Cheating On Him Wasn’t Why We Broke Up

Flickr / Nicolas Alejandro
Flickr / Nicolas Alejandro

If the relationship you are in is causing you to cry, get angry, or doubt everything in your life — it’s time to leave.

He wasn’t a bad guy; in fact, I was the horrible, deceitful girlfriend. I manipulated, I cried, I yelled… I was awful, but the fault wasn’t just mine. To begin this tale, let’s go back to my final year in high school. For the first three years, I was the somewhat awkward and geeky girl who was well-enough liked. I wasn’t popular and I didn’t date, but I got along with everyone. You know the type — they aren’t the ones easily remembered a lot of times. I was nice and funny but not entirely close with a lot of people. My senior year, I began to break out of my shell. I had always been slightly outspoken and prone to the occasional outburst, but I gained more confidence that school year with the help of my new best friend and her mysteriously sexy ways. We did daring things in and out of school — sitting in back giggling, texting while sitting next to each other, and skipping class to smoke in parking lots. By the end of our second semester, as high school was coming to a close, I had become semi-experienced in the ways of manipulating men, getting high, and lying to everyone. It was fun. And more and more young men in my year started to take notice. The attention was nice yet also unsettling as I began to notice how attractive I had become. I had grown; my body filled out in a pleasing womanly way. That summer, I drifted apart from my best friend and I started to appreciate this new independence. I didn’t need to follow her around anymore. I was confident. I had made a new best friend who respected me and we shared many crazy adventures. Adulthood was exciting; I learned a lot more about myself that summer: what I liked, what I wanted, who I wanted…

College started and I entered into a world of getting wasted every weekend (and weekday), casual hook-ups, pulling all-nighters, and just enjoying being young. I was enthralled. More than that, I completely embraced this new life. By the middle of fall semester, I knew how to handle men, shotgun a beer, and pass all my classes. I was your typical college girl, but I hadn’t let that stereotype control me. I would have sober weekends and I would sometimes turn down the offer of sex. My friendships meant more to me than any guy. The best nights were always the ones spent with my fellow girls in the hall. Getting drunk off fruity rum, exploring the town, or going to sketchy areas to score weed.

Then, He entered my life. Well not exactly- to be honest, I had been talking to him for months before. Let’s call him Guy From Chicago (or GFC). I had started talking to him 6 months prior through a mutual Facebook friend who told me this guy had a crush on me and thought I was cute. I was distant and nonchalant whenever I talked to GFC; he seemed too into me and I wasn’t feeling it. I would end our conversations short or stop responding when I became bored. By the beginning of July, I stopped responding altogether and I had moved on from talking to him. But, in September, our mutual friend was coming down to my campus to visit her boyfriend. Meaning, she also wanted to hang out with me. While at dinner with them in a Chinese restaurant, they agreed that I reminded them of GFC. We were both excitable and open-minded. Taking this news in stride, I decided to message GFC one night and see how he was. I was not hoping for much to come out of this. I knew he liked me but I was fooling around with 3 different guys. He was much more persistent than any of the other men I was in contact with. I was still the same stand-offish bitch. It was entertaining talking to him; not because of the conversation, but just knowing that he would respond each time I messaged him. That he would be at my beck and call, even when I wouldn’t respond for days. Every time I did respond back late, I made up some shit excuse – I fell asleep (sometimes true), or I was studying (never true). I would laugh and tell my friends about him. I called him a ‘kid’ despite him being two years my senior. He acted like a 17 year old: he loved video games and ramen noodles, he sent weird stickers and emojis, and he would text good morning/good night. I knew he wanted a relationship with me, and it was fun seeing him try so hard for me.

