Love & Sex

Your Cheating Heart – How Did I Find Out?

It’s the first question everyone asks.

After they hear that the man I loved and trusted for 20 years had a secret girlfriend on the side for the past 10, after they’ve consoled and comforted me, and told me what a lying scumbag Mike was to betray a terrific woman like me, they ask, “How did you find out?”

It was a total fluke.

I was on Facebook. When I left my computer, Mike took the opportunity, unbeknownst to me,  to log into his own Facebook account and check his messages.  Then he forgot to log out of his account. And because he hadn’t  navigated away from the page I’d been on, when I returned to the computer, I had no idea that Mike had been there and that I was now logged onto his account. I thought that I was still logged onto my own Facebook account.

And, apparently, I had a new message!

It was from someone named Maggie Gray. It said:

“I’m happy too.”

Since I have hundreds of Facebook friends and don’t actually know most of them,  the fact that I didn’t recognize the name was no big deal.  But I was curious.

Who was Maggie Gray? Why was she happy?

I scrolled back to the prior message.

It was a message from Mike, my sweetie,  to Maggie:

“The sound of your voice yesterday made me happy.”

Which is when I realized that I was in his account, not mine. I began to shiver.

I scrolled back to see the message before that.

It was a message from Mike to Maggie. It said:

“I love you and I have always loved you.”

I’ve re-lived that moment a hundred times. It’s always awful.

What did it feel like? Shock. Horror. Disbelief. I felt like the universe had just gut-punched me.

It was one of the worst moments of my life.

And when I confronted Mike,  it was definitely one of the worst moments of his.

“You’re in love with Maggie Gray? Who the hell is Maggie Gray? You’ve never even mentioned her. And now you’re in love with her? How does that work?”

At first, he tried to lie. “She‘s just an old friend from grad school. We re-connected on Facebook a while back. She’s not important.”

But even as adept and practiced a liar as Mike apparently was couldn’t explain away “I love you and I’ve always loved you.”

Eventually he came clean and confessed that he‘d been two-timing me with Maggie Gray for the past 10 years.

And that was the end of a 20-year relationship.

I’m an honest person, and trusting to fault. Over the years, Mike had left his Facebook account open on my computer dozens of times. I’d just log out of his account and into my own. It never occurred to me to spy on him first.

Mike was confident he could maintain a secret relationship because he knew  I’d never look for one.  He took advantage of my trust. If he hadn’t slipped up that one time and left his account open in such a way that it looked as if I were still in my account, I might never have learned the truth about the man I loved.

I’d still be the trusting chump and Maggie would still be the secret girlfriend.

Which brings us to the other thing people always want to know: “Did Maggie know about you?”

You bet she did! She knew all about me. Although he’d only been cheating on me with her for 10 years, their relationship actually went back 30 years. Mike had cheated on his wife with Maggie three decades ago!

So what have I learned?

Should I have been a little less trusting? Done a little more snooping around? Had I decided to play Nancy Drew, just once, I might have found him out. Then I could have dumped Mr. Infidelity and found a man who actually loved me.

Is that the takeaway — trust, but verify?

After I broke up with Mike, so many friends told me about discovering that their man had cheated that it began to seem as if there wasn’t a guy on the planet who DIDN’T have an secret girlfriend. I heard about flings that lasted a couple of months. Affairs that went on for years. Torrid office romances. Middle-aged men reconnecting with their high school sweethearts on Facebook.

“It’s men,”  my friend Laurie said. “None of them can be trusted. They’re ALL like this.”

Is that the lesson? Men can’t be trusted?

One woman, sorting through their husband’s things after his death, found a secret stash of love letters. Another new widow found a photo of her husband’s long-time secretary posed on his office desk top with a big smile on her face, in full bondage gear.

One friend’s father, a rabbi, told his son on his death bed that he’d carried on a secret love affair for decades.

Another friend’s father confessed to his wife as he lay dying from a heart attack that he had a secret family, and pleaded with his wife to financially take care of his mistress’s young children.

Then he recovered.

I really don’t want to believe that all men are like this. I’m heartened by the men I know who are full of contempt for Mike’s behavior, and I agree with the words they use to describe the man who betrayed me. “Heartless and cowardly.” “A man without integrity.” “A weak man and a fool.”

Real men know how to love. Real men don’t need secret girlfriends.

One friend who has been married for 40 years told me, “I would never do anything to hurt my wife. I have no secrets from her. There’s nothing I do or say that I wouldn’t be fine with her knowing. I trust her, and I want her to trust me.”

That’s the kind of man I want the next time around.

Of course, that’s the kind of man I thought my partner was.

Roz Warren

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  • Kerry Kiefer

    Hi Roz,

    This piece was definitely slapped off. You are a seasoned writer, so there is no other explanation for the lack of serious inquiry.

