This being my third post in my series of seven, it seemed like it was time to throw out a few quasi-legal disclaimer statements in case someone is feeling twitchy or offended.
• First, any similarities in the examples and illustrations I use to my friends’ relationships or mine are a coincidence. Much as our experiences feel unique to us, getting screwed over is fairly universal. And boys, with exceptions for height, weight, and ability to tan, ya’ll are relatively interchangeable, so on the off chance you are reading this, it isn’t all about you.
• Secondly, my statements are simply my opinions. While I base my opinions on my experiences and observations, I would certainly be the last to claim that there is empirical, verifiable, peer-reviewed evidence for my claims. One would assume this would be implicit in the fact that this is a blog rather than The Economist but then you know what they say about assumptions…
• My final disclaimer is that even though I’m clearly cynical, bitter, warped, and damaged, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It means I’m biased, not incorrect.
So, with all that mumbo jumbo out of the way, let us proceed to the topic of the day. In honor of Monday we are going to explore the topic of cheating. Cheating is one of those damaging experiences that has affected most of us directly or indirectly. Not only does it involve a break-up, it involves even more heightened side-taking, blame-laying, disrespect, and out-and-out betrayal.
Refresh Yourself–Part 3:
Cheater Recovery Sucks
Those who have been cheated on have a special cross to bear because they are extra damaged. Mazel tov. Not only do they have the pain of having had a relationship end, they have a whole slew of doubts and insecurities integral to betrayed trust. Not that your trust can’t be betrayed if your ex wasn’t whoring around, but whoring around definitely takes a toll on trust.
And if you made the mistake of marrying the cheater who crapped all over you, it is that much worse because you know that when they stood before you in the presence of God, your families and friends, and the state that sanctioned your ill-fated union, and pledged their life exclusively to you, they lied. You took them for better or worse and they took you for Plan B. Or they changed their mind. Either way, it sucks.
Cheaters seem to fall into two general categories, those who cheat because of a situation and those who cheat because of a compulsion. Situational cheaters might be a neglected spouse who is starved for attention and, while wanting their spouse’s attention, will settle for someone else to keep the loneliness at bay. Habitual cheaters are an altogether different breed of pond scum. They continually, repeatedly, habitually cheat. It’s an established pattern or behavior, not unlike an alcoholic or a drug addict. Cheating helps them feel powerful, or superior, or exciting, or desirable.
Whatever the reason for the cheating, it is going to leave the faithful one with a lot of questions and issues. Among the questions likely to cross one’s mind is what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing. Could I have seen this coming? Possibly. Will this happen again? Maybe. It may take time to figure this out and make peace with it so you can move on. And you may not like what you discover.
If you are involved with one cheater, that is sad. If you have a history of being involved with cheaters, then you might want to consider why you find skanks or bad-boys so attractive that they are your relationship mainstays. Are you attracted to the excitement? Do you have a Messiah-complex and think you’re saving them? Or maybe it is a martyr complex? Does it feel flattering to have them pursue you? Did they get involved with you before they split with someone else?
A person who will cheat with you, will probably cheat on you. Being cheated on by a person who cheated on someone else with you…well, can you really say you didn’t see it coming? Call it karmic retribution, divine judgment, or the logical consequences of an established pattern of behavior, but it was probably bound to happen. Learn from it, become a better person, and move on.
Much as it might seem like a good idea to cultivate your messiah-complex by attracting cheaters and trying to save them from themselves, it really isn’t. First, not only are you not God*, but you are not-so-tacitly saying you are better than the other person (i.e. “you poor cheating slut, let me save you from yourself”). It may turn out that you don’t want to save the cheaters you’re involved with so much as have someone you can consistently look down on. Secondly, habitual cheaters are cheating for a reason that likely has nothing to do with you. Messiah or not, you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.
For those who find man-whores and skanks thrilling…well, there comes a time when you have to decide just how important that kind of excitement and drama are to you. Sure they chase you down, charm and seduce you, and, for a brief glittering time, make you feel special, desirable, exciting. And then they’re gone, chasing down another conquest, more excitement and more drama. But consider the long-term effects of this excitement. If you continue your affection for cheaters there’s a strong chance you’ll be exposed to STDs. Damaging as that can be for men, for women venereal disease is also associated with infertility. Women, STDs can lead to miscarriages, scarred fallopian tubes, and cervical cancer. The man-whore you date at 23 could cost you your chance of being a mother at 33. Men, in addition to screaming when you pee, do you want to wonder if the baby in your arms is really yours?
Which brings up the issue of children—BABIES CANNOT CHOOSE THEIR DAMN PARENTS. You owe it to your children, current and/or future, who are saddled with you forever through genetic chance, to be the best parent you can be—responsible parents chose responsible partners. If you can’t break your skank/man-whore addiction for yourself, then do it for the kids you may one day have. Once children are in the picture, your heart isn’t the only one that will get broken.
*I freely acknowledge that this viewpoint comes from a Judeo-Christian background and that a more pantheistic view would suggest that God or creative force is within all of us. If that is so, then playing God to another God is equally condescending and an all-around dick move.
Thanks for reading and join us again next Monday (I still don’t like Mondays) when we explore the fact that three is a crowd. And no, despite how that might sound, we are not discussing threesomes.