When I met Max*, I knew he was one of the good guys. He was a doctor, for starters – always a big tick – and he had a kind face that immediately made you feel comfortable. We were introduced by mutual friends at a party and clicked. After just a few dates, we were planning trips abroad together and thinking of ways to introduce our families to each other. He earned quite a lot more than me but was incredibly generous, never allowing me to pay for anything. If I went away for a few days for work, he’d greet me with dinner and flowers when I returned.
After two years together, we’d started talking about marriage. We seemed to be on the same page when it came to monogamy and had frequent conversations about how neither of us wanted an open relationship, despite this being common among many of our other gay friends. We thought what’s the point in being with someone if you just want to be with everyone else?
I never had any reason to suspect Max might be cheating on me. So when he gave me his Apple login details to download a movie while he was abroad for work, and I saw he’d downloaded Grindr, I thought nothing much of it. Sure, I was a little confused, but he was away and I didn’t want to have a conversation about it over the phone.
I broached the subject with Max when he came back. He denied any wrongdoing, and said he’d simply downloaded the app out of curiosity. I kept looking for little flickers in his eyes, something to indicate that he was lying, but he was completely believable. Looking back, I guess I wanted him to be telling the truth, so I convinced myself that he was.
After we spoke about it, I felt guilty for discovering that he even had Grindr despite the fact he’d given me his password. I wished that I hadn’t brought it up and felt like I’d broken our trust by not trusting him.
After that conversation, though, things started changing. We slowly stopped having sex – we’re talking about going from six times a week to barely once a month. And he gradually stopped showing an interest in my life and conversations with me.
Things came to a head one night at an election results party. Someone was handing out different coloured jelly shots and said to me, “Now I know we’re not supposed to say who we have voted for, but which colour would you like?” Before I could answer, Max jumped in: “He can barely tell the difference between his left and right at the best of times, never mind tonight.” Everyone laughed. I felt belittled and when I called him up on it, he said I was just being silly. I left the party shortly after.
Max didn’t come home that night. The next day, I hacked into his phone while he was in the shower and looked at his Uber history; he’d spent the night at another home round the corner from where we lived. I checked further back, and saw he’d been visiting that same home at least twice a week for the last eight months. That’s when I looked at his texts. It confirmed what I needed to know: Max was having an affair.
I was furious. But there was also part of me that felt validated; my initial suspicions had been confirmed. I didn’t read all of the messages, I couldn’t. They were mostly sexts and pictures. I didn’t say anything for a few days and just tried to work out what I wanted to do. In the end, I chose not to confront him and just to break up with him instead. He was angry and confused, at least he pretended to be. But I wanted to be the one who ended it. I needed to find a way of reclaiming my autonomy.
We don’t speak at all now. After the breakup, I blocked him and deleted everything to do with him on my phone: pictures, videos, messages, the lot. I did hear that the person he’d cheated on me with had dumped him in the end, so that did provide some much-needed schadenfreude.
Still, the breakup was horrific to get over. I cried a lot. And even now, three years later, I haven’t been able to find a lasting relationship with anyone. Trust is difficult. My friends say it’s because as soon as anyone shows the slightest bit of interest, I back off. I’ve done a lot of work with a therapist recently, which has helped me feel more open-minded about dating again. Nothing has come of it yet, but I am slowly starting to feel more like myself. So watch this space, I suppose.
*Names have been changed