Dear Chump Lady,
I was in a relationship with another guy for just under two years. I know that already makes this completely different to the stories here where cheating destroys marriages of many years, but for some reason I feel torn up about it all the same.
Looking back I can see some of the signs – he asked to be exclusive very quickly, he was always somewhat distant, he tended to come round to my house based on his schedule (he only had a single bed at his so we rarely went), and I never felt like a huge priority. Understandably we are only young (mid 20s) so I accepted that this is life at this age and it would be needy to ask for more.
He also occasionally made comments like “When we’re broken up in the future and with different partners, if we bumped into each other we could still hook up” or “When we’re older we could bring younger people into our relationship for sex – sex with old people just doesn’t do anything for me”. And so on. He always promised these things were just jokes, and they didn’t happen often enough for them to be this huge issue, just enough to keep me off balance.
Anyway so one day I just decided I really didn’t like this guy and told him I need some space for a few days to think things over. I came back after that week, apologized and said I would want to try to make things work. Well a few weeks later he was exceptionally distant from me, and I ended up checking his phone to find arrangements to meet up with someone online for sex. I could see he had not gone through with it from the texts but immediately challenged him. He said he was still hurting from when I left briefly a few weeks before. Around this time he also told me of a difficult story of abuse that happened when he was younger which he thought about all the time and had sort risky, violent sex in the past to deal with it.
Basically I took him back for about a month and desperately tried to make it work. This, the guy who I couldn’t even stand two weeks ago, and now had shown he could cheat, well I spackled the freaking hell out of him. Sun shone out his backside and I convinced myself he just needed to be loved. I tried to majorly untangle him, understand that he couldn’t help doing the things he did, that’s just all he’s ever known. Needless to say his online behaviour didn’t improve and I found out predated way back to when we first got together.
Eventually one night he went on a website, knowing I would know, and when I confronted him told me it was because he knew I was still keeping tabs on him. This galvanized me to break up with him. I found it really difficult in the few months after that but gradually came to deal with it.
This was until I found out he has a new boyfriend after a year of singledom. Now I’m terrified he’s a better person in a better relationship, that I partly caused him finally going ahead with cheating after leaving him for a few days, that I missed out and this new guy (who I think is more attractive than me) is going to reap the better relationship. I unfortuantely checked his old online accounts and they’ve either been deleted or inactive for 2 weeks. It makes me wonder that he could do it for this guy but not me.
Finally I guess I’m just broken up about it because in my head we had a nice relationship together. His charming dazzling personality has still got me fantasizing he was perfect. It’s also likely he never physically cheated on me (though probably because he just never had the chance) and reading some of the stories on here he just doesn’t seem as bad as a lot of guys (unicorn syndrome). Now he’s with the new guy I can’t help but think he’s got rid of his difficulties and I missed out, why else would he be risking a new relationship when he knows what happened with me. I think I’m mostly in love with a fairy tale now, it’s been so long there’s very little reality left.
Your ex isn’t perfect. He’s a run of the mill cheater, who found a new chump. Be grateful you’re not his hypotenuse any more.
You’re just going through all the chump motions, romanticizing the old relationship, second guessing yourself, and wondering if he’s going to be better for someone else. Stop it. You’re making this about you. It’s not about you. It’s about your ex — he sucks. You want to know why you’re making it about you? Because thinking that you did Something Wrong is a lot less scary than imagining that there are soulless people out there who can just cheat on you without a care. If it was something you did, by God, you could FIX that and ensure that you never get fucked over again! And the whole terrible story would have some meaning.
James, the story does have meaning — some people suck. Trust that they suck. Learn to be discerning, figure out what YOUR values are, and decide what you will and will not put up with in a relationship.
Ask yourself, if you were so awful and unloveable — why was he cheating from the start (as you discovered)? How could you compel him to cheat before your relationship was even established? You dumped him because you (rightly!) sensed something was very wrong. And then he used THAT as a pretext to cheat…. except he’d ALWAYS been cheating on you.
That’s what these wing nuts do. Don’t accept that!
Pay attention to when you “feel off balance.” Those “hypothetical” scenarios he was running by you, were to groom you for chumpdom. To gage your reaction to his infidelities, to see if you’d stick around, if you would spackle for him, or if you’d call him out on his shit. Normal people don’t “joke” like that. Their values align with their actions — and their sense of humor. They don’t play games of Let’s Pretend I Find You Hideous As You Age or Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Cheat on Our Future Partners!
Oh, and the sex abuse story? Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not true — but it’s one of the three channels of manipulators — rage, charm, and self-pity. I like to have violent high risk sex… (uh, warning! That’s probably what he’s been up to online!) but you can’t be upset with me (risking your health) because I have a Very Sad Story. That’s the self-pity move. That’s the play for you to feel sorry for him so your anger at him will evaporate before it hits target.
He’s a mindfuck. And please get yourself tested for STDs, ASAP.
Another lesson — don’t date the vague guys. James, if a guy is into you — he’s into you. He’s available. If he’s temporarily not available, he says “Oh, Tuesday’s out, but how does Friday look?” He makes an EFFORT.
Oh, wouldn’t it be crushing if he’s making that kind of effort for the next guy? He’s not. He didn’t get a character transplant. New guy is getting sparkles (or “narkles” as we call them here too). Once he’s hooked, your ex will start with the “jokes” and the mindfuckery. And he deleted all his old accounts, because he has new accounts. Stop online stalking him — just take what you’ve learned forward. Be thankful you’re not like our stories here. You’re a young guy who learned a painful lesson and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you to find someone worthy of you.
That guy wasn’t worthy of you, James. He’s a cheating piece of shit. For you and for the next guy.