Among my many fears in this world, getting cheated on towers near the very top of the list. I truly believe it would wreck me as a person. It’s called the ultimate betrayal for a reason. The feeling I get when I imagine getting cheated on is indescribable — a concoction of anxiety, fear, rage, heartbreak, hate, grief, and shame.
How I feel is really difficult to explain, let alone process. However, that’s not to say I haven’t been tortured in the night, when I can’t sleep, with vivid scenarios in which I catch my partner cheating on me. The two characters, my partner and the other man, in these emotional hallucinations, change as I continue to fall for different people.
I feel like a prisoner in my own mind when these visions run through my head. I don’t want them, but still they pop up when I’m left alone with my thoughts. Deep down I guess it’s because part of me believes that I should be cheated on. (Who would want to be with someone as deeply fucked up as me?) I know that every person under 25 claims they’re a mess, but believe me, if there was a club for screw-ups I’d be an executive member.
But beyond the baggage that I carry with me, I truly don’t see myself as capable of sexually satisfying someone for a lifetime. That’s what a long-term relationship means to me — that we will satisfy each other’s physical, emotional, and mental needs. I don’t feel like I’m good enough. I don’t have the sexual experience that other people my age have. I don’t have any moves or tricks in bed, or even an attractive body capable of making up for my lack of skills.
This insecurity creates a vicious cycle that I can’t escape from. When I really like a guy — and I mean really like him — I’m too afraid to get intimate because I know I’ll disappoint him. It always starts with kissing, and light touching, but the moment they try to take the next step I feel an uncontrollable urge to run away.
I can’t tell if the disappointment of stopping them is better or worse than going through with it and being terrible in bed. I’ve always felt worse than the few sexual partners I’ve had in my life. Sure, they always tell me that it’s fine, or that the sex was good. They can lie to me, but they can’t lie to themselves.
And then, I imagine, from their lack of sexual fulfillment, the desire for satisfaction and a curiosity to know what else is out there begin to arise. All it takes is for them to see someone with a cuter smile, a hotter body, a better sense of humor, a softer touch, brighter eyes, or sexier hair. Anything.
Then comes the part that kills me. I imagine the kisses, as they explore one another’s bodies…the quiet moans of pleasure…and the hunger to reach the highest peak of pleasure in their own private paradise.
I try not to imagine it. I really do. People have told me that maybe my fear stems from a guilty conscience, that maybe I worry because I could be a cheater myself. But it’s just not possible. When I love, I love wholly and recklessly. I’m not saying it’s smart, because loving that way has many problems. And I’m also not saying that I’m better than anyone else, because I’ve hurt people too — and badly. But I could never cheat because of what it ultimately means to me.
The cheating scenario always ends the same way. I leave the person. Not in some faux-empowered “I deserve better” way, but only because I’m no longer able to look at them. Now, when I see his face, I’ll see the face of the person he slept with too. When he kisses me, I’ll imagine him kissing someone else. When he touches me, I’ll wonder how I compared to the other guy. When he tells me he loves me, I’ll think about all of the words of affection he already exchanged with someone else. When we go to sleep after sex, I’ll be reminded that he had this moment with someone else too — that what I have isn’t truly special, or uniquely mine. But worst of all, every now and again I’ll remember the fact that they were able to put me out of their mind to do what they did, or that they were able to do what they did because the other guy was worth it. I’ll be unhappy, miserable, and emotionally bleeding.
Eventually I’d have to leave, even though part of me would probably still be in love with him. I wouldn’t be able to live with it. Maybe that makes me selfish or weak, but I also want to live, not survive. I guess the truth is that cheating is less about the unfaithful and more about ourselves. Some people can deal with it, move on, and grow. As for me, I’m too much of a fuck up to be happy with someone who isn’t completely dedicated and in love with me — someone who looks right through the other attractive boys in the room and sees me standing in the corner.
At this moment all I have are my thoughts, worries, and fears, which may or may not mean anything at all. And, presently, I fear, more than anything else, the day that my fictional scenarios leave my head and become real.