PHOTO Kristo-Gothard Hunor

Dan* and I were married for more than 20 years. I knew he was a playboy when we started dating. I married him anyway because I loved him; he’d also promised to change his ways. But I should have known better – a leopard can never change its spots.

Stumbling Upon the Truth
Tall and boyishly handsome, Dan had many friends, both men and women. I was always uncomfortable when he got too close to his gal pals – he loved hanging out with them and even gave them details about our married life.

I had a niggling suspicion that there was more to his relationship with some of them. I asked him about it several times, but he chastised me for being suspicious. I backed down each time, because I didn’t want to destroy our marriage. Besides, I had no concrete proof that he was having an affair.

Then one day, about three years ago, I found evidence that he had been up to no good. I had taken the day off work to tend to our sick son when I received an urgent text message from my boss, asking me to clarify something. As I’d left my laptop in the office, I decided to use Dan’s, which I’d never used before. I didn’t need a password to access it.

While on the Net, I had a sudden urge to look through Dan’s bookmarked sites and find out what he did online. He had a long list of sites, two of which piqued my interest. I clicked on both links – and they led me to dating websites.

The Scam is On
I was calm at first, though I realised I’d stumbled upon Dan’s possible dirty secret. Why would a married man need to be on a dating site? How long had he been looking at women online?

I must admit that a part of me was actually relieved that I’d been right all along – I hadn’t been imagining things when I suspected he was unfaithful. I just didn’t know who the women were and how he was meeting them.

A sudden flash of anger rose inside me and I formed a plan. The dating sites could only be accessed by members, so I created a false profile for myself. I was bent on searching for my husband on these sites and confronting him about it.

To conceal my identity, I used a false name and didn’t upload my photo. There were thousands of men on the sites. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find Dan’s profile within the day, so I sent the Internet links to my inbox to continue the search later. After a week, I found Dan on one of the sites. He was using a moniker and his profile photo didn’t show his face – he was smart enough to evade detection that way – but I recognised the tattoo he was showing off in the picture. However, I needed more details to confirm that it was him.

So I dropped him a message, saying I loved his cool tattoo and asking if we could be friends.

Taking the Bait
Dan replied two days later. He thanked me for my interest and accepted my friendship request, although he wondered why I had a faceless profile.

I explained that I wanted to remain anonymous in case any of my friends or family were on the site too. I said I would send him my photo once we knew each other better. My answer satisfied him. He said I sounded gorgeous, given how I’d described myself on my profile.

I remember smirking when I read this – if only he knew how I had faked my vital statistics, height and looks to match his fantasy of the ‘perfect’ woman. He had told me before that his ideal woman should be tall, curvy and have big eyes. We started exchanging messages on the site regularly.

I noticed that Dan engaged me online during office hours – I did the same – and in the wee hours of the morning, when he thought the real me was asleep. To avoid being caught at these times, I would only reply the morning after. Each day, we shared more about ourselves. I told him I was looking for friends with benefits, as I had been hurt before and didn’t trust men enough to have a long-term relationship.

He said he was perfect for me, as he was married with children and couldn’t commit to anyone else, anyway.

His messages got raunchier. He started asking me intimate questions – what was my favourite sexual position? Where was the most daring place I’d had sex in? He also kept asking for my phone number, but I refused, saying I wasn’t ready to take the relationship offline.

To appease him, I answered all his questions with vivid details. I told him that if he remained patient, I’d make all his fantasies come true.

Unmasking Dan
We communicated for three weeks before I asked for his photo. I told him I was incredibly turned on by his tattoo and intrigued by his charm, and wanted to know whom I’d been chatting with. Dan agreed to send one.

I waited with bated breath for it to appear in my inbox. I toyed with the idea of deleting the photo without looking at it – did I want to confirm that it was Dan I’d been flirting with? Was I ready to accept that I’d been right all this while? But I needed to know for sure if he had betrayed me.

My hands trembled as I clicked on the photo. I closed my eyes as it appeared on the screen – my heart was pounding and I was praying so hard that I wouldn’t see Dan’s face. When I opened my eyes, my heart shattered. The photo showed Dan smiling and looking sexy in his swimming trunks. I burst into tears, losing the composure I’d kept for the past weeks.

My worst fears had come true. I didn’t reply till two days later. I thanked him for his photo and said I’d been busy with work. He asked for my photo in return. I suggested meeting up over the weekend so he could see me in person. Dan agreed immediately.

We chose a club away from his usual haunts, and I told him to look out for a woman wearing a red dress.

Sweet Revenge
In the days leading up to the appointment, I was a nervous wreck. I kept changing my mind about going through with the plan – I knew that once Dan’s charade was over, so was our marriage. I wasn’t sure if I wanted that to happen, but I couldn’t ignore his infidelity.

When the weekend arrived, I told Dan that I was going out for some me time and would be back later that night. He asked me not to wait up for him as he was having drinks with friends. Before I left the house, I gave him a long kiss goodbye, knowing it was the last time I would do so. I spent the day at the salon, styling my hair and doing my nails. I wanted to look irresistible so Dan would see what he’d be missing.

When I was done, I went to the meeting place before the appointed time. I sat at the mirrored bar so I would have the advantage of seeing him first. Dan came on time, carrying a bouquet of flowers and wearing a black sweater and jeans. I steeled myself for his approach. He spotted me immediately and strode over confidently. I had my back to him and was looking down so he wouldn’t know it was me until it was too late.

‘Hello, beautiful,’ said Dan, as he tapped me on the shoulder. Taking a deep breath, I swung around and said: ‘Hello, Dan.’ I watched as his smile froze, his eyes grew wide, and he struggled for an explanation – he said he was meeting friends at the club and was shocked to bump into me.

I told him to drop the act. I said I knew what he had been up to because the ‘perfect’ woman he had been conversing with online was me. I told him how I had found out about his activities, and repeated some of the sexual fantasies he had told me about.

I ranted that I didn’t understand why he wanted to meet other women when he had me. I didn’t give Dan a chance to explain. I just wanted to get everything off my chest and get out of the club. I was starting to sob hysterically and didn’t want others to witness my pain. They say revenge is sweet, but all I felt was heartbreak.

Starting Over
After that emotional night, Dan tried to make amends. He pleaded for a second chance, saying we could work things out.

But after much prodding on my part, he admitted to meeting other women online. He said he was addicted to onenight stands because they gave him a different kind of rush compared with what he experienced with me.

I tried to forgive him. I felt I owed him that, given that we’d been married for over two decades. But I couldn’t erase the memory of what he’d done – his betrayal was too hard to swallow. I couldn’t trust him, and what good is a marriage without trust?

We live separate lives now as we wait for our divorce to be finalised. Dan has moved out of our house, where I continue to live with our son. People tell me he’s still a partygoer and is seen with different women. I no longer feel pain when I hear about it – I’m just glad I don’t have to put up with it anymore.”

*Names have been changed

This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2014.

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