One morning in December, I woke up where I had for the last three years: my boyfriend Donnie's bed. We had gone out the night before, so he wasn't excited about getting up at 6 a.m. to fly away on business, but he kissed me goodbye as he left. I headed into town for work, and I received a Facebook message from the woman I thought was his former live-in girlfriend. She informed me that they never actually broke up.
Found Out by Facebook
The man I had been with for the past three years was living a double life, and I was the "other woman." I texted Donnie with the contents of her message. He replied with "that's crap - not factual."
But I gave her my number. She called immediately, and we compared stories for five hours, figuring out how he lived two lives. We bonded over the fact that he got caught on Facebook. (Stacy saw a picture of us on my profile.)
The whole time we were chatting, Donnie was chiming in via text. His approach went from denial to apology. He knew he was caught, and his excuses were exhausted.
I was shell-shocked at first, but thinking back, it all makes sense. Click here to read more of Brittney's story.
Barry Bremen Between 1979 and 1986 Bremen posed as a Major League Baseball umpire, an NBA player, a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and a professional golfer. In 1985, he even infiltrated the acting world when he (somehow) accepted an Emmy on behalf of "Hill Street Blues" actress Betty Graves.
His advice for would-be imposters? "Jab yourself with a stun gun," he told the "Detroit News." "That's the least that can happen to you. If you can withstand the stun gun, go on to the next stage and start coming up with a plan."
Christopher Rocancourt was a scammer and con artist who bilked wealthy elites out of tons of cash by claiming to be a member of the Rockefeller clan. He had dozens of aliases and at one point claimed to be French nobility. In 2002 he was finally captured and charged with several counts of theft, grand larceny and fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and was fined $9 million.
Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter spent years lying to friends and associates, claiming that he was a wealthy European member of the Rockefeller clan. His true identity was revealed after Gerhartsreiter attempted to abduct his daughter Reigh and authorities found that his fingerprints were linked to several other aliases. He is currently being held without bail awaiting trial on kidnapping and fraud charges.
David Hampton conned wealthy families into believing he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier, and managed to con several celebs, including Gary Sinise and Calvin Klein by telling them that he was a friend of their kids.
''I didn't know conning people was a crime,'' he said in a 1990 interview. ''I thought I could do these things and, once I had success, I could look back on it and laugh.'' His story was the inspiration for the play and film "Six Degrees of Separation."
Frank Abagnale was the real-life story behind the film "Catch Me if You Can." In the 1960s Abagnale used more than half a dozen aliases to pass around $2.5 million in bad checks. He then went on to fake careers as a doctor, pilot, lawyer and professor.
Abagnale was eventually caught and served five years in federal prison. He now runs a financial fraud consultancy company and put his scheming to good use as a consultant with the FBI.
Fred Brito impersonated a Catholic priest, a youth counselor, and the executive director of the National Kidney Foundation, among others. He claims he faked his way into the positions in order to support his sick parents. He now runs a program to help non-violent offenders find jobs.
Frederic Bourdin impersonated dozens of characters, but his (creepy) specialty was high school students. In order to appear younger he would wear a baseball cap to cover his bald spot and use depilatory creams to keep his face smooth.
In a 2005 interview, Bourdin said he was motivated to impersonate adolescents because "I want to be loved, quite simply," he said. "I will stop at nothing to be listened to, to have people look after me." He was finally caught in 2005, while impersonating a 15-year-old.
James Hogue created several false identities in order to attend Harvard and Princeton universities. While at Harvard, he took a job as a security guard and stole $50,000 in jewels from a university museum. And in 2005, police found more than 7,000 stolen items in Hogue's Colorado home, taken from his neighbor's homes. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Marvin Hewitt had a penchant for impersonating real-life academics, and would invariably get caught by the people he was trying to pass himself off as. Hewitt served as a philosophy professor (under the moniker of noted philosopher Clifford Berry) and physics professor (using the name of noted physicist Julius Ashkin).
Despite getting caught each time, Hewitt was convinced of his own genius. In a 1954 "Time" magazine article, he said, "My record has been so phenomenal that some university might hire me. I am one of the top nuclear physicists in the country."
Twenty-nine-year-old Treva Throneberry spent four years living as 16-year-old Brianna Stewart, but was found out after she attempted to obtain an official birth certificate. She was charged with theft, fraud and perjury -- and many in the foster care system who had attempted to help her felt outraged by her lies. Throneberry claimed that her new identity was motivated in part by abuse by her real parents.
Meeting Mr. Wrong
I met Donnie on a work project when I moved from New York City to North Carolina three years ago. He thought I had a "sexy attitude." By the end of the project we'd exchanged numbers. He offered to show me around town, even though he was rarely there because he traveled so much for work.
Our relationship developed slowly that first year, essentially starting long-distance. We talked on the phone for hours and saw each other whenever we could.
Missing the Warning Signs
After I told a guy friend about how my most recent relationship met its demise, he just looked at me and asked, "Are you stupid or is he just that good? Or bad rather?" Fair question!
Because we didn't have normal schedules, we didn't have a normal relationship. That was my first red flag, but I was okay with it because I was busy. I honestly believed Donnie was always working too. He was my real-life Mr. Big. Any time I pressed him to make more time, he'd tell me that love requires patience -- I can't tell you how many times I heard "We're in a marathon, not a sprint."
That was his game: He sold me on the idea of both of us being committed to our careers rather than committed to each other. In the future we would reap the benefits of hard work.
His jealousy should have been another red flag. He would freak out about me doing certain things. Being around particular guys would cause him to act almost psychotically possessive. His questioning my loyalty should have been a clue that disloyalty was at the front of his mind.
