How to Know If Your Lover is Really Just Traveling For Work, or Cheating on You with Someone Else

I had just dis­cov­ered that my older man, Marco, had left his cell phone at home and he had some unread mes­sages. As I stood there drink­ing my cof­fee, star­ing at the flash­ing light on his phone that indi­cates a new mes­sage, I was caught in a seri­ous moral dilemma. Would it have ever crossed my mind to even check his mes­sages before we had that con­ver­sa­tion about mar­riage and kids? We were play­ing house, liv­ing like a monog­a­mous cou­ple, and yet the alarm bells and gut feel­ing were too much to ignore. Each time that light flashed, I felt a stronger and stronger impulse to just open the damn messages.

Instead, I called my mom. I told her every­thing I was feel­ing, the con­ver­sa­tion, about the phone, and about his fran­tic attempts to reach me, which I was hop­ing were just because he was try­ing to wake me up so I could drive his phone to the air­port for him before he took off. With a heavy sigh, my mom said to me, “If your intu­ition is telling you some­thing is off, trust it. It prob­a­bly is. Being that he trav­els a lot, maybe he has a lover or two in places that he trav­els to often.” He was headed to Toronto for the third week-long trip. My heart sank, but I was hopeful.

I took a quick shower and decided, “What the hell!” As I opened Marco’s phone and read the mes­sages, my heart sank lower than ever before. He was, in fact, hav­ing an affair with another woman, and she was in Toronto. She had sent him pic­tures of her­self par­tially nude, or in lin­gerie, hold­ing up signs with hand­writ­ten words like, “Miss you love,” “Can’t wait to hold you again,” and, “Land­ing strip just for you.”

That last one really got me for a few rea­sons. First, I’d never seen pubic hair shaved like that, and plus, why did I never think of doing some­thing cre­ative like that? And sec­ond, she wasn’t any more attrac­tive than I was. I couldn’t under­stand it. She was older, a lit­tle heav­ier, and I didn’t per­son­ally think she was any­thing beyond aver­age. If she were drop-dead gor­geous, I would have under­stood, maybe even been OK with it. But she—Karen—didn’t make any sense.

I cried for a while, until I got a text from Marco. He’d landed and was going to call me from the cab. I didn’t respond. I just cried some more—after see­ing the word “landed” in his text mes­sage, all I could think about was her “land­ing strip.”

I wanted to give him the ben­e­fit of the doubt, so I straight­ened myself out and pre­pared to talk to him, hop­ing he would bring it up first. While I was wait­ing for him to call me back, I called my mom quickly and gave her a very quick syn­op­sis. She obvi­ously was taken aback and was hope­ful for my sake that we could work things out. She tried to warn me that guys like this were smooth talk­ers and to be care­ful, but she also said that he could just be flirt­ing inno­cently and didn’t mean it. She gave me a hypo­thet­i­cal syn­op­sis of him still flirt­ing online with the dat­ing pro­file he’d met me with. There were plenty of sto­ries or rea­sons I could have cho­sen to believe.

It wasn’t until six-and-a-half hours later that Marco finally called. By this time, I was livid, and I knew with­out a doubt that he’d prob­a­bly gone straight to the hotel and either had Karen meet him there, or maybe he went straight to her place. At least that’s what I told myself. He was call­ing me from a restau­rant where he and his clients were hav­ing din­ner. He was bid­ding a job for his com­pany and wasn’t hav­ing much luck. I asked him if it was because some­thing was dis­tract­ing him while he was there, or if his focus was elsewhere.

Marco got very quiet before real­iz­ing and remem­ber­ing that his phone was with me.