consistently bringing up words about it being a fake wedding.

Also, please tell him you're planning to visit and that you don't mind if he's too busy to be with you for the entire visit--you'll entertain yourself even if he's only available for an hour or two a day. You just really want to see him and close the door on this "misunderstanding" that understandably rattled you.

Frankly, if he's the patient, loving boyfriend you suppose him to be, he'd be thrilled even to get a surprise visit. But at this point, I think a) neither he nor his wife would be thrilled by a surprise visit, and b) informing him of the visit--even if it's a bluff (and hey, turnabout is fair play; you don't have to have the funds in hand just to learn his reaction)--will turn into him giving a bazillion reasons it's a bad idea. I worry that you will believe his reasons. Please don't.

Look. I'm married and I could easily Skype without giving that away. That was a lame excuse. He knew darn well you were worried that he might be married. Maybe if he'd offered on the spot to show you around his place via Skype or FaceTime, he'd have a leg to stand on. It doesn't sound like he's offering anything other than his word, which you already know is weak since he changed the story about how this "fake" wedding even came to be.

The man can not be trusted. People are saying, "Trust your gut," but I'm worried that your gut is telling you what your brain wants to believe. Don't trust him for now, and gently question your own ability to discern. There's a reason this smells fishy.
posted by whoiam at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2015 [22 favorites]

And yes, get information from a third party, but not one that he recommends. Is the supposed-ex not tagged in any pictures? Again, google translate is far from perfect, but she would be able to understand that you are his girlfriend and answer as to whether or not she is his wife.
posted by whoiam at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2015

"he's in secret wedding photos with his Ex-girlfriend AND his OWN family members. His entire family was involved in this "fake" photo shoot?
Am I missing where OP said that?"

She mentioned a "framed family photo" but now I see that I may have misinterpretted what she meant. Still... I'm assuming his own family is in that photo. In any case the rest of the comment still stands imo.
posted by manderin at 9:14 AM on June 20, 2015

Well, I personally would just tell him you're thinking of flying over tomorrow and intend to spend the next two weeks with him. Because that would be really inconvenient if he's just married someone. Which he has.
posted by Sportswriters at 9:18 AM on June 20, 2015 [32 favorites]

Thanks for updating us. Ultimately, you're the only one here who knows him, but I have to say, alarm bells are still ringing for me.

The graduating class this year thought that it would be a great love story of two professors, although they chose to exclude the breakup.

Okay, it's a fair point that someone made above about cultural differences. It's true that in a different culture, I could see how a "university marriage" might be good promotion for the school or grad life in general. But I'm still not entirely sure that I buy grad students making a video about these two people getting married when they've already broken up.

Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, it's disrespectful to your relationship to do this without at least giving you a heads up about it. It would be different if this was a friend or a random stranger, but his ex?

He also said that if he were married, she would be with him at home, and he wouldn't have been able to Skype.

In a lot of ways, this rings the most alarm bells for me. I feel like any time I hear the argument of, "Well if your suspicions are true, then how can I possibly do (whatever)?" then the person is pretty much inevitably lying. It's designed to make you distrust your own reading of the situation, and basically block you from questioning the facts of the situation. In this particular scenario, it seems demonstrably false, as well. Surely if he is married, his wife isn't home all the time. He's a professor, so I bet he can keep irregular hours, and if you guys have a significant time difference, that might affect things too.

I really don't think you should just take his word for this, and I also don't think you should be satisfied by evidence that he personally provides for you. Given the language barrier and the distance between you two, it's way too easy for him to manipulate things to his advantage.

I do think there's a decent chance that you could find someone who speaks English if you get in touch with people locally. Maybe check with the university grad department, the hotel, and definitely see if you can find a public records database of some sort.

I definitely understand not wanting to give us his name or other identifying info, but If you are willing to at least give his local language, then I think there's a decent chance someone here can help you do internet research, and that could all be done over me-mail. At the very least, if you need help with translation of some text from a web site, someone might be able to help with that. I would love to help, but unfortunately the only language I can translate reasonably well is Spanish, so that's probably not a whole lot of help. Of course, I also understand why you want to keep all the details confidential, but I'm just throwing this out there if you run into a dead end researching this on your own.

Best case scenario, he's incredibly thoughtless and pretty disrespectful of the relationship. Worst case, he's a pathological liar who is gas lighting you and manipulating you. Either way, don't let him guilt you into backing off on this. You're not crazy, and you're not wrong for wanting to be treated with fairness and respect. It's not a burden to have open communication with your SO. That's basically the foundation of a healthy relationship, and I think that's especially true when you're dealing with something long distance.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:34 AM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]

I don't like to judge situations on the internet, because there are usually a whole lot of details that I don't know. But I will say this: This is super-duper weird. It's really really really weird.

Considering that, you need to get independent verification. Don't just take his word for it. Find out what organization at the school is ostensibly doing this thing, and contact them. Seriously. A bunch of people on the internet can't tell you what's going on, and this is SO weird that you shouldn't just straight-up believe him, no matter what he says.

Contact the school. Contact the school. Contact the school. Now.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:39 AM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Were I in your shoes, I would text him:

"Surprise, baby! I'm in a cab from [his city's airport]! See you in [time of transit from airport] minutes, traffic permitting. Can't wait to see you, my love :*"

The response would be very telling, methinks.
posted by romakimmy at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2015 [28 favorites]

I think I believe him for the moment,

Don't. Don't do this. Think more of yourself than to take someone at their word against a mountain of evidence that says otherwise. Trust, but verify.

Look, I have been married for 10 years to an outstanding and upright human. We have had an unusually graceful marriage, with few of the potholes most couples encounter. Last year I randomly came across something that looked dodgy as fuck. My husband came home immediately from an event because I asked him to, answered all of my questions, gave me access to his devices to verify what he'd told me, did not blame me for my questions in the face of what I had seen, and did not treat me as exhausting or crazy or anything other than reasonable and entitled. He was also fully willing to revisit the thing over a series of days as I needed to. Cards he did not play include "how could you even wonder if I would do that?" because we're both rational humans and faced with what I saw, how could I not?

And: how could you not?

If he is not offering corroborating evidence to verify this crazy-assed story, PLEASE SEEK IT OUT YOURSELF. Doing so doesn't mean you don't love him; it doesn't even mean you don't trust him. It does mean you're not a fucking fool.

Trust, but verify.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2015 [45 favorites]

Insist upon speaking with his ex (?) in a Skype video chat where you can verify it's her. Don't talk to him again until he does that, including ever again if he won't do that.
posted by MattD at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Even if this wedding if fake and you want to believe he is somehow innocent, this relationship is doomed and you need to get out now and not waste one more minute of your life! Best case scenario: there are cultural differences which mean you both interpret this situation completely differently and he doesn't see it as important to tell his long-term partner that he is going to be in a fake wedding with his ex. These types of misunderstandings will not diminish over time. (But as I write that out I realize it is total bullshit: any culture where it is plausible to celebrate a marriage as a way to promote a university takes marriage seriously enough to realize your partner would be pissed if you secretly participated in a fake wedding with someone else.) So, even if it's fake, he has just shown you that he is willing to lie to you and obscure information he KNOWS would be significant to you. That is selfish, cowardly, and disrespectful. Do you want to be in relationship with someone like that?

Bottom line: it does not matter whether the wedding is real or fake, you need to get out of the relationship ASAP and move on with your life. Do all the sleuthing you want if you're curious to know the truth (because WOW, this is a bizarre story) but don't let that sway your decision: you need to dump him.
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:47 AM on June 20, 2015 [13 favorites]

He also said that if he were married, she would be with him at home, and he wouldn't have been able to Skype.

That is not the same thing as saying 'I am not married'. Liars avoid saying the words. They argue about details. 'If I didn't love you, would I be holding all of these flowers?'
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2015 [42 favorites]

You know what this line "not hearing him say then that he loves me" made me think?

His new bride doesn't speak much English - so he can get away with chatting with you while pretending you're a work colleague, even though she's in the house - but she WOULD understand the words "I love you", so he didn't dare say that.
posted by stormyteal at 11:15 AM on June 20, 2015 [53 favorites]

Have you been to his house? Can you ask him to show you around his house live on Skype? Tell him you want to be able to imagine his daily life better.

Does it look like two people live there, or just one? Personal items around that don't make any sense for what you know of him? Skirts and dresses in the closet? What items are in the bathroom?