In the most childish and high school way possible, he finally revealed how he felt about me. In a 3 A.M message on Thanksgiving saying “P.S, I like you”. My response: “aww that’s sweet. You’re a really nice guy”. Yup. I “friendzoned” him. Completely intentionally. But I guess he still wasn’t done with me. We kept talking, and then a funny coincidence happened in December. I was going to Chicago with a couple friends. So I told GFC and our mutual friend. They were both excited and said I could stay with them (it turns out, Mutual Friend was staying at GFC’s apartment). The trip to Chicago ended up being even more surprising than I had expected. I got drunk at the apartment and had sex with GFC. The next day when I was leaving, he told me he had strong feelings for me. That’s when I should’ve ran in the other direction. A huge warning sign staring at me in the face. He barely knew me, yet he claimed that he was “attached” to me and didn’t want me to leave. To me, it was just another drunken hook up.

I was reluctant turning our one night into a relationship. Long distance seemed outrageous and I only wanted sex. But, I decided to approach the prospect with a “fuck it, why not” attitude. We continued to talk; now we had upgraded to Skype calls almost 24/7. He was as persistent and earnest as always and I started opening up more to him. We shared our dreams and fears with each other. I learned of his insecurities and battle with depression, The ‘broken and dark past’ thing attracted me to him more. I normally didn’t talk to men like that. I wanted a man who was confident and went after what he wanted. But, GFC said having me in his life made him feel whole; he needed me to help him heal. I had never been told that before, so I took on that responsibility of always being there for him. I let myself fall into a relationship after he kept saying how much he cared about me.

The truth: I wasn’t ready for commitment and he wasn’t stable enough to handle someone like me. I was a college freshman, a chronic weed smoker, and a social drinker who would bring any guy I wanted back to my dorm room. He was older, worked full-time, had a lot of indecision about his future career and goals, but he wanted a long-term serious relationship. The reality of this didn’t hit me until after we both exchanged “I love you” three weeks into the relationship. When our Winter Break Skype honeymoon was over, I was headed back to school — back to the cause of all our problems.

He did not trust me, that was obvious enough. I had told him about my drunken mistakes and a few details of my conquests. He worried every time I drank, even if I was in the dorm with my friends taking shots of cheap vodka. He was hypocritical and extremely judgemental. Whenever I told him that I was planning on drinking or going out, he would hang up and get mad. He would go as far as lecturing me and telling me that I had a drinking problem. The thing about me: I hate being controlled. That was the whole reason I had chosen a college 7 hours away from my family; I was sick of them monitoring my every move. One night, I told GFC that I would be in an area with no cell service (the truth) and that I would be with a group of friends the whole night (again, true). He complained about not being able to contact me and asked what I would be doing. I claimed the hangout was a sober event (a total lie), and he had ended the call by saying he would talk to me the next day. But, guess what? I turned my phone on that next morning to 4 missed calls from him and a text from a friend in my dorm. GFC had contacted her on Facebook asking if I was okay and confiding in her that he didn’t trust me. I was furious. That’s really when things went downhill.

For my part, I was just as temperamental as him. I was manipulative and selfish. I was used to being single. Yet, I had realized how immature, childish, and impulsive he was. I was questioning what about him made me attracted to him. All his flaws and faults gave me a regrettable excuse to not be faithful. I should have ended things the first time I cheated. I resented GFC for trying to control my life and for saying he loved me after every time we fought. The only thing keeping us together was sex – albeit passionate but also a source of power and control. We argued, we fought — sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes physically. It was clear to everyone outside the relationship that we were in shambles.

The second incident that tested our relationship was again about drinking. I was in my dorm lobby on the phone with him and I had told him that I blacked out the previous weekend. Of course, that was stupid of me to tell him , but I trying to be honest with GFC. Afterall, I felt bad for cheating on him and I wanted to repair our relationship. (GFC was not aware that I had cheated). He had a steely, scary low voice as he lectured me on my drinking habits. He threatened to break up with me and that he would “delete” me from his life and move on. I was frightened. I had never heard him sound so serious. He was acting more like my father than my boyfriend. I didn’t have a drinking problem. I had just overdone it that previous night. At one point during our phone conversation, his words had me sobbing in the dorm lobby in front of my friends and fellow residents. I couldn’t believe the words I was hearing from him. I knew that deep-down he was bluffing; he would never break up with me over something like that. Not when he had told me over and over again that he would move mountains for me. That I was the only one for him. Yet, another part of me really wanted him to do it– to break up with me then and there. He didn’t.

