I didn’t start drinking heavily until the end of my second marriage. The first time I committed myself to a woman, I was young, recklessly in love, and having no idea what “love” really meant (marriage is not the answer, folks). Our relationship ended without her knowing that I had been sleeping with a co-worker. I still feel guilt and a responsibility to tell her, but I just can’t bear to hurt her more. More honestly: I can’t bear to have her look at me as more of a monster than I already am.
By the time I had settled down for the second time, I was 32. Things were good while they were good. But when romance fizzled out and life settled in, as it always, always does, I realized that the same ghosts of my relationship past came back to haunt me. This time more intensely, because I had ignored them for so long. I was back to my old ways. But this time, my new wife found out. She had suspected for a while, and as her suspicions grew, as did we apart. It was a few irksome text messages, late nights, not wanting to be intimate anymore. The classic signs.
But those “classic signs” can also just be normal things that mean nothing. What I want to talk about here are the reasons I cheated, and did so prolifically. I want to tell you that the “signs” that someone is cheating aren’t usually universally true. I also want to say that every relationship is different and I would hope you wouldn’t be ending marriages over an article. But then again, if I had read this 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am now: sitting on my couch, whiskey next to me, confessing anonymously to my wrongdoings.
- When people cheat, it’s because they have lost a sense of wanting to try. It’s not that they don’t love you, it’s that they realize trying will be futile.
- Because of this, they would rather seek immediate solace in someone else. We cannot deny the fact that we, as people, need love, connection, intimacy, sex. If we aren’t getting it from the person whom we are supposed to be, we look elsewhere.
- It’s not that it’s the other person’s fault, the action is the fault of the cheater’s and the cheater’s alone— but we cannot neglect to see how, especially in a marriage where you vow to love each other and work through things no matter what, when one party fails to keep that promise, the other may, in a fit of heartbrokenness and loneliness, reach elsewhere.
- We are animals at the end of the day. We are not immune to feeling attracted to other people. But when we feel secure in our relationships as they are, we don’t feel we have to act those attractions.
- We all do really, really stupid things sometimes. Unfortunately, some of us do them with extended consequences. Sometimes we don’t consider the weight of what we’re actually doing.
- But sometimes, we do, and we do it just to hurt the other person. These are the relationships you need to be wary of. These are the people you have to separate yourself from by all means.
So let’s talk about how you know someone is being unfaithful, other than your significant other showing up with lipstick on his collar, because often, people are a little more sly than that.
1. If you inquire as to where they were on a certain night, why they are texting so-and-so, or any other obvious indicators that something could be happening, and they immediately become very defensive and angry with you, that is the biggest red flag.
2. Likewise, if you ask if they are being unfaithful directly, and they become unreasonably angry and avoid answering the question, turning it around on you: why would you think such a thing? Do you not trust me? You don’t love me!
3. They generally turn things around on you, when they are the wrongdoers. It’s my belief that, subconsciously or not, cheaters are always searching for justification for their actions. Even if it’s just in their heads, they are looking for reasons that it’s okay that they’ve done something so wrong, and that usually manifests itself as this kind of behavior.
4. They stop hurting and stop caring, and all of a sudden, the major issues you had in the past seem to be irrelevant. It’s when people stop fighting that you really have to worry– because it means that the relationship doesn’t mean anything to them anymore.
5. They have an intense, or renewed focus on how their partner doesn’t live up to the things they’d want and expect them to be. This can look like someone who is controlling, degrading, insulting, etc. Such behavior is usually rooted in their own insecurities, and they will then look elsewhere to find someone who will make them feel validated and worthy.