By Amy Alkon
I was seeing a guy for four months — a guy I liked better than I’ve ever liked anyone. Two months in, he was calling me his girlfriend, putting me on the phone with his mom, and saying that I shouldn’t look to be dating other people. Yet, I noticed that he remained on the dating website we met on and was checking in there daily. I asked him whether he was seeing other girls on the site, and he said, “Only a friend I work with and she is older anyway.” When I’d ask whether he was sleeping with other girls, he’d always say no. Well, he left his email open on my computer, and I searched it and discovered he’d been contacting several women daily on the dating site and sleeping with at least one other woman. I contacted her and told her he’s contacting numerous other women so she’d know he’s a sociopath, a sex addict, a liar and a cheat. Now I’m thinking about warning other women he’s contacted. Is that crazy?
— Badly Betrayed
We all want to believe — in the tooth fairy and talking dogs, that Santa got to the mall on his airborne sleigh and not the bus after his car got impounded for DUIs.
Sticking to your preferred version of reality works when you’re 6. At 26 or 36, it tends to end badly. You, for example, tried to ignore the wildly obvious: A guy isn’t logging in at a dating site daily because his mouse gets lost on the way to the sports scores. Eventually, Reality popped up to ask you, “Am I really going to have to bite you?” So, you asked the guy whether he was seeing anybody from the site, and he said, “Only a friend I work with.” Note that this was not a no. To a woman seeking the truth, it sounds like what it was — a truth-flavored lie. But, determined as you were to keep believing you’d found your Mr. Husband, you cut up all the red flags and did a remarkable job repurposing them into throw pillows.
The fact your suspicions finally got too big and stanky to ignore didn’t give you the right to plow through the guy’s email — the techno-quivalent of breaking into his house and reading all his mail. People are entitled to privacy. Even scummy people. Even scummy people who are sleeping with you. If a guy’s level of sharing doesn’t match your need to know, find the door — not an opportune moment to go all Nancy Drew on his Gmail.
Railing about what a bad guy your ex is and contacting every woman he ever said “’Sup?” to on some dating site is a great idea, as it will keep you far too busy to admit that you made it possible for him to skeeve you. (Your not wanting to know coincided rather neatly with his wanting to keep his options open.) You can’t control whether somebody lies to you. You can only control whether you do — and whether you treat reality like the 50-foot brick wall it is or pretend, for as long as you can, that it comes with an elastic waistband like fat men’s pants.