Courtesy of Rissa Brown
- Rissa Brown is a 27-year-old sports manager living in Los Angeles.
- She correctly suspected her boyfriend had cheated when she found a smoothie receipt in his car.
- This is Brown’s story, as told to Lauren Crosby Medlicott.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Rissa Brown. It has been edited for length and clarity.
When I saw the rumor that Shakira found out Gerard Piqué had been cheating when she noticed a jar of jam significantly less full than before in their fridge, I immediately remembered how I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me 10 years ago — a Tropical Smoothie receipt.
I was only 17 at the time and had started dating a guy I met at a shuffle meet. Soon after we started going out, I had this gut feeling that something was off. I ignored my intuition, telling myself I was anxious because of past failed relationships.
After about three months of dating, we were going to see a friend of ours, and my boyfriend was driving. Something was wrong with the car, so he had to get out to check what was going on. Getting bored while waiting, I started looking around the car. I wasn’t suspicious, just wasting time while he fiddled with the car.
I noticed some papers in one of the little storage sections under the radio, and when I started going through them, there was a receipt from Tropical Smoothie. There were two smoothies on the receipt: a peanut-butter one and a mango one. He had bought them at 7 p.m. on a Friday night.
I felt confused straight away. My boyfriend was very allergic to mangoes, so why would he get a mango smoothie? On top of that, he always told me he didn’t have enough spare money to buy me a coffee — but he suddenly had enough money to buy a smoothie for someone else?
I knew something was not right
It just felt off. I can’t describe it any other way. I took a quick photo of the receipt and decided not to mention it.
A couple of days after I had seen the receipt, we were hanging out with a friend. When my boyfriend left the room, our friend grabbed my hand and told me I needed to get out of the relationship. He told me my boyfriend had been cheating on me.
I was so angry and ended the relationship then and there after showing him the photo of the receipt that made me suspicious in the first place.
A little over a month later, I took him back after he apologized and told me how he had changed. We moved in together and ended up living with one another for three years. I was so young and felt confident only when I had a partner. He had been an escape for me from a hard childhood and home life. Even though I knew he had cheated on me, it was better than being in the home I grew up in.
I realized I was trying to fix the people I dated
After I broke up with him for good, I dated a string of men who cheated on me. Looking back, I think I was trying to fix each of them. I was determined to be the perfect partner who would change them. I’d give each of them so many chances, hoping they would change. I was desperate to feel loved, and oddly, the rejection made me want their love more. I felt I had to prove to them I was worth being faithful to.
Now I know I deserve better. Even though I know I’m not perfect, it wasn’t me with the problem. I wasn’t the reason they were cheating. They cheated because of themselves.
I tweeted about finding the smoothie receipt and had hundreds of responses from women who had similar experiences. I loved reading over the responses. As heartbreaking as they were, they were stories of women who, like me, had pulled through. It was comforting to know that we had all been through horrible things but that we had overcome them. We can now tweet and laugh about it.
In the moment of finding out you’ve been cheated on, you don’t think anything else exists and genuinely feel like your world is ending. But we’ll be OK. I’ll be OK.