You and your girlfriends hear of some guy who cheated on his girlfriend. Maybe it’s that couple from high school, or maybe it’s mere collegiette gossip. Instead of throwing a fit and vowing to never see the d-bag again, the girl does something different—she takes him back. At this point in the conversation, you and your friends are bashing this girl for her stupidity: she’s a bimbo, she’s oblivious, she’s an idiot. We’ve all thought that before.
I used to be one of those girls. I thought, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” But it wasn’t until I was cheated on that I understood what these so-called “bimbos” were thinking. Call me crazy, but I took back my own cheater. My story isn’t supposed to be a pity party, but I do hope it helps girls understand the other side while simultaneously acting as a support system for girls who went through what I did.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? When I was a junior in high school, all I wanted was a boyfriend, accompanied with a whirlwind romance. Imagine my surprise when one of my guy friends asked me out on a date. After weighing the pros and cons—yes, I’m that girl—I agreed to a date. A couple awkward months later, we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Finally, just what I had always wanted.
Everyone would always comment on how “out of his league” I was – people would say I was more attractive and ambitious (their words, not mine) than him. But I didn’t care: I was treated like a princess. After all, don’t all pre-collegiettes want to be showered with compliments, driven around, and treated to ice cream on the regular?
Since my boyfriend was a year older and, well, a boy, he was very eager to lose his virginity. As a pregnancy-phobic, I wanted to get on birth control. That required asking my mom to take me to the gyno, which would have just been awkward. Every time he tried to persuade me, I was very adamant with my choice to wait. I will admit that he was disappointed, but respectful. One time, my answer (once again, a no) opened up a whole new question: would we try a long distance relationship when he went to college? Before I was in a relationship, I thought long distance was stupid. But I was in love (or so I thought), so why not try it out?
When he left for college, I tried my hardest to be the best long distance girlfriend ever: I’d talk to him every night, send him cute letters in the mail, and even visit him. Things were going well until late September, a year after we started dating. After visiting one of his best friends from high school—a girl, mind you—he became very distant with me. When I asked his best guy friend, he just said that my boyfriend was having a tough time adjusting to college. Since my boyfriend was always one of those people who loved high school, that made a lot of sense. Besides, why would his friend—whom I was also close with—lie to me? A week before our one year anniversary, I visited him at school. Lo and behold, he started pressuring me again to have sex. Since I still wasn’t on birth control, I said no. This time, he didn’t seem to respect my wishes as he did before: he became angry, and we started fighting.
A week later, my mom and I talked about making an appointment with the gyno. I honestly didn’t feel threatened by our fight – I just thought it was time to ask. By the time he came home for Christmas break, I was officially on birth control. I was excited, nervous—any emotion a girl usually feels anticipating this day. But the day my boyfriend was coming home, my ideal V-card scenario was shattered. We were chatting online before he left, and I was telling him how excited I was to hear back from colleges. He was not interested. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that there was something he needed to tell me… in person. Is it just me or is that the most terrible thing a person can say to you? I instantly expected the worst, and I asked him if he wanted to end things. Thankfully, he said no. Okay, what’s the second worst thing? “Did something happen with another girl?” I timidly typed. “We’ll talk about it when I get home,” he replied, making some lame excuse and then signing off. My stomach dropped. Where was this coming from? Did he actually cheat on me? I texted two of my close friends, and they rushed over with treats. For the rest of the day, I sat on my couch, emotionally paralyzed, as I awaited my fate.
He picked me up once he got home, no hugs or kisses. We drove in silence until he pulled over on the side of the road. Though he stared straight at his windshield, I could see tears stream down his face as he explained to me what happened. He got really drunk while he was away and cheated on me. Although I prepared myself for this all day, I was still surprised. He was the last person I would have expected to be a cheater. But maybe it wasn’t too bad, I thought. “How far did it go?” I asked.
“All the way,” he said. “I want to work things out with you, but I knew I couldn’t take your virginity without telling you.”
At this point of the story, I should tell you that he was also a virgin. As his girlfriend, I was excited for both of us to have this milestone together.
Who did he do it with, you ask? I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now: his gal pal from high school. Someone I knew and who knew me. While she and I weren’t BFFs, it bothered me that she, too, failed to factor me into the situation. At this point I was angry, upset and confused. Though he wanted to work on our relationship, I told him that I wanted to think about it. As he drove me home, I began texting my friends about what happened. They all thought it was a sick joke. Believe me, I wished it was. My friends came to visit me and even took me out to get ice cream, though I was barely hungry. I ended up telling him that I couldn’t be with him, and we broke up. He was devastated.
