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11 Australians share the moment they knew their partner was cheating

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“While it came with a lot of big emotions, crying and now therapy, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am now if it didn’t happen to me.”

Have you ever been cheated on? I have. And I’m not sure if this is comforting or terrifying knowledge, but you’re certainly not alone. I can confirm this with a series of alarming unverified internet statistics (like 70 per cent of married people have cheated at least once, for instance) and a number of real-life stories shared between friends, family members and shameless celebrity gossip magazines.

In saying this, every relationship is different. What constitutes cheating is entirely between you and your partner, and these parameters can change depending on your circumstances. In retrospect, my earlier ‘cheating’ experience likely wouldn’t bother me nearly as much these days. I was insecure and vulnerable to manipulation, gaslighting and terrible decision-making.


For more relationship talk, head on over to our Life section.


And after asking our readers to share their experiences with infidelity, I feel a lot better about my own. From the crushingly sad to regretfully bittersweet, 11 Australians detail the moment they discovered their partner was cheating.

Sarah* (she/her), 25

I was totally blindsided because I was young and in love for the first time. It happened when I was in bed watching tv with my then-boyfriend; upset about learning the news a close friend only had a few months to live. At that moment – crying over my friend – my partner just blurted out that he had cheated.

It was weird and surreal. I think not suspecting it meant it took a long time to actually understand what he said – like months. After the fact, it was a total mess of on-again, off-again relationship; with repeat offences on his behalf. I was too young to understand I deserved better and that this person cheated on me because they have deep issues, ones 19-year-old me was never going to fix.

While it came with a lot of big emotions, crying and now therapy, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am now if it didn’t happen to me. It sounds cliche and soppy, but I really learnt how to love and be loved.

Diya* (she/her), 26

They slept with me first (while knowing they had cheated the night before), then told me what happened while we were in a busy cafe. They blurted it out, broke up with me then walked away. It was a nine-year relationship, so for it to end like that was a massive shock. I felt that shock for a few weeks after it occurred, too. This was two and a half months ago and as much as I want that person in my life in the future, I don’t know if I can get over the pain they caused me.

Emerson* (he/they), 23

I had had a gut feeling for a while that something wasn’t right (which I know sounds ridiculous, but it’s honestly the only way to describe it). One night, I was so convinced he was cheating on me that I went through his while he was out. I’m not proud of it, but I had to confirm my anxieties once and for all. I found he had been talking to and sleeping with other people.

This was pretty horrible to discover. I’d been anxious about this for a long time, and it was proof I’d been lied to and gaslit for the duration of our relationship. I broke up with him that night when he returned home to our apartment. Things weren’t great for a while because due to COVID, it took me a couple of months to move out. After a tumultuous year-and-a-half, we’ve now managed to form a friendship again.

Maddi* (she/her), 22

It was really strange, I just knew it in my gut. I was overseas and he was so non-responsive. He posted a photo with the girl he was cheating on me with on Instagram, which was almost the final confirmation I needed. He never told me the truth, and I found out by her coming up to me at a club. I think the experience was really shattering for me, particularly due to this being the second serious relationship I had been cheated on in.

I was also frustrated at the lack of communication and accountability. After I found out, he would email me constantly and to be honest, it just got to a point where I wanted peace and nothing to do with him. I learnt a lot about the cycles I was in and how I was subconsciously seeking toxic relationships – still hurt though!

Valentina (she/her), 23

My boyfriend and I were in a long-distance relationship. One morning, I woke up to a heap of Instagram messages from friends (and people I barely knew) saying, ‘isn’t this your boyfriend?’ I thought it was a scam at first because it had come from so many people. But once I opened one of the messages from a close friend, I saw a picture of my boyfriend asleep in bed.

It had been posted by an influencer with almost a million followers. My heart stopped, I thought it couldn’t be real. He’d said to me he found this influencer’s online presence annoying! After taking eight hours to process (also waiting for it to be morning for him) he told me it meant nothing; he got swept away by it all.

It honestly hurt so much, I was cheated on for social clout!

Li (he/him), 26

My partner went overseas and cheated on me. She stopped replying to messages while she was overseas and I knew something was wrong. She returned home and completely denied it; making me think I was insecure and ridiculous. She continued to deny it until I (ashamedly) checked her messages and saw their continued affair. She refused to tell any of her friends. All our friends think we broke up amicably.

Charlie (she/her), 32

It was the biggest heart-sinking experience; when all the trust I’d ever was simply crushed in one single moment. Our relationship was never the same. We stayed together for a while but it didn’t feel right. Cheating is honestly the worst; it ruins people for years and years. It ruins their ability to trust in new relationships. If you’re not happy, do the right thing and end it before jumping into something new. Such a cowardly act.

Steve* (he/him), 41

I saw my partner’s car parked outside her ex’s place early one morning (he lived down the street from me) and immediately knew what’d happened. It was awful. Even though I knew in my heart of hearts what’d happened, I still hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t. I had my suspicions confirmed later that day when I confronted her. I ended the relationship immediately, but we got back together about six months later. I never really got over it and ended it again, this time permanently, about six months after that.

Anna (she/her)*, 27

My ex-boyfriend and I dated for about a year. After three months, he cheated on me. He told me a version of the truth – that he had kissed someone else – a few weeks after it happened. We continued to date for another nine months. I struggled a lot with it and he was working with a psychologist and my support.

He also told a lot of lies about his recreational drug use, which would send his mental health spiralling every month or so. I found myself being more controlling and erratic with my emotions; I kept wondering why he didn’t choose me in that moment. He eventually wrote me a four-page letter, his ‘explanation and truth’. I was encouraging. I watched him write it for weeks and he finally read it to me.

He detailed his experience, his anxiety, why he thought he cheated and a recollection of what happened. I was upset but felt I understood more and still wasn’t sure I wanted to walk away. Two days later, he had so much guilt… because the letter was full of lies too!

He had made up a fictional story, working on it for weeks. We broke up straight away. It took me about a year to date again. I found myself having to actively ensure I didn’t punish my new partner with anxiety around nights out and things like that. We’re engaged now and life is good. My experience is just a fucked up, somewhat funny chapter in my life.

Olive (she/her)*, 27

He’d left his messages open on my computer. When I saw them there, I had a gut feeling not to sign out. When I clicked into the app, his ex’s name was at the top. I read through the messages and it turned out he had been cheating on me with her for months. We had broken up and gotten back together; she was the “rebound”, he said.

When I confronted him, he would end it for good. He was my first love, and I stayed with him after the fact. We were together for a few months after. I was distrustful and more paranoid, and he was a toxic gaslighter. Good riddance to him, to be honest.

Karla (she/her)*, 35

I opened the laptop to use the internet and saw confirmation emails from both Tinder and Bumble confirming his sign-up. He denied installing them until I asked him to show me his phone.

*Names have been changed.

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