I feel like if you did this with no prior notice, it would be pretty telling. If it looked like he lived with a woman, it would be hard to explain. But the best part, if it didn't look like he lived with a woman, it would also be evidence, not just absence of evidence. It's pretty unlikely he would sanitize all traces of a wife in his house just to make a Skype call.
posted by ctmf at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's a significant power imbalance here that is creating the existence of this situation: You don't know any of his close friends or family. You're halfway around the world where he is just bits and pieces of what's going on in his life. There's language and cultural barrier that prevents you from knowing anything about your boyfriend or his life independently of what he tells you.

So the problem isn't simply about whether he's married or not. The problem is that this is even a question in the first place. Your relationship has problems that leads to this situation existing.
posted by deanc at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Tell him you want to be able to imagine his daily life better.

Or even, "This is a test, because this is still bothering me. I admit maybe I'm crazy, but just do it for me, ok? It will make me feel better." In fact, that's probably even better, because it's honest and he can't really refuse that without being a giant asshole refusing to comfort the person he loves.
posted by ctmf at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm pretty sure I remember a previous question you posted about wanting to visit in his very far away country more often, and him not wanting you to come, right? And he would be able to come see you, either, at least a year or two?

Girl, you are getting played. He got married. He either never broke up with the other girl in the first place, or they got back together after he returned to his own country. And, confession:I got played in a similar situation once: dated a guy for a few months when he was in town for classes at our graduate program, but after we broke up he got rather quickly engaged and then married a few months later. He wasn't anything special and I didn't dwell--but only years later when I encountered him through other circles did I realize that he was probably in a serious relationship with the other woman, perhaps even already engaged, and he was seeing me on the side when he was in my town. This was before social media and we didn't have any friends in common before we started hanging out.

Please stop taking his skypecalls and block his messages.
posted by Mimzy at 11:56 AM on June 20, 2015 [21 favorites]

There is zero chance he's being up-front with you.

Every single bit of this sounds like someone trying to lie their way out of a situation and not a single fact suggests that this is just a big misunderstanding.

You're dating a married man.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

I won't repeat what's been said, but about the cultures where marriage is super important thing : It seems to me that people in such a culture would be super skeeved out by a fake wedding promo video, purporting to show two actual professors getting married, when they had actually broken up. This would in no way reflect well on the university in question if it were to happen in South Asia, for example. The story doesn't make sense.
posted by bardophile at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2015 [14 favorites]

I definitely agree with all of the above re. the most likely scenario here, and the whole thing sounds dodgy as hell. I've been a grad student in multiple countries for more years than I care to count, and the idea of staging a faux-wedding as a university promotional tool is so ridiculously far-fetched as to be ludicrous. Staging it with a professor's ex-girlfriend as the bride is beyond absurd. Also, as anecdata: I have known a few men who have juggled two "monogamous" relationships simultaneously for fairly long periods of time (many months to a year or so, and in person not virtually). One was even audacious enough, after many months of maintaining the illusion with two girlfriends, to double-book himself for Valentine's Day (one early dinner out and then drinks back at his place with the first woman; and then one very late dinner out and an overnight at his place with the second), and he was also even fastidious enough to change the sheets in between sleepovers (not just on Valentine's Day, but each time), so that the blonde girlfriend wouldn't discover any strands of the brunette girlfriend's hair on the sheets etc. So, it's definitely a possible thing for someone unscrupulous to do.

But I guess the one lingering question I have that might make me hesitate a bit is the motive. What could he be getting out of his relationship with you that would make it worth his while to do this? What would an engaged/newlywed man get out of a second, secret, long-term relationship with someone in a different country? With my acquaintance above, he was pretty upfront that it was almost completely about the sex - two girlfriends gave him double the sexual quantity of a single relationship, and more variety and excitement. But what is your guy possibly getting out of it? If you're that far away, presumably not much physical/sexual is happening between you. It just seems to me like an implausible investment of time, energy, and hassle to maintain a double-illusion (for both you and his probable wife), and I'm not clear what benefit he would be receiving from your relationship over you two just being friends.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:20 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

but if someone got married while trying to keep their affair going, surely the actual family of the new spouse and so on would also be posting at least some of these and surely the groom would be expected to post something? I mean, surely all his friends would be like 'why did you just get married and Not Mention It On Facebook At All, that's weird'?

To specifically respond to this bit, you want to go look at his facebook page from someone elses account that you know who has him added.

I bet he DID post about this, and just set the sharing settings so that you can't view it.

He also said that if he were married, she would be with him at home, and he wouldn't have been able to Skype.

This is the laziest most amateur form of bullshitting.

"Here's an obvious duh reason why what i'm saying CAN'T be bullshit". You need to add "and it's all in your head!" to the end of any sentence like that. It can also be a gross "hah, CHECKMATE" thing to do to your fucking partner. That's the kind of thing a little kid would say. Arguing that he couldn't have been playing nintendo after bedtime because the controller wasn't even in his room.

I think even barring any case-closed evidence this guy is acting not only suspicious, but like an asshole. You'd be right to break up with him just for acting like an asshole.

I, personally, would want to sleuth the shit out of this and find out what was going on though. And i'd start by trying to look at his facebook from someone else's account, and move on to calling the hotel, school, etc.

Out of all those, i'd trust the school the least. It wouldn't surprise me if he had fed people at the school some kind of "So i have this crazy ex stalking me and..." sort of stuff so that they wont want to talk to your or tell you what was going on.

If you start calling people there or anywhere involved in this and they suddenly don't want to talk to you be fucking extremely suspicious.
posted by emptythought at 12:51 PM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Also, please don't waste any money traveling to "gotcha" him in this lie. Not only is that a complete waste of money when this probably is bullshit, but it's way way way too easy for him to play it off as you being some crazy clingy ex/stalker/etc to his friends who showed up to harass him after he got married because you ~just can't get over his undeniable attractiveness~

Visiting might work for proving to you he cheated, but it'll also create a situation in which he can paint you as crazy. Either find out through legwork from where you are that doesn't bring his friends/families attention on you, or do so and then reveal to him he was doing this with proof(which i don't necessarily think you should or have to do).

Either find out remotely, break up, and hold your peace... Or find out remotely, break up, and bust him to everyone. But going there is a waste of money and will be pretty easy for him to play off to people who are already primed to believe him.
posted by emptythought at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am firmly on Team He's Married, but I can't get behind the advice to text him you're flying in tomorrow or in a cab on the way over or whatever. It's manipulative and gamey. Anyway, what would you do if the .0000001 percent chance he's not lying turns out to be true?

"Great, see you tomorrow! Can't wait!"

"Uh, yeah. About that. So I have a funny story for you..."
posted by _Mona_ at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

What would an engaged/newlywed man get out of a second, secret, long-term relationship with someone in a different country?

Perhaps an ego boost or a backup plan or a fling-in-waiting during business trips, which all seem more plausible than a popular professor being serious about a long-distance relationship with someone so emotionally fragile they can't be informed in advance about a fake wedding video.

He says he'll show you the video in a couple weeks, but I wouldn't be surprised if he then tells you that for some reason, the video didn't get made, the students are so disappointed, et cetera.

OP, I am sorry you are experiencing stress and worry about this situation and I hope you are able to have the best outcome possible in all this.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

What I would do is get a friend who he doesn't know to add his ex as a friend and snoop from that side. If she is really married to him her social media will reflect that, most likely. He probably has everything hidden from you through your facebook.
posted by SassHat at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2015

What could he be getting out of his relationship with you that would make it worth his while to do this?

Ego stroking is just a skype call away and he's got easy sex when he's back in the country.
posted by phunniemee at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

I would bet any amount of money that he is married. This guy is full of shit.

OP, please, please take the overwhelmingly skeptical responses here seriously. I fear that you may be thinking, "Well, they don't know him, they don't know our relationship, they don't really understand," and while that's true to a certain degree, many of us have been in (or close witness to) similar situations, myself included. The red flags in your post and follow-up are very worrying.

I urge you to do some serious digging for information, in a manner that does not involve talking to him. He is unreliable. If you're not sure where to start, there are many people in the comments who seem very willing to lend a hand through MeMail. I myself am pretty good at sussing out info through Google and other sources, though I don't speak any other languages and wouldn't be of any help in that respect.
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

In case at some point you do want to fact-check what your boyfriend has told you, look at expat forums for his country. Some general sites with specific regional areas are Expat Exchange and Expat Forum. There are many more; these are just examples.