Three time’s the charm, right? Another argument became one of the final breaking points. I had been unfaithful again and this time, my friends urged me to break up with him. The conversation started on a Sunday afternoon and didn’t end until Monday evening. I told him that taking a break would be a good idea. I said I wanted to focus on school, study more and have more free time. His response? “You’re going to break my heart”. Reading that made my stomach churn. I threw my phone, thus cracking the screen as a reminder of my frustration. I wanted out of the relationship, but he seemed to need me so much. He said without me, he wouldn’t be happy. He put pressure on me to stay. I didn’t want to be the woman who broke his heart, or worse — who drove him to hurt himself. I knew he had been suicidal as a teenager. So depressed and unstable, he had to switch high schools. I didn’t want to leave him in that state again. I was afraid of what would happen if I left him. I felt stuck in a relationship with someone I no longer loved. If I ever loved him, that is. Even after I initially broke up with him, he kept calling and calling. He called me during a lecture and I had to skip the entirety of the hour just to hear GFC beg for me to stay. He pleaded with me, made bargains, and threatened to once again “delete” me from his life and never speak to me again. He went as far as deleting me off Facebook. After crying to my friends about our breakup, I agreed with GFC to stay together. He didn’t believe in ‘breaks’; it was either all in or nothing. I truly was stuck. I had tried to leave, but he pulled me back using manipulation. Whether it was intentional or not, GFC had scared me into staying with him.

Not surprisingly, I cheated once again. So, I finally ended things. The day before my birthday. He was supposed to visit that weekend. It was selfish and foolish of me to have kept things going for so long. I obviously did not care about him since I would sleep with other men easily. But, I held onto the idea of having a caring boyfriend who, maybe, one day would not judge or criticize everything I did. He was understandably furious. I told him the truth, all the truth. I didn’t have the same feelings for him, I wasn’t faithful, I wasn’t going to stop drinking just for him, and I couldn’t make him change for me. Our mutual friends seemed to side with him. They called me a slut, a bitch, a psycho, some alluded that I had “serious issues”, and that I needed help. I can’t disagree with them. But, they weren’t in the relationship. The only two who know the truth are me and GFC. He said he wanted nothing to do with me, but I drunk called him twice in the same week and he answered both times. After a couple weeks of still keeping in touch with him, I vowed to never call him again. It was over, I ended things because it was a toxic, damaging relationship.

I was happier and more myself afterwards. My friends became my number one support system and helped take my mind off the breakup. I was focusing more on school and maturing more as a person. I felt like I had gotten my life back after breaking up with him. No more worrying about missing his calls, no more criticisms about how much I drank, no more… You see, I sacrificed so much of my social life for him. He would call me before class, during all my breaks, and all through the evening. When I wouldn’t answer my phone, he would keep calling and texting until I did. It was always so frustrating dealing with him. I spent more time in my room waiting for him to Skype me than I did enjoying campus life. I despised him for what he had done, but I can’t blame him entirely. I had continued the relationship and let it go on far too long. There was a part of me that enjoyed having someone who always needed me. But, the reality of what that meant was not what I wanted. I didn’t want commitment. He said he could see a future with me; I couldn’t even see a future 15 minutes from the present. We weren’t meant for each and we definitely weren’t good for each other. Maybe some couples like heated passionate arguments, jealousy, and clinginess; I did not. It was tiring and draining talking to GFC each day. So, I was done with him once and for all.

