How does one react to betrayal? When you suffer an awful blow at the hands of the one person you were willing to give you heart to, how do you move forward? Do you take the road to acceptance and forgiveness? Or do you take the more dangerous path of bitterness and revenge?
A young hopeless romantic, who we'll call "Robert," was faced with such a decision. In his desperation, he reached out to his internet peers, hoping he could find just the right guidance he needed. But, despite their offerings of sound advice with genuine concern for his well-being, Robert had already made his decision. Instead of following their advice on how to move on from a heartbreaking situation, Robert chose to seek revenge on the woman who hurt him.
When Robert and Gina met in college, it was like love at first sight. They were each other's first time. They would playfully plan the rest of their lives together, hinting at marriage and even children. Robert was convinced that Gina was the one for him, even if the temptation of adultery had affected him in the past. Despite having had more than one chance to cheat, he was very proud to say that he never pulled the trigger. He loved Gina too much. After he turned 25 and had been with Gina for almost five years, everything changed.
Robert's friend had recently gotten engaged. For his bachelor party, the friend rented a lake house 40 minutes outside of the city for his bachelor party. Robert agreed to spend the weekend with the guys. As they were partying at the lake house, Robert's phone went off. It was Gina. He answered it, only to discover that it was an obvious pocket dial. She would not respond to Robert. All he could hear was her giggling. And using "flirty" language. And he could have sworn that he heard kissing noises. After listening more intently, it became clear that there was someone else there with her.
Robert was stunned. He could feel his body shaking. He could not bear to listen to anymore of what was taking place on the other end, yet, something kept him from hanging up until the phone cut off. He had never felt such pain in his life. His legs turned to rubber. He confessed the discovery to one of his buddies. Soon, the whole bachelor party became Robert's personal support group. Almost unanimously, the entire crew told him that he should call Gina back immediately and tell her off, until one friend shot that idea down, claiming that confronting her over the phone would give her the advantage to make up a lie far easier. Robert agreed. This was a matter to be dealt with in person. Now.
Robert's friend volunteered to drive him back into the city. He was in no shape to drive himself at that moment, and probably not in any shape to face his allegedly adulterous girlfriend, but that was the least of his worries. When they pulled up to Gina's apartment, her car was there and lights were on. It was obvious that someone else was there with her, but he needed to make sure. He breached his trust in her, which was already hanging by and thread, crept up to her window, and looked inside. With his own eyes, he saw Gina performing an intimate act on her side piece.
In an instant, that record level of pain Robert felt during the accidental phone call was surpassed. He imagined nothing could feel worse than this, even death. Now was not the time for confrontation. He was too shocked to even speak. He felt that his next word would be immediately followed by vomit. He had enough strength, however, to get back into his friend's car and head back to lake for the party, now burdened by this horrific revelation.
After the weekend at the lake, Robert returned home, unsure what to do. His shock had subsided, but only anger followed. Confronting her would have been the right thing to do, but he was not ready for anything rational. He needed to know more. Who was this guy?
He reluctantly made plans to see Gina to find the answer, but not by asking her. When she was away from her phone, he swiped it and went through it. He found text messages from a man named Theo. From the looks of it, their entire relationship was purely physical. There was nothing romantic about these messages. Furthermore, Gina was sporting dirty talk and describing things that she did with Theo that completely threw Robert for a loop. He had never seen this side of her for as long as they had been together.
Later, Robert decided to do a little more investigating. He had the man's name, he saw the man's face, but what else was there to learn about this Theo. He scoured Facebook for anyone named Theo who lived in his area. His page was not difficult to find and his identity was confirmed by his status updates, which proudly boasted his affair with Gina.
His life was ruined. Nothing mattered or made sense to him anymore. He had been humiliated in front of everyone he knew because of Gina, and she doesn't even know it yet. He spent several days just moping, feeling miserable and physically ill. After some time, Gina even asked him what was bothering him, as if she could not figure that one out on her own. He struggled with the temptation to just come out and expose her for who she really was, but he had committed five years of his life to this woman. Was he really ready to throw all of that away? He felt he needed to be able to think clearly before he made any rash decisions. But, that was the problem. He could not think clearly.
