In the new Bravo series, Imposters, premiering Feb. 7, gorgeous con artist Maddie (Inbar Lavi), seduces her targets and then robs them of everything, leaving without a trace, leaving them to wonder how she pulled off a double life.
Think it only happens on screen? Think again.
Having another relationship a spouse or partner knows nothing about isn’t unheard of, and it’s completely shocking when the truth is unveiled.
Take the case of one teenage girl whose father would visit a female friend with a bunch of kids her age. Even though her father was buying the other family groceries and the kids were calling him “dad,” it wasn’t until another family member blurted out that he had a second family that the young teen realized the truth.
Or New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon, who had been living a double life. He had two secret love children with another woman while married to his devoted wife of 21 years, reports The New York Post. The 42-year-old’s mistress Alexandra Santos, 38, took him to court for child support for their elementary-school-age kids. The pitcher, who has earned more than $100 million in his career at the time was married to wife Rosanna and their four sons. He still is.
Or teenager Levuanna Gray, who found out about her father’s second family while in her gym uniform after school.” ‘Your father has another daughter,’ my mom said,” she writes. “Her hair was uncombed, which was unusual, and she was holding the phone. I laughed at that because I had a new baby brother. ‘Mommy, you had a son two weeks ago.’ There was a gentle breeze and I could hear dogs barking in the distance. Birds were chirping. ‘No, he has another family. They live across town. He bought them a house, a car, and set the woman up in a business selling meats.'”
Gordon Getty, heir to the Getty Oil fortune aditted that his second family was an open secret because his wife (the first one) Ann, loved her social status in San Francisco. He had four grown sons there with her, and three young daughters living quietly in the Los Angeles area with their mother and his lover, Cynthia Beck, reports the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think the B Team knew, but I think an awful lot of the A Team knew. It was a well-known fact,” one source familiar with the family said of Gordon’s two famiies.
Men aren’t the only ones engaged in simultaneous unions. Erotic writer Anais Nin (the Lena Dunham of her time) was already married, but when the 44-year-old “Delta of Venus” author met actor Rupert Pole, she couldn’t resist the attraction. She married Rupert in 1955 and lived with him in California, even though she had her first husband, banker Hugh Guiler, back home in New York City. For 11 years, she kept both marriages going, and only confessed to Hugh that she had married another man on her deathbed in 1977.
“It’s akin to cheating – there’s extensive lying and cover-ups – but this kind of deception takes it to a whole other level,” says Fran Greene, relationship expert and author of The Flirting Bible.
A person with a secret life often, “disappears or travels or says that they are working a lot,” so they can have the time to invest in their secret family, Fran shares. “They plan it perfectly so they can get away and it really looks like they have something they are supposed to be doing.”
The deceptor also may have unreasonable boundaries, like you can’t ever meet their family or they seem to have no friend network that you can socialize with.
The person often lies or doesn’t answer qustions directly, or seems overwhelmed with the amount of time they will be away. (This is because they are juggling the other family on the other line.)
They mess up dates, birthdays, anniversaries, take last minute work trips, don’t answer the phone or texts, claim they are in the military, disappear for chunks of time with no explanation, and rub your friends and family who have met him the wrong way.
Fran says that double lifers often over-explain or become outrageously vague “since they can get confused” over keeping their stories straight. As for sex, it can be withheld or doled out in abundance, whatever works to make sure “they don’t get caught.”
A double lifer may feel no guilt over his or her actions. “They get to a point where they are believing all the lies,” Fran explains. “They are never really fully connected to one person, just loving the thrill of tricking someone.” Much like Imposter’s Maddie, it’s the definition of a true sociopath.
The only steps you should take in this type of relationship? “The steps that lead you out the door.”
And supporting a sceond family will cost you.
In December 2015, a New York family court case found that “supporting a secret second family at the expense of an existing marriage will be treated as less than honorable.”
“Diverting resources to support a second family while still married constitutes the ‘wasteful dissipation’ of marital assets. Marital waste will negatively impact on the wrongdoer’s share of equitable distribution when the first spouse seeks a divorce.”
In the case, G.M. v. M.M., one father and husband who, unbeknownst to his wife, was supporting another woman and the two children he fathered with her. The wife filed for divorce upon finding out, and argued that his use of marital assets to support them “should be set off from his share of the equity he would receive from the equitable distribution of the marital property.”