Some more specific expat sites even have dedicated romance/relationship categories, such as this one for Brits living in Turkey. (I'm not suggesting you're British or he's Turkish; just including this forum as an example of culture-specific answers beyond what an anonymous post here can provide. If you can find the equivalent forum for your respective countries, there may be past posts containing helpful information.)

Depending on where your man is from, you may be dealing with some very big cultural differences about what's ethical and acceptable in relationships with western women. The more you learn about his culture and language, the better equipped you'll be to decide how you want to fit into that.
posted by wonton endangerment at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well if it was done to promote the school, it'll show up on the school's promotional materials. You can put the accompanying text through Google Translate to see if it's a promotional feature or an actual wedding announcement.
posted by tel3path at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

He's lying to you, and you're desperately hoping he's not. That's OK.

...however, he IS lying to you. Proceed as you see fit, but at least be aware of what you're doing and why.
posted by aramaic at 7:01 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

What is the language of his country?

I can help you by translating (or having people of my acquaintance translate) to a handful of languages. If it's Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, German, French, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Estonian, Ucranian, Finnish, Arabic or Russian memail me. I'm probably forgetting someone, and I imagine other mefites are willing to do the same, so please tell us even if it's a different language.
posted by Promethea at 7:24 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much. In particular, I used like_neon's instructions when I was feeling so overwhelmed. All the offers to help really meant a lot to me.

I found more congratulations postings and photos on Facebook. The event was held at the fanciest hotel in the city, and there were families and friends and a 6-tier cake... It was an giant engagement party, one expensive enough that I mistook it for a wedding. It hurts more knowing how extravagant it was, how much planning it must have needed, how many guests were so happy for them.

When I confronted him today, he admitted that he's engaged. I can't comprehend it. Obviously we can't date anymore, and I shouldn't talk to him anymore. But I don't know how to start feeling like a whole person again. I'm angry and heartbroken, and I don't know what to do when part of me is so betrayed and the other part still loves him. Crazily enough, that part of me that cares about him is even a little glad that he found someone he really loves. But I don't know what my tomorrow morning will be like without a good morning text from him, without hearing his voice. Everything is so surreal. He asked me for another Skype tomorrow, and I think it really, really needs to be the last time we talk for a long time. Because I still want too much to believe him when he tells me he loves me.

But really, really thank you. Without everyone, I would have just ignored the photos otherwise, told myself that I'm overreacting, that everything is ok. Thank you.
posted by sockpuppetry at 9:24 PM on June 20, 2015 [114 favorites]

I'm so sorry, OP, for the pain you are experiencing right now. Please do yourself a favor and do not speak to this man again. Do not give him even a second more of an opportunity to use you.
posted by bardophile at 9:31 PM on June 20, 2015 [15 favorites]

Oh god, I am so sorry that this is the case. Really, really sorry.

I think it's fine to have one last call with him - for some goddamn sense of closure for you. For what you are going through right now. But not tomorrow. Wait for a good week, two weeks, a month. Then have the conversation. You'll thank yourself for this distance later, for being able to have a real conversation, and what will truly be the last one. My very best to you.
posted by meerkatty at 9:33 PM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sockpuppetry, I am so, so sorry. I can't imagine how heartbroken and betrayed you must feel. With someone so toxic, it is best to go no-contact (heck, that's even healthy in good breakups), but it is very hard to do, so be strong. Take care of yourself. It's gonna hurt BADLY for a long time. With some distance, you'll see you dodged a very, very bad bullet and this guy getting out of your life was the BEST outcome. Hugs.
posted by missmary6 at 9:33 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

DO NOT SKYPE TOMORROW OR EVER with this creep. Block him on all social media, email lists, phone to prevent him from reaching you. He will never give you the answers or closure you need. I know this from a very similar and painful past relationship. Be kind to yourself and walk away from this madness. So sorry this happened to you.
posted by Karotz at 9:37 PM on June 20, 2015 [50 favorites]

I would cancel tomorrow's Skype date or at least just be a no-show for it. (If you go the no-show route, leave the house/turn off Skype, so you aren't even tempted to answer when he calls.) No good will come from talking with him further right now. Heck, knowing how he's played your these past days (months? years?) he may even come up with some cockamamie story about how we was forced into the engagement, is having second thoughts, really wants you back, etc. that is just going to make your extremely necessary break-up harder.
posted by whitewall at 9:42 PM on June 20, 2015 [60 favorites]

I am so so sorry this is something that you have to go through. I kept you in my mind during yoga this afternoon before you wrote more tonight, sending positive thoughts your way, and I think many people here are doing the same. You deserve much more. Don't make the skype call. Do something nice for yourself tomorrow instead. Its your turn to be selfish.
posted by Marinara at 9:57 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

My deepest condolences, I really feel terrible for you. No decent, non-sociopathic person would do this to another someone else. Cheating is selfish and hurtful, but this goes so far beyond that, the deceit, it's hard to believe someone could be so deceitful and cavalier about your feelings.

But that all means that you should try your very best to not ever speak to him again. You don't know him, you never did, the person you could talk to tomorrow is not someone who cares about you, or who can be trusted to act in your interests. You should not let people like speak to you intimately, it's not good for your health. It is 100% normal to want to talk to this guy, i probably would to in your situation, but I would just encourage you to try your best to cut ties 100% and never speak to him again. It's normal to feel hurt, it's okay to be sad, but he is 100% at fault here, and so you should do whatever you can to stop relying on him for support. Good luck to you.
posted by skewed at 10:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just wanted to chime in as another internet stranger who thought of you today and hates that this has happened. You do not deserve this (nobody could!), and you couldn't have seen it coming, but I am glad, at least, that you know the truth.

I doubt you are near Atlanta, but if you are, I would gladly buy you a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. If you want, feel free to memail me and I will do what I can to cheer you up, or distract you.

Be kind to yourself. You have suffered a huge shock and nothing will feel normal for a while. (That is normal. It will get better.)
posted by jessicapierce at 10:03 PM on June 20, 2015 [17 favorites]

He may be telling the truth when he says he loves you. But it's not love in a form you can use.

Very sorry this has turned out this way. Just remember most people are not giant two-faced jerks, being open to other people is a good and normal thing, and you have been really unlucky.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

Crazily enough, that part of me that cares about him is even a little glad that he found someone he really loves.

That right there? Is evidence enough that you are too good a human to even allow this dirtbag to ever hear your voice again.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 10:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [118 favorites]

Congratulations on having found that small still voice inside you that not only caught the deception but marshaled your resources to ask the question here and keep reading and keep investigating.

And also I am so sorry. I would definitely not characterize this as he found someone he "really loves." He is at the very least very, very messed up and whatever he calls love is something most people don't recognize. This was done to you, and you were fully invested and loving. But it was not about you; this was not a decently behaving person.

Take care of you.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:09 PM on June 20, 2015 [19 favorites]

Whatever strength and aid we as a community were able to offer you in exposing this epic deception and helping you protect yourself, how awful to think that this has no resonance in his immediate orbit. There is an oblivious young woman who is about to marry this monster, and children may be conceived in lies.

If you have the stomach for it, you could insist on Skype-ing, with a translator on your side (if that's really needed), to his fiance. It might speed your healing, and give her a fighting chance.
posted by Scram at 10:20 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

He really loves her so much that he was going to keep carrying on a relationship with someone else behind her back indefinitely? Really have to feel sorry for that woman too!

I don't think you should Skype with him ever again. I don't think it will give you closure. I think it will just give him another chance to hurt you. Take care of yourself. Go do something relaxing with friends instead. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:25 PM on June 20, 2015 [20 favorites]

Oh, honey. I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. I've kept this thread open all day to see what happened and if you were okay. I wouldn't talk to him tomorrow. It's still too raw and emotional. Maybe after some time has passed, but not tomorrow.

Tomorrow, if I were you, I'd take the day to spoil myself. Go out with friends, get a massage or a fancy dessert or whatever indulgence you like but usually feel guilty about splurging on. Try to forget about this whole messed up situation for the day, or vent to your best friend about how fucked up it all is; whichever will make you feel better. There's no right way to deal with this, just do whatever works best for you.

I'm glad you trusted yourself enough to push for answers when something didn't feel right. You listened to that nagging feeling that we so often ignore, and that's great! Good for you! At least now you know what kind of person he was, before you got even more emotionally invested.

