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What Becomes Acceptable After a Boyfriend Cheats

We’ve all been there – you meet a cute guy on a Saturday night, have instant chemistry,and spend all of Sunday brunch gushing to your friends about how jealous they’re going to be of the two of you. Yet after a few days of timid texting and shameless fantasizing, you start to hear unsettling rumors about your future fiancé. Girls come up to you in the dining hall and at parties,subtly hinting that your new prince charming has been known to stray. Your rational mind tells you that maybe you should drop him before this fiction becomes reality, but your emotional mind wins out, insisting that you can change his ways. Sometimes you get lucky in this situation,domesticating the man-whore-that-was; but other times, you wind up dating my ex-boyfriend.

Finding out you’ve been cheated on sucks, but it shouldn’t act as a death sentence for your love life. It takes time for emotional wounds to heal, and for trust in the male sex to be restored. After discovering that I had not, in fact, made an honest man out of my most recent ex,I spent the entire summer alternately mourning our relationship, beating myself up over having trusted him, and wishing I had never discovered the ugly truth. It wasn’t until one recent night,fueled by white wine and my roommates’ encouragement, that I finally had a revelation: Screw it. If he did whatever he wanted while we were “dating,” I’m going to do whatever I want now that we’re broken up.

Now I’m not advocating seeking vindication or devoting your life to the destruction of his. Bitterness doesn’t look good on anyone, and a boy who has mistreated you isn’t worth that kind of time or effort. I’m simply suggesting that you take a page from his book and put your own desires first, remembering that his disloyalty made the following true:

1) His friends are now fair game. This doesn’t mean that you should make a “to-do” list of his teammates and frat brothers – let’s keep it classy, ladies. If, however, one of your cheating ex’s friends has always had some sort of appeal to you, you may now pursue him guilt-free.

2) Embarrassing stories may finally be shared. You know all of those times your ex dids omething hilarious that you haven’t told anyone about for the sake of his dignity? Now it’s your turn to be loose-lipped.

3) You are free to rant (but maintain integrity). Obviously no one is dying to go aroundrecounting the story of how her ex cheated on her, but the occasional rant can be cathartic. Just remember that while what he did was wrong, it doesn’t justify ex-bashing or spreading rumors.

4) Make your availability known around campus. Do you have an old sweatshirt of his that you used to proudly sport on Saturday mornings? Give it to Good Will. Are there male friends you stopped hanging out with for the sake of your ex’s comfort? Reconnect with them. You don’t have to perch on boys’ laps in the middle of Dewick or have DFMO’s every weekend toget the message out that you are now – praise the Dear Lord – single.

5) Tactfully remind him of what a catch you were. Cliché though the expression may be, the best revenge truly is living well. A cheating boyfriend may break your heart, but don’t let him break your spirit. If you have a class with your ex, don’t suddenly shy away from participating in discussions. If he plays a sport, don’t feel like you can no longer go watch games – your school spirit will remind him what a supportive girlfriend you were. Whether it’s frat parties, school clubs and organizations, or any other activity, you don’t have to forfeit your extracurriculars for fear of awkward interactions. Being constantly reminded that not only are you smokin’ hot, but you’re also smart, funny, and interesting, he will regret his sleazy behavior more and more.

While these new possibilities can be fun, liberating, and empowering, it is important to keep a few things in mind. One: steer clear of roommates and relatives – remember, you don’t want to sink to your ex’s level and do something you know would hurt him. Two: don’t trash talk. It’s important to be able to talk about your hurt, but going around campus dissing your ex to everyone who will listen can only harm your reputation. Three: don’t punish the girls he cheated on you with – unless, of course, you know for a fact that they knew that he had a girlfriend. If they had no idea that he was involved, they, too, were deceived, and most likely had no intention of hurting you. Above all, act with integrity, don’t do anything you will regret, and keep your chin up – you will find someone better.

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 Jessica Lee is a senior at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Before transferring to Tufts in the fall of 2011, she spent a semester abroad in Paris, and studied at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA, for two years. Jessica is majoring in English and minoring in Communications & Media Studies, with an eye towards working in PR or Marketing. Never one to shy away from taboo topics or keep her opinion to herself, Jessica enjoys coming up with topics for her weekly “He Said vs. She Said” column.
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