I was 20 years old and I was at a college dance. Without my boyfriend of two weeks. I was wearing the lovely blue dress that I should have worn to the Debs that I hadn’t attended. This was like a second chance for Cinderella to shine at the ball. As I danced and drank and laughed with friends, a very good-looking guy kept approaching me. Complimenting me. Trying to kiss me. And I kept turning him down. Until the temptation became too much. The magic of the night where I was the princess of the ball with the most handsome prince pursuing me. And then he kissed me. And I let him. Of course, I felt awful. Guilty. Bad for my new fella. Okay, we’d only been together two weeks. And I had only just hit my twenties. But I still cried when I went home and confessed my sins to a surprised mother.
Infidelity affects many people. Some are the perpetrators, others the victims. But usually both parties suffer. I know because I’ve lived both sides.
I was seeing a guy for a few months but we weren’t “committed to each other”. His words. This still didn’t stop me falling for him. I was in denial about my ability to take things casually but I guess I was secretly hoping that he’d realise his love for me. And I definitely didn’t think he’d be with anyone else. Not while he was seeing me at least. Until one night, in a club, I saw him lean in to kiss a girl at the bar. As difficult as it was to witness, I believe everything happens for a reason. I was supposed to see that. Even though it was a shock and it hurt and I walked home alone in the rain that night, I had to see it to realise that he wasn’t serious about me, and that he didn’t respect me. His “infidelity” forced me to finally cut him out of my life and move on.
There are some who will argue that men and women shouldn’t even be in monogamous relationships, that it’s just not in our nature as human beings to live and mate together for life. And maybe they’re right. But even if that is the case, we’re so used to living in a society where marriage is the finish line we’re all hoping to cross, and infidelity is a huge breach of trust. Infidelity causes total heart-break and, more often than not, brings relationships to a tear-jerking halt.
Someone close to me learned of her boyfriend’s infidelity at 3am one fateful morning when she was rudely awoken by the phone ringing. Between tears, regret, and declarations of love, he confessed that he’d been with someone else. She was devastated. Ultimately though, I think he suffered more. Partly due to the humiliation of her pouring a large Coke over his head in front of the whole town the following day, but mostly due to the fact that he loved her and wanted her back. And that never happened.
So, whether you’re the cheater or the cheated on, infidelity is a tough one to get through. Here are some tips…
1) Look on it as a blessing
The infidelity could be a sign that you and your other half really shouldn’t be together any more. Learning of an infidelity is the blessing in disguise you badly needed to kick this thing to the kerb.
2) Get revenge
This one’s for the cheatees. My friend felt at least marginally better after almost drowning her former flame in a soft drink. Another girl I know texted, “I hate you!” before dumping all of her ex’s stuff on the street. Closure comes in many forms. I think the best form of revenge is simply living the most wonderful life possible. Concentrate on yourself, your wants and needs and happiness. Soon, you’ll be so absorbed in living a life that you love, that you’ll forget you ever liked that shady so-and-so in the first place.
3) To tell or not to tell
For the cheaters, you now have the dilemma of whether or not to disclose your behaviour to your partner. You may want to be brave and own up. After all, honesty is very important for any healthy relationship. Or you may feel that baring all would actually be selfish. It may relieve you of the burden of guilt but it will more than likely devastate your other half and possibly end the relationship. Alternatively, you could take Shaggy’s advice and insist, “It wasn’t me!”
4) Think insecurity
The thought of your other half with someone else is unbearable. It can bring out feelings of betrayal and insecurity. Why have they chosen to be with someone other than you? Are you not enough? This is not the case. When I kissed that twenty-something college boy, I still wanted to be with my boyfriend. I still found him sweet and attractive. But I was immature and insecure enough to let that feeling of being desired by someone take over. So, if you’ve just been cheated on, call him/her an insecure f*ckface (preferably to their face) and move on.
Infidelity is not the end of the world. And despite how you’re probably feeling right now, there is nothing wrong with you. You will get over it. This will either put an end to something that was coming to its best before date anyhow, or it will make you realise that this one is worth the work. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse but infidelity is actually very common. On the bright side, if your partnership is based more on mutual respect, love, and independence, and less on control, jealousy and possessiveness, you’ve got nothing to worry about.