You've got an army of internet strangers on your side, rooting for you. You can get through this. You can do this.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:27 PM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

He admitted to getting engaged? Hell no. He's still lying. Remember, when you first confronted him he admitted to a fake wedding... If it had been an engagement, his first go-to quick lie would have been a fake engagement. He is trying to keep you on the hook because an engagement may not seem as committed as a marriage and maybe you'll stick around for more of whatever this bullcrap scam of his is. He. Is. Still. Lying.
posted by ellenaim at 10:34 PM on June 20, 2015 [101 favorites]

I think ellenaim is right: it was a wedding. He's married and fucking with you.

Please don't talk to him ever again. Ever. The above commenters are right: no good will come of it, he will lie to you some more, and you will expose yourself to further hurt. I'm so sorry.
posted by Specklet at 10:48 PM on June 20, 2015 [19 favorites]

Yeah, he's likely still lying to you. He's a gross sad creepy person and you should never have anything to do with him again. Block him on all social media, block him on skype and your phone, forward all his emails to trash.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 PM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

Yeah, don't Skype with that guy, he's just using this time right now to think up more bullcrap that he thinks you'll buy so he can string you along some more.

If you do, come back here and tell us what he said so we can debunk all of the lies.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:06 PM on June 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

I have followed this whole thread with a spark of hope that maybe things were just really really weird because you seemed like such a lovely person. I just wanted check in and say that I'm really sorry that this happened to you, that this doesn't mean you're dumb (people like this are often expert manipulators with a lot of practice), and that you come off here as a wonderful, communicative, loving person. He doesn't deserve your time or your affections; you are so far out of this creep's league you'd have to plot it on an exponential curve.

It's totally fine to be devastated and heartbroken. I definitely would be. But I just wanted to be a stranger on the internet telling you that you deserve better and someday not too long from now you won't be giving this dingus another thought because you'll be out there finding the kind of partner who'd be damn lucky to have you -- and knows it.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:13 PM on June 20, 2015 [23 favorites]

I wouldn't skype him tomorrow. I would send his fiance a certified letter with this printed out in it and some other things from the past few years.

I know you don't believe it, but someday not too far from now you will: that guy is not a human being and is, and I really mean this, garbage scum masquerading as an actual person. His entire life will come to ruin slowly as his lies and deceit crumble in on themselves, and he will be left a human wasteland with only sorrow behind him. He'll probably think it isn't his fault. If we're lucky, the greatest mercy will be that he does not have children to pass on the horror of his existence to.

And you'll go on to a much happier and real relationship. No more long distance. Find a guy who likes you right there. I promise one exists.

Also please get over this self-doubt:
I found more congratulations postings and photos on Facebook. The event was held at the fanciest hotel in the city, and there were families and friends and a 6-tier cake... It was an giant engagement party, one expensive enough that I mistook it for a wedding.

You did not mistake it for a wedding. That was a wedding.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:24 PM on June 20, 2015 [61 favorites]

Oh my gosh, this just gets worse and worse. Why won't be just stop lying? I agree with those above that this wasn't an engagement party, it was a wedding. I'm also wondering if she ever even was an ex.

I'm pretty sure that if you Skype with this guy tomorrow, he's going to tell you more bizarre lies to try to get out of trouble here. Who knows what it could be? "The marriage is just for extra tax rebates"? "I'm not actually in a real relationship with her. She has terminal cancer and wanted to experience engagement and marriage before she passes"? "We don't have to stop seeing each other. She prefers open relationships"?

I would be tempted to send her evidence of your relationship so that she knows just how much of a scumbag this guy is, but I also wouldn't blame you if you didn't do that. She might think you're a crazy ex or that you're making the whole thing up. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to go no contact. He's just going to keep manipulating and gaslighting you.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:06 AM on June 21, 2015 [12 favorites]

I know of at least one culture where an engagement party is just as elaborate as a wedding to outsider eyes. So folks how about we stop telling the OP how she's wrong about her own internet sleuthing?

Because at the end of the day whether it's an engagement or wedding party makes no difference at all. He's a lying cheating douchecanoe and you, dear sockpuppetry, deserve far better.

I will echo everyone above vis-a-vis not Skyping further and going no contact immediately. Don't drag it out and don't contact the wife/fiancé as you'll just get painted as a crazy ex, which will only hurt more.

Let yourself mourn and when you're about to rip out your hair, go for what I like to call cathartic violence. Beat the shit out of your pillow or head to your local batting cages and let rip. Make meringue cookies and whip the ever living hell out of those egg whites. Whatever floats your boat, the key is that it's sufficiently physical and repetitive .

Many hugs to you and remember: you're awesome and deserve better.
posted by romakimmy at 12:31 AM on June 21, 2015 [21 favorites]

I would never talk to him again and tbh, I'd be finding a way to contact his fiancée and let her know that he's been in a relationship with you for 18 months!
posted by missmagenta at 12:40 AM on June 21, 2015 [11 favorites]

This situation totally sucks.

Having said that, I would rather be in your shoes than those of the person he is now engaged to.

As much as it hurts right now, it looks like you have avoided potentially wasting more time with this guy, and finding out what he's really like at much older than the 23 you are now. Bullet dodged!
posted by Prof Iterole at 12:49 AM on June 21, 2015 [17 favorites]

I woke up this morning thinking of you and wondering if you'd got to the bottom of this. I agree with everyone who's said don't Skype with him. I'd also be thinking about tracing his fiancée via social media and sending her the link to this thread.
posted by essexjan at 1:11 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Joining the please don't Skype with him, tomorrow or ever, chorus. In fact, I like the idea mentioned above of just being a no-show. Block him on everything, don't speak to him again.

You won't get closure. I didn't get closure on a relationship of well over a decade that ended badly. But time does provide some kind of closure in that you do, eventually, get some kind of perspective as you move on. (That said: I don't really believe in the concept of closure. Life's just not like that.) And I know you're thinking--but I just need to talk to him once more, to understand. You'll never understand, at least not from talking to him.

Whatever you want to do as far as the wife/fiancee goes is up to you. If you feel like tracking her down and telling her, maybe do so, but really, you need to be looking after yourself. Their relationship is not your responsibility, and I think you just need to distance yourself from these people and this situation as much as possible. If you do seek her out, make sure you aren't doing so as a way to keep yourself in the picture somehow or prolong the situation/drama.

I'm really sorry! It may hurt so much for maybe longer than people say it should, and you might wonder how anyone survives being so heartbroken (or you may feel no one has ever been this heartbroken, because how could they be in so much pain and then walk around afterward like a normal person?), and then it really will get better. I promise. Somehow, it does.
posted by tiger tiger at 1:22 AM on June 21, 2015 [9 favorites]

Don't Skype with him. You will just be giving him the opportunity to lie more and you want too much to believe his lies. Don't torture yourself.
posted by amro at 2:30 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

SockPuppettry, I'm sorry this is happenning to you - warm Internet hug, and please don't hesitate to memail if you want to talk or just vent.
I would only do the Skype call if it can provide closure to you. If you're ready to get out of it, thinking you've dodged a huge bullet and that guy was a major asshole. If you go into it thinking he might offer a cogent explanation, or if you are still ready to give him benefit of the doubt, I suggest you don't do the call.

It will get better.
posted by motdiem2 at 2:34 AM on June 21, 2015

I am so sorry this guy turned out to be such a jerk. Take care of yourself. And be proud of yourself for trusting your gut to question this, and being strong and demanding answers. I do agree that you should not take this call, because based on his actions so far he won't give you answers, only more lies. Ignore his call, and spend time treating yourself, distracting with movies, or going out w a friend, etc whichever feels best. Hugs from another concerned internet stranger who is keeping you in their thoughts.
posted by NikitaNikita at 3:12 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

What a gift. Time for self reflection and moving on. Not worth much more than a passing thought anymore.
posted by tarvuz at 3:24 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sockpuppetry I'm so sorry this is happening to you. You seem like a genuinely lovely person and this dude is totally taking advantage of you.

Before you take this Skype call with him think about the escalation in lies that he has put you through.

First he was in a fake wedding for a promotional video that the university was creating.

Then it's some grad student project fake wedding.

Now it's just a engagement party.

Dude is beyond playing you. I'm surprised he even knows his own name with this intricate web he's created.

Look, at the end of the day it doesn't matter if he's married or engaged. He has shown he is capable and willing to deceive you (repeatedly) with outrageous lies that he tells so smoothly because he knows you will believe him.

