How to Spot a Cheater
When I was in my thirties, I had a relationship with a ridiculously handsome guy from Oaxaca named Juan Carlos. I was crazy about him— his boyish smile, his tan skin, his big, chestnut eyes. And don’t even get me started on his accent… I never knew my name could sound so exotic… until I heard it leave his lips. Needless to say, I was totally hooked. My gut told me it was all a little too good to be true, but when I listened to the way he rolled his Rs… all reason went out the window. If I had only know then how to spot a cheater!
Of all places, Juan Carlos and I met in a cemetery in Oaxaca on the Day of the Dead. I was there buying folk art for my Mexican import company. When he smiled at me from among the candle lit graves, I was hit by one of those thunderbolts you only read about in romance novels. Six months later, he moved to New Mexico to live and work with me.
Now, he was planning a trip back to Mexico to visit family—or so I thought. As he packed, a greeting card fell out of his knapsack and landed on the floor in front of me. I couldn’t help but see it and ask who it was from. He snatched the card up, told me it was nothing, and then shoved it back in his bag. I asked him again who had written it and he shouted, “¡Dejalo!” Leave it alone. His tone was cold and I knew something was wrong. That night I waited until he was asleep and found the card in his bag.
The card was from Margarita, a female friend he’d been hanging out with from his English class. Clearly, she was in love with him. In her note, she went on and one about how wonderful he was, how he’d changed her life, and how she’d miss him while he was away. This shocked me, but not half as much as what came next. Margarita wrote that she was sorry she hadn’t met Juan Carlos before he’d met his girlfriend—Carmen. Carmen?! Wasn’t she Juan Carlos’ ex back in Mexico? I thought I was his girlfriend!
Alarm bells sounded in my head. It seemed that Carmen and Juan Carlos weren’t such ancient history, after all. Then, the floor fell out from under me. He wasn’t going back to Mexico to see his family, he was going back to see her. When I got my phone bill the next month, I saw that I had been paying for his long distance affair all along.
Not only did I feel totally destroyed inside, I felt completely taken advantage of. Looking back, there were warning signs all along—I just didn’t want to face up to them. Remember, this was 1990 BC (before cell phones). That letter from Margarita was the prehistoric version of a scandalous text. When friends warned me that they had a rotten feeling about JC, I had chalked it up to jealousy. After all, he was hot. When JC wanted to stay home at night (so he could whisper sweet nothings to Carmen!) I thought it was weird, but I reasoned it away. I told myself he was tired and that he just needed a little break. I made all the excuses in the world for him. Why? Well… he was gorgeous and he was every bit the Latin lover! But in all seriousness, I just couldn’t believe that I was the kind of girl who would get cheated on. If I had read the signs—and listened to my intuition—I would have saved myself a whole lot of hurt… and a whole lot of dough. What can I say? When you love someone and put all your trust and faith in the relationship, you don’t want to believe that the other person could turn around and betray you. After all, he was living in my house, working in my company, sleeping in my bed, using my phone… which might have been part of the problem.
Do you suspect your partner is cheating? You might not find written proof like I did with Juan Carlos, but you can take advantage of one of the most powerful tools of all… your gut instinct.
Research shows that when it comes to matters of love, your intuition just might be the best judge of all. In a study conducted at Brigham Young University, psychologists observed 35 women and 16 men who were involved in romantic relationships. The psychologists videotaped interactions between the participants and their significant others and showed the tapes to third party observers. The observers were able to detect who among the participants were cheating with stunning accuracy.
The moral of the story? If a perfect stranger can glean cheaters just by watching the way they interact with their partners on film, I’d wager to guess your intuition might be worth more than you’re giving it credit for. If you sense something is wrong in your relationship, you need to pay attention. I knew in my gut that Juan Carlos was spending way too much time with Margarita and he wasn’t inviting me to join them. That alone should have told me something. I had even asked him a couple of times to introduce me to her and he had refused. Now I know why. He had told her we were just friends and that he worked for me. Looking back, I had an uneasy feeling about JC all along… and it wasn’t just all the Mexican food he was cooking for dinner.
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