It is arguably one of the most painful moments in a person's life: the moment they realized they're being cheated on. Often, subtle signs that someone is cheating were absolutely everywhere, yet camouflaged by love and loyalty, so it can take one gut-punching, undeniable moment to realize that your partner isn't being faithful and, well, that moment is just the worst.
When an uncomfortable feeling becomes overwhelming and threatens a relationship, many are quick to say, "Well, that isn't really cheating," or, "They would never do that to me," or, "I'm just being irrational," when it's actually the rational part of the brain sounding its sirens and pleading for a moment of detached clarity. I would know: For six months, I was being cheated on, and it took that entire six months for me to realize that what I thought could never happen, was actually happening all the time (and, as it turns out, it was happening in my home).
I looked past questionable situations and signs that he was cheating, ignored a certain frequently uttered name, and anchored myself to a relationship I desperately wanted to work. It wasn't until I checked my mail and found an anonymous, typed letter telling me that my boyfriend was sleeping with our neighbor that I could no longer deny what that heavy pit in my stomach already knew. And, of course, along with that anonymous letter came shame and embarrassment because, well, I should have realized what was going, and a lot sooner.
For better or for worse (I'll go with worse), I'm not alone. Many women experienced that exact same moment, when they were either slapped by the cruel and surprising hand of reality or forced to accept what they were fearing was true. Here are 11 women, bravely sharing the moment they knew their partner was cheating on them. (And seriously guys, don't cheat. Just be honest and have the uncomfortable conversation and break up, like adults.)
"I was 19, and I was working at a gallery and forgot my laptop, so my boyfriend (who was nearby) brought me his to use for the day. When I opened gmail, obviously his inbox popped up, and since I was 19 and HUMAN, I gave it a quick scan. Not that I needed to look hard, since the multiple exchanges based on Craigslist Casual Encounters ads he'd posted where EVERYWHERE. I read a few — enough to determine that he had slept with someone less than three days before — and then promptly called my best friend to fly in from New York, which she did that night. We toasted the end of the relationship by drinking champagne and chain-smoking on my front porch while ceremonially burning some underwear he'd left at my place."
I feel like there's the moment you know for sure you're being cheated on, but there's also a build up to that moment. I always say that you can feel it in your gut, especially if you have a strong connection to the person — that's the build up. But the moment you find out is the worst feeling in the world. Your heart falls into your stomach and you're, like, instantly dizzy. Then there's shock and numbness to what just happened.
"I always had suspicions, but I found out when he took a "work trip". I was married with two kids at the time. He said he had to go to a "training meeting", which was about seven hours away. Instead of taking a quick flight, he said he was going to drive so, me being me, I got the car detailed and waxed and cleaned so that he could travel comfortably with "Bill", another male coworker who he claimed was going to the training meeting with him.
Anytime he traveled, he usually called me when he got to wherever it was he was going. This time, he didn't call, so I thought it was odd. Out of concern, I called to see where the credit card was last used so that I could figure out what hotel he was staying at. I called the hotel and his name wasn't registered for the room, but a woman's name was. The front desk rang her room and my husband answered the phone."
For my mom, when she found the second cell phone.
"I found out when I was six months pregnant. He was in a car accident and refused to give me his phone before the X-Ray in the hospital. He actually changed his password before turning it off and handing it to me.
I knew for sure when, a few weeks later, I woke up at 3 a.m. and he was gone — nowhere to be found in the house, although his car was there. He refused to answer his phone and his explanation, when he finally came back an hour later, was that he wanted to look at the stars. It happened again the next night (I'm about seven months pregnant at this time) and that's when I checked his phone records. He's now expecting a baby with the woman that lived across the street from us, so I'm pretty sure he wasn't looking at the stars during those nights."
"I was cooking dinner and had a chance to start a load of laundry. I had a suspicion maybe he was fooling around with someone because his attitude and the way he communicated started to change, but I couldn't nail it down. As I'm sorting our laundry, I found a pair of briefs that I'd never seen before. No other pairs were similar, just this one pair. Nothing new in his drawer, they weren't nice enough to have been purchased as a solo pair anyways, and he was cheap, so he wouldn't spend that much on a pair of underwear anyways..."
I asked him about it, he denied it, but it was pretty much the final straw. I left work early a few days later and drove by his house. There was a new car parked in the driveway. I sat just down the street in my car and watched him come out of the house with another guy. OK, maybe it's a frien...FRIENDS DONT KISS LIKE THAT WHEN THEY ARE SAYING GOODBYE!!!! I drove up, told him it was over, and left. I went back the next day and took all the things I had left there and that miserable relationship ended.
