Relationship mess. Is walking the only reasonable option?
March 14, 2016 10:03 PM   Subscribe

I really don't know what to do. My partner keeps lying.

I am exhausted so will try to explain this as best I can. Been together 2.5 years. He's 38, I'm 32. Throughout the relationship there has been a theme of him getting caught in all kinds of lies. In the beginning he hid lots of things he'd done because he thought I'd leave if I found out. Cue many, many, many conversations about how I need total honesty in a relationship and if it's something I would leave him over that is my choice and why would he want to be with someone who would leave him over who he is anyway, blahblahblah, only way to have a sustainable relationship that I am happy and comfortable in is total honesty, lots of explanations of all the abuse in my life and how I have PTSD, blahblah. He agrees. Inevitably he will be caught in some stupid little lie and then he acts like I'm blowing it out of proportion for getting upset, cue the "total honesty" talk again, cue him agreeing with me and saying that's what he wants too, cue the stupid excuses for his lies.

As an example--he would lie about something like who he worked on a project with at work, or who he hung out with, really weird stupid lies and then the excuse would always be something like "I thought you'd get jealous" or whatever even though he had no reason to think that and if it's nothing to be jealous about then why can't he talk to me about it?

So anyway two years of things being perfect except for when they are absolute hell because I can't trust him because he constantly and easily lies right to my face, but every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

Then in January I find some emails between him and a friend making plans to meet up in a hotel.

This is all while he's telling me he loves me more than anything and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Things had not been going great between us at this time, there had been lots of fighting because I did not feel like he was communicating with me without reserve or censorship and I was unhappy and said if we couldn't have that it was not the relationship for me and we needed to break up. He would always hardcore convince me not to and say we needed to be together etc etc.

So we'd committed to things, everything was going okay as far as I knew, but meanwhile he was arranging an affair. When I found the emails I confronted him about it, asked if he wanted to break up, he said no I was the most important thing to him it was stupid and he was never going to go through with the affair, it was just a fantasy. Then he made a big show of deleting her number and showing me an email he sent her to end it saying he loved me too much etc.

So we didn't break up on the condition of total honesty. My reasoning was I loved him, when things were good it was what I wanted in a relationship, and maybe this is what needed to happen to wake him up, that it was rock-bottom or whatever.

But this weekend I was going through his phone because I still feel like I'm missing something (he said I could) and found deleted messages about how, when I found out, he actually texted the girl right away to tell her they'd been found out and couldn't talk anymore and he'd do the damage control. And I also found out they'd actually met up. He says all they did was make out, who knows. But all the crap over the last two months about total honesty and how he wasn't going to go through with it and the big show about how he ended it with her were all lies.

So I just feel numb. I feel like I need to end it. But I still don't really want to. I feel kind of paralyzed. He kept telling me not to end it after I found out, that he wanted to be with me forever and that's what he wants. He just kept saying that over and over again. I asked him to make me feel good, convince me staying with him is a good idea, convince me not to dump him because I am tired of convincing myself and he went back and forth between saying there was nothing he could say (which to me means, okay, dump him) and saying that he wanted to be with me. Which, christ, I'm not staying with him because it's what HE wants. He did also offer to do whatever I wanted but I asked him not to lie and he didn't manage that. But I can't trust anything he says. Is there anyway to trust what he says? Like is there anything he can do or I can do that will let that happen?

I've left out lots and lots of things because this is way too long and who is going to read it anyway but in an ideal world, this would work out, this would magically somehow work and magically somehow he would never lie again and magically we would live happily ever after. Is there ANYWAY that that could happen? I feel like the only option I have is to leave. Is there ANY OTHER REASONABLE option here, I feel awful and desperate but is there anything we could actually do? Therapy? Anything? I felt really positive about fixing things two months ago when I first found all this out but now that I've found he's been lying in the aftermath I feel so betrayed and stupid and used and I don't know, there is clearly something really wrong with him and I don't even get how you can be this way with someone and I wish I could implant all the knowledge of this into smarter people's heads for advice but given this is there any hope, anything we can do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (101 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Been together 2.5 years. He's 38, I'm 32. Throughout the relationship there has been a theme of him getting caught in all kinds of lies.

Stop. DTMFA.

He's an adult (ostensibly). You're an adult, too. Adults don't do this. There's no story that starts off this way and ends well.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:09 PM on March 14, 2016 [102 favorites]


So, for your ENTIRE relationship, he's lied to you, and upon discovery, promised to never do it again, only to immediately continue lying to you? He doesn't seem, to me, to be a person who's capable of not lying. Assuming he's telling the truth when he says he loves you and wants to be with you, he's still not capable of doing the one thing you have reiterated over and over that you need from him: for him to tell the truth. He might love you, but he sure doesn't respect you. I know it sucks so much, and you feel like you've got so much time and energy invested in this man, but HE IS NEVER GOING TO STOP LYING TO YOU.

DTMFA
posted by mollymayhem at 10:12 PM on March 14, 2016 [49 favorites]


You know the saying "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well, what he has is: bullshit. Bullshit is the tool he uses to solve his problems. Honestly, it's not even so much the other women, because plenty of people have had pretty good relationships that allow for sex with other people, but I can't imagine how you could make a trusting, mutually supportive partnership with someone who routinely feeds you casual bullshit.
posted by ostro at 10:18 PM on March 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yes, breaking up is the only option.
posted by salvia at 10:24 PM on March 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oh my god, leave. Tonight if you can.

I promise you in a year you are going to shake your head in disbelief that you ever THOUGHT of staying. I promise you. And in between it's going to really really suck, but you have to know that the only other alternative is living with this for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Not living with this is so, so, so much better.

Been there, went through the drama, tore myself free, and five years later it's like a bad dream.
posted by yogalemon at 10:28 PM on March 14, 2016 [70 favorites]


Do you want to spend he rest of your life like this?! It doesn't have to be this hard. Run!! There are way better men out there. Your relationship is like that poop milkshake metaphor again. If it's perfect most of the time except for this thing, it's not perfect. And this is a huge red flag. Relationships are built on trust and communication and you have neither really.
posted by FireFountain at 10:28 PM on March 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


No, there is nothing you can do. He is a pathological liar, and that is never going to change. He has already slept with AT LEAST one other woman. And now he knows that if he lies, even if you find out, even if what you find out is that he's cheating on you (!!!) that you still won't leave him if he begs hard enough. There is absolutely no reason for him to stop lying, because there is no real consequence for him doing so.

It doesn't matter if he loves you or not, the fact is that real relationships are founded on trust and communication, and both of those things are irrevocably broken between you two.

The only reasonable option here is to break up with him, go no contact, and move on with your life. Do NOT let him talk you into a) staying or b) getting back together later. Seriously.

Also, get tested for STDs. It sucks, but the reality is that woman you found out about is probably not the only one, and in any case, you have no way of knowing if they had safe sex.
posted by ananci at 10:30 PM on March 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


The guy thinks you're an idiot.

I don't understand how you'd have an option but leaving.
posted by pompomtom at 10:31 PM on March 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


He's not magically going to change. He's not going to change, period. Every time you stay with him after he's broken very reasonable promises, he learns that you don't mean what you say. This isn't going to get better. He doesn't respect you.
posted by quince at 10:34 PM on March 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


All you want from him is to not lie. All he does is lie. When you catch him lying, he doubles down and lies more strenuously.

I'm afraid there is no other reasonable option. He has betrayed you beyond reason, and with near-impunity so far.

I understand that you want to, if possible, preserve the good aspects of your relationship. But it is clear that all the good aspects were built on lies themselves, and didn't actually exist the way you thought they did.

