When Nathalie met charming Bas, she thought she had hit the jackpot. She found him incredibly fascinating–he seemed to have experienced so much in life. However, it all turned out to be a big lie. “He even made up his own daughter.”
Nathalie (29): “I was supposed to be living in a villa on the Italian Riviera right now. I wouldn’t have to work soon, and I would have been happy with Bas. But instead of the Mediterranean Sea, I now see the Rhine from my balcony. And I’ll have to work for another thirty-five years. Despite all the beautiful promises and dreams of a future with Bas, I am now single again. And much poorer in illusions.
I met Bas at the squash club where we, as happy singles, gathered for weekly drinks. I found him incredibly fascinating. Bas had experienced so much and seen so much in life: I was captivated by his stories. We soon started a relationship.
Bas told me he was buying a country house in Italy. His stories were filled with details about local adventures. I had no reason to be suspicious and imagined us sitting together in the evening sun at a charming table, sipping Limoncello. Everything with Bas seemed carefree. We talked about exploring the world together, enjoying life, and around our mid-forties, we would emigrate to the house in Liguria.
He wanted to wait because his six-year-old daughter needed to grow up. Bas had just gotten divorced, and his daughter was a troubled child. He wanted to stay in the Netherlands for her until she could stand on her own feet. He also wanted to make his own insurance agency more profitable. It was doing well, but Bas wanted to market it better so he could sell it for a good amount later.
We were serious about each other. Bas made me feel like we were building a future together. My friends and parents also adored him. Bas was incredibly charming, intelligent, and always cheerful. Everyone called him Mr. Perfect. He sounded so confident, so believable.
I didn’t suspect anything when he said he couldn’t go on vacation with me. He mentioned unexpected costs for the villa’s purchase. Without any suspicion, I treated him on a trip to Malta. After all, wouldn’t we have wonderful summers in his Italian house soon? And it was for both of us, wasn’t it?
It took about six months for things to start seeming odd. Wasn’t it strange that I had never been to his apartment? Every time we planned to meet there, something went wrong: a heating pipe burst, he suddenly fell ill, or a conversation with a client ran terribly late. Bas had also told me that his ex-wife wouldn’t let him see his daughter. But why didn’t she ever call to discuss their daughter with him? I found it peculiar, especially because he portrayed her as a fragile girl.
When I started paying attention, I noticed more strange things. Someone in the city once asked me about Bas’s sick brother, even though Bas had told me he didn’t have a brother at all. He once talked about a dinner with business associates at a specific restaurant. But when we met there a week later, he didn’t know where the coatroom or the toilets were.
Of course, I confronted him about it. But every time, he had a plausible explanation. And each time, I believed Bas again. I’m just not a suspicious person and couldn’t imagine why someone would lie about such things. When I pressed further, Bas would get offended or think I was being negative. Then he would be charming and endearing again, and his stories seemed to make sense for a while.
I was so in love with him during those times. In those moments, Bas often sought closeness by talking about his past. He once tearfully told me a teacher had assaulted him. I felt so special he trusted me with such a personal story. Another time, he talked about the meningitis he had as a child and how he had almost died. I still remember his words about how he listened all day for footsteps in the hallway, hoping his parents would visit. During those moments, I felt ashamed for doubting him. Or I was angry with myself for being so suspicious.
Bas constantly preoccupied me. I left notes on his pillow to wish him strength, bought his favourite food when his sorrow resurfaced, or booked concert tickets to cheer him up. I comforted him and talked with him for entire nights. I spared him from many things because hadn’t he been through enough already? And I ignored the residue of doubt that remained. Our relationship was just too special to give up on. I chose to believe him; I just couldn’t bear the thought of our dream life dissolving.
The few times a story really didn’t add up, Bas always had a good excuse. For instance, he wasn’t himself because a childhood friend had died. Or his daughter had spilled hot tea on herself and burned her hand. And his story always sounded so convincing that I fell for it again. I did that until he had to stay overnight in Amsterdam for a big deal. Bas had said his client was paying for a five-star hotel for him. But later, I found an invoice from a budget hotel. I found it strange. Why would he lie about that?
From then on, I started checking up on him. What did I discover? Bas didn’t have an insurance agency; he had a mediocre online store selling computer software! The house in Italy didn’t exist either. The real estate agent didn’t know the address on the brochure. Bas made the brochure himself, using Photoshop and some photos he found online. I was dumbfounded and kept digging.
What I found in the glove compartment of his car left me breathless. There was a strange phone in there. When I looked inside, I found the WhatsApp conversation I had once had with his sister. Bas had asked me to invite her to ride along to the cremation of that childhood friend. He said he was stuck in meetings, so it would be convenient if I did it.
I had a conversation with his sister for nearly 30 minutes and took the opportunity to ask her about things I was uncertain about, such as his past relationship. His sister responded warmly, and all her answers matched what Bas had told me. So, I felt reassured.
Trembling, I reread the conversation with his sister in the car that day. A sister who, as I later discovered, didn’t exist. I had been chatting with Bas all along!
The crematorium had never heard of Bas’s friend when I asked about it. In shock, I called the school where his daughter was supposed to attend. No one there knew a girl by her first name or Bas’s last name. I sat down and had to catch my breath. How can someone invent their own child? I couldn’t believe it, and even now, four months later, I still can’t.
I called a friend who works as a psychiatric nurse, and she told me about pathological liars, people with a pathological urge to lie. She knew that people suffering from this compulsion are notorious for their appearance of sincerity. Usually, they know exactly what they are doing; it often involves seeking attention, sympathy, or money.
When Bas came home that night, I confronted him with everything I had discovered. Now that he couldn’t escape his lies anymore, he confessed that lying had become a way of life for him. He had been horribly bullied in the past; he confessed. And he still felt ashamed of the clumsy boy he used to be and the loser he still considered himself to be.
When he assumed the role of a successful macho, women who had never noticed him before started paying attention. Women who didn’t nag about cat litter or lawn mowing but wanted to go to Paris with him or waited for him in lingerie. Because getting married and ending up as an ordinary man terrified Bas.
So, he created his own world. But when Bas told me all this and looked at me with his puppy eyes, something snapped inside me. Was he telling the truth this time, or was the bullying story also fabricated? And could I still take his childhood meningitis seriously?
That night, I asked for my house key back and ended our fourteen-month relationship. I felt terribly deceived. His entire life and everything we dreamed of, our future: it turned out to be a huge fantasy. I’m not naïve; I have a fair amount of insight into people. I felt a mixture of shame, anger, and disbelief. I admit I’ve told a white lie or made up an excuse to skip a birthday party now and then. But I can’t fathom how someone can lie about significant things, about matters of the heart. Who invents a child that doesn’t exist?
I heard from an acquaintance that Bas just continued with his life. He moved on in a different circle. I can’t understand it; I don’t get why he hasn’t learned anything. Because my trust in other people is completely shattered now. While Bas happily continues his life and plays the successful man in his Italian sports car, I distrust everyone and am always on high alert.
I know trust has to be earned, but I used to believe in the goodness of people. I no longer dare to do that. The moment something sounds too good to be true, I think it probably is. Because of my relationship with Bas, I’ve lost a significant part of my innocence. I don’t dare to look at the world with a cheerful outlook anymore and see what comes my way, trusting that it will be okay. And that makes me really sad.”
This article originally appeared on marieclaire.nl
Source: Marie Claire
This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Netherlands