I’d supported Chris through thick and thin. Then Facebook revealed a dirty secret…
By Beth Coombs, 24, from Southsea, Hampshire
Still sweaty as I hopped off the treadmill, I smiled when I saw the message that had just come through on my phone.
It was Chris, my latest Tinder flirtation.
‘How’s the gym going?’ he asked.
I’d been chatting to Chris non-stop since we’d matched on the online dating app a few weeks before.
He was really into fitness and nutrition, plus he was drop dead gorgeous. Working as a personal trainer, he had the chiselled body you’d expect. There was nothing not to like.
It was fun picking his brain for new workouts and healthy meal ideas. But, there was always a flirty undertone to our conversations.
However, I didn’t want to rush into things and was determined not to let my heart take over my head. I wanted to really get to know Chris before we met up. I didn’t just want a random sexy hookup.
Yet I couldn’t get him out of my head. Then, eventually in December last year, I agreed to a date.
Chris had messaged asking yet again whether I’d meet up with him yet. I was ready to take our online flirtation offline, but I’d already made plans.
‘I can’t today, I’ve got to go to Pets at Home,’ I said.
‘I’ll come with you,’ he offered.
That made me smile. It might not be the most romantic first date location, but the fact he was willing to make an effort impressed me.
From the moment I laid eyes on Chris, I knew he measured up to every single one of my expectations.
He was just as tall, dark and devastatingly handsome as I’d hoped.
Then, he flashed me his winning smile and I swooned.
We spent ages wandering around the pet store, as I shopped for a companion for my pet ret, Ratta.
The little rodents aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea, but it didn’t put Chris off. I ended up buying two more rats, Mouse and Shadow, because I just couldn’t make up my mind.
All I could think about was how sexy Chris was.
Soon, we were meeting up for dates two to three times each week. And, in between, we were always texting each other.
Then, at the end of March I fell ill with flu and Chris was straight over to make sure I was ok.
He ended up staying with me for a whole week, binning my snotty tissues and making sure I was eating and drinking enough.
He was a keeper.
But then, at the beginning of April I got a message from him that rocked my world. Chris had been detained by the Home Office for visa investigations, and was facing deportation.
I knew Chris was from Nigeria, and we’d spoken about his life there a lot. However, he told me he had a student visa and was completely free to live in the UK.
I believed him, and was sure it was just a mix up. But, in the meantime, he was being held in Weymouth nearly 100 miles away from my home in Southsea.
I was distraught. We’d only been together for a few months but already I’d imagined a future with Chris.
‘Please come and visit me,’ he begged.
There was no way I’d refuse. I was absolutely heartbroken we were being kept apart.
So, as soon as I finished my shift at the care home where I worked, I got in the car and drove straight down there.
‘Don’t worry, we’ll get through this,’ he promised me, as soon as he saw my dismayed face.
‘But what if you get deported?’ I asked, tears welling in my eyes.
‘I’ll get it all sorted out and be straight back here,’ he said. ‘And, in the meantime, you can always come to Africa for holidays.’
I smiled, bravely. Whatever happened, I’d be there for him. I promised Chris that if he needed me to sign any forms or sort out any paperwork I’d be ready.
But, while the Home Office was investigating, the one thing Chris really needed was money. I’d take him whatever cash I had spare, for him to buy odd bits and bobs in the detention centre.
There wasn’t much left once I’d paid my rent, and filled up my car with tank after tank of petrol for the journey.
Then, we got the news I’d been hoping for. Lawyers had argued that it wasn’t safe for Chris to go back to Nigeria and his flight plans had been cancelled.
Finally, we could start making plans to pick up where we left off.
‘I’ll tell them they can release me to live with you,’ he said. ‘And I’ll have to say you’ll support me financially.’
It was quite full on. We hadn’t talked about moving in together yet. But I was sure that Chris was the man for me, so I agreed. Whatever it took to get my boyfriend back.
In the meantime, he was transferred to another detention centre near Heathrow. Then, one evening in June he phoned me.
‘They’ve released me, can you come to collect me?’ he asked. I was over the moon.
I gave him the biggest kiss as he climbed into the car. I was so pleased to see him. Then we drove back to my house, where I rented a room in a shared home.
We stayed up all night talking, while Chris filled me in on every little detail of what had happened. It was amazing to have him back.
At first things got right back on track. But, after four weeks, Chris’s behaviour started to change. One evening, I got home from work excited to snuggle up and watch a movie.
But as soon as I came through the door, Chris started putting his trainers on.
‘I’m going out for the night,’ he announced.
‘Oh, where?’ I asked.
‘Seeing some friends, I’ll be back late,’ he said, and left.
I felt a bit down. It wasn’t that I begrudged Chris spending time with his mates. After all, he’d spent months locked up.
However, it seemed a bit rude that he was heading out the moment I got back from work.
Other things made me question his commitment to our relationship too.
He refused to let me put anything about our relationship on Facebook, and any time I tried to take a selfie of us he banned me from showing it to anyone else.
It seemed strange, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. I thought perhaps it was just the way he was… yet it was a side of him I hadn’t seen before.
Our sex life became non-existent, as he would sleep all day when I was out at work then go out as soon as I was home.
I tried to tell him I felt a bit used and confused, but he didn’t seem to care.
‘I don’t always want to be here with you,’ he said, coldly.
Then, one weekend in July when Chris had mysteriously gone away for a few days to Surrey, I noticed a girl liking all of his pictures on Facebook.
I clicked onto her profile, but I didn’t recognise her. And, while I knew lots of his friends, Chris had never mentioned her.
I had a strange sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
So, I decided to get to the bottom of things and I sent this girl a message.
‘Have you been seeing Chris?’ I asked. Somehow I knew that the answer would be yes.
‘I’ve been seeing him since Christmas,’ she admitted. My heart sank. The same time we’d got together.
Over messages, we pieced together his betrayal. He’d been having a break in his relationship with her while he was down in Weymouth.
Then, as soon as he was released, he’d picked up right where they left off.
She’d had no idea he was living with me, or even that he had a girlfriend.
And, it suddenly made sense to me why he was always off out, supposedly with his friends. No wonder he didn’t want me to say anything online about our relationship.
I wasn’t angry with her, as she’d been duped by Chris too. We ended up finishing our conversation on good terms, and both pledged to ditch Chris for good.
Now, I just had him to deal with.
When I confronted him, Chris claimed that he’d kept the affair secret because he felt too bad to tell me.
‘You’ve done so much for me, I felt guilty,’ he said, sheepishly.
He was right about that. But, I wasn’t going to do anything else for him. I kicked him out, there and then.
Losing Chris was hard, but I’m glad I discovered the truth and outed that rat, all thanks to Facebook.
Chris, 29, said: ‘Blah blah blah, get straight to the point. Alright, I don’t mean to be rude, I need sleep. I need to sleep, I can’t help you.’