I'm sorry. But you would do well to leave him behind and not look back.
posted by ejs at 10:40 PM on March 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Your bf is a liar and a cheater and will never stop lying because he likes lying, and you keep staying. There is no reason for him to stop lying; he isn't suffering any consequences. He may even really really really enjoy the thrill of getting caught, the drama, the fighting, the begging, the winning. You have shown him countless times that you won't leave no matter what he does.

But to answer your actual question, which is 'can anything be done'...no, unless he is willing to seek professional help. Sorry you're going through this. You deserve so much better.
posted by the webmistress at 10:40 PM on March 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


You're dating a cheater. Your two options are:

1. Decide you're okay with being cheated on.
2. DTMFA.

You can't change him. He doesn't want to change. There are no other alternatives here.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:48 PM on March 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


This guy is a lying sack of crap. He has already provably lied to you. You cannot trust anything he says.

And you should not be in a relationship with someone you cannot trust. DTMFA.

in an ideal world, this would work out, this would magically somehow work and magically somehow he would never lie again and magically we would live happily ever after. Is there ANYWAY that that could happen


Only if he wants to change. And he clearly, obviously doesn't. You deserve better. DTMFA.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:53 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The best thing you can do is to not let this experience scar you and turn into baggage that you take with you when you move on.

Don't become a more suspicious and less trusting person as a result of these experiences with this person.

But... do move on. You've invested so much in trying to save this, you are probably naturally extremely reluctant to accept that you poured so much "good money after bad", but these losses will keep happening to any and all further investments here. The sooner you cut your losses and move on, the less you will lose. And know that your suffering will eventually be well worth it, and that you will be pleased with yourself.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:54 PM on March 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


There was a psychologist with a radio show who used to propose this to women who wanted to be able to trust their cheating husbands: have him sign a legally binding contract to deed to her something he loves (house, boat, al the money) if he ever does the cheating behavior again. If he refuses to sign, he's not serious about stopping the behavior.

I'm not sure it's quite that simple n there are legitimate reasons not to enter into random contracts, but it does sound like a good starting point for ideas.
posted by amtho at 10:57 PM on March 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


He says all they did was make out, who knows.. With all kindness, given his history, why on earth would you decide to start believing him now? YOU KNOW. You know this is a lie. He is a liar.

You are wasting your time with this guy and you will look back on this in five years and wonder what you were thinking. I PROMISE this to be true. This guy is BAD NEWS.

In an ideal world, this would work out, this would magically somehow work and magically somehow he would never lie again and magically we would live happily ever after. Is there ANYWAY that that could happen. Yes, and you've said it three times in that sentence alone. You would need to work literal magic for this to work out. You are indulging, in fact, in magical thinking here.

Breaking up sucks, but staying with a guy who is cheating on you and who is a pathological liar is WAY WORSE. I mean, think about it: Can you have kids with a pathological liar? Do you want to get old with a pathological liar? You deserve honesty from everyone, but especially from your one and only and you've told him that and he will not give it to you.

Give him the heave-ho. I promise it is for the best.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:01 PM on March 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Do you really think there is any other answer than "get out of there immediately"? The fact that he constantly has to convince you not to dump him because "it would be the biggest mistake of your life" is just a hallmark of a guy who is a manipulative piece of shit and loves to use you -- and knows he can get away with it. No man would ever say that to a woman he respects and views as an equal partner in the relationship.

You really need to get out this thing, like yesterday. And once you do, you're probably going to wonder why you waited so long. This guy is a loser and he is just holding you down. This is one of the most straight-forward "DTMFA" situations I have ever seen on AskMetaFilter, ever.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:03 PM on March 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


You realize that his lies are so all-encompassing that he's lying about not lying anymore, right?

I was with a guy like this once, it started off lying about ridiculous things like what he ate for dinner. He'd say steak, then slip it was actually pizza. Cue fight about why the heck he'd feel the need to lie about that to me, and he'd say things like, 'well it's unhealthy, I didn't want you to judge me,' even though I'm not that person, at all. When I'd say that to him, he'd agree, and yet continue to lie about other stupid stuff.

It wasn't as bad as yours, but he also escalated, including lying about correspondence with this woman he wasn't supposed to be contacting, etc.

Towards the end I felt incredibly gaslighted and confused, and it was not a good time. I started second-guessing everything he was saying, and his integrity and it impacted my life a lot.

And this guy? He seems to be doing it to the nth degree-- "they only made out" ... sure. Everything coming out of his mouth is fabrication. Everything. Yes, the only reasonable option for you is to walk away.

The thing is, in staying in this situation? You risk jeopardizing your mental health. I'm serious-- every lie he spews and you want to believe is another wound that is caused when you find out the truth. He is literally creating trust issues in you the longer you stay, and it will start clouding your future relationships with people. Please get out. You deserve so much better.
posted by Dimes at 11:04 PM on March 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


I don't personally think you have much option except to leave.

This said, I am an Internet stranger, and you are asking for options which aren't DTMFA.

You haven't mentioned being to therapy except as a possibility at the end. Have you explored it? Therapy sounds as though it could be useful for you to figure out your own mind and, if your therapist agrees, might include some sessions with your partner.

However, I would not do this unless he was willing to move out (do you live together?) and go no contact during the period you are in therapy unless it is part of the therapy. No trying to talk you into staying, no late night chats, no sex, no narcissistic reward-- nothing but giving you space and time to figure this out without pressure of either breaking up or staying together. You for sure need to build your network of friends and have time to land and think and be in pain without him crowding you.

I am not sure that such an approach will give you any solution to stay together, but it might help you accept whatever may come. Given his past behaviour, you should be prepared for him to not be able to stick to any of these conditions. I'm sorry to say that.

I wish you lots and lots of strength.
posted by frumiousb at 11:04 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry you are going through this and I wish I could give you hope that this relationship can work out but that's not going to happen. Stop wasting your time. He's not going to quit lying to you, it's like breathing to him. Do you really want to spend anymore of your time trying to change an integral part of his personality? No, trust me, you don't. He's not going to quit lying, it's how he has learned to function in the world and you're just reinforcing the behavior.
Walk away and find someone who doesn't need major foundation work. If you want a fixer upper find one that just needs a little cosmetics.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:16 PM on March 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, he takes a vow of silence. You have total access to all his passwords and devices. He signs a document stating he will give you all his worldly possessions if you have proof of him lying. Private investigators. 24/7 camera surveillance. Full on North Korea level police state shit.

Therapy will not help him.

Please just abandon ship. Please, just let him be his deluded, stupid self. He is not capable of change. He is not capable of giving you what you want or being who you want. It's not a problem of motivation, or timing. He is not fixable. This is who he is. This is how he must live his life. He won't change until he's in a nursing home, probably not even then. Pity him and move on.
posted by quincunx at 11:34 PM on March 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


If you stay together:

HE will not change. Liars lie.

YOU will change, though, bit by bit. You will continue to be convinced by word and deed that your values and needs do not matter, and he will make you complicit in the changes to bend you to his will, to be there as his doormat. He will do things that risk your mental and physical health. You will lose yourself in pursuit of a relationship that doesn't really exist with a man you wish existed instead of the one doing this to you.

You love the idea of the best version of him, but that best version doesn't exist. Could he exist some day, in 10 or 30 years? I'm dubious, but sure -- in the meantime, you're being affronted, insulted, devalued, and denied your due every day of the only life you will ever have.

Find a good therapist to strengthen your self-esteem, your self-worth, your self-love, and walk away from him, however you can. You deserve wholehearted love and respect equivalent to that which you give, and he's thrown your goodness back in your face time and again.

