Cheaters Never Prosper … Or Do They?
At a party a few weeks ago, I had two separate conversations with women who had recently been cheated on. One woman had been in a long-term relationship of a couple of years, the other had been married for more than 30 years, when they found out about their partner’s infidelity. When I expressed my condolences to these women for having been so betrayed, they both told me the exact same thing:
It wasn’t the cheating that bothered them the most; it was the fact that the man they were with was so blatant in his cheating. He didn’t even show them the respect of hiding it.
I was stunned. I had never heard this point of view on cheating in my life, and here are two women, from two different circumstances, in two separate conversations, telling me the same thing. They both believed that while cheating was wrong, it happens. More often than not. The married woman told me that her husband didn’t bother to hide his weekend excursions with his girlfriend, packing a bag in front of her and only making a half-hearted attempt at an excuse for where he was going. The woman in the long-term relationship told me that her boyfriend would go out until all hours of the night, with no excuse as to where he’d been or who he’d been with. And both were upset – no, they were pissed – not because he cheated, but because he didn’t hide it better.
They could live with the cheating as long as they didn’t know about it. They preferred the happiness and comfort of the relationship, and would rather be oblivious to their partners’ wrong doing. Just as long as he did a good job of hiding it.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always said that I would never stay with someone who cheated on me. I’d tell him not to the let the door hit him on the way out. I imagined myself changing the locks, throwing his clothes and other personal items out the window onto our perfectly manicured lawn, where he would beg me to let him back in, just in time for the rain to pour down, me to shut the window and ultimately shut him out of my life forever. After watching one too many Lifetime movies, I wasn’t taking any crap from any man.
And then I was cheated on. And I found myself still wanting to stay with him after more than one transgression. Then, I was lied to and probably cheated on (jury is still out), and I somehow managed to feel sorry for him. Sorry because he had ruined everything, and I could see in the sorrow and regret in his eyes that he knew it too. This may be the biggest mistake he ever made. Sorry because I didn’t want to be with someone I couldn’t trust, and I had to leave. Even though I didn’t want to.
I remember what I wrote in the Six Months post, and it’s still so true:
I used to always think, how do people stay with someone who did them wrong? How do they take that person back, knowing what they did, seeing it in their face every single day? How do they eat cereal across from someone at the kitchen table each morning, and not want to yell and scream because of the pain this person who supposedly loved them caused? I never understood how someone could take that person back and continue to live life as though nothing had ever happened. It’s not as hard for me to comprehend as it used to be. The pain of what that person did to you, the lies, the cheating, whatever they did, it becomes part of you. The longer you know about it, it stops shocking you so much. It’s just a fact: This person did me wrong. He has green eyes. We started dating in July of 2003. He has one brother and a dog that hated me. I never saw him without facial hair – not once. And he did me wrong. Terribly wrong. But it’s just a fact, like his green eyes or his beard. This man hurt me, but now that the shock and the overwhelming sadness over it have passed, I can live with it.
When everything happened with my ex fiancé, no one wanted to give me advice. “Do you think I should cancel the wedding?” I would ask. No one wanted to tell me what was right. Especially not my family. It took me being months removed from the relationship to realize that no one wanted to tell me to leave him because they were afraid I’d take him back, and then they would become the enemy. So everyone just told me they would support me no matter what I did. Of course, once everyone realized I really had ended it and it was over for good, people came out of the woodwork to tell me I’d made the right decision. Too little too late.
I couldn’t disagree more with these two women I spoke with at the party. If you are going to cheat on me, don’t hide it. Hell, don’t cheat on me. But if you are going to do me the disservice of cheating on me, then just tell me. Put me out of my misery. Don’t let me go years thinking that you are a wonderful person and that we have an amazing future ahead of us when all you are doing is deceiving me.
But really, don’t cheat. Is it that hard? It is too much for me to ask that my partner be faithful to me? These women, who have far more relationship experience than I do, think that cheating is to be expected. Most men, maybe even most women for that matter, will cheat on you. How they treat you while they are cheating is what matters.
I simply cannot accept that. And maybe that means I die alone. So be it.
Then there are the women who, when their boyfriend cheats, they get angrier with the woman with whom he cheated than their boyfriend. “That whore knew we were together,” she’d say. “I met her at Jamie’s pool party and he introduced me as his girlfriend. I’m gonna kick her ass!”
Really? Your anger is best directed at the woman who slept with your man? What, do you think he was totally innocent and she’s some sort of sorceress who seduced him? Did she drug him? Somehow make him forget all about you? How dare she?!
This is how I see it: There will always be trifling women. There will always be women in this world who want to take what you have. They see a decent man in a committed relationship and they are attracted like a moth to a flame.
I am not concerned with these women. They don’t owe me anything (unless they are my best friend or something, which is a whole different story). But do you know who does owe me something? The person with whom I chose to spend my life. The person I go to sleep with every night and say “I love you” to in the morning. He owes me his loyalty and faithfulness. Like I said, there will always be trifling women. Any anger I have over my significant other cheating on me goes exactly where it should: on him.
I would love to hear what you all think. I know from the previous comments that many of you have experience with cheaters. Would you rather know or not know? Would you be mad at the person with whom your significant other cheated? Is there anyone out there who has been the cheater that would like to offer some insight?
**For the record, I am aware that women cheat as well. I simply couldn’t write this post in a politically correct “when he/she cheats, it hurts his/her partner” way. It’s awkward to write that way, and at the end of the day, my experience is with men cheating. But please understand that I know this road goes both ways and I would still like to hear from my handful of male readers!**