Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

My Boyfriend Is Leading a Double Life

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been involved with a guy for a little over 5 years. We actually met online. I still remember the night I clicked on his profile. Based on looks, he wasn’t the kind of guy I would typically date, but from his profile and the small chats we exchanged online, he seemed pretty cool. The only problem was that we lived in different states.

Although Philadelphia and New York aren’t so far from each other, at the time it seemed like a world away. Nevertheless, we both agreed to meet each other after a few weeks. Long story short, we hit it off pretty well. And quickly became very close.

In the first few years of dating, we honestly didn’t get to see each other more than 1-2 times a month. But despite that we called, texted, and video chatted every day. In my mind, the relationship was real.

There was never any indication that he had anyone else in the picture. He seemed very transparent about his life.

Fast Forward towards the end of 2018. I decided to create an Instagram account to promote a small startup business. His profile popped up as a suggested follow. I decided to scroll through his page (I chose not to follow simply because I didn’t want to seem like a stalker). Most of the pictures on there were pictures/videos that I had either taken of him while we were out together, of activities we both did together, or things that he’s already shared with me through regular chats and messaging. However, I have to say that I was taken aback by the fact that he had no pictures of us anywhere on his profile. They were all pictures of him, or his nieces and nephews.

Anyway, I had seen a few post of his latest “nephew” who was born earlier that year, around the same time I began to notice a shift in our relationship. When I clicked on the picture, not only did he identify the child as his own but the child had his same f

king name.

I will never forget how heartbroken and crushed I felt when I discovered this.

What was even worse was that I found out that besides me there were two other women in his life. The mother of his child, and another woman who he had been dating for as long as me.

I tried to break things off with him, but it seemed like the more I pulled away the more he drew me back in. And within time we ended up becoming closer than ever. Our 1-2x a month visits literally turned into at least 3-4x a week (with both of us taking turns to make the back and forth travel). He made every effort to show me that he was done with the other women, and even had me speak to the mother of his child directly.

Everything seemed okay until a few months ago when I found out I was pregnant. He was adamant that I needed to get an abortion and that he didn’t want a child (even though he already had one). Initially, I was considering an abortion myself simply because I didn’t think I was ready for a child. But when I thought about it more, I didn’t feel comfortable with the process. I told him that it wasn’t something I wanted to go through with. Instead of trying to understand my perspective, he literally went into a rage and told me that if I didn’t have the abortion he would want nothing to do with me. I thought this was all just talk, that he was just scared, and would eventually come into his senses later on. But he meant every word.

I don’t know what to do. There are moments when he’s randomly super sweet to me, and acts life everything is okay. Then there are back to back days where he sends me long rants of how I ruined his life by not having an abortion. I’m completely baffled by this monster that I used to call my boyfriend. A part of me thinks that the reason he is so mad is because he’s still leading a double life.

What should I do?? I’m honestly scared of this man. But at the same I still do love him.

Btw, the baby is due in October.

Pregnant and Lost

DEAR PREGNANT AND LOST: There’re certain letters I really hate getting. Not because there’s something wrong with the letter or the letter writer, but because ultimately the only answer is “get into the TARDIS and convince your past self to not make this mistake”.

This is one of those times. This guy is, to use the technical term, a cheating piece of s

t. A turbodouche of the first order. An absolute waste of a perfectly good quickie. In short: someone you should never have gotten together with in the first place, never mind being fluid-bonded with. Now that’s not entirely on you: he was actively lying to you — and his wife, and his other girlfriend — and he was using distance and your lack of a social media presence to keep you in the dark. That’s all on him, and there’s only so much you can blame yourself for wanting to trust someone who seemed to be on the up and up.

The mistake on your end was staying with him after you found out he was cheating. Now I’m firmly of the opinion that cheating isn’t the worst thing that can happen in a relationship, nor is infidelity an automatic relationship extinction event; I feel there’re shades of gray and not all infidelities are equal.

This s

t? This s

t right here? This is like the Platonic Ideal of a Cheating Piece of S

t. This wasn’t “had too much to drink and failed my Wisdom save”, this wasn’t a moment of weakness or some other “there but for the grace of God go I” moment. This is someone who’s actively and maliciously lying to three people and trying to drag you into being his accomplice in his lies. And even if he had some sort of open or poly arrangement with them… he seems to have neglected mentioning it to you. For five years.

All that is an excellent reason to dump this dude so hard his grandparents get divorced retroactively. And he knew it, because he put on the charm offensive and love-bombed you to keep you from leaving him, trying to make you believe that he may have done some scummy things but he’s on the road to redemption and everything can be better than it was before.

And then you got pregnant and oh look, the mask didn’t slip so much as fall the f

k off. It’s one thing for two people to disagree on abortion; the person who’s pregnant has the final choice, but people can and often do have complicated feelings on the matter. Flying into a rage and demanding that someone get an abortion or else… well, that’s yet another reason to tell said raging nutsack to f

k all the way off and then f

k off some more.

Was all this about the fact that he’s still living a double life? Well it’s certainly not out of the equation. Can’t say without evidence,  but it certainly wouldn’t be out of character for him. But I think that it’s far more likely that what he wants is control. He wants you doing what he wants, when he wants and anything that inconveniences him or goes against his plans or interests is a crime too great to be born. And when someone refuses to give him exactly what he wants, he Hulks out at them.

The combination of rants and sweet moments are to keep you off balance and bait you into doing what he wants because you want him to be sweet again and avoid his rage. This is what’s known as “intermittent reinforcement”; he’s trying to get you in a place where you keep trying to get the sweet and good parts of  him back and live in fear of the punishments and rage. It may not be a conscious and calculated plan on his part, but I can guarantee that if you talk to the other women in his life, he does this s

t all the time.

What should you do? Well, to be perfectly honest, I think the first thing you should do is get a lawyer. You and your lawyer can make arrangements about issues like custody and child support in ways that involve minimal contact from him; he may not want the child, but I wouldn’t put it past him to try to use it as a weapon to make your life miserable. I would also suggest that you set things up so that all contact with you goes through your lawyer; the less access he has to you, the less he can pull his “baby come back” routine. I would also strongly recommend blocking him on pretty much every form of social media you have and locking things down so he has no access to you or your life.

While I get that you still love him, the truth is that this dude is ten pounds of s

t in a five pound sack and you’re well rid of him. The sooner you can minimize the access he has to you — assuming you can’t cut him out entirely — the better off you will be.

And in the future… don’t be afraid to check out people’s social media.  In this day and age, it’s more or less taken for granted that people we meet or date are going to Google us or add us on Facebook or Instagram. That’s not stalking, especially when it’s a public-facing profile, that’s just basic getting-to-know-someone material. And occasionally, you may find someone’s been leading a double (or triple) life.

I’m sorry you had to go through all of this. You were used and lied to and you didn’t deserve any of it. You need to take care of yourself and prioritize your safety and well-being and that of your child.

Good luck.

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