I got drunk, and I cheated. I cheated because I hate confrontation. I cheated because I couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong with my relationship. We had been dating for almost two years, and I knew he was suspicious, but so far he had nothing to be wary of.
Every morning I woke up to texts about how beautiful I was. Every afternoon I got updates about what he was doing, eating, talking to, watching on TV; his life he spent wishing he was with me. Every night I got a phone call so he could tell me how he couldn’t wait to make me his wife.
Every morning I said thank you, and I miss you. Every afternoon I updated him on my classes, friends, homework; my life far away from him. Every night I picked up the phone so I could say I was excited to be his wife some day.
He was suffocating me. I couldn’t do anything without having to update him, or he would worry. And he thought I wanted to know everything he was doing. We were long distance, but not enough that I felt like we had different lives. Leaving my phone in my room was never an option; if I missed a call, he texted my friends, and if they didn’t get back to him within a reasonable time frame, my mom got a phone call.
He asked me to send him pictures of my outfits before I went out at night. When he visited, we stayed in. We didn’t see any of my friends because he wanted me all to himself. He was jealous of my friends, of my sorority, of my roommate, of my RA, of my professors; he was jealous of everyone I talked to that wasn’t him.
For a while I liked it. I genuinely liked being monitored because no guy had ever taken that kind of interest in me. I misinterpreted control for love. I needed to get my control back, so I started pushing boundaries.
At first they were innocent. I lied about who I was hanging out with if there were boys present. I lied about being at the library when I was out at the bars. I lied about being sober and tired when I was drunk. And I got away with all of it. I knew he could tell I was lying, but he wouldn’t dare say anything, because he could feel he was losing me.
Then I started diving over the boundaries head first. I danced with boys at parties. I kissed boys at bars. I gave out my phone number. I texted old hook ups. I loved having these secrets from him because for once I was doing things that he didn’t know about, and because he didn’t know, he couldn’t judge me.
He was suffocating me, and somewhere along the way, he took a part of me I still haven’t gotten back. I lost my moral compass. He drove me right into that basketball player’s arms.
I know they say there’s never an excuse for cheating; if you want to have sex with someone else, then have the decency to end your relationship first. Being cheated on will scar a person for the rest of their lives. I know this first hand because my high school boyfriend cheated on me, and my trust issues spilled over into every relationship I had after him.
But in that moment, I understood why people cheat; they don’t know how else to get their freedom back. Cheating gives you a sense of control when you feel that so much of your life rests in the hands of other people. Cheating empowered me.
My boyfriend was my frontal lobe. He decided everything for me, and I didn’t even know I had handed him the reins. People that cheat don’t do it to deliberately destroy their partner; they do it because they think their partner is destroying them. I know that sounds like a cop out, and no one deserves to have their faith in love shattered… but when the right amount of alcohol and desperation are mixed together, cheating seems like a good idea.
Even just having the secret was enough for a few days. I had managed to get away with having sex with someone else, and I finally had my power back. My boyfriend couldn’t tell me what to do or think anymore because I didn’t just belong to him. Actually, I didn’t belong to him. For two years I had tried to mold myself into someone I’m not so that I could belong to him, but a part of me wouldn’t let me give in all the way. A part of me that probably should have spoken up a little sooner.
My boyfriend had been holding my head under water. He should have known that I would eventually either fight back or give up and drown.
Don’t make your partner have to fight back. If you feel like you have to hold their head under water in order to love them, then leave, because you’re going to get hurt when they kick you in the balls to make you let go. It will be their fault for cheating. He never had to apologize for anything in our break up because I cheated. He isn’t going to trust any of his future girlfriends because I cheated. He’s going to monitor them closely. He’s going to try to control them, too. He’s going to drive them into the arms of other guys, and when they cheat, he’s going to have another excuse for his pattern of behavior.
Cheating is not a pattern of behavior. No one cheats and then feels it was a good way to solve their problems because the problems don’t go away. They’re still in a relationship with someone who controls them, or who they aren’t in love with anymore, and the only way to fix it is to end it.
If you feel like cheating, end it. If you find out your partner cheated, end it. If you let them get away with cheating, then expect to be cheated on again, because you just gave them an outlet. If my relationship hadn’t ended, I would have cheated again.