Robert wanted to hurt Gina like she had hurt him. Ending the relationship was without question, but that would not have been enough. This woman was his first love, the one he believed he was going to spend the rest of his life with. One could say that he was dodging a bullet, but even that could not have overshadowed the feeling that he had been wasting his life with this for far too long already. He wanted to make up for all that time he would never get back in the harshest way possible. He was out for revenge. Now, it was all he wanted. It was what he needed.
But how would he do it? From where could he draw inspiration to enact his revenge? He decided to turn to the purest source of evil known to the modern world: the internet.
Robert typed up a manifesto, if you will, explaining, in great detail, his situation. He concluded it with a plea for recommendations. He was willing to accept the cruelest, cleverest, and most satisfying non-lethal revenge tactics the world could provide for him. Much to his surprise, his request had become somewhat of a viral sensation within days of posting it to an online forum.
The replies ranged from coldblooded humiliation ("Break up with her in front of her friends"), to childish fantasy ("Go to school for dentistry, and open up your own practice. Make sure you are her dentist. Give her laughing gas and, when she's completely incapacitated, rip all her teeth out. One by one. Sew her mouth shut with a small pipe bomb inside and put the teeth inside the pipe"), and even some without a shred of actual concern ("Tell her you're pregnant and it's hers").
Then, Robert found a comment that stood out.
"Valentine's Day is this Sunday," the comment read. "Make a date for that and have standing her up on that date be the beginning of never talking to her again."
Valentine's Day. The most romantic day of the year. It was the perfect time to end the relationship the way Gina deserved. But, a break-up on February 14 was the only aspect of the suggestion that really played into his intentions.
The commenter who recommended that Robert simply disappear had proposed a compelling case. He took the idea into deep consideration for a long time, until he noticed a flaw in the plan: it lacked closure. A disappearing act would only make Gina try to reach out to him. He did not want the burden of her confusion to follow him. He wanted it to just be over but, more than that, he wanted to see the look on her face when he made his confession.
A date was set for Robert's plan to go into effect, but the plan was far from finished. So, he kept scrolling.
Robert, with the help of one of his internet revenge minions, was able to make a reservation to a very nice, lakeside restaurant in his area within just one day before February 14. The day of, he packed a travel bag with everything Gina owned that she had left at his apartment. Among these items was an expensive face cream she would use. Taking inspiration from one of his revengers' suggestions, prior to packing the cream, he jerked off into it.
She'll be wearing my facial everyday for months, he thought to himself, proudly.
Taking the travel bag with him, Robert drove over to her apartment. He told Gina that he would come over to her apartment before they went out and that he would make some drinks while she got ready. He left the bag in the car and went inside. She gave him a couple glasses and for him to make drinks for the both of them before she got in the shower. During Gina's shower, Robert grabbed the bag from his car and placed it in her closet. He decided to include an additional parting gift in the bag. Inside, he hid a 3-pack of rubbers, but only left two rubbers in it.
She'll probably find them, he thought, think I left them accidentally, and always wonder if I cheated on her.
How could he have known she would assume such an idea? As mentioned before, Gina and Robert were each other's first time and, for as long as they had been together, they never used protection.
As Gina was still showering, Robert quickly grabbed her cell phone and deleted himself from contacts list. Then, he looked up "Theo" in her contacts and replaced his phone number with his own. This trick would come in handy later. Then, he proceeded to make Gina's drink, spitting in it several times. As he waited for her to finish getting ready, he took a saliva-free, pre-game shot of his own, just as a way ease the tension he was feeling from what he was about to do.
