Cheating: Lesson Learned

Let’s start with this: when it comes to ruthlessness and being tactless, I can be one of the worst. I might be more blunt with a loved one (I consider my friends as loved ones) than a stranger or acquaintance because I fear for them and whatever situation they may be tangled up in. Even as I write, I’m chuckling at myself because speaking in euphemisms is not an ability I have and beating around the bush just makes whatever message I have more convoluted. Therefore, when you read the conversation between me and my friends, I hope I don’t lose you when I sound like a bitch.

A little background: I’ve stated before I grew up as a tomboy and I’ve always felt more comfortable around guys than the girls (who could be really catty and fake). I know their body language and am privy to more gossip than my few female friends will muster up. The latter is probably because I’ve never tolerated gossip and liars and am more than happy to call someone out on their b.s. Running with the guys from elementary school up to and through college meant a lot of pressure standing up against rumors that I might be slutty and that’s why the guys followed me around (the guys stayed with me because they enjoyed my friendship and because where my brother went, so did I, my sister and girlfriends). I made it a point to date outside the district to avoid discussions about my love life and worked extra hard to either be with someone or not: there was no hazy middle ground. I sure as hell did not break up other couples and a friend was a friend and no more. Still, the gossip suggesting I was a player was impossible to put out, and partly, because I am very sociable and I’m always willing to include others than ice them out of my social circle. That can send mixed signals when you’re a hormonal teen and not me, but my codes remain unbroken: a friend is a friend and no more. If I wanted it to be more, you would get the memo first 😉

Come college, I did run with a group of “players” because I didn’t get shit from them for being friendly and warm. My early childhood as an outcast due to my ethnicity in white suburbia stayed with me for a very long time and I know what it’s like looking in and being kept out. It’s why I don’t exclude anyone if I don’t have to (I will not associate with bigots, haters, gossipers, violence seekers, etc) and that’s all the explanation you will ever get from me. Enter XY who, along with my college ex, did have the agenda of bedding and dating as many girls as he could. To this day, he has no idea what his count is and I lost track around 20-30. Recently, he experienced a life changing event and had to re-evaluate his modus operandi of dating someone and sleeping around behind her back every time they got in a fight or shit wasn’t panning out. He got a kick out of stealing a girl away from another guy if he just “couldn’t help himself.” None of my warnings about karma were taken seriously before this monumental moment of inner reflection. A common conversation on FB or via texts and phone call:

XY: “D, I fucked up.”

Me (chuckling, this exchange is so not new): “First time or not?

XY (can be a compulsive liar): “First. No second, maybe third. I don’t know what to do if she finds out.”

[the very first time this conversation played through, I was the concerned and sympathetic friend with supportive advice – I actually laugh when I see those words pop up now! This conversation is totally not the first time.]

Me: “You pay the piper. If you deny it but she has proof, you’re the asshole.”

XY: “But do I break up with her? I mean, I really like this one and we have a good thing going..”

Me: “If it was so good, why did you have to cheat on her?”

XY (sulky and evasive): “I don’t know… we had a fight, I left and went out drinking with my boys. A hot girl came in and one thing led to another. Fuck, my dick just loves women!”

Me: “Dude, you know if  you didn’t use protection you need to get to your doc a.s.a.p. Giving her an STI isn’t going to be a positive to this.”

XY: “I know! I made the appointment. I just don’t know what to do about her.”

Me: “Tell her and let her make the decision then.”

XY (like me, a perfectionist and break-up’s are hard to process): “Do you think if I broke up with her and then, we hook up again down the line, this won’t count as cheating?”

Me (laughing at his mental gymnastics): “Guy, you put a part of your anatomy INSIDE a girl not your girlfriend: man up and confess. You’re Catholic for God’s sake! Isn’t confession atonement or salvation or some shit like that?”

XY: “Fuuuuuuuck! I can’t stay still. I’m going out with the guys, I need time to think.”

Me (mirthless): “I know that’s your code for ‘coping with alcohol and getting into another mess you’ll regret’ but I can’t stop you.”

XY: “You know me too well.”

NEARLY TWO DECADES OF THIS! Mercifully, this is what he realized:

Me: “You have to tell me how you managed to date more than one person at a time. I’m losing my mind trying to maneuver between ProBaller and F.A. and a new addition. I slip up and mention names or I double book myself and have to cancel on one of them.”

XY: “You and I have a bad history of forgetting one event for another. That’s what calendars are for-”

Me: “I wasn’t asking technicalities! I meant more along the lines of mnemonic device for birthdays and other details. I don’t know how you’ve managed or how you separated certain feelings.”

XY (remorsefully): “The only way I juggled so many girls was my selfishness and thoughtlessness. It was always about me first. I think a part of me was always afraid to love someone else completely after all the shit I’ve done to all my ex’s and the other girls.”

Me (I puff up with pride that he’s finally learning about relationship integrity): “Aw! It’s going to be okay-”

XY (doubtful and sad): “I don’t know about that. I hurt some of them really badly. You always said it’d catch up to me eventually and I’m scared I’ll be cheated on. Karma is going to be a bitch.”

Me (laughing, yeah I’m a terribly blunt friend): “You pay your dues, my friend. We all have to and maybe by treating the next few relationships in a noble manner, karma will have some mercy and not subject you to the worst of it. You could always get in touch with your casual gfs/fuck buddies and have the heart-to-heart inquiring if you ever hurt them.”

XY: “You know I keep in touch with my ex’s. I’m worried about the next woman I’ll fall for and what she’ll think if she finds out I was an asshole player.”

Me: “You answer her questions honestly and behave loyally. Only time will show her that you’re a reformed man.”

XY: “How did you cope with Chris and Jed?”

Me: “Jed’s cheating wore me down and in the end, even though I knew he was in love with me, I couldn’t take the doubts about his fidelity. I couldn’t take random girls coming up to me and apologizing for not knowing Jed had a gf when she hooked up with him. I couldn’t take the lies he made straight to my face without knowing I already knew the truth and that’s why I called us off.”

XY: “Ugh, that’s what I was afraid you were going to say-”

Me: “As far as Chris though, there was a really tough and ugly period where I had to face the people who knew I had cheated on him. Looking into the eyes of his immediate family was nothing because they meant nothing to him or me. But his grandmother and grandfather? Really hard as was the couple of friends he had, thinking they were judging me as an unfaithful whore and unworthy of him or them.”

XY (with a disgusted look): “Man, why put yourself through that when he hit you? Who were they to judge?”

Me: “I did it for him as much as I did it for me. Redemption exists through reconciliation and perseverance. Don’t ever think that you’re undeserving of a second chance or a shot at real happiness in your own fairy tale. Don’t give up before you even try more than once or a hundred times. The fortitude to mend damaged bridges is not the same as burning them beyond repair. Learning how to forgive, to be forgiven plays just as importantly as honesty and loyalty in all relationships. Having the humility to admit wrong and apologizing is a close second.”

XY: “I have my pride-”

Me: “As does everyone to some degree. You have to admit it’s a whole new level of ballsy, and admirable, to stay when all you want to do is run from accountability and judgement.”

XY: “True.”