When your father cheats, you realize that the man you were closest to throughout your entire life, the only man you thought you were able to trust, is a liar. You realize that you cannot believe what anyone says. Not even the person who raised you. Not even the person who is supposed to want what is best for you.
You realize that you never know who you are looking at, you never know who someone truly is, even when you share the same house. Even when you have known each other since birth.
When your father cheats, you have trouble in your own relationships. You always keep an eye out for red flags, because you don’t want to blindly date someone who is screwing you over behind your back. You don’t want to look like an idiot. You don’t want to have your heart broken in the same way your mother has.
That is why you are extra sensitive when your boyfriend looks at another girl for a little too long or when he texts a female friend. It doesn’t matter if you are dating a good guy, a guy you are convinced would never cheat, because you are still paranoid.
The trust issues don’t disappear, just because you are dating someone faithful. There is still a voice in the back of your mind, telling you that there is a chance they are going to betray you. You never feel comfortable. You never feel safe. You feel like your relationship could end at any moment.
You don’t want to let yourself believe in happily ever afters, because you have seen betrayal. Ugly arguments. Nasty divorces. You know how horrible people can treat the ones they once claimed to love.
When your father cheats, little things trigger you. You know all the red flags of cheaters, so you worry easily. If your person comes home late for work, you question them. If your person gets a text after midnight, you question them. If your person starts wearing different cologne or showers the second they come home or seems less interested in sex, you question them. You are terrified they are hiding something. You are terrified your worst fear is going to come true.
When your father cheats, you assume that cheating is the norm. You think it happens to everyone. It’s weird for you to see happy families. It’s hard for you to believe that they are as perfect as they seem to be. You assume someone is secretly cheating. You assume they are going to get divorced like everyone else. You are a pessimist. You are a skeptic. Forever is a foreign concept to you.
When your father cheats, you put armor around your heart to protect yourself. You convince yourself it’s better to act emotionless, because if your person cheats on you, it won’t hurt as badly. So you try not to care. You try not to become too invested.
When your father cheats, you have trust issues for a long time. You struggle to stay in relationships, because you have never seen a healthy one. You have only seen the worst of the worst.