"Even after all these years when I look back on this memory I want to wrap my arms around my 15 year old self and say, 'You are better than their ugly words.' Because gossip and cheating go hand-in-hand in high school.
My first love, was a senior, a football player, popular — everything the stereotypical first love should be. Unfortunately this plain Jane book worm couldn't keep up with him and he lost interest after a few months when a beautiful cheerleader caught his eye.
The first time I heard about the new romance between my football player and the cheerleader was in the cafeteria. I walked next to a table of boys to get to the soda machine, I like to think they didn't know I was there so their malicious talk was a little less cruel. One boy said very loudly and clearly, "I would ditch Rachel for (said cheerleader), she is so much hotter! Rachel is alright, but pretty average and kinda boring. I would make the same move as (said football player) did." I swear to God my heart stopped beating. I left my money in the vending machine without my soda so I could sneak quietly away. Their words echoing in my ears. How dare they judge the value of everything we shared off of my looks! How could they cheer him on and justify his betrayal simply because She was more beautiful? I crumpled in a quiet hallway and cried through my Science class.
Looking back now, I see the naïveté in myself and the foolish importance of superficial beauty that the young find so meaningful."
"It was the beginning of November, my husband at the time (we can call him Joe) was away for some work training. Being that he is in the military, I was used to him coming and going, and schedules being all over the place. My older daughter had just turned 2, and my youngest was only about 10 weeks young. Joe and I had been bickering on and off quite a bit about anything and everything. He had just returned home from another deployment in time for our youngest's birth, so getting used to having him home and having another newborn baby can be a bit of an adjustment.
Since we had been fighting so much and things just seemed really off, I decided to check his e-mail. I found an e-mail to a mutual friend of ours asking for a good divorce lawyer. Being that he had never thrown the word divorce around before, I was very shocked and confused. I then decided to dig deeper and check into his phone records. I pulled up our joint account and immediately saw one number over and over again. Hundreds of phone calls, text messages, and picture messages. Pages of them on record, dating back a month. Mind you, that means that our youngest was all of six weeks old when he started cheated on me.
I called my parents in disbelief of what I was seeing and what I had found. My dad did a little search for me and found that the number belonged to a female in the Army. I knew her full name, where she lived, and what she looked like. Thanks to good old Facebook! I put two and two together and realized that during the time the phone calls started, he was away in Georgia for business. To make a very long story short, I called Joe and told him I knew about everything. He did not deny it."
"Back in October, my (now ex) boyfriend attended a housewarming party that his ex-girlfriend was throwing. We lived about two hours away from each other at the time, and when he told me about the party he basically said something along the lines of, "If you aren't comfortable with me going, just let me know and I absolutely won't, I'm over her anyway." I, being the "cool girlfriend" told him that it was fine. When the night in question arrived, I could tell through his text messages that he was getting a little too drunk, and when he gets a little too drunk, he gets a little too reckless. I got impatient with him and went to bed. He contacted me the next afternoon after going to brunch with his ex. I think I knew then but didn't want to admit it.
He ended up coming clean with me the next week, and we stuck it out until New Year's Eve when he broke up with me because he didn't think he deserved my forgiveness (among other reasons). In all honesty, he probably didn't."
"He had moved in with me into my studio, which was above the home of our landlord. I had power of attorney for my landlord, who as an elderly man, a retired war hero. Because my landlord was ill, he needed regular care. So the Visiting Nurses Association sent nurses to the house. One of them was a young, attractive woman..."
His behavior changed, and she was sort of avoiding me, so I figured it out. He admitted that they were sleeping together. Added also that he wanted to be married to me, you know, for the emotional intimacy, but she was prettier, and more "fuckable" than I was. He said his ideal woman looked like a Victoria's Secret model. She came close. That made me feel awesome, let me tell you.
He was an actor. One night I went to go see him perform. I recognized a girl sitting in front of me. She had been in a play with him before. I tapped her on the shoulder to say "hey." She turned around — we looked at each other…and we both knew.
"She and I both had to sit through that production, the intermission, and the after reception. At the reception, I kept drinking and drinking. He lived in NYC and I did not. I didn't really have a choice except to stay with him. We were on the subway when we started screaming at each other. In the end, I think I slapped him because there were no words capable of expressing how hurt I was that he would understand.
During our argument, he told me about the belt I had bought him for his birthday. I had spent hours in a outlet village searching for an expensive belt that matched the style he wore every day that would not disintegrate the way the old one had. He told me he had left it on the floor of girl #4 the morning he left her place. She had thought they were becoming a thing but once she realized he had used her, she threw it out.
I got sick on the subway from the alcohol and being so upset."