Does he deserve any more of your time? Only if you're going to be burning his ears off with some Grade A telling off (preferably at a volume his wife, yes sorry wife, can hear you from next door). But it sounds like you're a better person than me so I think you should just leave him hanging because he doesn't deserve a fucking second more of your time.
posted by like_neon at 3:52 AM on June 21, 2015 [18 favorites]

I know you're hurting but you got so lucky here! You haven't married him yourself, you'll be able to move on much easier then if you had to get divorced. If you need to see how bad things can get and how lucky you are then watch a few episodes of "holiday love rats exposed"... I send hugs!
posted by catspajammies at 3:55 AM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Don't take the call. If you have things you would like to tell him you can write them to him, but he has nothing to say that can be of help to you, even if it isn't lies. Its quite possible he will tell you that this is a marriage that he is expected to make, either through a formal arrangement or plain societal/familial expectations or obligations but that you can still be together. Perhaps he will tell you that this is a normal set-up, perhaps it even is; but I don't think that's much of a future for you. Block his accounts, forward his emails to trash and grieve your relationship like he had been cheating on you and you kicked him out. I'm sorry it went down like this, take care of yourself!
posted by Iteki at 5:30 AM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry for what you have gone through. My heart aches for you. It will be hard, and if you do Skype or talk with him about this as agreed, make a promise to yourself that it will be the last time. For closure's sake. Then unfriend him, block him, cut off all contact, and surround yourself with friends and family for the next two weeks - at least. This is for self preservation. And cutting off contact is going to be so so hard, but please stick with it. He sounds toxic with this huge lie he been feeding you for however long, and you cannot heal if you don't get distance from him.

I dated a liar for 4 and a half years, and six months after we broke up we were still talking about getting back together, seeing each other, and i found out later he was still lying, stringing me along so if the woman he was engaged to (suspiciously soon after we broke up) didn't work out I would still be his fall back option, or an ego stroke, or something beneficial to only him. I have no idea why he did what he did but I wish I had cut off contact sooner than I did so as not to lose more of my time to his games. But it was impossibly hard. I still find myself wanting to know what he's doing, it's still hard 4 years later, but i never would have been able to move on if he were still in my life.

Spend time on you, take care of you; the next few months, maybe years will be hard. Lean on your people and create your new world without a shred of his influence. Then you can look back, once you're feeling a little more mended, and remember your time with him fondly. Don't take the risk that he might try to manipulate you again. He did it once before, he is capable of doing it again. Don't let it be you again.
posted by danapiper at 5:36 AM on June 21, 2015 [9 favorites]

The pull to believe and rationalize ANYTHING a loved one does is one of the most powerful forces there is. We invest the best of ourselves in those we love and that allows them power over our hearts, souls and minds.

Love is the hope that such investment will never come back to harm us. Trust is giving others the weapons that can destroy us and believing they will never be knowingly, ruthlessly, and cruelly used against us. When that happens anyway, and we are betrayed and crushed, it's pain like no other.

Rejection is the realization of some our worst fears, all rolled into one... we feel abandoned, devalued, insignificant, stupid, you name it.

NONE OF IT IS TRUE. Everything negative you are internalizing now is his final crime against you. He's made you believe you are unlovable and worthless. I repeat... IT'S NOT TRUE.

My dearest stranger, I know this feeling intimately. The answer and the resolution are not to be found in him. Your instincts tell you that when you hurt, to seek him for comfort. That's your pattern and it's long-ingrained. It "feels right" to want contact with him, because in the past, contact with him helped make you feel better. But now, he has no answers for you. He cannot help you. He cannot explain this to you. You must break this pattern and stop looking to him as your sources of comfort, of- anything.

Much like an alcoholic or drug addict, you cannot handle even one drop. You cannot "dabble" in him recreationally, or on days when you might feel capable. You owe him nothing. You owe this other woman nothing. You must devote yourself to YOU. I find it quite fortunate that this is an LDR. You will never have to see him or be in his presence, which can seriously derail such recovery efforts. Use all the tools technology offers to obliterate his existence from your world.

This is Day One of your newfound relationship sobriety. NO CONTACT. Cold turkey. Every day you manage it, you will get stronger. Walk away from that which has harmed you and never look back. He does not deserve you. He was a mistake you can now learn from.

Please take my words in a spirit of compassion. I'm not trying to lecture you or discount your feelings. I realize I may be projecting onto your experience. I wish only the best for you and despise the pain and cruelty it appears this man has inflicted on you.

Feel free to memail me if you like. :-)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:41 AM on June 21, 2015 [36 favorites]

I have been the you in this situation, and it messed with my head something fierce. You are definitely well-shot of him. Cutting him off is probably your best choice but God knows I didn't partly because I really wanted to KNOW WHY he was a two-timing jerkface and so on, but you won't get satisfactory answers to these questions from him, and the ongoing contact just delayed me in getting my head back together.

Feel free to memail me. This is a tough and shitty thing to go through.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:51 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, I was your age (22, about to turn 23) when a pretty significant long-term relationship ended on me. It...it wasn't a great relationship. I mostly get annoyed with myself when I think about that boyfriend and that relationship because I put up with so much bullshit from him for pretty much no reason.

The point is, I never got "closure". We were long distance when things ended and I never saw him or spoke to him again. (Yeah, he tried to call and he sent a few emails, but I was so mad that I just ignored them. No regrets.)

Closure over that relationship has come in the years of happy, fulfilling, and fun relationships and dating experiences I've had since then. I learned so much about how to be in a relationship from that lousy relationship! I learned how to expect more from the people I was dating, I learned to speak up when there were problems, I learned that what I want and need is absolutely 100% valid and important, and I've applied all of those things to every relationship since. That broken pieces from that one shitty relationship helped me lay the groundwork for the last seven years of wonderful ones. Don't get me wrong, being in a crap relationship isn't a good or positive experience, but you can learn a lot about yourself and a lot about bad relationships by being in one, and use that knowledge for good in the future.

If you really want to skype with this guy tomorrow, or at some future time, by all means--you can. But that skype call isn't going to give you any closure. Closure isn't some tangible thing. Closure is a combination of time, introspection, and ultimately moving on with your life, and that doesn't happen in a phone call and that doesn't happen with another person. It happens with you.

I agree with everyone here that it's a good idea for you to shake up your routine a bit right now and really go out and treat yourself with something nice. This guy has done something awful to you, and it's a perfectly reasonable response to go and do something silly, indulgent, and a little frivolous to coddle yourself through it. Do it alone, with friends, or with someone new--you have almost 200 responses here from people all over the country and world who would all be happy to take you out for coffee and pie.
posted by phunniemee at 5:57 AM on June 21, 2015 [36 favorites]

I've been reading this during the last day and hoping for you that something better-than-it-seemed would come from it. I had something a bit similar happen in my 20s, and I still remember the feeling of loss and humiliation. I hope you have people around you who can help you grieve and move on.

Walk or hike, take long hot baths, get a facial, do *anything* except call him. There is no closure to be gained here. I would also leave the fiance thing alone. She's not your responsibility, and you need to take care of yourself.

I doubt you would find yourself in Hong Kong, but should you then memail me and I will take you out for elaborate champagne cocktails in a skybar.
posted by frumiousb at 6:32 AM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am so sorry that this happened to you. I'm one of the Mefites who was checking in on this thread yesterday but I haven't joined in until now. I'm adding my vote for going no contact sooner rather than later. When I was involved in a very emotionally unhealthy relationship, the day I began to get closure and move on toward the life I deserved was the day I cut off all communication. No checking his Facebook, no reading old email, no reaching out or accepting any interaction at all. And I started doing this by literally telling myself "no contact with him TODAY" because no contact EVER was something I couldn't wrap my head or my heart around at the time. I'm now on nearly four years of "todays" and I've never been happier and healthier. You 'll get there too. Good luck to you--you deserve so much more than you've been getting.
posted by bookmammal at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2015 [9 favorites]

He asked me for another Skype tomorrow, and I think it really, really needs to be the last time we talk for a long time. Because I still want too much to believe him when he tells me he loves me.

I'd urge you to cut him off and never talk to him again. This will never be over until you stop subjecting yourself to more damaging behaviour from him. If you talk to him, he'll lie, he'll make empty promises, he'll make shitty excuses, he'll try to put the blame on you in some way, and it just means you'll have more shitty memories to be angry and hurt and messed up about.

