I caught my ex-boyfriend cheating from a sex tape. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. And it was with a co-worker. Yes, it somehow managed to get worse. Let me explain.
I always knew from day one that my ex was cheating on me, but I did nothing about it. Why? I was so insecure and so afraid of being alone that I was happy with whatever he would throw my way... which was usually nothing.
The worst part is that we worked together, so I spent all day and night clamoring for the attention of a guy who was clearly just not that into me. But you know who he was into? Our co-worker — a secretary at the place where we worked — who he spent a lot of time with and got lunch with every day. But don't worry. They were just friends! She was just one of the guys, right?
I sensed something was up between the two of them. On the rare occasion that I could get his phone into my grubby hands, I'd find streams of texts between them — not all of them PG. And sometimes, when I would drive by his house at night like a complete psycho, her car would be there. Something was going on.
So one day, when my ex was in the shower, I decided to snoop through his computer, like any private investigator would, because when a woman is being cheated on, she quickly becomes a private investigator. That's when I found a weird video on his desktop, entitled "Do Not Look."
(Important note: If you don't want someone to look at something, do not label it "Do Not Look.")
Clearly, as anyone would, I opened it. It was a video of my "boyfriend" and the secretary at our work... having sex. Suddenly, she didn't seem like one of the guys anymore.
Finding out your ex is cheating — visually, from a sex tape — is what most people like to call not fun. But sometimes, our worst relationships turn out to be great opportunities for introspection and learning. So here are some lessons I learned from when I caught my ex-cheating, that stupid assh*le.
1. Don't Settle For Crumbs
When my ex and I were dating, we made big plans to have an elaborate meal for Valentine's Day. I was going to cook, and he was going to come over after work for a romantic meal.
I spent the entire day planning. I bought us steak to prepare and expensive wine. I went to Victoria's Secret and bought lingerie to cook in. I mean, I was pulling out all the stops. I really loved this dude. (Why do we always love the guys who treat us badly?)
Well, after I had spent hours grilling two steaks in a French maid outfit, my ex-boyfriend never came home. And his phone was off. So I spent Valentine's Day eating not one, but two meals and finishing off a bottle of wine in $90 lingerie, meant for a man who was clearly cheating on me and spending our special holiday with another woman.
My ex was a guy who forgot birthdays and anniversaries. He wasn't big on compliments, and he never introduced me to his parents. Yes, in hindsight, it was glaringly clear that he was cheating and not committed. But in the moment, I was just someone who was happy with only getting crumbs in a relationship.
If your guy isn't giving your relationship his all or if something in your relationship doesn't feel right, don't make excuses for them. If someone is invested in you, they will make it clear. And they definitely won't stand you up on Valentine's Day.
2. Being Alone Is Better Than Being Unhappy
I first found out my ex was cheating probably within the first month of us dating. How long were we together, though? Oh, just a casual five years.
I was so desperate for a relationship and so starved for attention that I decided to stay with someone who was incredibly wrong for me, rather than just being single. Why would I do that to myself?
In all honesty, at the time, it was probably because I hated myself so much, the idea of being alone with me didn't sound very desirable. In fact, it sounded pretty scary. But if you keep running from yourself, you will most likely run into the arms of people who are bad for you, because it mirrors how you feel internally.
Love is an inside job, and you're never going to be happy with someone who is right for you until you get right with yourself. Being alone and developing a good relationship with yourself is far better than being unhappy with someone else.
3. Trust Your Gut
As I've said, I could tell my ex was cheating on me from the beginning. His phone would be off for long stretches of time, and he'd constantly claim he didn't have service or had run out of battery. A few times, he pocket-dialed me while out at the bar with his guy friends, and I overheard him literally hitting on girls. Somehow, he still managed to talk himself out of that one.
He was always getting lunch with the co-worker he ended up cheating on me with, but he convinced me it was because they were working on a project together and were taking lunch (every day?) to talk about it.
When they say love is blind, it also means we might turn a blind eye to red flags we don't want to see — like my ex-boyfriend very obviously cheating on me.
But remember, usually, if you have a question, and it doesn't go away, you already have your answer. Female intuition is no joke.
4. Try Your Best To Control Your Emotional Response
I did a lot of bad things when I thought I was being cheated on, and I did even worse things when I found out it was true.
When I was suspicious of my ex, I'd snoop through his phone when he wasn't there. Sometimes, I'd even encourage him to get so drunk at night that he'd pass out as soon as we got home, and then, I would go through his text messages, searching for evidence. (I know, I'm the devil.) I'd drive past his house at night to see if any girls' cars were there, and I even made a fake Facebook account and messaged him to see if he would flirt with me. Yes, I got so worked up, I even attempted to catfish.
It got worse when I actually found out he was cheating. I wrote letters to all the girls he was hooking up with, telling them what a bad guy he was. I hooked up with all his friends — even his own roommate, in his house. I'd call my ex incessantly, sometimes angrily and other times attempting a booty call. Either way, I was constantly starved for attention or some kind of closure.
Listen, I engaged in all of these behaviors nearly 10 years ago, and I am a lot saner and wiser now. But when my ex-boyfriend called me crazy, as well as my friends, I immediately slipped into victim mode. How could you call me crazy? You made me act this way!
While no person should ever resort to calling you "crazy" (since the term crazy can actually be pretty damaging), you must also remember that no one can make you act a certain way. Their actions are their karma, and your reactions are yours.
If you can try to control how you react to the situation, regardless of the circumstances, then no one can use your actions against you — and you will always look like the good person.
5. Don't Spend Too Much Time Crying Over People Who Treat You Like Sh*t
Instead of being sad for a long time over a guy who treated you like sh*t, try to use the experience to propel yourself forward into living your best life. It's like in Legally Blonde when Elle Woods decides to go to Harvard, become a lawyer, and win a court case.
So if your boyfriend cheats on you, be like Elle Woods and focus on YOU. Don't go crying over this person who treated you so awfully for months on end. They're not worth it.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!