Bonnie (pictured) was in a relationship with her boyfriend for eight years until she discovered his secret girlfriend of 15 years
A woman who had been with her boyfriend for eight years has revealed the devastating moment she discovered he had been in a relationship with a secret girlfriend for 15 years.
Bonnie, 42, from Perth, was in a de facto relationship with the mechanical engineer who she thought was ‘charming’, ‘charismatic’ and ‘outgoing’ with a ‘great sense of humour’ after the pair met through friends in 2003.
‘The first time we met, we instantly got on like a house on fire. We exchanged numbers and things progressed from there,’ Bonnie told Daily Mail Australia.
During their romance over the next eight years, the couple moved in together, went on holidays, spent Christmas with his family, started IVF and he would occasionally take her into jewellery stores to try on engagement rings.
‘We had a nice house in a good area, we were trying for a family, he was smart… educated. He promised me the world. Everything a woman wanted, I had it,’ she said.
But while she thought he was on his work trips, he was leading a secret double life with another woman who he also shared a house with just 30 minutes away.
Bonnie – who’s set to appear on SBS Insight on Tuesday night to shed light on the affair – revealed how her world crumbled after his secret girlfriend turned up on their doorstep in the middle of the night.
‘I found out about the affair because of her,’ Bonnie said.
‘One night, there was a knock at the door at 2am. I didn’t know it was her. He was in bed next to me so he got up to answer the door and he didn’t come back until later – I rung him asking “what’s going on”.’
It turned out his other girlfriend – who he’d been with for 15 years – had found out about Bonnie so she showed up at their home to confront him.
When Bonnie questioned him, he admitted to the affair.
‘Everything fell into place, I realised he’d been seeing her this whole time,’ she said.
‘There was an element of shock when you’re confronted with that. At that moment, every little thing I didn’t understand before started to make sense now.
‘For eight years, I had no clue who she was. But once you know the truth, everything connects… It was devastating. He just wasn’t who I thought he was.’
The following morning, Bonnie left with her dog and never returned.
‘Before I left, I called his mother and we had a sad conversation. She cried, she had no idea. She thought I was the girlfriend, and the other woman was his ex,’ she said.
Bonnie’s tell-all interview with SBS
Bonnie (pictured) will appear on SBS on Tuesday night to shed light on the affair
Bonnie will appear on SBS on Tuesday night to shed light on the affair.
After she met up with the other woman, they realised he’d taken them on the same holidays during their relationships with him.
‘The weirdest one was when I’d flown to London and then I met him in Amsterdam and I later found out he’d flown her out of Amsterdam and into London. And they had a week in Paris in between, and then he took me to Paris,’ Bonnie said.
‘So he basically repeated the holiday with me a week after doing exactly the same holiday with her. It’s kind of genius in a way, because he could just say to either of us “Oh, remember that time in Paris” or “remember that time in London” because the story was pretty much the same.
‘It’s crazy, it’s mental. I tell this story and it doesn’t even feel like me in this story because it’s so weird.’
When she met the other woman, Bonnie admitted felt a ‘tremendous amount of guilt’ despite never knowing about her.
‘I would never intentionally do that to another person. She lost 15 years, I lost eight years,’ Bonnie said.
‘It was shocking to know that I didn’t have this personal life with him. It was mirrored in lots of ways with someone else.’
Bonnie said she shared a home with him, went on holidays and they looked at engagement rings together
One month after the breakup, Bonnie and the other woman got together for the first time to talk everything through.
‘She got in contact with me through a friend. It was a family decision to go see her. I was very nervous because I didn’t know anything about her but we got together to talk about it,’ she said.
‘We met at a bar on his birthday, and had lots of cocktails then we put it on his credit card… It gave me a chance to say to her that I was really sorry even though I didn’t know.
‘If she hadn’t knocked on my door, who knows what would have happened.’
During their meet up, the pair were both surprised to find they looked ‘very similar’, received all the same gifts from him and he’d taken them on the same holidays.
‘He matched a lot of things up. We got the same things like perfume and makeup. When we’d go shopping, he’d say “I’ll get this for my sister” but he was actually buying stuff for his other girlfriend in front of me,’ Bonnie said.
‘When he wasn’t with me, he was with her. He would go away on regular work trips, it was more often like two weeks at a time. Sometimes he would go in the middle of the week.
‘He knew every flight schedule. One time I went to the airport to meet him, and he was actually there, coming off a flight. But he made such a fuss about me being there so I never went to the airport to meet him again.’
Bonnie – who hasn’t been in a serious relationship since – said she’s found it incredibly hard to trust anyone again
What is a de facto relationship?
De facto relationships are determined in the same way as married couples.
The law requires that you and your former partner, who may be of the same or opposite sex, had a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis.
Your de facto has two years from the breakdown of your relationship to make a claim on your assets if they can establish one of the following:
- You have lived together as a couple on a ‘genuine domestic basis’ for at least two years
- You have a child together
- They made significant contributions on your property and the failure to issue an order would result in a serious injustice
Source: Family Court
The two women have since struck up an unlikely friendship.
‘There’s a way we’re always linked. Only she and I could understand what happened. She’s a lovely person who didn’t deserve this to happen to her, it’s tricky but we have quite the friendship,’ Bonnie said.
‘We’ve caught up lots of time. It has been really helpful. We always feel that connection in a weird way.’
As they were de facto partners, the trio had an unprecedented ‘three way divorce’ that had never been done before in Western Australia, which was legally messy.
‘The following year was the worst year of my life. We had a three-way divorce. I got a share of his asset pool, I thought it would help emotionally but it didn’t,’ Bonnie said.
‘I ended up with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.’
Looking back at her relationship which ended in 2011, Bonnie said there were ‘lots of red flags in retrospect’.
‘One time I thought he was on a work trip but I ran into him at the train station and he said he got in early but didn’t want to disturb me.
‘He would say “I wanted to surprise you but you’ve ruined the surprise”. Another time I spotted his car at a supermarket but when I rang him, he said his dad had taken the car out. There was always a reasonable explanation.
‘Our relationship changed over time. There were difficult times in our relationship where I would never win an argument. I would be the crying mess in a corner. He was always right, and I was wrong. He was very controlling and I was easy to control.’
Bonnie – who hasn’t been in a serious relationship since – said she’s found it incredibly hard to trust anyone again.
While it’s been eight years and she’s moved on, it’s still challenging for her to contemplate a relationship in the future
And while it’s been eight years and she’s moved on, it’s still challenging for her to contemplate a relationship in the future.
‘I don’t regret my life now. I have a happy, good life. But I regret the day I met him, I really do,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I don’t ever want to go through that again. I know what it’s like to lose everything. I regret him very much. What he did to me absolutely changed me and my life.
‘I was quite a romantic and naive. But I was a different person to who I am now. Trust is so hard for me now, even starting a friendship takes me a long time to trust them.’
Following her relationship breakdown, Bonnie said she saw a therapist for 18 months.
‘I was on anti-depressant for two years,’ she said.
However, she found the strength to turn her life around after completing her postgraduate degree and starting a new career.
‘You won’t get through it unless you do the work,’ she said.
‘Work was a really good place for me, it gave me a purpose and gave me something to love and do. I came out of it. I absolutely know who I am now. I know exactly who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me.
‘It was a long time ago but I’m in a good space now. It doesn’t upset me like it used to. It’s kind of a story to tell. But I’m still trying to work stuff out like the pieces of a puzzle, except there’s still pieces missing.’
You can hear Bonnie’s story on Insight on Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS.