It is true. I was once cheated on by my current significant other. So, dear readers, I request that you please refrain from the “Why are you still with him!?” gasps of shock and appall — if you find this wholly impossible to relate to, then abandon all hope ye perfect people who enter here. I am deathly jealous of everyone who has never had to deal with this issue.
But to me, the truth is this: weird, damaged, impulsive individuals who become quite-sudden serious couples may endure a cheating incident and may be able to work through it if the relationship is worth its salt. All things considered, we have surmounted it and most days, we are fine. It was early in the relationship when I still had one foot out the door in my noncommittal way, hard drugs were involved (not that this warrants forgiveness on its own, but he was generally in a bad way in his life), and I am a lady who, with all of my own flaws in consideration, accepts that fucked-up people are especially the ones who tend to make mistakes. At the end of the day, I felt he was worth forgiving.
A year and a half has passed, and yet, I still find myself sometimes over-thinking the explicit details of that one motherfucked fucker of nights, thinking about things like its timeline: 10PM, he was heading to a backyard party he invited me to that I declined. 12AM, he was in a bad mood from an earlier argument we’d had but he still texted me “i love u, be home later” around when I go to sleep. 5AM, unremarkably he stumbled in the back door, making a microwave meal of ravioli that he left covered with its plastic and uneaten on the coffee table when he knocked out.
However, while we slept moments later that fated dawn, his phone began buzzing with a strange number’s text, a vibration that woke me but not him. I checked it to shut it off (and peek), only to find a most unexpected and suspicious message. I woke him with a full-blown inquisition to accusations he vehemently denied, but when push came to inevitable shove, I found he had gone to New Jersey the night before (from our Philly home base) to intercourse a single mother named “Jess” after texting her: “I’m coming to f* your brains out”. So. Yes. This happened. And tragically, in its aftermath, I was a textbook dupedgirlmess. I kept comparing myself to Sandra Bullock, Jesse James, and the Nazi Pornstar. It was the worst autumn in history; I dropped out of law school because I couldn’t focus on myself after being emotionally body-slammed. After a true blowout and brief breakup, we have long since surpassed and survived this singular incident of infidelity. The discussions about his mistakes, his bad choices — they were exhaustively hashed out and fundamentally resolved.
THEN WHY AM I STILL OBSESSED WITH THAT ONE FUCKING NIGHT IN DISTANT HISTORY? Am I just patently OCD and, like I said, kind of a pathetic and insecure chick? Oh absolutely I am. But here are some other things I consider to be catalysts for why such washes of fury about Jersey Jess still flood me with tsunami strength at times. You might find some of these familiar if you’re in a similar boat as I am, in the turbulent waters of fuckthisshit sea.
1. You know her full name; ergo, you know her username.
What’s the deal **Seinfeld voice** with the self-imposed waterboarding torture we all voluntarily endure when we seek out and uncover a dude’s ex or ex-mistress on Instagram? WHY DO WE TYPE IT INTO THE SEARCH BAR WHEN WE KNOW IT’LL ONLY HURT US?! It’s like listening to Elliot Smith when you’re already having a day of the extreme blues: it’s overt self-punishment in its purest form. A lot of us just love to 50 Shades of Grey ourselves. It gets us the fuck off in some way. Maybe we feel like we deserve it, or maybe we just want to feel that potency of pain to feel anything at all in a sedated routine life. It makes me wish I had never asked so many questions when I first caught him, though. Because even now, I know too much. Because years later, I still routinely look through and scrutinize her every photo on her social media like it’s a goddamn treasure map route to a pot full of gold housing a shirtless Zac Efron going through his MILF phase. I would definitely find that pot and sift through it as it were Jess’s Instagram profile full of cupcakes and used books and half-faced photos (why did you crop out your other eye, though?).
Of course I don’t tell anyone I stalk a broad like this, and I even lie to myself about how often I do it, but man — I do the fuck out of it. I think aloud, “BARF NOT CUTE” (okay, she isn’t that bad), I die of jealousy when she’s at a beach or says anything witty, and I slam my Macbook closed when it becomes just too much.
