Confessions of a Serial Cheater

I have only had a few boyfriends in my short life, but I cheated on all of them. At least once. That is the personal truth that haunts me the most, even considering my dark history of family trauma, drug problems and sexual abuse suffered in early childhood and young adulthood. Those things still hurt, but in a more impersonal way, because those painful events were generally not self-inflicted and rarely affected innocent people. Obviously, I can't say the same for my infidelity issue and that's why it weighs me down. I used to write it off as a character flaw, but that’s a cop-out. It’s selfish, harmful behavior that I need to consciously abstain from, and I’m working on that. I find that open and honest reflection helps.

Early in my dating career towards the end of high school, my relationships, if you could even call them that, were casual and noncommittal. I once dated a kindhearted country boy from Texas that was raised on Christian values and southern decorum. We had little in common and disagreed on all political topics, but he treated me with more respect and admiration than any boy I’ve ever known. 

 

He would take me out on classic, sweetly innocent dates - like the kinda young Taylor Swift would sing about. I enjoyed his company, but it was the beginning of the summer and he was soon heading off to college four hours away, while I still had another year of high school left. The knowledge of inevitable separation dulled passions and led to a mutual understanding that it could only be a summer fling. With all things considered, he certainly didn’t deserve to be cheated on three times.

“We’re not in love. We’re not even right for each other. We’re so young that it doesn’t matter if you think of the big picture.” These were some of the things I told myself in an attempt to justify my moral discretions and to help myself fall asleep at night. I decided I wasn’t mature enough for a relationship yet, but still also clung to the hopeful belief that if I only fell in love, that would be enough to deter the bad behavior. 

Then I did fall in love with my first and only serious boyfriend and that optimistic vision was shattered. It didn’t take long for me to catch intense feelings for him - we got along like old friends and related to each other in many ways. Although, it also didn’t take long for me to cheat on him. It started after he had gone back to school, so I tried to use the 200-mile distance between us as a justification. I told myself I was just lonely and unhappy in the relationship, and that it wouldn't matter anyway because what he didn't know couldn't hurt him. No harm, no foul right? 

Our doomed love story ended in a terribly public disaster of fiery catastrophe, due to my infidelity. The only silver lining was that I finally got what I deserved - I lost my best friend (him) and many others. I had been living in ignorant denial, choosing to turn a blind eye to all of the bad karma that would soon inevitably catch up with me and exact its wrath. Now there's nothing I regret more than the way I destroyed the most special and pure connection I’ve ever had with someone. I miss that kid every single day and I think I always will.

Earlier this year, I tried to give exclusivity another shot and it nearly ended in the same disastrous fashion. Unsurprisingly, I ruined it in the classic way that I always do, but I was ostensibly fortunate enough to get away with it this time. "Ostensible" is the key word here. The fact that he doesn't know the truth does not make it hurt any less, because I still have to meet my own guilty eyes in the mirror. I cannot hide from the terrible things I've done and I will carry that burden forever. I've since decided to take a long break from relationships because clearly, I'm still not ready. Hey, I might not ever feel ready or well-suited to be in a committed relationship, but I’ve accepted that. At least I’ll always have my pets.

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