Someone who doesn't find you 100% enough (as a romantic partner) isn't worth any percentage of your time. Go. Love yourself.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 11:35 PM on March 14, 2016 [60 favorites]


no, there's no other option here.
posted by andrewcooke at 11:36 PM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


DTMFA is the only viable option here. It will not improve.
posted by Gotanda at 11:36 PM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am exhausted

Of course you are. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

lots of explanations of all the abuse in my life and how I have PTSD

This is the first red flag in your post. This is not something that should require lots of explanations in a loving, respectful relationship. Educating someone about your triggers might need follow up, but you shouldn't need to explain your experiences repeatedly.

him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

I'm sorry, again, but these are more lies. He can't or won't provide what you need to be in a sustainable relationship. Dumping him would not be the worst mistake of your life and you're not perfect for each other.

If there were to be any chance of your relationship working, he has to want to change enough to back his words up with actions. The duration and extent of the problem indicates he needs massive amounts of professional help. This is his problem to solve, and it appears he has decided that he has no incentive to solve it as long as you stay.

This is not remotely normal disagreement within a relationship. This is severely detrimental to your well-being. You deserve to be secure, at ease, and not exhausted. Please, please extend this care to yourself. You are worth it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:38 PM on March 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


Look into the characteristics of sociopaths. Not all habitual liars and cheaters are sociopaths, but all sociopaths are habitual liars and cheaters. You may find that there is something even deeper and more disturbing going on here.

Also, none of this is your fault. He is victimizing you. You did nothing wrong.
posted by 3491again at 11:41 PM on March 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


You did nothing wrong. You are 32 and still have a HUGE WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY to meet a great guy and enjoy marriage and a family...

RUN.

Your happiness and great future depends on dumping this liar. DTMFA,
posted by jbenben at 12:12 AM on March 15, 2016 [26 favorites]


I often think ask metafilter is too quick to suggest dumping people, but this situation sounds seriously bad. He was lying to you, and then he lied to you about how he'd quit lying! So there are two problems. One, he's almost definitely going to keep lying to you forever, and two, you'd always suspect he was lying to you even if he wasn't. Your happiness is not going to be found in this relationship I'm afraid. :(
posted by hungrytiger at 12:16 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


he's making you constantly second guess everything. EVERYTHING. because you never know if he's lying or not. this is, quite literally, no way to live. at all. and every time you stay, the hole gets deeper, and it makes it harder for you to get out. he counts on this.

another vote for dtmfa. also a vote for getting a panel of many sti tests run, to be honest.
posted by koroshiya at 12:30 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


in an ideal world, this would work out, this would magically somehow work and magically somehow he would never lie again and magically we would live happily ever after. Is there ANYWAY that that could happen?

No.

Sorry.

If you read my back catalog on trust, you will find that I'm whole-heartedly in favour of it. But there is no point at all in extending trust to a person who has repeatedly rubbed your nose in his untrustworthiness.

You're still with this guy because the picture you have in your head of how he would be if only he'd stop lying is a good picture. You're not actually in love with this liar. You're in love with somebody imaginary that you really, really want this liar to be. But that person does not really exist - you're making him up. This person you can't bear to leave is not actually the one you want to be with.

We don't live in a magical world, just one that's very wide and very rich. Go find another partner, and walk into that relationship with eyes wide open and a heart full of trust. If they treat you badly, leave. Rinse and repeat. Eventually your trust will be repaid in full.
posted by flabdablet at 12:47 AM on March 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


In a magical world, I guess you could give an ultimatum that he do couples, and individual therapy. Immediately.

But...... I wouldn't suggest you do that to yourself, honestly. He seems like bad news all around. Invest the time, emotional energy, sanity, and self love into working on you. He is a black hole of problems and lies... Escape now, please.
posted by Jacen at 1:16 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


He's lying about you being perfect for each other. Cause um, he's a liar. DTMFA.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:18 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Someone mentioned dangerous for your mental health. I would suggest you get an STD test because that level of pathological lying isn't going to stop at any actual ethical or moral boundary.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:22 AM on March 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


He'll never change, and to be honest, why should he? No matter how many times you've caught him in a lie or told him, over and over and over, that you will not tolerate lying, there have never been worse consequences than listening to you (yet again) lecture him about lying.

Please. He's been like this throughout your entire relationship --- you know it, he knows it, and he also knows that he can keep on lying with impunity. Do yourself a favor: ditch him. Run, do not walk, as far and as fast as you can.
posted by easily confused at 1:29 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


The thing about lying - everyone lies from time to time and it's generally to avoid telling an awkward or painful truth. But there are some people for whom lying is its own reward. They get off in manipulating you, conning you and the drama of the inevitable showdown when you find out the truth. Because they don't actually care about concealing the truth. He let you go through his phone despite there being incriminating evidence on it? He lies about stupid little things and then turns it around and blames your imaginary jealousy issues?

He is enjoying this and there is absolutely nothing in it for him to motivate him to stop lying.

I have been there done that and it only got worse and worse until I completely lost the plot. Please walk away now for the sake of your sanity. I know it is hard to give up when you can see a solution and a happy ending, but those are your dreams and not his.
posted by intensitymultiply at 1:55 AM on March 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life

He's lying.
posted by rhizome at 1:57 AM on March 15, 2016 [71 favorites]


Seconding The Wrong Kind of Cheese's comment. He will not change. There is absolutely no incentive because you keep staying and keeping up with his bullshit. He's got it super good why in the world would he stop doing him?

But you will change. You will start to become afraid to ask questions because you don't know if you can believe him. You will lose confidence in yourself and your sense of judgement. I already know you're feeling the effects because - 2.5 years of lying? Why haven't you dumped his ass already? Why do you feel you can't do better? Do you think the person you were just 3 years ago would put up with this?
posted by like_neon at 2:13 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


He will never learn how not to lie to you.
He might, however, learn how not to get caught lying.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:23 AM on March 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


He's got you on a crazy train. Get off it now. You can't change him but he is certainly changing you. Could you imagine your younger self putting up with his level of malarky? Get off the train.
posted by myselfasme at 2:53 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't often jump to DTMFA, partly because I've been in relationships that have recovered from seriously difficult shit, with time and trust and work. But that only worked when there was a strong foundation to the relationship to begin with. This sounds like it has never been right from the beginning. There's nothing good to return to or build on - it's lies all the way down. I don 5 think this sounds salvageable, and I think after the initial unavoidable pain, you're going to be so much happier after you walk away. Good luck to you, I hope you find something better with someone who has your back and treats you right.
posted by Stacey at 3:26 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Are you physically afraid of him or dependent on him? You say you're numb, which to me implies in a situation where your brain and most of your heart - you know this guy is not trustworthy and you don't feel safe around him emotionally - is distanced, but something is stopping you from getting angry and dumping him. If you're feeling trapped, ask a friend you trust to help you work out a step by step plan to leave.

Anything he's told you about yourself, that he's the only person who understands you or could love you, that you made him lie or act like this, that you deserve this relationship, that you won't find a love like him again, that only you can save him, etc - just as much a lie as his 'working late' lies. Whatever seeds of truth there are, you won't find them for years until distance and peace has settled over the memory of this relationship and you can look back with some clarity. Right now, look for other people in your life that you trust to help you figure out how to get back to reality where people mostly mean what they say and aren't manipulating you 95% of the time.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:01 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


In the beginning he hid lots of things he'd done because he thought I'd leave if I found out.

he hid things because he's a liar.

Cue many, many, many conversations about how I need total honesty in a relationship and if it's something I would leave him over that is my choice and why would he want to be with someone who would leave him over who he is anyway, blahblahblah, only way to have a sustainable relationship that I am happy and comfortable in is total honesty, lots of explanations of all the abuse in my life and how I have PTSD, blahblah. He agrees.

Not "he agrees" - he lies.

he acts like I'm blowing it out of proportion for getting upset, cue the "total honesty" talk again, cue him agreeing with me and saying that's what he wants too, cue the stupid excuses for his lies.

lie lie lie lie

So anyway two years of things being perfect except for when they are absolute hell because I can't trust him because he constantly and easily lies right to my face, but

They were never perfect, he was consistently lying throughout your time together.

every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

Biggest lie in the story - not chucking him would be the worst mistake of your life.

