When I was somewhere between my early and mid twenties, I was engaged to my middle school sweetheart. We had been engaged for nearly two years when financial hardship struck and our living conditions went to hell. I got a small room for rent and he took up residence in his bosses out of commission camper that sat behind the shop where he worked. During this time, it was understood that although we were still engaged and committed, just living apart due to our financial situation. We still saw each other almost daily and I had no reason to believe that anything was wrong. Living on my own allowed me to save up some cash and I was able to get back into an apartment. When I approached him about moving back in together, he had been drinking and admitted to me that he had slept with two different waitresses while we were living apart, one of which he actually dated for about a month. I was devastated but attempted to forgive and forget, which is a challenge and which I highly recommend not trying.
I didn’t leave him because he cheated, but I can honestly say that if I were to strip away all the other things about him that were awful and simply make him an unfaithful boyfriend, I still would have left him. The knowledge of your loved one betraying your trust and laying down with someone else isn’t something that can simply be shrugged off or erased from memory. It’s something that’s right in front of you any time you look at that person. It enters your mind when they touch you; did they touch him or her this way or did they kiss them the way they kiss me? You start to doubt yourself; did I do something wrong or am I not good enough? The trust is shattered; you’ll wonder who they are with when they leave the house, or if they were checking out the cashier at the store while you two shopped. If you forgive and forget, you devalue yourself to some extend because you’re basically saying that it was okay for them to treat you like they did and go outside of your relationship. If you’re with a certain type of person, they’ll abuse your forgiveness and use it as a green light to cheat on you again since they know you’re not going anywhere.
If you discover that your friend’s boy/girlfriend is cheating on them, what do you do? My first instinct is always to let them know what’s going on, but I rarely ever do. With my ex I mentioned above, I was told by a mutual friend that he brought another girl to a comedy club and went home with her afterward, bragging about his conquest the next day. I didn’t believe it because my head was in the clouds and I thought he loved me. As much as I’ve desire to help friends when I know they’re being cheated on, I’ve almost always held back because they simply don’t listen to me and I sometimes lose a friend. It’s natural to want to trust the person you’re with over outside parties and it’s difficult to hear something that will negatively affect your relationship. Unless you have rock solid evidence that you can put in front of them and make it impossible to deny, it’s not a good idea to intervene. Even with proof, you risk your friend resenting you or ending the friendship out of fear that you will now be silently judging them and their relationship choices.
A couple ex-friends of my husband and I created a story about my husband’s infidelity at the end of the blow out that ended our friendship; it was their last-ditch effort to hurt myself and my husband. One acted like an ass and broadcasted the tale over various websites, but the other acted as though she was trying to help by telling me. She said she needed to share this with me because she cared and didn’t want me hurt. Let’s pretend for a minute that my husband is a dirt bag and actually did the deed. I wouldn’t have believed it at first if at all. I also would have been angry at my friends for waiting two years to tell me about his tryst with another woman. It also would have put a strain on the friendship they had with my husband and possibly become a reason for everyone going their separate ways. Two years had gone past from his “affair” so what would the point be in telling me now?
If you are the cheater, what do you do? Let’s assume it happened one time and was a mistake that you are regretful for. You slipped up one time and have no intentions of ever letting it happen again. The person you cheated with is also willing to let it go and never speak of it or to you again. Do you tell your spouse or boy/girlfriend? Personally, I would be eaten alive by the guilt and would either have to confess it all to him or leave him for good. But that’s me; some people would view their one time as a mistake that isn’t that big of a deal. They could choose not to tell their loved one because it’s over and done with, or perhaps they do tell them and expect forgiveness since it was only a single slip up. I’m torn on this one. I would want to know and I’d want it to come from the lips of my husband. I wouldn’t forgive him and wouldn’t be able to stay with him and it would break my heart, but I can’t be with a cheater and wouldn’t want to live in ignorance with a man who disrespected me enough to bump uglies with another woman behind my back. That being said, I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t want to know if something happened or they would forgive as long as it was just once. Although those are not choices I’d personally make, I can definitely see the logic in them.
It differs for me when dealing with a serial cheater. Maybe you have a mistress or maybe you have a couple of guys you’ve been stringing along, but long-term cheaters deserve to be exposed. I will reluctantly write off one time as a mistake, but repeating it is just dirty. The cheater is making a fool out of their partner every time they step outside the relationship. I don’t believe this type of cheater would be the one to cough up a voluntary confessions of their deeds but I do believe that they should. There are plenty of people in this world willing to have a casual roll in the hay; if you don’t want to stick with one person or can’t do so without cheating, stay single! If you’re getting off from the risk of getting caught, go find public kid-free places to have sex. I’d be more comfortable in a world where I occasionally glimpse a naked couple hiding in the bushes than a world where husbands are bringing home herpes and wives are banging the trainer at the gym while the kids are at school.
I have a zero tolerance policy for cheaters and I wish it was shared by more people in this world. I’d miss Joey Greco for a bit, but overall it would restore a bit of my faith in humanity. Cheating is a selfish activity that can easily be eliminated. Stay single and let people you date know that you’re seeking a casual encounter and are also going elsewhere. Enter a relationship and stay in an open status, with the two of you free to go see other people. There is absolutely no excuse for making a commitment to another person and betraying them. If you’re unhappy or if something is missing, end it and move forward. Don’t drag someone down and emotionally beat them just because you can’t keep your pants anywhere but around your ankles. Have some pride and respect.