Gina came out of her room, dressed to kill. As they had their drinks, Robert, shamefully, could not help but notice how well she had presented herself. She was gorgeous. He felt tempted. It was the perfect moment to carry out another idea from one of his vengeance enabling internet friends, who suggested that Robert should "tap it one last time." He agreed. He convinced Gina into giving him some head as a "warmup" for later. By "accident," he made her gag a couple times. As he heard her reflex initiate, it occurred to him that he was causing this woman discomfort right in the same spot where she pleasured another man, which caused Robert much discomfort. For that, he felt no shame.
Following Robert's petty act of pleasure, the couple was ready to go. He made up a lie, claiming that he did not feel comfortable driving his car, as it had been acting up, for some reason. He convinced her that it would be best to take her car to the restaurant. At that point, the simpler phase of the plan was accomplished. It was about to get trickier.
Robert felt that, in order to break Gina's heart most effectively, he would first need to warm it. Never before had he put so much effort into Valentine's Day. They dined over an exquisite meal and bottle of red. He went out of his way to make the night perfect.
They reminisced over the past five years. They talked about vacations the two had taken together, hinting at the possibility of revisiting those locales. Robert brought up old memories of the good times. It made Gina laugh to think about. Then, Robert asked her where she wanted to be within the next five years. She said that, hopefully, she would married by then.
Reliving these memories with Gina was painful. Robert probably would have genuinely loved to take a repeat vacation with her. One can only imagine the forceful blow of what might have been his final time hearing her laugh. He almost wanted to forget what he was really there for and continue to play along, but he would not allow himself to succumb to her charm. He would not allow his heart to be trampled over again, not before he returned the favor. He had a mission and he was committed to finishing it.
After they finished their meals, Robert stood up to excuse himself to the restroom to wash his hands. Aside from the hand washing, this excusal was also another planned ruse. From inside the room, he took out his cell phone to call his best friend. He was already involved with the operation as a willing accomplice. Robert instructed the friend to pick him up from in half an hour. That was all the time he needed. He did not intend to spend much more with her.
Robert left the restroom to return to the table. He paid the bill, figuring he should add one more gentlemanly touch to the evening before turning the tables. Then, he suggested to Gina that they take a walk along the lake right outside. He thought back on the commenter who recommended the lakeside restaurant as the location for the date. He made a mental note to reach out and thank them because from this looks of it, this lake was the perfect site for Robert's plan to reach its finale.
Robert and Gina found a little dock near the restaurant. As they approached it, Robert took a moment to prepare himself. His nerves were getting the best of him. His hands were shaking. But, finally, he was ready.
He asked Gina if there was anything that she wanted to tell him. She faked a convincing look of confusion. If Robert's only evidence to Gina's infidelity were a hunch, he probably would have believed her cluelessness. He let her lie to him before he let loose. He told her that he knew about Theo. He informed her of how she accidentally called Robert while she and Theo were getting it on. He revealed that he caught them messing around with his own eyes. He added that he found Theo on Facebook and that his status updates bragging about his time with Gina confirmed that it was him. He did not hold back any information or any emotion as he spoke.
As Gina began to bawl her eyes out, Robert could not help but get choked up himself. But he did not hold back. Through his tears, he continued to lay into Gina about about much she hurt him, that it made him physically ill. At that point, Gina was hyperventilating. Through tears and short gasps of air, all she could say, repeatedly was, "I'm sorry." But each time she tried to interrupt his tirade with an apology, he demanded that she let him finish.
Once his heart was empty from pouring it out all over Gina, Robert came to a part of the plan inspired by another member of his revenge strategy committee. He had gone back and forth with this idea, hesitating if such a stunt was even worth it, given everything else he had set in motion. With his very soon-to-be ex-girlfriend standing in front of him, her eyes bloodshot with guilt and her spirit broken, he figured, Why not? I got nothing else to lose.