But, here’s the twist…

Two and a half months after my final conversation with GFC, he calls me. Two missed calls and a message, to be exact. The reason? He had found something of mine in his apartment that I had long-since forgotten about. But, this became another instant where I was pulled right back into our psychological thriller of a chess game. A power play. He had something of mine that I now wanted. He agreed to send it through our Mutual Friend and I thought our conversation was over. Until, he messaged me a few hours later asking if I could call him. When I called, he explained that he wanted to start talking again, to be friends. He had “erased” our relationship from his memory and had long-since forgiven me for cheating on him. I was dumbstruck. I was hit with the most unexpected of situations. I had accepted him hating me and I was okay with not talking to him ever again. And yet, here he was. He still had me. Or, he thought he did. I tried playing into his new game. The “let’s be friends and forget what happened” ruse. It was sickening. What was wrong with him? I had hurt him, I had deceived and lied to him. Told him that I loved him. I could not be friends with GFC. We knew too much about each other as I had pointed out during our phone call. I still remembered his work schedule, what days he had off, when he got paid, what bank he used…The real reason for him wanting to talk again, as I had divested from him (though he still denies), he was lonely. His friends had all moved away, he no longer had pets in his apartment, and he does not do well by himself. Our Mutual Friend had said the same thing before: GFC can’t function living by himself. He works long hours and probably hates coming home to an empty place.

Instead of pouting for him or sympathizing, I laughed. Not in my usual giggly school girl way, but sarcastically. Almost cruel laughter. GFC turned to his manipulative, cheating ex girlfriend and asked her to be his friend. That’s a sitcom. That’s comedy gold. I had him wrapped around my finger, then? I ended our phone conversation with similar lines that I had previously written. I told him I couldn’t be his friend after all we had been through together.

What on earth could we talk about that won’t end in a screaming match? I talk about sex, hot men, clothes, art, and TV. He talks about video games, electronic music, computer shit, and gross toilet humor. There’s no friendship there. Unless GFC wants to hear about the new guy I’m sleeping with or how many shots it took me to black out. He hung up after I couldn’t stop laughing and repeating my thoughts to him. I was making a mockery of the conversation — and of him. I wanted him to see what I saw in that moment: a desperate plea to a psychotic, unfaithful, potentially alcoholic ex-girlfriend. I hadn’t forgiven myself for what I had done to him, I never would have forgiven myself if I kept talking to the same man I hurt repeatedly. He hadn’t moved on. How could he? There was so much history between us. Pain, crying, sexual tension, secrets shared, unresolved issues…

That was the very last time I talked to him over the phone. I realized that if I were to truly move on, I could never speak to him again. Talking to him brought me back to a dark place. We weren’t good for each other.

Lesson learned: sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Use that experience to help you learn and grow. It’s okay to fuck up, it’s okay to succumb to your fears and flaws. But, once you do, it’s your responsibility to grow from that instant. And don’t rely on another person to help fix you. You have to have the strength to do that yourself.

I found myself self-reflecting on the train-wreck relationship and learning much more about myself. I was a user. I used people for weed, sex, alcohol, money, food. everything. I was barely 19 years old and I was still a kid. I should never have been in a relationship.Not the sort of relationship I had. I don’t regret cheating on GFC. The cheating was wrong, but the outcome was not. I learned that I was not interested in commitment. I wanted casual sex and fun, not long-term and exclusivity. I stopped trying to control other people’s lives after the breakup. I was just as hypocritical as GFC. The only difference is that I changed. I have moved on and grown. He is still stuck in that same mindset. He wasn’t ready for me, but more importantly, he wasn’t at all ready for a relationship with any woman. His jealousy and suspicion are not traits any partner would want. He needs to figure out his own life before jumping into another relationship. Otherwise, he will repeat that same cycle I shared with him.

In fact, my relationship was not the first cycle he had experienced. GFC had previous relationships, all of which ended because he wanted more than what they did. He would latch on to the first woman who paid him attention. Men like that need therapy, not girlfriends. Hell, I probably need therapy too. TC mark

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