And despite this, I was more attracted to him than I'd been to anyone in my life. We were so passionate about each other, I still can't understand how he had a double sex life. Unless he had pharmaceutical assistance.
Alex Rodriguez This skanky Yankee came under fire for getting cozy with a stripper at a Las Vegas Scores (ew), and was rumored to be cavorting with Madonna before the ink was dry on either of their divorce papers. Jerkometer rating: 7
Mario Lopez Who knew that A.C. Slater was such a dirtbag? The buff "Dancing with the Stars" stud reportedly cheated on one lady friend with a Hooters girl, and his two-week 2004 marriage to Ali Landry ended when she learned of his bachelor party antics. Jerkometer rating: 8
Barry King, WireImage.com
Jude Law He may be gorgeous, and nobody can resist that accent. But you know what we can resist? Sleeping with our nanny. Jude? Not so much. He and then-fiancee Sienna Miller eventually broke up, obvs. Jerkometer rating: 7
Matt Damon In 1998, Matt Damon told Oprah Winfrey during an interview on her show that he was no longer dating Minnie Driver. According to Driver, that was the first she'd heard of their breakup. Jerkometer rating: 2 (He gets points off for good behavior since.)
Hugh Grant In 1995, Grant was infamously pulled over by L.A. police for lewd conduct with prostitute Divine Brown. Girlfriend Liz Hurley forgave him and even appeared on his arm at the premiere of "Nine Months" days after his arrest. Jerkometer rating: 9 (extra points for dragging Leno into it)
Dave Hogan, Getty Images
David Beckham What is it with married celebrities and the hired help? Although he has always denied it (and OK, so there's no proof), Becks was accused in 2004 of sleeping with then-personal assistant Rebecca Loos. Jerkometer rating: 3 (That shirtless picture inspires our goodwill, OK?)
Milk Processor's of America
Chace Crawford We know two things about the "Gossip Girl" boy: He's a total hottie, and he dumped Carrie Underwood via text. US Weekly reported in April, 2008 that the pair "mutually" parted ways via cellular phones. Jerkometer rating: 1 (hey, we've done it too)
Mark Von Holden, WireImage.com
Charlie Sheen Among other lowlights, Sheen "accidentally" shot ex-fiancee Kelly Preston, spent thousands on madam Heidi Fleiss and symbolically took a chainsaw to his wedding portrait with Denise Richards. Ew. Jerkometer rating: What comes after infinity?
E.J. Camp / CBS
Ethan Hawke We were sad enough when this brainy babe's artsy-smartsy marriage to Uma Thurman ended. But to then shack up and have a baby with the nanny to his kids? For shame! Jerkometer rating: 4
Mirimax / Everett Collection
Ryan Philippe Although never officially confirmed, rumors still swirl that Ryan Philippe's divorce from his all-American wife Reese Witherspoon had a little something to do with an on-set affair with actress Abbie Cornish, now his girlfriend. Hmm. Jerkometer rating: 6
Frank Masi, Paramount
Helping Him Live the Lie
I made it easy for him because I didn't require much attention. He had a way of making me feel I was always on his mind even when he wasn't really spending time with me: a text here, a super-romantic hour or two there.
Looking back, I was never happy. I was merely content. I would get frustrated that he wasn't around, but he painted a fantasy of a future together. He joked that I was his job's mistress, but in reality I was his mistress. As it turns out, the "job" he was cheating on me with was his "ex-girlfriend," Stacy.
The Other Other Woman
Donnie told me they broke up months before because she couldn't handle his schedule. The only reason they still communicated was because he would occasionally watch her dogs. I saw her name on a piece of junk mail, noticed some women's vitamins and her picture in his armoire. But once I mentioned them, all remnants of Stacy disappeared.
I was suspicious, so one morning I snooped. I should have known then that any man who made me feel that insecure was not trustworthy, but I didn't find evidence of another woman. Realizing that only my stuff was all over his place, I actually felt guilty for doubting him. I remember thinking that I'd finally met someone I could trust. Putting the Pieces Together
But Stacy and I managed to figure out his game. He had a routine that he had down to a science. He would tell me that after work he had softball or some work function. He'd go to Stacy's, have her cook him dinner and they'd watch "Jeopardy."
He'd then tell Stacy that the dogs kept him awake, and he needed to go home. We'd meet at his house. I remember that I loved feeling like we were in our own little world. We had our specific spots around town, and I would occasionally travel with him. Other than his co-worker and neighbor whom I knew well, I didn't meet many of his friends.
I broke up with Donnie the same day I found out about the deception. I don't know whether he and Stacy are still together, but I do know that she's having his baby, which kind of breaks my heart, since he used to always talk about us having a baby together.
What I did learn from Stacy during one of our conversations is that this child was conceived one morning when he told me he had to leave early for an appointment. Instead, he was with her all morning. That night, we went to a football game together and then spent the night in one another's arms. Lessons Learned
I sometimes wonder how I'll ever trust anyone again, but now I know the red flags to look for and that I should pay attention to them along with my instincts. My mind rationalized things and made excuses for Donnie. My heart was naïve, but my intuition was telling me to let him go.
I understand that my independence comes with a cost. A nice guy tried to ask me out on a date recently, and I had to fit him in the following week. But I know that if I really was ready to date and wanted to make time, I could.
I now know not to let anyone in my life unless he invites me entirely into his and understands the power of now. I've realized that there are no fairy tales or happy "Sex and the City" endings.
But at least from now on, if someone asks me if I am stupid or if the other person is just deceitful – I will proudly be able to say that I wasn't stupid. Brittney Cason is a freelance writer and TV host. Some names have been changed.
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