I’m a newly-minted Chump. I discovered by accident two weeks ago that my boyfriend of the past year had been leading a double life, and had another girlfriend in another city — not to mention a totally different social circle there that I knew nothing about, and a slightly different persona around them than around my friends. I contacted the other girlfriend, and she was just as shocked to learn about me. We are both heartbroken, angry, devastated and confused. We know we probably aren’t the only ones, now, too. There was at least one prostitute.
How did he dupe us? He is a widower (this much is actually true), and frequently used “grieving his dead wife” or “seeing a therapist for PTSD” as excuses to disappear for a few days; being a Chump (and a generally understanding human person), I gave him all the space he needed during those times — and so did she. Nothing else seemed off about our relationship; when he wasn’t “in a depression,” he was present, compassionate, and supportive.
He’s an amazing liar. Even after the breakup, he was lying about small factual things. Like, “where were you on this date?” I had the bus passes and pictures and texts on hand, and he still denied it with total conviction. Maybe he even believed his own lies, but what’s worse, is I found myself believing him, too, even though I knew he was lying. My gut still said to trust him.
This is not a question about reconciliation; l do not believe in unicorns, and he doesn’t seem to have any remorse other than for losing his cake. I have gone NC (after a few ill-advised attempts at communication). I’m seeing a therapist. The OW and I are supporting each other through this, sharing STD test results, and reading your blog. I’m trudging through this as best I can.
My question is, how can I trust another person ever again? I usually have a pretty good sense of when I can or can’t trust someone; my inner voice is not often wrong. But this time it failed me completely. My spidey senses all told me I could trust him. If my gut instincts failed this badly, how many other times has it happened? How could I ever know? I’m having paranoid thoughts that everyone close to me might be a totally different person than who I think they are. It’s terrifying.
Have you or other readers felt this way? How do you overcome it?
Gonna Need Someone On My Side
I think the “Will I Ever Trust Again?” stage is pretty common to chumps. But I don’t think your question is really “Can I ever trust again?” Just by existing in this world you trust every day. Trust is the social glue that holds us all together. Unless you’re agoraphobic and locked in a bunker, you trust as you go through life.
You trust that the barista isn’t going to poison your latte. You trust the pilot when you step on a plane. You trust that the doctor who anesthetizes you really went to medical school. To go through life is to make assumptions of safety.
What you’re really asking is: “How can I have a relationship and not be vulnerable?”
You can’t. Loving people makes us vulnerable.
Now, that’s not to say you should go about blithely exposing your tender underbelly and handing people harpoons. There are certainly ways to manage risk. But the fact remains that some people are just evil motherfuckers.
That right there is some very important information — some people are just evil motherfuckers.
Oh sure, before you were chumped you had theoretical knowledge of evil motherfuckers. Read about a few in the history books, watched a couple Dateline episodes, checked for monsters under your children’s beds… But now you are changed forever because you have actual evil motherfucker experience. You KNOW these people are out there pretending to be mild-mannered, grieving widowers.
You can see this knowledge as a terrible burden, or you can see it as wisdom. Not everyone is what they appear to be. Some freaks have very carefully constructed double lives. Some freaks lie effortlessly. No adaptive anxiety, as the shrinks say. They live to con and their consciences don’t bother them because they have none.
But, but! They seemed so REAL!
Isn’t that every duck’s last thought as he alights next to the decoy?
Back to you. This is how you move forward:
1.) Develop some healthy skepticism. People who “grieve” live with it. It’s not a sort of weekend getaway kind of thing. Oh right, Tuesday through Friday are my scheduled Mourn Veronica days. A tip-off to freaks is they aren’t available. The complicated schedules, the not-all-there, but then almost a bit too present, checking in constantly on YOUR schedule? Can’t always commit? Always has a very good excuse? Good people’s words align with their deeds. They’re steady, emotionally available, and fairly uncomplicated.
This guy sounds complicated and sad puppy-ish. (They say sociopaths lead with self-pity.)
I’m not saying you could’ve known. But with hard-won experience, you will have more discernment going forward. Take time to really suss potential partners out and judge for character. Does he have friends? Is he available? Does his story check out? How much am I spackling and hoping, versus what is he really saying?
Yes, that doesn’t feel as nice as unblemished chumpy naiveté. You’ve lost your innocence. But again, that’s not a bad thing. Hold out for character, pay attention to ACTIONS over words, and take it slow. With freaks, the crazy starts to show eventually.
2.) Know that YOU are resilient. That’s the only person you control — you. If you love, you trust. If you trust, you can be played. But you don’t have to remain a chump. You can have boundaries and enforce them. (You did that. No unicorn for you. Well done!) You know that you can reinvent. You can trust yourself. Gonna is gonna take good care of herself. She won’t let this freak keep abusing her.
Remember, the freaks are the MINORITY. They exist, but so do many good people. For one of him, I’m sure there are many other people lifting you up and who care. Who are horrified for you. They’re right here on this blog too, commenting on your post today. Take comfort in that.
You’ll bounce back. We did, and you will too. ((Hugs))