Alana and I met Toby in a Verizon store in Baltimore. Toby was friendly and we had great chemistry right off. He asked me out for crabcakes but at the end he discovered he forgot his wallet. I paid for dinner. He’s a bartender and I teach third grade.  We saw each other every day. Within four months, he moved into my place.  I was having the best time. Things went mostly well until it seemed like he never had regular work hours.  Then I heard all about him making out with his ex-girlfriend.  When I asked him about it he turned all wet & fed Gremlin-after-midnight. He got angry and called me names. I told him if he wanted her he could move out and go be with her. But then he pulled himself together. He embraced me and said he was gonna be patient and wait for me to get over being jealous and controlling.  Between kisses and lovemaking, he convinced me everything was okay. Like a mama cat petting and cleaning her kitten, he groomed me back into trusting him.

-Catalina H.

My boyfriend Albie and I decided to spend Christmas vacation apart.  I went with my family and he went on a cruise to Jamaica.  He called me late at night on Dec. 25th to wish me a Merry Christmas.  And then he just sat there silently on the phone.  So of course I take the bait and ask. “What’s wrong?” So he ‘fesses up that his ex-girlfriend is on the cruise with him and he cheated. Of course, he explains, “It just happened.”  Merry Christmas, y’all!

-Daniella M.


I’m not gonna play Pollyanna and say cheating never happens.  And there is the school of thought that says being honest even after doing wrong is best.  But let’s consider the possibility that telling our loved one how we did them wrong is the point of the whole shady endeavor.

In this scenario, it ain’t enough to just cheat — the perpetrator thrills in rubbing Girlfriend A’s nose in the mess with Lover B.  It’s not just sex the jerks wants.  It’s not just the ability to seduce two different women either.  Keeping one secret from the other just isn’t enough. The kink the jerk really seeks is sexual power at the expense of  the other woman scenario.  Power to deprive, power to humiliate, power to scorn.

For a disordered, power-hungry man, there’s no richer set-up to derive this power than through triangulation: flaunting a new fling to his girlfriend and instigating hatred and jealousy among his conquests.  All the while he is solely to blame and can often be still highly desired by the women he wronged.


There’s a lot rotten with this picture.  But how do you avoid or stop it?
See beyond the glittering, desirable surface. The winning smile, the passionate embrace, the romantic talk of being together for the future are the sales points. The intensity and singular, focused attention of our lover may blind us to his or her real intentions. This is how he grooms and positions you to gratify his ego & sexual desires by using you as one corner of the love triangle.  If nothing else, the fact of the revealed love triangle should tell you he’s not quite as interested in not hurting you, or giving a damn how you feel when he clowns you by cheating.

Know your weak points. A love con artist is looking to lure you in.  He will give you something you want to position you as his victim.  Your loneliness, romantic ideals, openness to companionship or ticking biological clock are all detectable vulnerabilities.  Ruthless Romeo will zero in on and  exploit your weak spots to his advantage.

Don’t give up on your love quest.  But do tuck knowledge of these behaviors into your tool belt. Beware and take steps to nip this in the bud.



LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION So let  me tell you about some trouble I’ve been having at work.  Please note that I work on the seventh floor of the Biscayne Building off Times Square.   A week ago, our marketing firm Dunn-Mahoney … Continue reading



I am a sophomore at Queens College and I have a s***-ton of exams next week.  But right now I am just sobbing as I write this. To blow off steam before hunkering down to study, I went to a house party hosted by the Hodges twins — a great, trusty pair of guys I grew up with in the neighborhood.  My boyfriend Noah couldn’t make the party.  When Noah acted like I shouldn’t go without him, I just ignored him.  He’d be happy if I just stayed in the house, got drunk with him every night and played Call of Duty XP. He has no social life outside me and classes when he even bothers to go.  Well, a couple of strange jock guys at Hodges party were doing shots of Jager and getting grabby.  At one point, two of them picked me up bodily and tried to carry me into a bedroom.  The Hodges twins two-pieced each wanna-be rapist and threw them out.   I was glad it turned out okay and got a ride home.  When I called Noah and told him about it, he had no sympathy: “You went to that party dressed all sexy after dark. You were drinking, weren’t you? You were asking for it!” First of all, I wasn’t even drinking.  I don’t heart Noah any more.

-Monica B.

I met Earl on a call when I was an EMT working the nightshift on a rainy Monday.  He had called an ambulance at the local Murray Hill frat boy BBQ spot when drunken brawling got bloody after the Indianapolis Colts lost without their star Quarterback.  Things between Earl and I escalated pretty quickly from dating to exclusive to love to eloping and three babies. Our twin boys Devin and Derek and then our baby girl Dana completed our happy new family.  Then his Mama came to live with us after her mastectomy and while her chemo was ongoing which is what families do for each other. Or so I thought. My husband Earl left me last year 2 months before our 3 year anniversary, and we stayed apart for 5 months. The whole time I was with his kids and his Mama alone, and he constantly claimed he didn’t want to be married anymore. Even before we separated he had been trawling the ‘Net for barely-legal porn, lurking in chatrooms with young girls, and even talking with some girls on his disposable cell phone after I went to bed. Now’s he’s confessed he got a Ecuadorean high schooler pregnant out in Bushwick. And now just as suddenly he’s also talking reconciliation. And he’s asking if she can come live with us to raise their baby.  I’m like, what?! I been talking to my Mom, his Mom and his sisters about it and they are unanimous in their criticism: “It’s your fault for marrying that down-low man who cheats. You should have known.”

-Shari P.