As for believing that he loves you... what he did to you isn't love, no matter what he says. Love is a verb, and we demonstrate love or its absence through our actions. Love shouldn't hurt. Love isn't dishonest, disrespectful, selfish, or cruel, and it doesn't betray. You would never have treated him this way because you love him, right? He treated you this way because he doesn't love you. He may not even be capable of love, because he's also betrayed his fiancée or wife.

Put this behind you, concentrate on making your life as worthwhile and rewarding and fun as it can be, and do your best to forget all about this man. He doesn't deserve another minute of your precious time.
posted by orange swan at 7:42 AM on June 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

I think it really, really needs to be the last time we talk f̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶.̶

It's hard to comprehend just now, I know. But you don't owe him anything, and there's nothing to be gained by ever talking to him again. If you leave "a long time" as an option, good money says that "a long time" will be in a few days; You'll still be in turmoil and hoping for a miracle, and he'll still be able to work with that. Ask us how we know.

This is usually true even when "a long time" really is months or years. The desire for closure is so real, but the reality of closure is that it's (almost always) a mirage. In my experience, trying to parse why someone would hurt us so badly by talking to the person who hurt us so badly simply prolongs the agony. I've wasted years reopening wounds and chasing ghosts, with only a polite acquaintanceship -- at best -- to show for it.

Scream in your closet, punch something (within reason), start a ridiculous hobby project. Hell, I don't normally endorse this, but be a jerk about (not to) this guy on the internet. But whatever you do, burn this situation. Burn it with fire.
posted by credible hulk at 8:14 AM on June 21, 2015 [22 favorites]

Ugh please do NOT talk to him ever again and block his everything everywhere. He's just going to lie and manipulate you more.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Everyone commenting here clearly has the best intentions and wants you to be safe from ongoing emotional harm. You have also just found out that due to your boyfriend's lies, there are so many choices you didn't get to make during your relationship, because he kept critical information hidden from you.

Part of the healing process can include making your own choices. You have the most information about your own situation, so you are in the best position to decide on how to proceed.

If that means having another conversation with him, so be it. I thoroughly agree that he doesn't deserve another minute of your time, but it is your decision, and AskMe will continue to offer ideas and suggestions, no matter what you decide to do.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:42 AM on June 21, 2015 [19 favorites]

I found more congratulations postings and photos on Facebook. The event was held at the fanciest hotel in the city, and there were families and friends and a 6-tier cake... It was an giant engagement party, one expensive enough that I mistook it for a wedding.

This is another case of the power imbalance that exists between you and this guy-- you don't know whether this was an engagement party or a wedding because he is able to tell you, "this is what engagement celebrations look like in my country!" and you don't have the ability to know if that is true or not. And this is a pattern with him that it seems he knows he can take advantage of: he knows that he can literally tell you anything, and because of the language gap, cultural gap, and distance, you have no choice but to accept it on face value.

I'm so, so sorry you ended up with this guy. He saw ways in which he could take advantage of you, and he did it.
posted by deanc at 10:28 AM on June 21, 2015 [21 favorites]

You know what's awesome, though? You spoke up when you were confused, and you finally got him to admit that you were not being a crazy, suspicious female type person. It would have been tempting to believe what he told you, both to maintain the illusion of your relationship and your status as a "low-maintenance" girlfriend. Your instincts turned out to be right; your bullshit meter is well-calibrated.

I would block all contact. When I look back on past failed relationships, I find the ones where I just walked away much more satisfying to remember than any that involved revenge or breakup arguments. He's not worth any more of your time or effort, and completely extracting him from your life is a great way to show him that.
posted by bibliowench at 12:18 PM on June 21, 2015 [29 favorites]

You've learned that he is someone who will flat out lie, not just once but over and over, to the people who live him, trust him, and are vulnerable to him, in pursuit of his self interest.

I imagine you have a certain image of him from your relationship together, one that is positive. This is new information that you need to internalize and incorporate into your view and understanding of him.

A lot of cultures accept, or even expect men to treat the woman in their lives this way, in ways they would not tolerate if the man were deceiving business associates, for example, or their own male family members. They might not consider how a man treats women to be integral to or relevatory of his character.

It's your prerogative to accept or reject that. Personally I believe that his choices do reflect the core of his character, as well as how he views women, and would rightly affect your respect for him.

A person can have many good qualities, show strength under many circumstances, and still be fundamentally a weasel. Maybe this is something about him that his culture, and even his bride, accept as part of the package of him.

Your decision to leave him (or not, as you decide) will be part of your determining and living by your own values of what you respect and who you want to be intimately associated with.

In the scheme of things, I think figuring that out and living by it (as best you can, I think this kind of thing is an ongoing struggle) is much more important than whether you Skype with him tomorrow or not. I think the people advising you not to are sharing their guess as to the course of action that will be the most conducive and least painful (still plenty painful) way forward for you on that path. I think they're probably correct. But whether you Skype(d) or not, I hope you'll remember and feel confident that you'll have endless opportunities to make the (small and large) choices that will bring you in alignment with your own values.

Now would be a great time to lean on your personal support network of people whose character you do trust. Don't be afraid of seeming foolish or feel like you have something to hide. Give people the chance to know you and support you. Having a strong friendship network is invaluable when it comes to keeping you honest to yourself and resistant to manipulation and exploitation in a way that lets you make sound judgments about risk taking and helps you bounce back when a risk comes back the wrong way (which they inevitably sometimes will).

Yay for you! Even if you don't feel this way just now, equipped with this new knowledge, you are so much better off today than you were this time last week.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

For the love of all that is good, do not ever speak with this person again. Ever. For any length of time. For any reason. Ever. Ever Ever ever ever. Ever. Ever.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

I sort of really like the compile all the emails/texts/skype text chats/etc with this guy in to a zip file/print a bunch of it out and mail it to the "fiance"(I'm also on team "who knows if this was an engagement or a wedding") idea.

Is that making a "clean break"? Nah. Would i do it?

Oh hell yes.

I'd document this as best as i could and make my best effort at her seeing it. Will he probably try and paper bullshit about you being some ke-razy ex? Yea, but i mean, the evidence is right there. You have texts and stuff from him within the past few days even saying like "good morning sweetheart :)" and stuff and being all flirty/coupley right? That's pretty fucking hard to explain away, and i'm really doubting she's any kind of dunce that wouldn't at least start to doubt that this guy wasn't at least somewhat full of shit.
posted by emptythought at 1:59 PM on June 21, 2015 [16 favorites]

I don't know what my tomorrow morning will be like without a good morning text from him, without hearing his voice.

Remember, even if you did get one of those texts again, you'd be looking at the local time to figure out whether he sent it while he was with her and what they were doing. Cheating devalues everything. But tomorrow morning does have one thing in it which your mornings haven't had for 18 months, which is the possibility that it will be the day you find genuine, lasting happiness.

But I don't know how to start feeling like a whole person again.

Of the two of you, I don't think it's you who has the problem with wholeness.

But I know what you mean, so here's how. You follow the great advice in this thread. You read lots of other AskMe threads about how to get over breakups with lying scumbags. In a few days, you post another question here about any outstanding issues. One day you catch yourself being relieved you're not still with him and you build, build, build on that.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:56 PM on June 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

I sort of really like the compile all the emails/texts/skype text chats/etc with this guy in to a zip file/print a bunch of it out and mail it to the "fiance"(I'm also on team "who knows if this was an engagement or a wedding") idea.

I know a lot of the contributors to this thread would urge you not to do this, saying that the fiancée/wife is not your problem and to stay out of it, but you know what, if I were the woman this guy is marrying/has married I WOULD BLOODY WELL WANT TO KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. She should know who he is so she has a fighting chance of getting away from this guy before she wastes the best years of her life on him, or worse, has children with him and is tied to him for life.

Alternatively, if you decide not to contact the fiancée/wife and you should have trouble with this guy not respecting that you don't want to talk to him anymore, you'll have leverage. You can tell the guy if he contacts you again, you'll contact his wife and tell her everything. A man like this one may refuse to leave you in peace for your own sake or for decency's sake because his behaviour is all about whatever he wants and happens to feel like doing, and the way to deal with someone like that is to make it all about consequences for him.
posted by orange swan at 4:16 PM on June 21, 2015 [24 favorites]

If you talk to the fiance, please be aware that she is likely not to believe you (at least at first - for reasons I'm sure you understand), and your ex will do everything in his power to paint you as crazy. This isn't me saying that you shouldn't try, but be aware of what you're getting into, and it's totally okay to not be up for that right now.

