The moment I figured out cheating was something that could happen in a relationship, I vowed if it were to ever happen to me, I would not take it lying down. There would be no crying, no begging – just fiery wrath. No one would ever hurt me and live to tell the tale.
Cut to my boyfriend of five years cheating on me via a series of classy Tinder dates, all of which I’d discovered thanks to women’s intuition and a password he was careless with.
More surprising than this discovery was the fact that I hadn’t begun to plot an elaborate crime that would make him pay for what he’d done. All the rage I expected to feel just wasn’t there. Though, I assure you, I tried to conjure it.
I listened to empowering female anthems and had some great sing-a-longs, but they didn’t make me want to bust the windows of his car. The urge to slash his tires never overtook me. Even a fantasy I thought was sure to come – throwing his most prized possessions on the curb and lighting them on fire while smoking a cigarette as a deep sense of satisfaction washed over me – didn’t.
Instead, what I felt was a slew of softer emotions. Disappointment? Yes. Shock? Definitely. But also, a strange kind of understanding. I’d been in a relationship with the guy for the past five years. I knew him, and it’s always hard to hate what you understand.
When it came down to it, I knew we wouldn’t last forever. I always knew that. When he moved to California after his graduation, I told him we should end it. Romantic pessimist that I am, I knew the odds were against us, just a pair of twenty-somethings who’d only begun to taste what adulthood was.
He wasn’t having it, though, and his optimistic resolve to make this work was strong enough to temper my concerns. We didn’t know jack about long distance relationships, but we knew that we loved each other, and that was enough.
Only, it wasn’t. Our relationship became a series of downs and more downs. A bright spot were our visits, but even those had occasional hiccups. During these moments it was hard not to think that we were fighting an invisible giant, but damn it if the memory of what we had wasn’t worth the fight.
I think this is why finding out he’d cheated on me didn’t incite murderous thoughts, as I was 115% positive it would. I knew that what we’d had for the past year wasn’t what either of us wanted. We wanted what we had before, and that was impossible to have.
If I was honest with myself, we would’ve broken up long before his cheating pushed me to do it. And if he was honest with himself, idyllic imbecile that he was, he would’ve admitted that his will wasn’t as strong as he led both of us to believe.
It may be of little consolation to someone presently going through this—and each person’s experience is their own—but having joined the not-so-exclusive club of People Who’ve Been Cheated On, I realized for me, it wasn’t as awful as I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it was bad, but it was also the jolt I needed to move on.
If you take this punch to the heart and look at it a little further, (careful not to let your tears cloud your vision), there’s a lesson to be found. We’ve all heard that honesty is the key to keeping a relationship alive. Now I know it’s the key to ending one that needed to end, too.
Audrey Williams is a very serious journalist, blogger and aspiring drag queen. When she’s not hunting for glitter, sequins (faux) fur and feathers, she’s probably buying books to add to her often ignored “to read” pile. Oh, and she loves her Shih Tzu, Millie, way too much. It’s a little weird. Follow her trail of glitter to Twitter, Instagram or head over to her blog, lululinden.com.
[Image via FOX]