Her Story: I Took Back a Cheater

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.