Earlier this week, I learned my boyfriend of 4.5 years had cheated on me.
A one-night stand, purely sexual (from what he says), and immediately regret it afterward. “I threw up”, he said. “I immediately felt sick”.
This is someone who previously, was 100% loyal, would go above and beyond for me, expressed his affection consistently, and always checked in to make sure I was OK, as someone who suffers from anxiety & panic attacks. He showed up with pizza on bad days. He held me while I cried about nothing. He talked me out of suicide, multiple times. I thought he was (subjectively) perfect, for me.
However, this is different. This is new, unexpected.
Let’s back up - and here’s my disclaimer: it is never alright to blame the one who was cheated on. No matter what they did or didn’t do for the cheater in the tenure of their relationship, it’s never acceptable. Use your words, have a conversation, explain your needs. Cheating is immature and quite frankly, a shrimp-dick move (speaking from experience).
Now, as I have taken the past few days to process and appropriate steps to decrease self-blame, I can honestly say I do understand his motive. Again, this does not excuse his behavior.
A little about me:
● I am depressed.
● I am anxious.
● I’m bad with money.
● I have addictions.
● I do not have a sex drive, at all.
● I am selfish, and have a tendency to cover up/defer important details with vague, “it’ll be fine/I’ll take care of it” responses.
● I have taken him for granted as of late.
What I am saying (I guess), is that I was the toxic one in the relationship before the affair took place. I can acknowledge that now.
And I’ve cheated before.
Not on this specific partner, but in my college years. I lived with my high school sweetheart, we went to the same university, and in the 2012 “YOLO” moment, I betrayed his trust with a former coworker of mine. It was also a one-night stand, purely sexual, and I regret it immediately.
The difference: my current partner was upfront, honest, his story never changed. I lied to my previous partner, I covered it up, I made him feel like he was to blame. I am nearing 30 now, and while age may have been a factor and things have changed drastically, I don’t think I can excuse my previous self from responsibility here (or Karma, as we like to say).
This brings me to the present day - are we required to break up with people who are disloyal to us?
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly have the authority to be angry. I can mourn the relationship we once had. I can question his judgment, point fingers, but mine aren’t clean either. I am a stronger and more self-aware woman now, I do not take situations like this lightly at this point in my life. We will need to work to feel comfortable being intimate with each other again. But am I any better than my [potential] partner?
I know how it feels to feel unwanted, unattractive. I acknowledge that I have not been present in my relationship. I know what his thought process was, and as much as I feel like a fool for admitting this, I really do understand, and I once felt his remorse. It’s a feeling that’s indescribable. Like you’ve dropped a piece of fine china that belonged to your late mother, and now you’re doing your best to piece it together and fix what you had, to make it pretty like it once was.
I have been the bull in the china shop and I have been the china, which is why I am willing to work on this relationship moving forward. I think if anyone reads this, they’d say “Girl, are you fucking serious? He cheated on you! After so long!” Or, they might say “Well, you seem like a basic, toxic bitch, you deserve this”. It’s fine, either way. This is our relationship, and it’s for us to discuss and figure out.
4.5 years together, in an adult relationship, warrants a conversation. It will be brutally honest, we will put each other on the spot. We will pull from the dark pits of our hearts to share how we feel, what we believe can work moving forward, and if this is realistic for us. We will have to hold each other accountable and release past bad habits, not take “I don’t know” as an answer. We will see if monogamous relationships work for us. It will hurt, we will cry, and we’re probably not prepared at this exact moment for what’s to come, but I’m open.
My therapist has been adamant about not blaming me for this specific situation. However, I can’t help but think I pushed my partner to a breaking point. I blatantly ignored red flags in my relationship, I knew I was not being a good partner, and I let it slide. That portion of “Relationship Repair 101” is on me.
We both have changes that need to be made. While the ball is currently in his court regarding whether or not he can commit to working this out, I think a lot of this is more on me than him. I think for me to be in a successful relationship, there are certain aspects of my life that I need to fix before I can be truly happy with someone, be it my current or a future boyfriend.
I also sometimes wonder, probably similar to anyone who may read this - are we just too toxic for each other? Not the right fit? Incompatibility issues? Are we wasting time?
Who knows. I think this is a journey for us that will lead us to that exact answer. I trust this process, I will give it time. Maybe I’m happy he cheated? In a relationship where we’ve brushed so much under the rug, would we be having these hard conversations if he hadn’t? Probably not, and that’s something to consider as well, but for the time being I must log off, go grab a cup of tea, and call my boyfriend.