This is all while he's telling me he loves me more than anything and wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

he's lying

He would always hardcore convince me not to and say we needed to be together etc etc.

Lie.

he said no I was the most important thing to him it was stupid and he was never going to go through with the affair, it was just a fantasy. Then he made a big show of deleting her number and showing me an email he sent her to end it saying he loved me too much etc.

Lie

So we didn't break up on the condition of total honesty.

That was a lie.

He says all they did was make out, who knows.

Lie.

He kept telling me not to end it after I found out, that he wanted to be with me forever and that's what he wants. He just kept saying that over and over again.

That's another lie.

I asked him to make me feel good, convince me staying with him is a good idea, convince me not to dump him because I am tired of convincing myself and he went back and forth between saying there was nothing he could say

he's lying

and saying that he wanted to be with me

he's lying

He did also offer to do whatever I wanted

he's lying
posted by sallybrown at 4:13 AM on March 15, 2016 [44 favorites]


This has been well-covered but I just want to reiterate again that every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other is the most bullshit manipulative lie of all. No one who respects their partner would ever say this, regardless of the situation. He does not want to change. He has no reason to. I can't imagine that a person who says such a thing would have a productive time in therapy that would significantly change your relationship. DTMFAx1000
posted by dysh at 4:30 AM on March 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry you're going thru all this hell in your relationship. Going thru my own relationship hell right now and one thing I realized was that my partner deserves more than for me to lie to her. In my mind lying to someone is a form of abuse, and you don't deserve that because no one deserves that. So DTMFA.

Also - you're 32, you have YEARS ahead of you that shouldn't be filled with this BS. I would suggest moving on from this relationship, getting to know yourself better (who you are and what you want possibly through your own therapy, etc.), then finding someone out there who cares enough about you to be honest with you. I know its frightening to consider being alone after a long relationship, but honestly it sounds like you'd be better off on your own than dealing with this crap.

Everyone deserves to be happy and respected by their partner. I know this won't help right now but you will be a lot stronger once you're thru all this.
posted by Farce_First at 4:53 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Please read this piece in the Guardian newspaper about a woman who knew her husband was cheating but decided to let him get on with it, for 35 years.

When I first read this, this really stuck with me:
This is our time now and my prize for sticking it out is every anniversary celebrated, every quiet moment together relished. Very occasionally I look at him and feel so angry I could scream but I recognise that I made my own choice.


So sad. Please don't do this.
posted by greenish at 4:57 AM on March 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


You will never be able to trust this man. You, and all of us, deserve to be with a partner we can trust. Please take our advice here and DTMFA. Forget about his charming side, it's a lie. You should not believe anything he says. Cut him off completely.
posted by mareli at 4:57 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Give him another chance!

Nah.
I'm kidding.
Dump this MF so quick it makes his head spin.
Throw his shit out, change the locks, pour a glass of wine, put on some favorite music and dance around the room like you just won the freakin' lottery, because you did.

PS. Put the wine down before dancing.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:58 AM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


So anyway two years of things being perfect except for when they are absolute hell because I can't trust him because he constantly and easily lies right to my face, but every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

If things are only "perfect" a fraction of the time, they are by definition not perfect. Very few people get on 100% of the time, but seriously. Imagine describing a relationship as "it's perfect except when he hits me". Imagine describing a relationship as "it's perfect except when he abuses our kids". Every horrible relationship is a perfect relationship with horrible bits in. A perfect batch of cookies into which you have mixed a half cup of thumbtacks are not perfect cookies. There are many different kinds of good cookies, but precisely zero of them contain thumbtacks.
posted by Sequence at 5:20 AM on March 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


I will give the advice I always give people in these situations. Print out this question and pretend your sister/best friend/daughter of the future is reading it to you and is in this situation. What advice do you give her?
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think we can all agree that we know why you should leave this guy. Let's look at it from the other point of view. Why should you stay with a liar? Maybe he is worth millions and millions, but even so, can you be bought off? No. Maybe the sex is amazing? There are others who don't lie that fuck real good. I really cannot think of a reason to stay. Can you? If you can, there is your answer.

If you think this guy is going to change, think again. He has proven that he won't. Look at the affair situation. Actions speak louder than words. This is especially true with liars. Make your decision based on what he does, not what he says he will do.
posted by AugustWest at 6:07 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Re-read what Sequence says because that's exactly how it works - things are great a lot of the time, until they aren't. Those good times make you question your own dissatisfactions and reservations. Life rolls on and before you know it, a decade has passed. Then another, still questioning and dismissing your own dissatisfaction. You're probably sick of being told this but you are sooooo young. Don't waste your life.

If this continues, you'll wind up with a STD eventually.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:15 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


As an example--he would lie about something like who he worked on a project with at work, or who he hung out with, really weird stupid lies and then the excuse would always be something like "I thought you'd get jealous" or whatever even though he had no reason to think that and if it's nothing to be jealous about then why can't he talk to me about it?

Those aren't just weird random lies. I'm guessing he was covering up an affair or the beginnings of one. He didn't want you to connect the dots and figure out how much time he was spending at work and after work with another woman (or women).

But this weekend I was going through his phone because I still feel like I'm missing something

If you stick with him, you will get very familiar with this feeling and if you investigate you will sometimes catch him again. There is no other reasonable option, you need to leave him.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 6:16 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there ANY OTHER REASONABLE option here, I feel awful and desperate but is there anything we could actually do? Therapy? Anything?

He's repeatedly chosen lies and damage control to protect other people instead of honesty and genuine change to rebuild your trust. You can't make him decide to choose you, and he's not interested in making that choice on his own. In part, it sounds like he knows you don't want to leave him even if he never starts to treat you with basic respect.

DTMFA.
posted by RainyJay at 6:29 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Speaking as someone who stayed too long in a bad relationship because of inertia and sunk time costs? DTMFA.

But in addition to that delightful acronym, Dan Savage also said something else not long ago that really sat well with me. Sometimes you just need to be the person who says "this is unacceptable behavior" and breaks it off. Not just for your and your mental well being (which is of paramount importance here), but also for your ex-partner's development as a person.

By staying with this person, you're saying "lying constantly and cheating is not a deal breaker" and if he's getting away with it, he'll never change. He has some growing to do, and he won't do that if his bad behavior is being rewarded by his still having a devoted partner. It's hard, and it sucks that the onus is on you here, but I promise that living life single is WAY better than living life in a stressful, toxic relationship.

If you choose to work on this in therapy or counseling, I wish you the best, but I will say this: after ten years in a relationship where the last three were actively terrible most of the time? It has REALLY warped my view of what a healthy, fun, communicative relationship looks like, and it has been a real bear trying to unlearn bad habits. Severing ties sooner rather than later might make it a little easier for you to bounce back to your best self and meet someone who's not a total tool, if that's what you want. :)

I'm closing with Maya Angelou, because she was a lady who always had something perfect to say: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:38 AM on March 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I hate to play this card, but... you're 32 years old. Don't waste anymore of your prime years on this guy.* Act fast and get out of this sinking ship of a relationship.

*I mean, I'm 32 and don't want kids (I think) so I'm not sayin' you gotta get married and have a baby but if you want to, then I say hurry up and end this relationship. Once you're free of this bullshit, you can focus on you for a while and then have room in your life to find someone who really is ready to commit to you.
posted by pinetree at 7:05 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


But I can't trust anything he says. Is there anyway to trust what he says? Like is there anything he can do or I can do that will let that happen?

No. You shouldn't have to work this hard either.