Robert told Gina that he believed she was the girl that he was going to spend the rest of his life with. This was not just part of the stunt. It was a confession that came from the heart. Right after that, he pulled out a small jewelry box from his coat. He told Gina that he had been holding onto the ring inside the box for a while (which was just part of the stunt - he bought it a day earlier for about $15 in the same gas station he got the rubbers from) but that he was not going to need it anymore. In one aggressive pitch, Robert threw the ring into the lake.
Gina, still crying, had crossed her breaking point. She reached out to Robert, pulling at him, begging him profusely to listen to what she had to say. He looked down at the woman who broke his heart going through what could only be described as a borderline psychotic episode, and decided that this was the perfect moment to call it a night.
He told her that there was nothing to talk about and nothing that she could say to change things. He told her that this was the last time he would ever see or talk to her ever again. He let her know about the bag of her stuff that he left in her closet, adding that if she had left anything else at his place, she would have to ask a friend to come get it for her. As one last pinch of salt in the wound, he told her that he had found a "bump" on him and that he was going to visit the doctor for that week. He suggested that she do the same. Then, he gave her the keys to her car back. As Gina tried to hug him and beg forgiveness, Robert pushed her away and said, "Goodbye," and walked away, leaving her on the dock, alone.
Robert's friend was already waiting to pick him up from outside the restaurant. He got in the car with him and they went to pick up his car from Gina's place. On the way, he pulled out his phone to enact the payoff of an earlier part of his plan. He wrote up a text message for Gina, which she would think was from Theo since he switched the numbers.
"Your boyfriend emailed me and knows about us," the text read. "I don't want this drama. Don't call or text me again. Seriously."
The internet revenge fantasy troll who recommended this idea said that it would give Gina the impression that she was getting dumped on Valentine's Day twice. Robert reveled in the diabolical nature of the idea. He figured that she would eventually figure out that it was him and call him out for his immaturity, but that meant no sweat off of his back. In his eyes, she deserved it. With a tap on the SEND button, the text was sent and his revenge was had.
Robert looked back on the worst week of his life with a mix of emotions. He was relieved, but still shocked and saddened by it all. He had just let go of (or more accurately, put a cataclysmic end to) a five-year relationship and was now faced with some uncertainty over how he would move forward. Perhaps the bottle could help. But among all of these feelings, regret was not one of them.
Two days after the V-Day break up of the century, he decided to check back in with his crew of heartbreakers and posted a detailed description of the fateful night, being sure to thank the authors or his now ex-girlfriend's pain for their ideas throughout the narrative. He concluded the post with an expression of gratitude for the strangers he reached out to and their compassion for his situation. The response to his update, however, was met with mixed reviews.
While some of the Justice League of Failed Romance praised his successful plan, others criticized his adamancy for such a harsh retaliation. They believed that his tactics were child's play.
"I was hoping you would implement the ultimate revenge: cutting off all contact from her, and letting her stew in her misery. Instead, you came in her face cream," one commenter wrote. "Now you look just as pathetic as she does."
One comment perfectly summed up the lesson most commenters were trying to help Robert realize by on his first post.
"There is an old adage: 'Revenge is a dish best served cold,'" the comment read. "I think over coming months you will learn the meaning of that."
Robert's revenge was, purely, the result of a knee-jerk reaction. He allowed his rage-fueled fire to guide him on a quest to unbridled retaliation, which he carried out without hesitation, instead of giving himself the time to reflect and make peace with the situation to handle it like an adult.
Had Robert listened to his peers' mature advice and allowed the fire in his heart to cool, he could have served Gina a dish that would have been unforgettable. Instead, most likely, she probably ate it one bite. Whatever satisfaction Robert felt from this elaborate scheme may have withered away as the consequences of his petty actions, inspired by heathens of the web with much growing up to do themselves, presented themselves with blunt force, knocking him on his rear end before he could realize that he took the wrong turn in the crossroads that stood before him.
When your heart has been victimized, taking action will not mend your wounds. It only increases the damage. Take the time allow yourself to recover and you will learn that even the most crushing betrayal from the one you love is a blessing in disguise.