Bistline was incredulous. There must have been a mistake.
She took a screenshot and forwarded it to her boyfriend. He saw the message, she said, but he didn’t reply.
The inquiry came in late August from a woman who said her friend and colleague, Emely Ortiz, was also her girlfriend.
Soon Bistline received a text from Ortiz introducing herself and saying she had been dating the guy for almost a year and thought they were exclusive.
“I just want to know how long you two have been dating,” Ortiz, 22, said. “Did he ever tell you about me or you had no idea,” she asked.
Bistline replied, “I had no idea. This freaks me out a bit. We’ve been dating for almost a year and a half. I try to give him the opportunity to explain himself but he does not answer me for the moment.
The boyfriend, who is 33, and his two unsuspecting girlfriends all work in healthcare and live in Las Vegas.
He was also not responding to Ortiz that day. But the women continued to text each other. They were sending each other pictures of him to make sure it was the same guy, they were talking about where they left their toothbrushes in his bathroom when they slept, about the gray dressing gown and fluffy that he wore in the apartment. How he met their families.
Over the next few days, they dumped the boyfriend and began consoling each other.
“He played us,” Ortiz wrote.
The Washington Post is not naming the boyfriend for privacy reasons. A reporter tried to contact him several times by text and phone, and in a phone conversation on Tuesday, set up an appointment to speak with him on Thursday. On Thursday, he did not answer his phone and could not be reached.
As the two women sympathized with their grief, Bistline told Ortiz about her anniversary trip to Costa Rica. She had paid for it all, but she wasn’t about to take her cheating ex like she had planned, she said. So she asked Ortiz to come with her.
“If you’re serious about Costa Rica, let me know. Im very serious about bringing you to his place lol,” Bistline wrote.
“Yes, I’m serious about Costa Rica, we need a vacation after this,” Ortiz wrote.
Thus, on September 16, three weeks after discovering each other, they took a plane together for Costa Rica.
“I didn’t want to go alone,” Bistline said in an interview with The Post. “I thought it would probably help both of us on a trip like this. We deserve it after what we’ve been through.
Ortiz said she was initially hesitant when Bistline invited her.
“At first I was like, this girl is crazy,” Ortiz said, adding that her parents were worried about her safety on the trip. “But I just thought maybe it would be good for us to heal together because we’re the only two people who know what we’ve been through.”
They spent four days exploring the jungle and the waterfalls, healing and overcoming their feelings of betrayal. They sat for hours at the base of the La Fortuna waterfall, swapping stories.
They discovered the extent of the deception.
“I guess he would put my stuff in a duffel bag, like the gym bag, and put it in his closet,” Ortiz said. “And then when I came back, he would take my things out before I came.”
Bistline, a nurse, started dating him in April 2021, about a year after meeting through friends. Ortiz is a medical assistant at the clinic where the boyfriend, a doctor, had his residence. He asked her out on a date in October 2021, never revealing he already had a girlfriend, she said.
She was an only child. She now has 101 great-grandchildren.
Both women had similar first impressions of him.
“When I first saw him, he struck me as a ladies’ man,” Bistline said.
Emily accepted. His first thought: “He looks like a player.”
But he reassured them both, they said, that he was worth their time.
When Bistline received the first Facebook post about her boyfriend’s duplicity, she was working at the Burning Man event in Nevada as a nurse. She contacted him for an explanation, but he didn’t respond for two days, she said.
“The first thing he said was, ‘So I guess I have a bit of explaining to do. And then he put on this little half-laughing emoji,” Bistline recalled. “It really rubbed me the wrong way. I’m like, ‘Is this funny to you?’ ”
Ortiz went to his house the day she found him. She waited outside for hours, she said, but he didn’t show up.
“I think I’ve called him a hundred times,” she said. The next evening, she returned to her apartment and found him there.
“I confronted him,” Ortiz said. “He said, ‘What are you talking about? Are you crazy?’ And then I got the messages back, and he said, ‘Oh…yeah.’ Eventually, she said, he apologized and told her, “I should never have let this get out of hand.”
A boy with cancer hoped to see monsters. Hundreds of strangers showed up in costume.
Ortiz said she made him a big basket on Valentine’s Day, scouring the city to collect items — balloons at Family Dollar and candy at Target.
He gave it back to Bistline, the women discovered.
“My heart sank in my stomach because I put so much feeling into that Valentine’s Day gift,” Ortiz said.
There were also other discoveries. He claimed he went shopping when Bistline asked about new clothes Ortiz had bought him, she said.
When Bistline returned to Las Vegas from Burning Man in late August, she and Ortiz met in person for the first time. Bistline had planned to reunite with her ex-boyfriend that evening, and she brought Ortiz with her.
“He just started, like, giggling, looking us back and forth,” Bistline said. “I think he didn’t know what to say.”
When they confronted him, he admitted he swapped their toothbrushes when each visited his apartment, they said.
As they sorted through their emotions in Costa Rica, they discovered that they had fallen in love with the same qualities in him.
“On our first date, there were never any dull moments,” Bistline said. “He was super smart and he wanted to talk about things I was interested in. We had some really deep conversations.”
Ortiz said she fell in love with his compassion. “He’s always been there for me.”
Both women said they would miss cuddling her cats. They will be sure to hang out with his friends, they said, as they believe the friends knew about the double game.
Go ahead and look at my prosthetic arm. I know it’s awesome.
There were also red flags. Ortiz noticed that he went for long periods of time without responding to his texts, then pretended to have slept.
“I would believe it,” she said. “But in the back of my head, I was thinking that didn’t sound right.”
For Bistline, looking back, the biggest red flag was her life philosophy.
“He was very attached to the fact that good and bad don’t exist,” she said. “And when things happen, it’s just; it’s not bad, it’s not good. Now when I watch this I’m like, oh my God, he’s trying to justify dating two women at the same time.
Now that it’s been about a month since their breakups and they’re back from their travel adventure, they remain close.
When they were in Costa Rica, Ortiz surprised Bistline on her 30th birthday night with a special dessert. The whole restaurant was singing to her.
“I can’t remember the last time I was this happy,” Bistline said. “Friendship is what will carry you through everything.”
Ortiz agreed and said that in addition to a new friend, she learned a lesson from the experience.
“Always listen to your intuition,” she said.
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