What It Feels Like When Your Partner Cheats On You With Someone You Know

"Ten years later I still remember the moment I found out perfectly: what I was wearing, how stunned I felt, how cold it was outside on the way home."

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Aug 2 2016, 10:50am

Illustration by Sophie Castle

Most of us will be cheated on at one point or another in our sad and meaningless lives. A new piece of research out today finds that we are all too trusting of our partners and that they are inevitably more likely to cheat than we believe they are. Monogamy is a dying – if not already dead – way of life. Whether you believe the studies that show 60 percent of men and 45 percent of women have cheated in their marriages – or just remember your first teenage love getting fingered by a hotter, cooler version of you at Reading festival – it's almost guaranteed that at some point you will feel the burn of unfaithfulness.

But what if your partner cheats on you with someone you know? Your best friend? Your mortal enemy? Your mum? What does it feel like when you don't even have to do any self-flagellating Facebook stalking because you already know exactly what they look like? I spoke to some people who had not only been cruelly shunned for another person, but had the added misfortune of knowing the object of their lover's indiscretions.

SARAH

VICE: What happened?
Sarah: My boyfriend and I had been together for about three years when we decided to take a break. We were still living and sleeping together when I found out he had been having a love affair with my best friend.

Did you suspect anything?
I thought he had a really close relationship with my best friend, but like most first loves I trusted him blindly and without question, and always believed he was faithful. And she was my best friend; I trusted her with anything.

How did you find out?
A bunch of us were at the pancake parlour at 6AM after a night out on pills, when a mutual friend of ours blurted it out over waffles and syrup. We were all drunk as shit and coming down over breakfast when he looked at me and said, "Did you know Tory is sleeping with Damo?" The whole table went silent and I burst out laughing because I thought it was a joke. Then I looked at everyone else's faces at the table, and when I saw their reactions I could tell that they knew, and then the penny dropped. I felt like the wind was knocked out of my lungs. Ten years later I still remember the moment perfectly: what I was wearing, how stunned I felt, how cold it was outside on the way home.

So it had happened more than once?
Yeah, turned out the scumbags had been seeing each other for months. They had even slept together in my bed, in my house, while I was asleep in the same room. My "BFF" didn't even have the humility to keep it a secret – she had told pretty much all of my friends that she was desperately in love with him, so everyone knew what was going on except for me.

What happened when you confronted them?
He said he was sorry and that it was a mistake, that he was confused and didn't know what to do. She sent me a text which I never replied to – I can't even remember what it said.

What was the fallout?
I was totally devastated. I trusted both of them unconditionally and they were also the two people closest to me. Who do you turn to when everything goes to shit and it's the people who are supposed to be there for you who did it? It was also totally humiliating because all of our friends knew, and it was hard to accept that no one told me.

How do you feel about both of them now? Did you ever make up?
I have absolutely nothing to say to either of them. I know he is married with kids now; I actually saw him in a grocery store a few months ago and put my hood up and pretended to look at feta cheese until he was gone.

JAKE

VICE: Jake, talk to me. What's your sad tale?
Jake: So she was my first ever girlfriend and we'd been dating for almost a year. We were both 14 going on 15. I decided to have a small party for my 15th birthday and ended up erecting a tent in my garden to get drunk in. It got late; I went back inside my house while she stayed in the tent with another dude from our mutual friendship circle.

So did you walk in on them?
No, her best friend told me afterwards. Then she told me herself a few days later. I was so shocked – she was a cute, polite and slightly introverted person, and never really gave off that cheating vibe. I guess you can never really tell, eh?

So you never had any suspicions about that guy?
I was a naïve and nerdy 15-year-old who was lucky to even have a girlfriend, and the other dude wasn't that much of a looker. Plus, he was boring as fuck.

Did you ever confront her?
I don't think I even confronted her face to face – I think it took place on Myspace because we were both addicted to the new technology and also because I was super bummed out and didn't want to see her IRL. Sort of how I deal with my problems in 2016. I remember getting a long winded "I'm sorry" message, and I just dipped out after that. I felt pretty shitty, but there wasn't much of a fall out – I just ghosted her after that.

KIERAN

VICE: Who broke your heart?
Kieran: I was going out with this girl, Lucy, and her best friend was called Andy. She had slept with him in the past, and I think at one point he declared his love for her, but she didn't feel the same about him and wanted to get away from the drama. That was all before we started dating. There were always rumours about her and Andy during our relationship, and it transpired after we broke up that they were true. She'd also been with other guys. In fact, the last time I saw her when we were technically still together, I saw her making out with somebody else. Here's the kicker: the rebound relationship I had shortly after also ended when I saw my new girlfriend making out with this same Andy guy, in the same club that the drama with Lucy concluded. As you can imagine, I'm certainly not his biggest fan.

