When Aimee* and her boyfriend broke up in late 2018—the end of a two-and-a-half-year relationship after she found out he’d been cheating on her—she didn’t expect to get anything else out of it. But then, as she was looking into buying a house earlier this year, the 20-something healthcare worker had a surprising revelation. Below, in her own words, Aimee explains how the trouble with her ex paid off—literally.
It all started in the summer of 2016. The dating app Hinge was still fairly new, and I ended up matching with my now-ex—let’s call him Ted*—who I’d met before in real life. When we started dating, I didn’t know about cryptocurrency, but he was really interested and wanted to eventually get into crypto consulting, so I quickly learned. Within our first year of dating, he bought me half a Bitcoin. He told me, “You should really get this. It’s going to be big.” I remember us sitting in my parents’ house while he made the account. I don’t know how much he spent, but he didn’t have a lot of money back then, so it couldn’t have been more than $100. To be honest, I didn’t think Bitcoin was all that real, so I didn’t pay much attention. I thought, I guess this will just sit there. This won’t actually make any money. After he bought it for me, we never spoke about it again. I forgot it ever happened.
A year into our relationship, he moved across the country, and we started dating long distance. In late 2018, I went out to visit him, and though I didn’t notice it at the time, in hindsight he was acting weird. We woke up early one morning to watch a football game, and he went to the bathroom and left his phone out. I’m not the snooping type, and I’ve never been one to go through phones, but I had an urge. Something pulled me toward it. I opened up his messages, where I could see everyone he’d texted. All of a sudden, I saw the name of a girl I’d heard about before, and their texts were on Do Not Disturb. That’s interesting, I thought. So I clicked on it and saw he had texted her asking to do something that week. At the bottom of her response, she wrote, “I just feel really bad for your girlfriend.” My heart sank. He came out of the bathroom, and I threw the phone at him. We officially ended things, and we don’t talk anymore. I’d never been cheated on before, and I never thought he would actually do that. It took me over a year to really get over it.
Fast-forward to the beginning of 2021, I saw on CNN that Bitcoin was valued at over $30,000. My first thought was, Oh, good for Ted. Then it hit me. I don’t know why. It was like a light switch went off in my brain, and I remembered: I had Bitcoin.
But I had no idea how to get it. I didn’t know where it was stored; I didn’t know anything. Luckily, I have a very good memory, so I knew if I just saw the name of whatever Ted had used, it would come to me. I started Googling apps where you store Bitcoin, and I recognized the name Coinbase. I tried to log in, but I had no clue what the password was. It ended up taking me about two hours to figure it out; there was a three-step identifier to recover your password, and I had to submit a photo of my license. I also got lucky and guessed correctly on one of the authentication questions. Eventually, I got into my account, and at the top, it shows much cash you have in U.S. dollars. My eyes lit up when I saw the number in big font: $15,000.
I was sitting at home alone on the couch thinking, Oh my god, oh my god. I called my family and started freaking out. I had no idea what to do, and my brother told me, “Don’t touch it,” which is also what Ted would’ve said. I had just started the process of looking into buying a home, so I contacted my financial planner to get his advice. But no one really knew what to tell me; no one knew what would happen with Bitcoin next—if it’d go up astronomically or come crashing down. The planner told me, “If you didn’t have an immediate need for it within the next three years, I would say don’t touch it. But you’re buying a home, so I would sell it.” My cousin’s husband is a financial planner as well, and he also told me to sell it. But that same week, Bitcoin kept going up.
A week passed where I was getting advice, watching the numbers climb, and contemplating what to do. My mom told me to think about it like “found money” and asked how I would feel if I lost it all. I never knew I had it, but now that I did, how would I feel if it was gone? That convinced me: I wanted to pull it. By then, it had gone up to about $20,000, and I took out $18,000.
With my new Bitcoin money, I could suddenly expand my home-buying search. Even though I think I could’ve bought my current house without the money, if I had, I would’ve gone through a good chunk of my savings. I also would’ve been strapped afterwards, and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything to the house. Instead, I got the whole place painted. I bought all new furniture. I got my closet redone. I had a handyman come and mount everything on the walls, all thanks to this extra cash.
I remember my mom told me, “It’s not like you guys had this nice break up, and that was it. He cheated on you. You went through a lot of turmoil. This money is like a gift.” She said, “See? All of that pain was worth it.” And it’s true—it literally paid out. It’s just so weird that it worked out that way. When I tell people what happened, everyone always says, “You have to be kidding me” or “Good for you.” It really is the best ending to any bad breakup.
Ted still has no idea that any of this happened, and I am curious how he’d react. Funnily enough, he once told me he gave Bitcoin to another one of his ex-girlfriends before me. He never knew what she did with it either.
*Names have been changed.