Consequently, I am friendly with two of my guy’s other exes and interact happily and casually with them, and even though I do get jealous of girls or pasts or things, I am not some bonkers-type jealous girl who doesn’t let her boyfriend have celebrity crushes (#petpeeve), and so I wonder: why is it that this one girl’s photos and captions completely dismantle me, like when I see a #selfie of her reading at a park with her tattooed feet (WHERE IS THIS PARK? WHY DON’T I HAVE TATTOOED FEET?! **squinting** what are those tattoos of?). I guess because it happened while he was with me, so there’s the resurrection of feeling rejected, and just something about this smug little cunt’s face quietly mocking me as she goes about her little life not thinking of me or him behind her hipster-fuck wood-rimmed glasses just screams to me: he betrayed you — with HER. Why her? Why is she going about her life now and I’m still sweating their tryst? Why do I feel inadequate? Seeing her afternoon-filtered face dredges up feelings of astounding insecurity, rage, and soul-crushing recollection of how it felt when I originally found out that day and I just wanted to fucking die.
Because of social media though, I even know where she lives from her recent #newhouse tag, where she works (#englishteacher #nerdlife), and where in Philly she was having sandwiches that afternoon (#delassandros #nom #steaksand). Luckily, I’m not excessively crazy or bored enough to follow up on any of this, but to anyone who broadcasts their whereabouts on social media and has similarly banged girl’s boyfriends knowingly, even once, I would go ahead and privatize the settings for your own peace of mind.
2. Anytime you catch him lying, you think of when he lied about cheating.
Everyone lies about dumb shit. Say I found out he lied about working late to instead just dodge gym plans with me and go drink beers with his boys after work. Perhaps he even strolls in a little wasteface. It surely has nothing to do with the events of November 11, 2012 #dday. But somehow my blood feels hot and the eternal “why” pounds again in my chest like it did the day I found his texts with her saved under “Collings” (as in, Collingswood, NJ — creative one brah) and he shouted “Meg, you’re sewwwww insane! Collings is just a new guy at work! Psycho!” and I felt like lunatic Stacey from Wayne’s World for a hot second there. But since the content of those texts made me skeptical (“you left your lighter here, ;)”) I dialed her number on speakerphone, and as it rang on her end, he shouted: OKAY, I CHEATED ON YOU. So even when a lie is small or harmless now, I watch his flapping lying gums and immediately think of the blatant, sincere-seeming cheating lie, and all I want to do is clock him in his goddamned handsome bullshit face.
3. Shit reminds you of it — and I’m talking the most random shit at the most random times.
And the anger inferno ignites in your deepest belly of bellies. Or, on calmer days, it might just be a passing icky feeling that hits you like a bird shitting on your hat. Here, I’ll just share with you the things that make me furious at random times: seeing cute girls who are trying too hard to be nerds, completely stupid Wayfarer glasses, spaceships, robots, tattoo sleeves, Etsy (yes I said Etsy — no quirky DIY knitted bows for me!), extremely short girls (I’m 5’9″ and she was five foot even), the girl from HBO’s GIRLS (she’s her twin), and New Jersey (sadly my former favorite state, but now ranked least favorite in tandem with every state that doesn’t touch an ocean #irrationalclaustrophobia #eastcoaster).
4. You really aren’t one hundred percent sure he would never do it again.
Let’s be honest: this is the big one. You can explain why you trust him until laryngitis sets in, but I guarantee when he goes out with that same friend he was with on That Night In Jersey (Dan, Dan’s girlfriend, and Dan’s roommate), and he does the same behaviors (coke, Southern Comfort, driving across the Commodore Barry Bridge), under the same circumstances (extremely pissed at you, feeling insecure about himself, happened to be in touch by casually texting with Ol’ Gal and she’s up at 2am right when his drunk carelessness and hyperactive sex drive are at their peak) — can you really, really trust him? I feel like I’m at about 94%… but I’m not 100. Because somewhere, in your deepest and darkest of instincts — and even though you know you are loved, that he’s fully committed for now, and that he tries his best to love you and only you everyday — you still think, Why the fuck did it happen in the first place? Was it the fact that he was not your ‘all-in’ boyfriend yet, or was it just the fact that the perfect cheating storm a-brewed, and he chose to follow through on his opportunity? Is he only as faithful as his options? For every pretty girl, is there some guy tired of fucking her? And the last played-out adage I’ll drop here for consideration as to why men might cheat on a quality girlfriend: What is the only thing better than great shoes? New shoes.
Never has there been a scarier adage about relationships to ponder, so I’ll leave you all with that. Happy dating, TC’ers! I wish yas all the best and no stories of your own Jess.