I'm so sorry, OP. You'll get through this.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:36 PM on June 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

"You know what's awesome, though? You spoke up when you were confused, and you finally got him to admit that you were not being a crazy, suspicious female type person. It would have been tempting to believe what he told you, both to maintain the illusion of your relationship and your status as a "low-maintenance" girlfriend. Your instincts turned out to be right; your bullshit meter is well-calibrated. "

This really bears repeating. That WAS awesome.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:11 AM on June 22, 2015 [37 favorites]

Sorry this happened but please tell his wife ("fiancé"). Ask her if she can confirm that she is with him because he has been denying it. She definitely needs to know that she was referred to as an ex and that he is still a liar. Forward the emails because then his address will be on it. If I was her i'd want to know. Let her be the one who chooses whether to stay or not. He will probably BS her ('it was an LTR, we barely saw each other' etc.) but that is on her.

Btw I don't know how Skype works but can you secretly record it? This is good evidence for his fiancé/wife. Ask good, framing questions.

Then absolutely cut him off cold. This is not a relationship to mourn since you have no idea who you were in a relationship with.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 2:35 AM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

First, congrats on being amazingly strong, as others have pointed out. You trusted your gut. Unfortunately, it was right, because guts are always right. Heads and hearts can be confused forever, but the gut punch in the middle of the night knows what's what.

Second, not that it should matter to you a bit, I'm in the Skype-if-you-want-to camp, but only if you think you can remember that the man is a master in creating lies that are believable to YOU. He has your number down by heart. He will know exactly what to say--better than anyone else in the world--to make you believe him. If there's one single chink in your armor, he'll know how to get through. That makes him seriously dangerous to you while you're already damaged. (Basically, you're immunocompromised and he's the black plague and wants to lick your tonsils.) If you do Skype, maybe think about calling a friend, telling her everything, and holding her hand throughout the call. A witness will make calling him every name in the book easier and will pour whiskey down your throat afterward.

Repetitive persistence works well in confronting liars. They want to confuse you, and will send their sensible-sounding sentences bouncing off yours, making YOU feel crazy, so if you Skype, you might want to try it. Just pick a phrase and stick with it. Sound like a four-year-old. "I don't know why you're lying to me." No need to shout. Just say it, and wait for his response. Then say it again. "I don't know why you're lying to me." Wait for the next spin. "I don't know why you're lying to me." Do it twenty or thirty more times if that's what it takes. He's waiting for you to try to PROVE to him that he's lied, which he knows you can't do. If he can't shake your belief that he lied with just his words, he'll panic.

You're in a terrible position. They say broken hearts are sometimes harder to deal with than death, because you know your beloved is out there, having a life. Cry a lot, more than you ever knew you could. Pick up a copy of "How to Survive the Loss of a Love." It's an oldie but it got me through my worst break-up when I was 28.

Luckily, you have 200+ people sending him little mental razor blades through the ether. You have backup and buy-in.

You can do this. I'm sorry you have to.
posted by yarnagogo at 2:42 AM on June 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

Btw I don't know how Skype works but can you secretly record it?

According to the Digital Media Law Project:
If you plan to record telephone calls or in-person conversations (including by recording video that captures sound), you should be aware that there are federal and state wiretapping laws that may limit your ability to do so. These laws not only expose you to the risk of criminal prosecution, but also potentially give an injured party a civil claim for money damages against you.
There are a variety of legal issues that may exist with regard to outing your former boyfriend as a liar, and a lawyer [MeFi Wiki] with experience in these issues can provide specific advice on how to proceed if you want to take any kind of action to publicize his wrongdoing. Since you are potentially dealing with legal systems in another country, you may also benefit from advice from a lawyer in that jurisdiction. Lashing out in anger might feel justified at the time, but understanding the risks associated with escalating this conflict could help protect you in the long run.

I suggest first taking care of yourself while you process the initial grief and shock, before making any decisions about whether to launch a campaign against your former boyfriend. It seems unlikely that the wife-to-be of this master manipulator is going to be swayed by a rejected former girlfriend, and it may also take some time to figure out whether you want to expend the energy and additional time wrapped up in his dysfunctional world, and whether it will help you move on and heal in a way that is most healthy for you.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

This former boyfriend of yours is likely a sociopath. You said yourself that you are not the most secure person - which is unfortunately just the type of person that sociopaths can manipulate so well. But you need to congratulate yourself amidst the pain because you listened to and trusted your inner voice in spite of not feeling secure about it. This is not only the first step in extricating yourself from a destructive relationship, but also the first step in becoming a more secure person since you now know that you can trust yourself and that your own suspicions and judgements are not wrong or audacious.

I think most people here can see that you are stronger than you might think and hopefully you see that in yourself now too. Leave this mess behind and try not to let it harden you but move forward as a wiser and stronger person. I feel for you in this totally bizarre experience - best of luck!
posted by jnnla at 9:07 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well at least he admitted it to you. (although I wonder if he's actually married instead of engaged right now.) Well, there's no point in skyping with him at all anymore no matter what he wants. The only person you might want to speak to is his bride to be or someone in her family to let her know you've been seeing him. It doesn't matter if she doesn't appreciate the news from you or believes you. That's all entirely her choice, but at least by being given the knowledge she's given the opportunity to make a more informed choice about her future. I know if I were marrying a man like this I'd want to know. Of course you have to take care of YOU first, so if you don't feel you have the emotional fortitude to let his fiancee know, then just keep it to yourself. Either way, avoid him completely- cold turkey and try to make your calendar in the upcoming weeks as busy and as social as possible.
posted by manderin at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2015

When I broke up with a bad boyfriend in an extreme situation, and when I told him it was over, I said specifically that I wouldn't engage in any conversation from that point forward. It would have been too risky to give him an opportunity to manipulate me, and I knew it. I have to go with the No-Skype faction here. Stay brave.
posted by tizzie at 10:54 AM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry that this has happened. I hope you can just totally drop him and not spend any more time listening to his lies. My thoughts are with you :(
posted by getawaysticks at 11:00 AM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know what my tomorrow morning will be like without a good morning text from him, without hearing his voice.

You know what? Although nobody can replace that thrill while you grieve the loss of what you thought you had, dozens of people here would be happy to send you platonic-friendly texts, chat, skype with you, or even send you snail-mail. And every word of it would be authentic.

I'm guessing you're in a lonely place right now; even authentic, mutual LDRs can be isolating. Maybe you can let some of these wonderful People From The Internet give you company while you heal.
posted by wonton endangerment at 11:25 AM on June 22, 2015 [26 favorites]

A few thoughts now that we know what happened here...

1) I think its fine for you to contact the fiancee/wife (I say probably wife, but at this point it doesn't really matter), but not right now. You're very vulnerable right now (as anyone would be!) and who knows what kind of stuff reaching out to her could ensnare you in. Yeah, if I were gonna marry this dude, I'd want to know, but you don't owe her anything. Right now, you need to take care of yourself. Take some time - at least a month or two - to process things, and then see how you feel. If you want to contact her at that point, go ahead.

2) I'm on Team Cold Turkey/No Contact, but if you want to have one last skype call, go ahead. Just make sure that it really is the LAST one, and make sure you don't fall for his bullshit. If he tries to sell you some bullshit, come back to this thread.

3) You shouldn't ever talk to this man again. That said, my own experience tells me that adding the qualifier "for a long time" helps cut the cord. It's fine to tell yourself "we are not going to talk again for a very long time," as long as you ignore whatever efforts he may make to contact you. Before you know it, the months will turn to years and it won't matter anymore. Ultimately, that's the only kind of closure there is.

Hang in there.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:30 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

He did something bad. You, being a nice decent human being, believed him. The reasons why he did it are pretty irrelevant- he did bad, for whatever reasons good or ill- but you are the one to bear the hurt. I'm sorry you got treated this way, but in the long run, this will benefit you a lot more than being strung along.

Be extra nice to yourself for a few days/months.
posted by Jacen at 12:44 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

But I don't know what my tomorrow morning will be like without a good morning text from him, without hearing his voice.

You'll be one day closer to being over him! Seriously, I'm so sorry this happened to you; it's just rotten luck. Some people are just awful.

But things will get better. I really really encourage you not to talk to this man any more. He'll probably try to keep you involved somehow. He may make up stories about his marriage being a loveless one-- a marriage of convenience or whatever. He's been using his relationship with you to prop him up emotionally and I have a feeling he will try to find some way to keep you in his life. Don't fall for it.
posted by BibiRose at 12:48 PM on June 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Dear AskMe,

Thank you for your support over these last three days. Your comments have been unbelievably invaluable, and I really mean that they have meant so much to me. Please message me if you would ever like to meet on Skype or in San Francisco. I hope that I can thank you all in person someday.