A few days later, I found myself genuinely missing him. As much as I hated what he did, I couldn’t bring myself to hate him. After all, the incident was so out of character for him. That hopeless romantic inside me kept thinking, “I can make this work. I don’t want this relationship to end this way.” My friends and family know how much pressure I put on myself and, at this time, I was pressuring myself to salvage what was left of my relationship. Plus, I was afraid to be single, especially after being cheated on. I was afraid people who didn’t know me with would find out and pity me. I was afraid I wouldn’t find anyone else.
Since I was so unsure of my feelings, I texted him to see how he was doing. Betrayed ex-girlfriends can do that, right? We ended up having a long conversation where he explained how devastated he was to lose me and that he had told his gal pal that they could no longer be friends. I wanted to pretend it never happened. I wanted to give him a second chance. So I told him that he’d have to prove his dedication to me.
Long story short, he won me back. He took me out on secret dates (I wasn’t ready to tell people about my decision), brought me flowers, and he eventually made the effort to apologize to my family and friends. My parents were very supportive with my decision to take him back; while they don’t condone cheating, they just wanted me to be happy.
I was afraid to tell my friends. Would they all think I was an idiot and talk about me behind my back? Would I lose their respect? Would I suddenly be a social pariah or something? As it turned out, most of them were very supportive of my rekindled relationship. They accepted me at a time when I needed them most, and I don’t think they’ll ever realize how thankful I am for that. “You handled the situation like a rock star,” one of my friends told me.
My best friend, on the other hand, was not pleased. When I told her I was considering taking him back, she said, “I would lose a lot of respect for you if you did.” That crushed me. Shamefully, I hid the relationship from her for a while. When I finally told her the truth, our friendship changed. Though we’re still friends, I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cause a strain. Maybe she reminded me how embarrassing the situation was for me, but I felt uncomfortable telling her things. I felt like I was constantly being judged.
My relationship with my boyfriend felt as good as new; however, once he was back at school, doing God-knows-what with God-knows-who, my silent suffering began. I slowly turned into a paranoid monster, someone that I truly hated. How drunk was he? Why did it take him months to tell me? What else happened that he wasn’t telling me? Would he have cheated on me if I had given in to his persuasion? What’s wrong with me? Instead of blaming my boyfriend, the one who actually betrayed me, I focused all my energy towards his former female best friend. She must have seduced him, I convinced myself. But deep down, I wasn’t so sure.
Complaining about your love life gets pretty old after a while. So instead of burdening my friends or family, I thought it’d be best to talk to my boyfriend about my worries.
“I don’t remember,” my boyfriend would reply. I could see that he didn’t love talking about how he cheated on me, but I didn’t care: I wanted answers. Whenever we’d go to parties together, I found myself getting fiercely angry with him. Seeing him drunk just reminded me of what happened.
Once I got to college, I would go to parties and get drunk, just like any collegiette. But I stayed away from temptation. Even when I would get attention from a cute guy, cheating was the last thing on my mind because I knew I was in a committed relationship. But if I could resist temptation, why didn’t he?
As my suffering continued, I realized that my boyfriend wasn’t the boy who nervously asked me out years before. Instead of praising me, he’d insult me when I told him funny stories about boys flirting with me. Instead of being invested in my every move, he barely cared about my new, collegiette life. He’d still get drunk at school, take questionable pictures with girls, and some girls would even post smiley faces on his Facebook wall. When I confronted him, his inner monster was also released. “You really need to get over what happened,” he once said.
So why did I stick with him? I didn’t want to fail, and I wanted to put the cheating aside: I just wanted to go back to our pre-cheating relationship. And after years of dating the same guy, I was afraid to be single.
Eventually we did break up. Though he claimed he couldn’t deal with the long distance, I have a sneaking suspicion that his ways were making a comeback. Was I upset by the break-up? Sure, but not nearly as much as I thought I would’ve been. After voluntarily being suffocated by betrayal and fear, I was finally free—released from the endless questions and paranoia episodes. And because of that, I was over my ex within a month.
Unfortunately, the relationship brought about a lot of insecurities. When boys showed interest in me at parties, I’d shoot them down in complete disbelief and fear that they, too, would cheat on me if things got serious. When people complimented me, I’d reject their kind words because my boyfriend’s snarky comments made me question myself. It took a while to realize that I did nothing wrong and that there’s nothing wrong with me.
Am I glad that my first boyfriend cheated on me? Of course not. But it happened, and I can’t change that. I followed my heart, and I’ll never regret my decision. It taught me a valuable lesson: I deserve better.
To be honest, I am still afraid to enter another serious relationship. But I’ve been through the worst, so the only way I can go is up. I know that I will find my Prince Charming, but I also know I have to kiss some toads until then. Even if they are cheating toads.