Fucking hell. What did you think of Andy before you found out he'd been boning your girlfriend?
While Lucy and I were getting together he would talk to me when he was drunk in a way that was quite angry, patronising and generally hostile towards Lucy for the way she had apparently "played with his emotions" and "didn't respect the emotions of anybody in her pursuit to get what she wants". We were from the same town but he was her friend, really. I never liked him, for obvious reasons.

So did Lucy and Andy stay together?
The time with Andy was a one-off, I believe, but I would find out after we broke up that there were a number of others, around four, that had been with Lucy during our year-and-a-half long relationship.

What happened when you confronted her?
She was aware of the rumour that they'd hooked up. Initially she tried to claim nothing had happened. She suggested we go out to dinner, where she blamed Andy's friends for trying to break us up, redirecting my anger towards them and away from her. I guess over this time I just felt really blank. I worked through every possible scenario in my mind as to how, where, what could have happened; it was mental torture.

So then what happened?
We actually stayed together until we were going away to university. We were going to separate parts of the country and I believe that my trust in her had begun to finally show cracks. The last night we were supposed to spend together I saw her making out with somebody new in a club.

What would you say to her if she called right now?
I understand she's married now. We're not in contact. I wouldn't want to see her again.

I haven't hate-read his tweets in months, so that's usually safe to say my heart has healed.

KELSI

VICE: Who cheated on you?
Kelsi: I was in my first year of university and hoping to have a "slutty" summer – my body count was very low and I'm terrible at casual dating. I think it's because I'm a Cancer. He was a 21-year-old medical student with two different coloured eyes who I started seeing at the same exact time he ended a three-year long relationship with... let's call her Girl Zero. We soon became "exclusive", but I always felt that if I ever called myself his girlfriend it would go to shit.

Were there any indications that he was a cheating scumbag from the get-go or was it a total surprise?
I had some suspicions about him, as his three-year relationship did not end on great terms and there was some infidelity. But university is weird, and monogamy can be as well, so whatever, right? Also, we were together 24/7 – it literally did not seem like he was ever not in my sight for long enough to have an opportunity to cheat.

What did you think of the "other woman" before you found out about the cheating?
I'd known her from on campus and in classes, let's call her Girl A. She's on my social media and we would head nod to one another in passing, small talk every now and again. She was one of those girls who is involved in every single extra-curricular activity – including student council, that he was in – but I generally thought she was OK, if a bit annoying.

How did you find out?
He'd been a bit distant for a few weeks. We were spending every single day together and sometimes I'd crash there. One night we were in the awkward deciding-without-words-if-I'm-sleeping-there-tonight hour when he tells me he's going to a concert. This guy only ever plays Xbox and drinks with the same med student asshole who was dating my roommate, so that was out of character. His phone kept ringing over and over again. He picked up and was increasingly vague, not saying names or locations. Then he told me he was going out with Girl A. His demeanour completely changed and I just felt it. Just in my stomach I felt it. I said, "Have you? her?" and he said yes. I sat there for a few seconds, staring at my hands. I absolutely hate crying in front of people so I was just silent for 30 seconds. I screamed some really hurtful shit at him, including calling him a narcissist, telling him that he loves wallowing in his own self-pity. I went home, smoked a few cigarettes and stalked Girl A on Twitter. Her most recent tweet was something along the lines of "wow I'm sleeping in my own bed and not after 3AM for the first time in days" and then some sad Maroon 5 lyrics – which I felt was both confirmation of the affair and that she is the absolute antithesis of myself. An hour later he showed up to my apartment and calling up Girl A to tell her he can't go to the concert with her, he does not want to be with her and it's never happening again.

How long had he been seeing her behind your back?
About two weeks – it was so humiliating.

What was the aftermath?
God, it was so messy – Girl A took a photo of me at a party flirting with another guy and sent it to him as some sort of, "Look at her happy without you, maybe you should see me still" type of bullshit. I cut him out for about a month, but when I started talking to him again he'd started going out with someone else (Girl B). But he broke up with her and told me he wanted to try again. Then he went on a cruise and began to date someone else from the other side of the country (Girl C). He's now back with Girl B and probably still dragging her life through the mud.

Are you still in contact with any of the parties involved?
Well, actually, I've since been able to kindle friendships with two of his exes, Girl Zero and Girl A, and hopefully Girl B will come to her senses and dump his ass soon. My ex has since followed and unfollowed me on Twitter a few times. I haven't hate-read his tweets in months, so that's usually safe to say my heart has healed.

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