Every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

If it was just once then it was a slip. If this is has happened enough that you are able to start a sentence with 'every time this has happened' then it's a habit and it has happened too many times. This is part of his character - he is a compulsive liar. It's an awful characteristic. It's insulting and extremely terrifying to have somebody you are meant to trust just lie to your face. It means they live for their "reputation" (how they look to others) and will go to great lengths to protect it. It also means they are devoid of empathy.

He was arranging an affair...He says all they did was make out

"all they did"? This is enough of a reason to leave.

He actually texted the girl right away to tell her they'd been found out and couldn't talk anymore and he'd do the damage control.

There is something very troubling about this. The reason he hasn't gone through with it is because he was caught - not because he thinks it's wrong. This is the essential part of his character that is never going to change.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 7:11 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


So I just feel numb. I feel like I need to end it. But I still don't really want to. I feel kind of paralyzed. He kept telling me not to end it after I found out, that he wanted to be with me forever and that's what he wants.

Not only is THIS a lie, he's trying to make you be the bad guy and do all the work of breaking up with him, because lord knows he doesn't want to take responsibility.

Prove him wrong and dump his ass.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:19 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, you need to get free of this liar, for all the reasons already mentioned. I just wanted to add that when you do let him know it's over, be prepared for him to pull a variety of tactics to talk you into staying. Once you weather all of his lies about how you guys belong together and you'll never find anybody else (and as I type this it occurs to me that what you really need is a Lying Cat to remind you every time he spouts more bullshit), he's probably going to cycle to some other strategy in the hopes of finding one that keeps things as they are for him. My guess is that he'll eventually admit he lies but will want to talk about all the reasons he does it, how he can't help himself, maybe how he hates being that way and he needs you to help keep him honest, and how this thing and that thing and the other thing happened to him as a child so clearly now he can't stop himself lying to you ... yadda yadda yadda. Some of it may even be true, but ALL of it will be selected and honed to use as a tool to get you to stay - please don't mistake it for evidence that he really will change this time.

He's lied to you even when there wasn't that much in it for him to do so; when he realizes you're seriously going to leave he will be pulling out all the stops. Don't listen to his words, listen to your head, and think about the things he's shown you he will do to achieve his own goals. It isn't your job to fix this guy, and staying with him is only harming you. I'm sorry, but you really do need to get away.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:40 AM on March 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


The only person you can control is yourself. You're basically asking us what you can do to change him. The answer? Nothing. You can't force him to become a better person and he sure doesn't seem interested in pursuing that kind of change for his own benefit.

Like it or not, the person you are dating is a liar and he's been manipulating you into staying by saying all the right words every time... and then doing nothing. He's counting on you being invested in the relationship to the point where you will accept his shitty behaviour no matter how often he does it - and so far, you've been proving him right. Stop separating him into his good qualities and his bad qualities, as if they belong to different people; he is all the good parts AND all the bad parts, you can't just pick a set of his qualities that you like best and hope the rest go away.

You can't fix him. You can't make him into the person you wish he was. You can't make this relationship good for you because he is not good for you. Whatever his positive qualities are, they are not worth being lied to and manipulated every time you try to call him on things that you consider dealbreakers. You need to leave and stay gone no matter what he says because, again, he's proven that he's a liar who will say whatever you want to hear to get you back into the submissive "lets me do whatever the fuck I want" role where he wants you. Get your friends to help you stay away from him. Stay gone.

If your PTSD is from abuse then that might explain why you feel stuck. If you tend to "freeze" when you're scared, that might explain why you feel stuck. Either way, you need to find a way to get unstuck because staying is not going to fix anything.

He has shown you who he is. You need to start believing his actions, not his words.
posted by buteo at 7:51 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


When you aren't a liar, it's impossible to comprehend how much liars can lie about. He's lying about everything and he has been lying the whole time. This is his approach to life and relationships and you and if he wanted to change, he could have and would have by now. But why would he? He's getting everything he wants. He's thrilled. He likes how it feels to lie to you and get away with it. He loves the secret attentions from other women. He enjoys the drama and insane fights and long conversations. He doesn't want this to stop. This is exactly how he wants your relationship to be. He's doing everything in his power to make sure it's like this as often as possible. He likes it like this.

All the time and love you have spent was not wasted with him. You've learned and grown. Walk away now, when you realize how dire this is. There is no magic. Please don't look back at this question in a year and find yourself still with him.
posted by juliplease at 8:03 AM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Please don't look back at this question in a year and find yourself still with him.

Shit, please don't look back at this question tonight and find yourself still with him.
posted by juliplease at 8:07 AM on March 15, 2016 [25 favorites]


There is exactly one thing to be done, and you have asked him for it already. He needs not to lie. That is the Thing That Must Be Done for this relationship to survive. Any other advice we could give you here - therapy, trial separation, lock him down like a police state - is tangential to the Thing That Must Be Done, and is not guaranteed to lead to that Thing.

He already said he can't do the Thing, so yes, you're done.

Look, I know from habitual lies because you are worried about your image. I used to tell them, not a lot, but often. They just kinda . . . happened. Then I really hurt someone I love by not being upfront about what I wanted, and instead lying about it because I thought it would make the situation run smoother. This is something I learned in early childhood as a way of self-preservation.

What he is doing is not that, because if it was, he would have been able to change it by now. Probably, like me, roughly 2 seconds after he hurt his loved one the first time. He has a serious problem. He can't do the Thing.

*hugs*
posted by chainsofreedom at 8:42 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


First. Leave. Don't tell him, don't give him warning. Muster all your friends and rent a truck. Have them come over as a group to pack and move you. Go to your parents, couch surf, get your own place, whatever it takes. Do this while he's at work. He leaves for work, you and your shit are there. He comes home, it's all gone.

Leave this note: I'm leaving you. It's over. I'm not discussing it with you because you aren't honest with me.

Change your cell phone number and/or block him 6 different ways from Sunday. Fall off social media for awhile. Don't be reachable. You need to grieve this alone and in your own time. Don't give this guy an in to talk you into staying. You're vulnerable.

Now let's get real.

You don't love him. You love the guy you wish he'd be. He isn't that guy. That guy is a trifling, lying cheater. What you are is disappointed. You thought you found a great guy to love, and it didn't work out. Because of that, your recovery will be VERY fast. Every time you miss the closeness, simply remind yourself that it wasn't real.

You talk about how the good times were so good. But were they really? Or were those just times when you decided to believe the lie? Think about that. You were living a fantasy. The fantasy of a nice man who loved you. But what if you view that as a Lying Cheat who pretended to love you. Not so attractive, is it?

Who knows why he wants you to stay, frankly, it's not worth thinking about. Also, get angry, really pissed off. That will chase away the sadness and grief.

Hugs! Once you get in the right frame of mind, the escape will be FANTASTIC! I had a friend do this, and it was incredibly rewarding. Put her shit in storage and flew out to see me on the red-eye.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


This is all while he's telling me he loves me more than anything ...

This may actually be true, in the sense that he loves you as much as he can love anyone. It's really immaterial in this kind of situation though. He has demonstrated he's not going to treat you right. "But I love you," is not an argument for you to stay and nor is the feeling that you love him. People who are as messed up and broken as he appears to be can inspire very strong feelings. So these may be a lot of feelings on both sides, and it's okay to acknowledge that but you really need to get out of this situation.
posted by BibiRose at 9:02 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Every time he's caught there is begging and pleading and him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other.

The only grain of truth that has come out of his mouth is that you are perfect for him. Please heed everyone's advice and go, as soon as you can.
posted by Dolley at 9:10 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


YOU will change, though, bit by bit. You will continue to be convinced by word and deed that your values and needs do not matter, and he will make you complicit in the changes to bend you to his will, to be there as his doormat. He will do things that risk your mental and physical health. You will lose yourself in pursuit of a relationship that doesn't really exist with a man you wish existed instead of the one doing this to you.

