There are many ways to find out if your partner is cheating: through the grapevine, through incriminating evidence like a text or a photo, or if he’s honest, through his own admission. But actually catching him with the other woman is an entirely different hell, a maddening experience that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
A few years ago, I was in a relationship with a guy named Marco*. We had been dating for about two years and were doing okay as a couple when one day, on my way home, I saw his car in the driveway of a building a few blocks from my condo. He told me earlier that he was working overtime that day, so I assumed that he was in the area to surprise me with a visit. I waited for him to show up at my condo, but he never did. I had noticed someone seated at the passenger side of the car when I spotted it; I was too far away to make out who it was, but I figured it could’ve been Marco’s housemate. So I texted his housemate and asked where they were. He replied that he wasn’t with Marco. I grew uneasy. Something was up.
I called Marco to ask where he was, and he said that he was at the office. I reported having seen his car near my condo, and he said that was impossible because he was at work. We argued about it for a few minutes, and to shut me up, he said he’d just visit me after work. I relented, and we hung up.
But my uneasiness remained, because I knew it was his car—nothing could dissuade me from believing what I had seen with my own two eyes. So I decided to investigate and go to his place.
When I got to his condo unit, I kept ringing the doorbell, but there was no reply. I was about to give up and go home when I felt cool air coming from the gap between the bottom edge of the door and the floor. The air conditioner was running or had recently been used. I put my hand around the doorknob and turned it. The door was unlocked. As I pushed the door open, I saw that it was dark, and no appliances were running: no lights, no TV, even the AC had been switched off.
I heard someone say “Shit!” as I opened the door. At first, I thought it was his housemate and that I had walked in on him with a girl or something, so I quickly shut the door while saying, “Naku, sorry, sorry.” But no one replied to my apologies; no one even spoke up to find out who was at the door and what I was doing there, which made me wonder what the hell was going on. So I opened the door again, flipped on the light switch, and got the shock of my life.
Marco was there with a girl whose name I’d later discover is Rhea*. They were fully clothed, but his actions were incriminating enough—lying to me about being at work, hiding from me in his condo, and revealing himself to be with another woman that entire time—that I realized that my boyfriend was, without a doubt, cheating on me.
I couldn’t comprehend what I was feeling at that moment. I thought that sort of thing only happened in the movies or to friends of friends, but I realized that I was wrong.
It could happen to anyone, including me. I felt like I was about to go mad with the one-two punch of shock and hurt that hit me.
I found out much later from Marco himself that his car was outside Rhea’s office when I spotted it that day. He picked her up at her office, and together they went to his condo. I also found out from him that the security guard at his condo had alerted him when I arrived at the building, giving him time to turn off all appliances. Malas niya, he had forgotten to lock the door.
I was about to stomp out of the scene, but I thought to myself, “Ganito na lang ba ‘yon?” So I went back to face them and promptly lost my shit. I broke things. I punched Marco over and over, and he could do nothing but take my blows. Rhea just stood there smiling as if she was entirely blameless in the whole episode, and while I wanted to wipe that smile off her face, I didn’t want to attack her. It was Marco I was angry with.
When I finally walked out, Marco didn’t even try to stop me or run after me. He just said, “Usap na lang tayo bukas,” as if he was trying to get rid of me. I felt humiliated, and so, so hurt.
Even after that incident, I tried to get back together with Marco. I had always thought things were fine between us, and I couldn’t accept that our relationship would end just like that. But he no longer wanted to try with me. Wala na daw siyang mukhang ihaharap.
He stopped showing up to hangouts with our mutual friends, and he began dating Rhea for real.
Naturally, I turned to alcohol and the company of friends. When I wasn’t out drinking with friends, I was drinking myself to sleep at home. I would head to work sluggish and tired, and during the day, I would cry without warning. And then the cycle would resume—I would drink myself to sleep again that night. I was wrecked. I was in such a sorry state. I felt like I’d never recover from the betrayal.
It took time, but slowly, I realized that it really was over between Marco and me, and no amount of crying and getting drunk would get him back. After three months, I was able to laugh about the experience with friends. After five months, I found myself no longer recalling the episode with the same oppressive ease.
From that whole ordeal, I learned that it’s important not to lose yourself when in a relationship, so when it falls apart, you can preserve yourself. My breakup hurt terribly, but at least knowing that he cheated on me made it easier to get over him. If he had been a perfect boyfriend, I doubt I would’ve let go of him that easily; until now I’d probably still have “what ifs” brewing in my head. And I don’t regret having tried to make it work despite being the aggrieved party; I needed to be able to tell myself that I gave it my all so I’d have no regrets in the future.
A year after we broke up, Marco started showing up to hangouts with our mutual friends again, with Rhea tagging along. By then, I could talk to them both as if that confrontation a year ago hadn’t happened. Wala nang kirot. While our friends were mortified that I had to put up with their presence, on the contrary, I felt nothing for them at all. And it felt good.
*Names have been changed