I finally feel the beginnings of peace, even as I'm crying every half hour. You have already helped me as much as you could have, and I want to tell you the ending as you deserve. And I'm writing for myself too, so that I can understand.

I ended up calling him one last time, and I know I needed it. I needed it because I'm so desperately in love with this man still, and I couldn't see whether he was a jerk, psychopath, liar, or just someone good whom I love who acted badly. I know what he did was inexcusable, but I forgive him. We were aiming for the near impossible. I've tried so hard to ignore how difficult it would be for us to eventually be in the same place given both our situations. I think ultimately that was why he gave up on us: it was our impossibility, and the incredible hardship both of us would have had to suffer. And most of that hardship would have been on me. I really do believe that he wanted to spare me years of being an outsider in a society that would oppress me and even now still oppresses him. His engagement made me doubt everything—who he is, all our time together, every word and every touch. But he must have loved me so very much, this man whom I truly respect and admire, to have lied for so long and to have struggled for so long. He cried so much, not crocodile tears but ones of deep, deep sadness. I recognized them because I've cried so many of those tears too.

I really do hope that he and his fiancee will be so happy together. I can forgive him for myself, but I can't accept how he is betraying this lovely person with whom he will be spending the rest of his life. I made him promise that he would love her the way I want to be loved, with all of himself forever. I made him promise that there would be no one else. My heart breaks for her, this beautiful woman from an elite family. I hope that he will be kind to her despite these mistakes, despite that cruelty. Maybe selfishly, I want him to have a second chance. I was blindsided, but this is a man I know too well, truly, deeply. I still believe in his goodness and his love. At the least I want to hold onto my naivete just a little bit longer.

Much love,
posted by sockpuppetry at 3:20 PM on June 22, 2015 [67 favorites]

Oh, sockpuppetry. You are such a good, kind person--way better than this guy deserves. Please take care of yourself. We're pulling for you! *hug*
posted by orrnyereg at 4:36 PM on June 22, 2015 [43 favorites]

Seriously, you just made me cry with that update. Thank you for checking back in. What a sweetheart you are.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 4:48 PM on June 22, 2015 [9 favorites]

Hugs hugs hugs hugs.
posted by NoraReed at 4:51 PM on June 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Hugs to you, sockpuppetry. You are so much kinder than I would have been...
posted by SisterHavana at 7:38 PM on June 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh my gosh, your update is so sweet. It's made my day. You are going to do fine, my dear.
posted by BibiRose at 7:00 AM on June 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

My hope for you is that you will find someone as sweet, wonderful, understanding, and patient as you are, though after reading your update that is a tall order! You deserve the world and I'm adding my hug to the pile. Now go treat yourself to something as awesome as you are.
posted by danapiper at 11:04 AM on June 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

My God, you dodged a hell of a bullet.
posted by phaedon at 5:24 PM on June 23, 2015 [27 favorites]

You're an incredible person; I'm sorry sorry this happened but it seems like you've come out of it with at least some hard-won knowledge.
posted by RainyJay at 4:41 PM on June 24, 2015

Do you want to know how this turns out? *Spoiler Warning*

This happened to me (more or less) with absolutely the same feelings on both ends. I could have, AND DID, express everything you wrote.

It turns out this person you believe with every fiber of your being that you know so well is a complete sociopathic loser. It's always someone else's fault. Never his fault.

He has choices every step of the way, and he chose deception every step of the way he traveled. He lied effortlessly.

He lied effortlessly.

Do you know who lies effortlessly? LIARS.

I'm so sorry. You're awesome, and you have not lived long enough to truly grok that there are people who are not like you on the inside, where it counts.

Forgive yourself, sure!

Do not forgive him, per se. Do grok that what you loved exists, just not inside of him. It is factually impossible that a decent person could do this. Full stop.

Like me, I fear you will need to get kicked around a few more times in life before you really get hip to people like this.

My hope is you look at ALL the comments with many multiples of favorites in this thread and the light dawns upon you, "Oh, this is something that happens commonly. He is obviously a liar to folks who have already been through it. Look how many folks on MetaFilter posted to my thread - a lot of people!! And they all knew he was lying!! And they care about me, not him. The only one in this thread who keeps posting nice stuff about him is me. Hmmm. Maybe I should re-think that position and put my emotional effort back on to myself. Certainly he did not look out for my wellbeing. I will now look out for my wellbeing."

If you're still reading....

Another way to look at this is that he did a Very Very Bad Thing to YOU.

If you continue to love him (hear me out!) you are allowing him to continue doing a Very Very Bad Thing to YOU. This does not help him learn, it does not help his karma, it does not help his self-growth as a person.

Learn to see him and what he did as supremely unattractive. Cultivate a feeling of neutrality, while understanding that hurting you (or others) is supremely not to be rewarded.

Put this back on his shoulders. Stop carrying his burdens. Really.

I believe in True Love. This wasn't it, even though it SUPER feels like it. I know. I know.

If there is one takeaway I want you to get here, it's that even if he contacts you in the future, he will not be magically changed.

Lying to you for eighteen months shows a symptom of deep deception which is not cured overnight, or in ten years, or even in twenty years....

Ask me how I know.
posted by jbenben at 12:19 AM on June 25, 2015 [72 favorites]

I also teared up at your update. The catharsis you felt, the ability to release the pent-up feelings, combined with the acquired solace that you naturally associate with him.... all of that brings comfort. I know, very well. And you need comfort now. So take it, embrace it, learn from it. Let this be the door you walk through, look back at with a sigh, or even a sob, of regret. Then gently, but firmly, close that door, and leave it closed forever.

Because jbenben is right. I am glad s/he posted that, because it saved me the effort.

You're so young, blah blah... but seriously- experience is the teacher whose wisdom cannot be ignored. There are people in this world who will hurt you. He is one of them. What you know- the facts- are the only thing to grab hold of. He lied. He manipulated. He used.

Please, PLEASE do not fall prey to what feels like reality. What he appears to feel; the tears, the promises, all of it- cannot be trusted. HE KNOWS HOW TO PLAY YOU.

Close that door. Forever.

Hugs, support and all the best to you my dear.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:37 AM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

As a MeFite, I haven't previously appealed to my experience as an attorney, or the years I spent representing survivors of abuse, but it feels relevant to mention here as context for my view on how important it is to respect the choices made by Sockpuppetry. In my past work, clients sometimes asked me to make decisions for them, but I would always refuse. I was often working for people who had been chronically denied the opportunity to make their own choices, so I was trained to be vigilant about protecting the autonomy of my client.

From my view, it seems like Sockpuppetry has closed the door, and in a very powerful way, including because these are her choices. Forgiveness is not absolution, and it doesn't have to interfere with doing what needs to be done. The forgiveness invoked by Sockpuppetry seems like a compelling way to let go of the anger and pain, and to restore autonomy over one's own emotions. It doesn't mean that the learning hasn't happened, or that healthy boundaries haven't been established, but it does seem like his power to be a source of ongoing grief and pain is gone, because Sockpuppetry has asserted full control over defining her experience and her emotions.

One of the things that has astounded me so much is how protected Sockpuppetry now seems from ongoing attempts at emotional manipulation. It's as if whatever opening that might have otherwise existed for begging and pleading and attempts to address her hurt feelings has been completely and utterly closed by her forgiveness. Considering how many attempts it can take to get free from an unhealthy relationship, I am impressed with Sockpuppetry's decision to invoke compassion instead of anger as a way to find peace and start healing.

I'm certainly not saying that this is the only way or the best way for everyone or anyone to get free from trauma and pain, but I do find this to be a stunning example of empowerment that has given me a lot to think about in the context of my personal and professional experiences. So thank you, Sockpuppetry, for sharing your story with us, and I wish you the best in all that you do.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:28 PM on June 25, 2015 [80 favorites]

"Obsessed with his career". I have heard that before - from a boyfriend who was living with me but who would often stay out quite late working. He told the other girlfriend (his long time fiancee) that he was so busy working they should not live together and she shouldn't come over! She didn't know he lived with me.
posted by geeklizzard at 7:55 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Basically... you should have no question that this person is lying to you.
They will try to make you feel bad for being suspicious. Just walk away.
posted by geeklizzard at 7:58 PM on July 5, 2015

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