Please reread this paragraph from a reply above by The Wrong Kind of Cheese.

I spent 15 years with someone like your boyfriend. In fact I almost wonder if you're possibly dating my exhusband. People like him perceive the world very differently than you and I. Best I can understand he lies not just to you, but to himself. It's why the good times are so real - he believes his lies completely. It's also why the lies spill out - it's exhausting for him to maintain this false persona and it's not sustainable.

I spent 15 years being lied to. I didn't know he maintained a false persona until the last few years and by then the lies and his needs had ground me into nothingness. I didn't want to believe that the person I fell in love with could treat me the way he did. That our lives were a complete lie. It all came out though, and I felt as though I was in an emotional coma for several years. I'm only starting to recover but it's been nearly impossible to trust. Not so much other people, but myself.

Please, don't put yourself through more abuse. And yes, the cycle of lying and begging is abuse. You deserve to be secure in your relationship and in your life.

As for me, I spent so many years silencing my gut and my anger that it's affected me in all areas of my life. I used to be a prolific blogger and writer, but now the words won't come out. Where once I was the centre of parties, now I hover near the door, afraid of opening my mouth. I haven't been able to hold down a job, because who wants a washed up and worthless mouse. My old self is starting to peek out, but I wish I had chosen to love myself more than I had loved him. The price has been exponentially higher than I ever could have imagined.
posted by A hidden well at 9:19 AM on March 15, 2016 [26 favorites]


Of course he fights like hell when you bring up the idea of leaving. Look how wonderful this arrangement is for him: he has a woman who stays totally devoted to him while he fucks anybody he wants to and lies to her face, with no consequence.

What are you getting out of this arrangement? Having a partner like this is WAY lonelier than being alone. I don't know you but I am feeling actual anger about how he is using you, and I KNOW you deserve better.
posted by kapers at 9:33 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


The perfect person for you will not:
lie to you,
lie about the lying to you,
cheat on you,
lie about the cheating,
lie about the lying about the cheating,

See where this is going? This guy is not perfect for you. The current you may be perfect for *him* since you are wholeheartedly buying his bullshit though.

The biggest mistake isn't leaving him. It would be to continue wasting your time, life, energy and health on him.

Good luck.... you need to get out, get therapy and get strong to not let him drag you back into the cesspool.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:46 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This man thinks so little of you, has so little respect for you -- has so much contempt for you -- that he apparently sincerely believes that the best you deserve in life is to be permanently shackled to a serial liar and adulterer.
posted by KathrynT at 9:51 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


You are looking at this relationship through rose-colored glasses, in my opinion; I imagine you thinking, "this relationship is great, if I could just fix the lying." Sorry, you can't fix the lying and no, the relationship is not great. A great relationship is two parties doing their best to love each other wholeheartedly and sincerely. There is always room for talk and improvement, as the parties create an intimate and sacred space together. However, there can be no improvement when one party is not wholly honest and others are admitted to the intimate space without the other party's knowledge or consent.

You deserve better. Get out now. DTMFA.
posted by Lynsey at 9:56 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Someone being willing to stay with you is not a virtue.

Especially if that person is a lying, cheating, monster person.

The numbness and confusion you are feeling is not about weather you should dump this person it's your body screaming that you didn't dump this person 2 years ago.
posted by French Fry at 9:59 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sure, you have a choice besides leaving. Stay and let him continue to lie to you. Become the girlfriend who all of your friends and family know is being cheated on with one or more other women but refuses to see it. Continue to believe he'll change just like you've believed it for the last two years. Get an STD from one of the people he cheats on you with. Never know for a single second that you can believe him when he says where he is or what he's doing.

He's a liar. He's been showing you this for two years and you keep thinking he's going to change. He won't. If he wouldn't stop lying when the stakes were so low, what makes you think he will after two years of showing him there are absolutely no consequences for continuing to do it?
posted by MsMolly at 10:13 AM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


My ex was like this. He would lie to me to "protect" me from things. He would tell me what I wanted to hear, and not the truth. He would tell me he'd taken care of things...important things...when he hadn't.

It took me a few years to realize that he was always going to lie to me, not because he was trying to protect me, but because he was acting poorly and was trying to cover his tracks. Sounds like this guy is doing the same thing to you.

You have my permission, my encouragement to DTFM.

I know it can be scary to be alone, but it's just so much better to be alone than to be with someone you can't trust.

My life is so so so much happier without the weight of constantly doubting the person who was supposed to have my back. I grieved, not the relationship as it was, but the potential I had seen in the relationship at the beginning that never materialized. I kept hoping it would get better, but it never could without honesty from him.
posted by burntflowers at 10:25 AM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life

This is the reddest of red fucking flags short of physical violence, and then he put the cherry on top of the shit sundae by cheating on you. Here is a fact: there isn't anything you can do to change who he is. Of course he thinks your relationship is perfect -- it is, for him: he gets to enjoy doing whatever the fuck he feels like without accountability, because you keep letting him.

It hurts to let go of what you know, but once you're free of this bullshit you'll be baffled about why you ever put up with it in the first place.
posted by trunk muffins at 10:34 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life

I mean, think of this another way: he is saying you don't deserve better. Do you agree?
posted by trunk muffins at 10:35 AM on March 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Even if there were an actual magic spell to stop his cheating and lying, you would be with someone who had only stopped cheating on you and lying to you against his will.
posted by kapers at 10:54 AM on March 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


You have proven to him, over and over, that he does not NEED to tell you the truth. He can lie to you and lie to you and you can CATCH him lying to you, and every single time, you accept his worthless apologies and promises and take him back, and then he lies to you again.

How many dozens more times does this need to happen before you realize that he has no desire to change and no REASON to change? He has every single thing he wants from you, including permission to keep on lying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm sure you've noticed at some point how hard it is --nearly impossible, actually -- to get unanimity on any issue you care to name. See how these answers, 78 of them before this one, are unanimous?

Yeah.

These is no reason, not one, for you to stay with this guy.
posted by holborne at 11:39 AM on March 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


My sister dated this guy for way longer than she should have. There was some sort of bizarre symbiosis where he would beg and plead to stay in the relationship and she would let him even though it wasn't really giving her what she wanted. There was some sense in which she felt like being able to turn him around was going to be the major win in her life because he was otherwise perfect. During a time when they were ostensibly going to start counseling and work on it, he rented another apartment and moved out with 24 hours notice. She didn't even get to break up with him and now has to deal with getting dumped by her piece of shit cheating boyfriend. I suggest you choose a better way to wrap up this relationship which is not going to get better and will probably get worse. I don't see any path forward here. You have been putting this guy's feelings before your own and it's time to stop doing that.
posted by jessamyn at 11:41 AM on March 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


I was married for over twenty years, lived together for five before getting hitched. We went through a bad period about 5 years into my marriage where my husband lied, cheated and lied some more. Drugs were involved, and provided his 'excuse'. We reconciled and I spent another dozen years afterward living with him. I never got over the lying and cheating of the past. It hurt every day. We finally split up and I then realized that even in those dozen years afterward, despite all of my efforts to trust him, he still maintained a pattern of lying and possibly cheating, too. With the clarity of distance I also realized that he'd been lying and possibly cheating for years before the crisis. He never, ever came totally clean about the past and he still hid things from me afterward. I'd like those dozen years back. That's not going to happen. Leave now before you, too, have a number of years that you would like to have back.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 12:20 PM on March 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


As soon as I got to the part of your question where you were catching him in a lot of small pointless lies, I knew that this story with end with you finding out that he was probably cheating on you but still trying to cover that with more lies. I have dated someone just like this and seriously it is not worth it. All of those professions of love and promises to make things work are just as much lies as everything else. Please, just walk away, I promise you will feel better soon. What I learned from that relationship was that decent trustworthy people don't need to have excuses made for their actions all the time. They don't need to make convoluted explanations for things - stuff just makes sense. Liars love to prey on honest people because we give them the faith and support they crave, but also let them play out their schemes, which give them an extra rush. There are lots of wonderful, honest, kind men out there who will treat you with the respect you deserve. I swear you will find one of those and be so much happier. Or be single, and free, and so much happier. Things can only get better when you get yourself out of this relationship.

one last thing to think about - after finally getting away from the liar I dated, I found out how he had been managing to cheat on me with girls that knew me, and knew that we were a couple - he told them all lies about me, that I was a horrible woman and awful girlfriend that he was supporting and he was just too good of a guy to send me out to be homeless (which was not true I have been self-sufficient since I was 18) So think about how your boyfriend is managing to convince his friend to meet up in a hotel with him? yea, he's telling her some awful stuff about you. You, who is giving him love, and trust, and is working so hard to make your relationship work. He's taking all that effort you are putting into your relationship and just pissing it away. You can't fix that.