It comes as a shock when our loved ones not only don’t care when we are hurt but also blame us.  It’s interesting that the victim is the responsible party — not the criminal creep who assaulted her.
Sometimes, coming from women, the blame is coming from their own unresolved feelings and guilt about some things they went through or did.  But even that insight isn’t helpful to us in our state of need.
It’s worthwhile also to consider whether this blame-game is sexism.  Like racism, sexism is presumed to be out of fashion and assumed not to exist.  But it ‘s not so long ago that women in the United States couldn’t vote, inherit or own property or work outside the home. And I think that the vestiges of sexism are still very much alive today.  And women ourselves are just as capable of being sexist as men.
But journey with me into the Sexist Animus, or mind, if you will: according to this “Men First” doctrine, women are supposed to be subservient and less worthy than men.  Men are supposed to exclusively enjoy power and control exclusively while women can’t even have autonomy or the right to choose most significant aspects of their life circumstances like making a living, whether to have children or whether to have sex.  Furthermore, sexist men have to be right all the time which means women always have to be wrong.
To a sexist man, women are sexually available always because might makes right and “no” means nothing coming from a woman. So given sexism and lawlesslness, let’s face it: all a woman has to do to ask to be sexually assaulted is have a pulse.
Another important way to decipher this blaming of the victim involves “masking.”  The perpetrator of sexual assault or cheating didn’t jump out the closet wearing black and twisting his moustache like a cartoon villain.   No, they play the nice guy role ’til you’re in a vulnerable position.  Then they trick you and do wrong. Anybody can dupe another person if they put their mind to it. Lying, acting, pretending and running game are the only requirements.
We enter relationships and social encounters with trust.  That trust makes hurting us really easy — as easy to do as it’s wrong.

Good masking is just good disguising of the self.  It’s a social skill even our best and closest loved ones can perpetrate.

You’ll say, “But I thought you cared about me.”  They’ll blink and reply, “Oh, well.  Guess you were wrong.”


Part of the cold, harshness of adult life is the lack of sympathy from other people. It’s especially hard to take when you have undergone trauma.  But you have to weather it and keep on keeping on.

Thankfully there are writings by other survivors of sexual assault and infidelity.  And support groups at colleges, churches, therapy offices and beyond.

Like with this blog, seeking out community of thought to talk, share and disagree is often the best therapy for understanding and moving past your pain.  The Feminist community has been tremendous for helping to bring these issues and discussion of them into the light through women’s story circles.

I urge you as a woman to find out more about supporting women undergoing this type of crisis even if it hasn’t personally touched you yet.



Ever since I left my parents house in Maryland and went to college, I always had a man.  I met my first husband Alan, a law student, at Homecoming Weekend freshman year.  We stayed married 5 years, long enough for the birth of my first son Derek.  But his family was from Atlanta and into old -time religion.  As we battled for control of our relationship, Alan brought me to meet regularly with his pastor who talked a whole lot of yin-yang about Biblical obedience of wives.  Both men were dead-ass serious that was why Alan should control me working, cleaning, and sexually.  Oh, no, baby. Then I fell for Jeffrey, my secular psychotherapist.  He was very attentive to me as his patient.  But,, after many years, I found I wasn’t the only patient he was attentive to.  Now that I live in the suburbs of Westchester, it has become more urgent than ever that I have a man with me to keep me sane and help raise my 4 boys. So I’m shaking my social network and doing the online dating thing. My girlfriends roll their eyes and say, “Where  there’s Ravenna, there’s  always drama. one man after the next, one husband after the next.”  I say, you can’t win the game, if you don’t play it.  How seriously am I gonna take criticism from women – bless their  hearts – who haven’t handled the one man they ever got with, who left them besides?

-Ravenna F.

Jennifer and Barry.  Since high school, it’s always been Jennifer and Barry.  From junior prom through two marriages and divorces with each other and 6 kids between them, it will always be Jennifer and Barry.  He cheats on her and she eggs his car and takes him back.  They are married and she’s emailing me and her other sorority sisters asking, “Is he the best I can do?” So Barry finds the email and initiates the first divorce.  They are separated and she says she is stuck inside the family home with a bad cold. Against her wishes, he lovingly drives over to bring her chicken soup and orange juice.  And he catches her getting busy & loud with her personal trainer in the marital bedroom they used to share.  Eventually, though Jennifer and Barry get back together “for the sake of the kids.”  Then he’s ready to ditch her because, though she has a law degree and the kids are in school, she refuses to work as a lawyer. Or at all. Oh, and whenever they are in the middle of love-making, she falls asleep on him.  Yes – literally on him! The thunder storm that is their sick dance of a relationship goes on and on.

-Dice G.


Men.  Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.  Of course, that’s only true if you believe it.  And that cliche can apply to whatever gender you prefer.  The extreme nature of romantic conflict might convince some to get out.  But to a select few, the fiery drama means the love is real.  On the one hand, some women just can’t bear being alone; they need a man to validate their attractiveness, sexuality, social success and womanhood.  On the other end of the spectrum are women who can only be satisfied with the vicissitudes and emotional swings of their own personal soap opera.


To each her own.  With therapy and self-awareness, these choices to be “addicted to love” are survivable.  The endless break-ups that lead to inevitable make-ups. Risky, dangerous, volatile but it’s like electing to defuse bombs for a living.  Whatever gets you off.  So long as both partners are buying in to it for keeps.

The collateral emotional damage outside the consenting adults is the more problematic area.   The kids, the in-laws, the social circle roiled by break-ups and divorce.  But there’s no stopping the fact that some people like peace & stability, and some find it inescapably boring.

Perhaps the strangest part of these romantic choices & dynamics is dependent they are on public consumption.  It’s not good enough to be undergone privately — there must be an audience to clap, duck and swoon.