He was a charmer, 10 years her senior and skilled at deception. She was naive, turning a blind eye to keep intact the pretty picture of love and romance.

For about a decade, on it went. Empty promises and lies, sudden stretches where he would disappear and then offer convincing excuses as to why. She would grow frustrated, threaten to leave. He would apologize, profess his love. The making up induced a high &

and a hope &

that kept her coming back for more.

Then she found the e-mails and discovered he had been seeing other women all along.

"He told me I was the only one in his life. And I wanted to believe him," says the woman, a native of central Connecticut, now 40. (She asked that her name not be published, concerned about her professional privacy and possible repercussions from her ex-boyfriend.)

"I didn't really have a lot of experience when it came to relationships," she says. "I was actually kind of easy prey."

She moved down South to find a fresh start. But he quickly wiggled back into her life, and she admits she all too readily let him. For another five years, he made regular visits, promises of a future together and pledges that she was, for real this time, the only one for him.

But, of course, she wasn't. And she found him out last summer, confronting him with evidence he was juggling at least one other long-term relationship back in Connecticut.

Torn up that she had wasted 15 years on a pathological liar and cheat, isolating her friends and family in the process, the woman says she wasn't quite sure where to turn. So she fired up an Internet search, finding a host of Web sites that offer support, resources and, in some cases, a vindictive outlet for victims of cheating hearts.

In the past few years, sites like PeepSheet.com, CheaterDB.com, LoveFraud.com and CheaterNews.com have proliferated in the hopes of stopping players at their own game and getting word out to other would-be victims.

Some of the sites are simply platforms for the scorned to air grievances. Others are more like virtual support groups. They offer the cheated and the played (or those who suspect they might be) a gaggle of resources for spotting con artists and ending the addictive- relationship cycle. And they give victims a safe, anonymous space to commiserate with people who have gone through similar experiences.

But a new breed offers searchable databases of serial cheaters and con artists. They invite victims to post their cautionary tales, including the names, descriptions, hometowns &

and often pictures &

of the men and women who did them wrong. And they allow people plagued by doubts over relationships to see if the person "has a record."

"I wanted to warn people and not have one more woman go through what I did with him," says the Connecticut woman.

She posted warnings on a number of sites, including his name and photograph and comments along the lines of: "Charming, pathological liar, electrician by trade, lots of stories &

none true. IS NOT IN MAFIA! Looking to take your money, get something from you, or use you."

Writing those words, putting them out for all to see, she says, was cathartic &

helping her grieve the loss of a man and a relationship that in a sense never really existed.

"Ten years ago, you didn't need sites like ours," says Sheldon Pereira, who co-created the Web site PlayersandPsychos.com. "Today, online dating is such a humongous and tremendous force for singles looking to meet people. And when you're online, you really don't have a lot of ability to verify identities and people and backgrounds of the people you're talking to."

Pereira, of Alberta, Canada, launched the site almost two years ago with a friend whose fiancee had cheated on him. He wanted to post an online warning but found many existing sites, such as the popular DontDateHimGirl.com, catered to women only. Both knew well that the dating pool was plenty polluted with players of the female variety. Their site is free and open to both sexes, operated by the men as a hobby.

"We've had a lot of e-mails thanking us for giving people an outlet to tell their stories," says Pereira, a W eb site developer. And they've had many instances where they've heard from readers who were saved from a con.

But what of the legal issues and possible false posts by vengeful exes? Don'tDateHimGirl.com had a lawsuit (since dismissed) lodged against it over such concerns.

Pereira says his site stays out of murky legal waters with a firm policy not to edit any of the posted material, which his lawyer says frees him of any liability. Although members can post names of their cheaters, the site no longer encourages using names. Phone numbers and addresses aren't allowed. And if a person contacts him pleading a credible case that the post is false or exaggerated, down comes the entry. They've had lawsuits threatened but none filed.

Pereira says he thinks the site is serving its purpose, receiving three or four new postings a day, about three dozen comments on postings and about — million hits per month.

Still, while technology might help catch a cheater, it's no substitute for keeping one's eyes open, trusting one's gut and asking questions.

"There are definitely more tools available to check up on (potential cheaters). No question. But as many new tools as there are to check up on someone, there are that many new ways to protect yourself from detection," says Jessica Dorfman Jones, author of the parody self-help book "The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims" (Pocket Books, $14.95).

(Optional add end)

Some people, Dorfman Jones says, are simply not ready for the truth and not comfortable with confrontation. "Human beings are human beings. You can throw all the technology in the world at them, but I think they're going to be guided by their hearts and their hopes of a romantic relationship."

The best cheaters, she says, are the ones who don't get sloppy or complacent. And the best way to suss them out is to have your antennae up. Is their job description too good to be true? Is it strange how they often split town for days at a time? Do they feel like they've always got one foot out the door? And is there a whisper in the back of your mind that's telling you something's not right?

Listen to it, says the Connecticut woman who uncovered her ex's 15 years of betrayal. "I'm wiser now. I was very naive," says the woman, who has not been in touch with her ex since the summer and has no plans to reach out to him. She's now in weekly counseling and taking up activities like yoga and running to channel her energy in a positive direction.

"This is not a story of poor, pitiful me," she says. "It's about strength and healing."

Proof? She recently took down all the posts she had filed on various sites about her ex. In her mind, they served their purpose &

giving her an outlet to tell her story and warn others. To keep them up would be to feed into the anger and hurt she's trying to put behind her.

"I just want to heal," she says.