    What does trust mean between men and women in these modern times? Is it entirely possible for any of us to love more than one person, especially over the course of a long marriage? Is BDSM not worth all of us women exploring, at least, just to know it is not our particular taste? Were you and your husband still having sex? Or, were you two just being “old” together — passing the remote, you in your bunny slippers and hair rollers? Getting old together may not be everyone’s idea of a relationship. And, what about Maggie? Was she wrong to love someone if she perhaps missed the marriage boat?

    Sometimes things are inconvenient, like marriages. You were happy for a long time without knowing about the extramarital affair. Your husband was less happy. Yet, he did not spoil your happiness and figured he need not.

    With age, I find myself living with a lot more ambiguity and make decisions based on doing as little harm as possible. Sometimes that means not waking another person up.

    A response to your writing here really deserves a much longer answer. Nonetheless, in the meanwhile, I suggest you turn your lens on yourself and be totally honest.

    Kind regards,

    Kerry Kiefer

  • Amanda

    Firstly I am truly sorry, and can sympathise with that ‘stomach wrenching moment’ (not totally same reason) but I wanted to say, does it make me a really awful person, as someone who hasn’t known love, or real partner, but wants to at the late age of 58, that whenever I read stories of cheating men I feel some sort of pleasure or should I say less despairing of my situation, it’s the negative spin of “all men are cheaters” that makes my situation more bearable. I must say in most other things I’ve read the writer then goes on to tell of the most wonderful new man in her life, and how it was a blessing in disguise, so I will look out for further posts, wish you well, and live in hope.

    • Roz Warren

      Thanks for your comment. It has only been a month since I found out about “Maggie” so it’s a little too early for me to have a wonderful new man in my life. But I do have wonderful friends & family who have helped me get through this month and I am very grateful for that.

  • Tatyana

    I think this was beautifully, and I am truly sorry that the man you loved and thought loved you, actually loved another. I wish you the best, and hope you find the man you are looking for.

  • Suzanne Fluhr

    Hmm. I thought I commented on this essay the other day—maybe that was on another “your cheating heart” post. I did want to know how you found out, but I thought it might be impolite to ask. The only thing I’m sure of is that if my husband is cheating, I won’t find out from his Facebook account—unless he’s only pretending to be a social media Luddite.

  • Mickey

    Sighs, deep sighs. What a world…I love that man’s comment that: “I would never do anything to hurt my wife. I have no secrets from her. There’s nothing I do or say that I wouldn’t be fine with her knowing. I trust her, and I want her to trust me.” Hugs to that man. There must be more of men like him, we trust there must! Hug, more heartfelt, loving hugs, Roz.

  • Nancy Hill

    For me I think it would be the deceit, not the affair, that would be the kicker. I too would be wondering how I could have been so trusting. A friend who lives far away recently went through this and it made me just want to find the guy and punch him in the face – and I am a pacifist. I am so sorry for your pain. Time heals… slowly.

    • Roz Warren

      For me it was both the deceit and the affair. I don’t want to punch him in face — that would mean having to see his face, which I never want to do again.

  • Susan Bonifant

    I’ve thought about you a lot since you posted this news on Facebook. I’m grateful today, and hope you are too, that you love to write. That, and time, will heal you.

    • Roz Warren

      I do love to write! Writing is one of the ways I cope, and I’m grateful to have readers who like to read about my life.

  • Carol Cobaugh

    Unbelievable! My heart breaks for you Roz. Nancy is right, it takes two to tango! Truly, all men are not alike. August 1 was my 47th anniversary and I can firmly say that there was no “wick trimming’ anywhere else. Keep your spirits up you have a lot of support out here.

  • Beth Havey

    Very brave and yet freeing for you to share this story. And it’s very true that it staggers the mind that a woman would do that to another woman. Disgusting and I don’t believe any man is worth it. Karma will weigh in.

  • Andrea Bates

    Thank you for being so open and honest and sharing your story, Roz. I think people who go through this anger and pain and hurt will feel better hearing that they are not alone by you doing so. I’m sorry you were cheated on and hurt, Mike sounds like a real bastard. Dog. Nasty. Karma will get him. And in the meantime you’re due a better and more loyal love when the time is right, if you’re looking for one.

  • Nancy

    Horrible thing to find out but perversely, it’s also good to find out the truth. P.S. It can’t be “It’s just Men.” because all those cheating men are not cheating by themselves, they appear to have willing partners in deceit. Unless “Maggie” is spreading herself around? 😉

    • Mickey

      Did you notice their messages? I love you. I love you, too. For the past 10 years?! What kind of relationship is that?! To us honest folks, it’s incomprehensible. To those who live to cheat, well….Sigh. What a world.

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