I hope things get better for you - we're all behind you, you can do this!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2016 [23 favorites]


he's telling her some awful stuff about you.

Oh yes. Excellent point. Yes, he is.

Also be prepared for the lies in your direction to step up a notch when you leave him. He or a family member will suddenly have a life-changing health/employment/financial crisis that he will use to make you feel heartless for choosing NOW to dump him.

He'll be lying about that, too. This is one more reason that going no contact will serve you well.
posted by juliplease at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


HE has the front to tell YOU that dumping him would be the worst mistake of YOUR life? What? How? In what sense? You'd end up having to date somebody who doesn't cheat on you? You dumping him is the best thing that could possibly happen to you, and he knows it. He has some serious brass neck to say that to you with a straight face.

The fact that he can say stuff like this and be taken seriously, as opposed to you laughing in his face or slapping him, unfortunately means he's already very good at manipulating you. Dump him now. If he's asleep wake him up and dump him, if he's out do it by text. Do it right this second.
posted by tinkletown at 3:09 PM on March 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Bad break ups are bad. So bad. As selfish as it makes me sound to say since no one is dead and likely both partners are better off in the long run, it can be as bad as grief over the death of a very close loved one (I’ve been through both). The difference being that you can keep torturing yourself that it’s not necessarily final which is a total headf*ck. It sounds like you’ve been good, solid, and completely given your heart to someone who has completely taken advantage of that. You’re in panic-y breakup mode right now. It’s awful, but follow through, ride it out, do what you need to do to get by (a week off work, therapy for yourself, join an online breakup support forum, etc.) and honestly you will be glad eventually. You know this- you say it yourself in your question. You will be so much happier one day, and so so so much calmer (genuine calmness, not the lull before the storm reprieve that happens in the kind of relationship you’re in). Stay strong, take care of yourself, be kind to yourself- you can get through this breakup.
posted by hotcoroner at 3:52 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oof, I feel for you. It's so hard to deal with a situation where the things you believe about a person (especially a partner whom you love) keep crumbling in front of you.

I feel like I need to end it. But I still don't really want to.

It sounds like you know the relationship isn't good anymore, but there is something deep in here that's causing you to not want to end it. That's worth examining, as it may provide an easier way forward if you can figure out what's going on.

Which, christ, I'm not staying with him because it's what HE wants.

Seems like you're staying with him because on some level it's what YOU want. Bear with me for a second. Why might you be invested in staying? Well, potentially lots of reasons. Maybe you want to avoid being the "bad guy," the one who ended the relationship. Maybe you want to rescue your partner, to be the one who turned him "good." Maybe you believe that loving each other should be enough. Maybe you want others, especially this partner, to perceive you as kind and generous and reasonable and willing to give people a chance when they mess up. Maybe you believe in the goodness of people, and that if you just love someone enough, they will change because of that love. Maybe you identify as a person who is a good judge of character and it is extremely painful to admit that in this case you may have misjudged your partner. Sometimes people are so deeply invested in one or more of these beliefs that to act against them would be tantamount to losing a large part of their identity, and they're not ready to deal with that yet.

Do any of these ideas resonate with you, even in part? All of them are narratives about love that books and movies have told us over and over again. So it's not surprising that some of these might be beliefs that you hold deeply. They're ideals that entire cultures (particularly in the U.S.) hold deeply. In other words, you're not the only one. But just because lots of people believe them doesn't mean these ideals make for healthy relationships.

And if you do find something that resonates here, try asking yourself: Is this thing that I believe true? What would happen if I continued believing it (acting as if it's true)? What would happen if I stopped believing it? And (this is the most interesting question, I've found) is there another version of this truth that would be helpful right now? For example, if you believe that loving each other should be enough, then maybe a healthier version might be that leaving this partner is itself a kind of love because it would enable both of you to find happiness. Or if you believe that if you just love someone enough they will change, you might turn that into loving yourself enough that you can change and leave this partner and find a partner who supports you. Or if you believe that everyone deserves a second chance, find the kindness to give yourself a second chance at love.

These are hard questions to deal with, and no matter what you decide, it might be the case that you need time to grieve (the time you've spent, the relationship you thought you had, the one you do have, the pieces of yourself that are enmeshed with this person) before you're ready to take the next step. That's okay. It's also okay if you end up making a decision now and doing the processing later. It might take a while. But you are clearly a thoughtful person, and you'll figure it out.

Good luck. We're rooting for you.
posted by danceswithlight at 3:59 PM on March 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


A person who lies to you doesn't feel worthy of you. Is he worthy of you? He's shown you through his lying, harmless and otherwise, that he's ashamed of the person he is and wants you to believe that he's the good person he desperately wants to you to reflect back to him. Have you seen Mad Men? This is a person so deeply unhappy with himself that he will use other people, completely and to the point of exhaustion, to confirm to himself that he's good even when he knows deep down he's hasn't been. Do you want to continue to be his self-serving mirror but not his equal partner?
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 4:04 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am so, so sorry both for what you have gone through and how difficult but necessary walking away is. As many above have said, there isn't anything you can do to improve or fix this relationship. There isn't anything you can do to change or fix him. What you can change is your daily life and whom you choose to be in it. This person is not what you want or need, and, unfortunately, it doesn't sound like he ever can be. The good news is that this does not need to be your life anymore.

You gave it a good go. You were trusting, compassionate, and forgiving. Those are excellent qualities to have when you are with someone who is worthy of trust, compassion, and forgiveness. I don't know if this fellow is pathological or not, but at the very least, he sounds like an incredibly unkind, manipulative, and predatory person. You deserve better. This will hurt like hell and suck for awhile, but, trust me, it will be worth it. Eventually, one day, you will realize you haven't second guessed yourself or someone else for the entire day and you will smile because that eans you have survived and begun to heal. Once you've moved on, life and this relationship will look very different from the other side, and you will find a contentment you haven't enjoyed in a long time. Best of luck and much hugs to you.
posted by katemcd at 5:51 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was going to say "in an ideal world, you wouldn't have to worry about any of this because in an ideal world your partner is not a pathological liar in the first place."

But you know what? You don't need an ideal world. In this world, the real world, there are in fact thousands of wonderful people who would give you the honesty you need and deserve. I hope you'll find one of them soon.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:54 PM on March 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


The only ways you can stay with this guy:
(a) resolve in yourself that he's going to lie to you about everything and you are going to be fine with that, because it keeps him in your life. Accept his lies and either believe nothing or....
(b) decide to believe him even though you know he lies to you about everything and is cheating on you. (In which case, either insist on condoms or don't do anything with him you can catch an STD from.)

Do either of these sound awesome to you?

