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‘He turned out to be a psychopath’: My ex-boyfriend and the women he cheated on

Author Chimene Suleyman went with her then boyfriend to an abortion clinic. What happened next reveals a manipulative, coercive man who stole, lied and cheated his way around the globe

The Chain, by Chimene Suleyman, is one of the strangest memoirs you will ever read. It opens with Suleyman en route to an abortion clinic in New York in January 2017. She is accompanied by her supportive and, as she understands it, loving boyfriend. When she emerges, he has unexpectedly vanished from the waiting room; his phone gone to voicemail. Back at their apartment, his belongings – and some of hers – are also gone. When she texts his friends in bewilderment, trying to track him down, she then receives a text from him.

“Do not reach out to my friends again. You are ruined. No one should love you.”

All of this is horrendous enough. But what unfolds not long afterwards is that Suleyman begins to uncover his other relationships when she puts his name into Instagram one evening. Up comes his name in a hashtag and a pencil drawing of him, posted by a woman in Australia, with the words, “Unfortunately the guy in the picture turned out to be a psychopath.”

It had been posted two months before her visit to the clinic. Suleyman messaged the woman, and that was her first connection to all the other women he had met on Tinder. “He” or “Him”, as this man is referred to, in italics, was apparently seeing multiple women in multiple locations around the world at the same time. He also “borrowed” money from whomever had any spare cash; thousands of dollars at a time, taking $30,000 (€27,680) from one woman alone. His cover for juggling his multiple girlfriends was periodically disappearing to visit a “dying mother” in Atlanta, whom they of course never met.


The scale of this deception is staggering and, at times, confusing to keep track of. Wait, how many women became pregnant by this man? How many abortions occurred? How many women in how many cities in how many countries was he seeing? How much did he steal from them? How could one man wreak such havoc on so many women?

Chimene Suleyman is on FaceTime with me, from her parents’ home in Cyprus. She is Turkish-Cypriot, and was raised in London: her cheery accent is British. At the time she met Him, she was some time into a five-year stint of living in New York: she has since returned to London.

“He is an extreme, the person whom the book is based on. But as I wrote in the book we have seen all of his faces before. It is not unusual for men to abandon their partners, when they are having abortions, or having miscarriages, or when they are giving birth or raising the kids.” Suleyman pauses, and adds. “I am going to have to be careful with my wording for legal reasons, but it’s not unusual for women to be taken advantage of sexually, or to have their images shared via revenge porn.”

In the end, 50 other women whom he had apparently dated added their comments to this Instagram post

A pattern emerged with Him, whom she describes in the book as a comedian, who played regular gigs in New York. He also claimed to be working on various movie projects in different locations around the world, but wouldn’t get paid until the job ended. Would Suleyman – or whichever woman he was with – loan him money in the meantime? They did. The projects didn’t exist, but when He was in Australia, or Norway or out in Los Angeles, He was on Tinder, looking for more women.

“It 100 per cent happened because of social media,” she says. “Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse in that He definitely wouldn’t have had access to that many women if it hadn’t have been for internet dating and connecting with people on social media. But also it is a double-edged sword because there is no way us women would have been able to connect with each other and realise that it wasn’t us going crazy. We wouldn’t have got the answers that we needed if it hadn’t have been for social media.”

After Suleyman found the man’s name and the drawing of him on the Australian Instagram account of another woman he had dated, and she got in touch with this woman, it started what she calls “the Chain”. In the end, 50 other women whom he had apparently dated added their comments to this Instagram post, which coincided with the start of the MeToo movement.

“We all ended up in one massive group on Instagram. The other women who were in New York, we met up with each other. It became a social thing for us to hang out and become friends.

“And that’s why we started speaking. The idea for the book came later.”

So how many other pregnancies occurred by this man, that she could track down?

“Two at the same time, or around the same time as me. One definitely some years before. And one definitely a few years later. That I know of. That I can confirm. Oh sorry, two. Two after me. So me and two others at the same time, or around the same time. One definitely twice a few years before. And two a few years after.”

I wrote about our relationships with abortion and motherhood and trust and grief and periods and depression and alcoholism and manipulations and coercion and all of it. I realised these things were societal

All the women Suleyman discovered were, like her, in their early to mid-30s. Does she think He was deliberately targeting women who might become pregnant?

“Well, again I have to be careful for legal reasons. Because I don’t want him to get me for libel,” she says. “It does make me wonder. There are only so many mistakes that you can make in getting women pregnant and if you realise that you don’t want to get women pregnant and it is something that is happening to you quite often, there are really easy precautions to take. So you do have to ask the question. I can’t really speak on what his motive was.”

How did the book come about?

“When we recognised the sheer volume of women, and we were all speaking to each other, and there was the giddiness and joy of finding each other, we talked about how can we bring Him down? How can we warn other women? And we thought, let’s write an article about it, and it made sense that I would do it. I was the writer and I had the contacts.

“It was meant to be a long-form article about what happened, But then when I started writing it, and when I started interviewing the women, and then I started interviewing some of his friends and I started to realise the issues went far beyond immediately what had happened to us at a personal level, I knew there was so much more that needed to be said.”

Along with the central narrative of Suleyman’s relationship with this man, and his many relationships with other women, she also writes about the multiple ways in which vulnerable women like her can be exploited. “I wrote about our relationships with abortion and motherhood and trust and grief and periods and depression and alcoholism and manipulations and coercion and all of it. I realised these things were societal.”

How many women did she interview for the book?

“There’s about 10. I can’t remember exactly off the top of my head and I don’t have a copy of the book before me, but I think there is about 10 who I interviewed for the book. Not everyone wanted to be interviewed or some people didn’t have time, and anyway all of the stories were so similar.

“But there are loads more who I’ve met up with, or became friends with.”

Given that so much of this eventually played out on social media, with this man’s name having been in the public domain, is he aware that a book is coming out with him at the centre?

“I don’t know if he knows,” Suleyman says. “Not to my knowledge anyway, unless he has got an eye on my social media.” (Her X account is publicising her book.) Then she says, “I would like him to stop doing what he is doing.”

At one point in the book, she writes that he is now married. How does she know for a fact that this man is still engaged in this kind of behaviour, running out on his girlfriends, stealing from them, abandoning them when they are pregnant?

“I don’t know for definite. I can only assume that he is. I hope that he has stopped doing what he was doing,” she says.

Suleyman is in talks about developing her memoir into a TV series. The Chain is bound to be a talking point for all sorts of reasons.

The Chain is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on March 28th