Seriously, you know you can't stay with him, right?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:43 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you are within a three-hour drive from NYC, I will help you move out. I could probably bring my BF to help, too.

The whole community is pulling for you!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


he actually texted the girl right away to tell her they'd been found out and couldn't talk anymore and he'd do the damage control

So you watched him explain to someone that he was going to be the one responsible for lying his way out of the situation and she shouldn't talk to you? That's what damage control is.

I need total honesty in a relationship and if it's something I would leave him over that is my choice

He doesn't believe you need total honesty, because you haven't been getting that and you've stayed.

Maybe you haven't been honest with yourself about what you need in a relationship -- if you don't actually need honesty and are willing to accept constant lies you can stay with him.

If you have just been thinking you could explain that he shouldn't lie, and thinking he will change, leave. It's not going to get better.

him telling me that chucking him would be the worst mistake of my life and we're perfect for each other

Ask yourself why you keep believing this.
posted by yohko at 9:42 PM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


He's telling you that chucking him would be the worst mistake because he's projecting and knows he's running out of time to act this way.

People don't become this way. Liars like this were fucking lying in middle school. This guy has spent his teens, twenties, and thirties lying. The difference is that it's a lot easier to lie to someone in college who doesn't know better than a grown ass adult, and he's realized that.

Keep that in mind every time you have doubts about getting out of this. He's banking on you not giving up because he's fucked.
posted by emptythought at 9:52 PM on March 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


The high number of answers here makes me think that this is, sadly, a common story. People can be so terrible. I could have written this myself 5 years ago.

Really, the only thing you can do to save yourself from further manipulation and drama and heartache is to get out of this relationship. I'm repeating what everyone else is saying.

Things will get so much better when this type of person is no longer in your life. Your headspace will be clear and you will be able to concentrate on what you want and be choosy about the people you let into your life. Be picky. There are some people out there who truly are as honest as you want your current partner to be and those people are the ones deserving of your time.

You deserve better and you can move on to better things. Good luck!
posted by crunchy_cereals at 12:41 AM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I need total honesty in a relationship . . .

Do you really mean this? Because honesty is exactly what you don't have, not even close.
posted by Dolley at 5:43 AM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wanted to add there is a chance that in a cognitive dissonance way he believes some or most of his own lies (even while he knows they are not true. I know this because lying comes really easily to me as well, lying works best when you trick yourself into believing your own lies). I say this not to justify him, but to let you know that when you leave him, he might (maybe?) feel a little guilty, but he is likely to rewrite the whole story in his head so he can rest assured that YOU ruined everything and he's not that bad of a guy after all. You will never get closure from this man, so cut your losses and leave.

It sounds kind of stupid but that song "it wasn't me" by Shaggy is exactly what he's like. In his moral scale, the potential benefit of behaving badly while pretending not to outweighs the remorse (if any) of torturing you psychologically. This means that to him, your misery is a price worth paying over and over as long as he gets what he wants.

This man has no empathy, and clearly is not interested in cultivating any, because living with you has taught him he doesn't need to. Your forgiving him over and over again reinforces that his behavior is okay and he will eternally have his cake and eat it too while he kills your spirit in the process. And he is perfectly okay with this.

Everyone here (and I hope you as well) knows he slept with that woman. I have been married for 7 years and I have had a couple of ugly situations including night long conversations that involved lots of misery and suffering. My SO and I got over them because they meant something and the positive results were obvious long term. I cannot imagine having these come-to-Jesus conversations every couple of months, only for there to be no improvement ever.

Reading your question was actually painful for me. Nobody deserves this. If you had been married for 40 years and were 70 years old I would still think you need to leave this person. He is 100% taking advantage of you.
posted by Tarumba at 6:58 AM on March 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


For me, there is no stronger barometer for "is this relationship worth it?" than "do we keep having the SAME CONVERSATIONS OVER AND OVER? With no progress or building on what's been said/done before?" If yes- brakes are applied. And hard questions are asked.

The more this occurs with someone, the more I know it's not gonna work. Because this is the indicator that that person and I cannot communicate. And that is a deal-breaker.

The uber-deal-breaker is when the convo we keep having is the one about HIM LYING ALL THE TIME.

It's a new day- I hope you're in a new place. By yourself!! :-) And on the way to recovery from this manipulative jerk.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:53 AM on March 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Whenever there's a lack of care and respect in a relationship and your partner refuses to change that, it's time to bail. You can't fix that. What will happen, instead, is that you'll get more and more damaged and throw more priceless years of your life down a black hole. And then someday your partner will leave you for someone else and once you're alone in middle or old age, you'll realize you wasted what should have been the best years of your life and any chance of having children (if you want them, that is) on someone who wasn't worth caring about at all. Ask me how I know this.
posted by orange swan at 2:19 PM on March 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


Just posting to agree, GTFO, an ex hid a ton of stuff from me, luckily I don't have to deal with it anymore. As orange swan and the others have said, time to bail.
posted by dragonbaby07 at 6:12 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to tell you that you don't have to live like this. I also dated someone who was a pathological liar in my younger days and it really screwed with my judgment, self-esteem and sense of reality. When I healed from that relationship, I realized that in order to value honesty, I had to actually stop dating people who showed themselves to be less than trustworthy. In other words, I had to be honest with myself. If s/he looks like a liar, walks like a liar, talks like a liar, s/he's a liar. Stop lying to yourself about what you see right in front of your eyes.

People who say they "value honesty" and "must have honesty in a relationship", yet knowingly date a pathological liar are.. lying to themselves. You are lying to yourself when you see him lie to you, repeatedly, and you maintain that honesty is a deal breaker for a relationship. It may be theoretically important to you, but in the life you are living, you are making choices that are not in alignment with your values. You have no ownership over his lies, but you have to own your decision to continue dating a known liar.

There are trustworthy people who can and will love you -- but you have to be trustworthy with and for yourself. DTMFA and don't look back. Focus on you and making safer, better, healthier decisions about who to date. Next time around, stop dating people when you catch them in lies. Just really, full stop, turn around and walk the other way. You deserve -- and can have -- better.

But this weekend I was going through his phone because I still feel like I'm missing something (he said I could)

This is not what trust looks like. This is what crazy looks like. You don't want to be in a relationship where you have to go through someone's phone. Seriously. You don't. Living like this will drive you nuts.

For the future: remember.. if you feel like you need to look through your partner's phone or computer or whatever (even with their permission), that means the relationship is so shitty that you need to end it. Trust me on this.
posted by Gray Skies at 9:29 PM on March 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


if you feel like you need to look through your partner's phone or computer or whatever (even with their permission), that means the relationship is so shitty that you need to end it

...unless the only reason you're doing that is because you've been so burnt by a string of relationships like the one you're dealing with right now that it's hard to stop what you found out about your old partners contaminating your attitude toward your new one.

I don't think it ever pays to make a practice of seeking out evidence of wrongdoing in a partner. Doing that carries a strong risk of misconstruing perfectly innocent behaviors as evidence of cheating, which is a really common way for what should otherwise be wonderful relationships to come apart at the seams.

Genuinely untrustworthy people will give themselves away fairly quickly without you having to play detective. The trick, as you're finding out right now, is in giving yourself permission to accept that horrible revelation for what it is and react appropriately.
posted by flabdablet at 10:19 PM on March 16, 2016


Funny, I read this post a month ago and meant to respond. I don't know where you are with it now, but here's what I wanted to add.

It's ok to love him. You are allowed. It is also ok to love him and leave. You can do both of those things at the same time.

Everything he has done that has blown up the foundation upon which your relationship started long before he met you and has little to nothing to do with how he feels about you. Loving you or not loving you wasn't why he did any of it in the first place and won't impact whether he does any of it again.

Decide your needs are reasonable and choose based on whether or not they are met.
posted by amycup at 1:29 PM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


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