Infidelity 101

Today’s class is brought to you by Tempest Rose and Mr. Gardener, and this infographic.

Infidelity Dilemma

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Hello, my name is Tempest, and I am a serial cheater.

When we were first together everything was wonderful. Obviously, that’s how it always starts. We were blissful and perfect. But somewhere along the way things went wrong.

I don’t remember exactly why I’ve cheated on every person I have. I don’t remember exactly when or why or how things went wrong. I just know they did.

And someone was always there to pick me up. When things weren’t perfect I ran. I ran for my life and I ran for my love and I held on too tight to someone who was not available while letting go of those who were. That’s just how I worked.

I have no reason or grand scheme or super apology with a definite answer. I just did it. It happened. I apologize, of course, but I don’t think it’s enough.

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Hello, my name is Gardener, and I have been cheated on in every serious relationship I’ve been in
, and boy did that get old.  Each one was different, people being what they are, but I’m going to stick to the last 2, Mandy and Mary.  I’m staying with these 2 because I know for a fact that they each really loved me, and regretted their actions.

I was raised in the shadow of infidelity on the part of both my parents, who engaged in an array of bad behaviors beyond that.  Like some children I rebelled against my upbringing, and sought other role models.  Because I considered my parents’ infidelity one of their many evils, I adopted a monogamous mindset.  My future love would be my one and only, and I wanted to be the same to them. This of course didn’t work out the way I had hoped.

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When it happened I felt high — almost euphoric. Like something had taken over my body and my mind and I wasn’t all there.

When it happened nothing else mattered but that very moment.

There was no moment of clarity. There was no what the hell am I doing? question burning in my mind. There was only him and me, and passion. So much passion. Maybe I mistook it for love. Or maybe not. I really can’t say.

I don’t blame it on the alcohol or the drugs, which were involved most of the time, but something within myself that never learned how to quite care about these things.

Sometimes it was about the who, like when it was with Nate. Sometimes it wasn’t. Sometimes it was about the what. The attention, the feeling, the desire. Even the danger, I guess. It was just something. Whatever something I was missing. In hindsight, maybe I was missing myself.

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I never got an answer on why Mandy cheated, I didn’t need one.
 Fact was she cheated with the wrong person.  I think she had been drinking at the time, which was something she rarely did.  She hid this from me for a month before being forced into telling me by my friends who had caught her in the act. Mandy and I had some problems, and from my side it was that she was a very difficult person to deal with, especially for my friends and family.

When she told me the news of what she had done, I threw her out of my life immediately, I was that angry.  The following 20 minutes after the news were the last I would ever see of her.  After some time to heal, and get my head back on straight, I realized that while we had a great time (most of the time), we just weren’t meant to be together, and from there I moved on.

Mary cheated on me with a mutual friend of ours, and again I was angry.  Mary is such a wonderful and amazing person, I was hurt beyond measure.  There was such love between us, and I felt it acutely when she cheated.  It hurt like hell.  She succumbed to temptation due to drink, but she’d always had a thing for this person.  She told me what she had done a few months after the fact, just wanting to get it off her chest, and again I was very angry.

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Afterward, nothing was better.
But nothing was really worse, either. Things just went back to normal.

I never felt all too bad about what I did until long, long after. I rarely felt the need to confess my secret. Now I can understand the pain I’ve caused and I feel horrible, but back then I didn’t. I felt fine. I felt like myself. I felt like all the warnings I’d given the people I dated in the very beginning were sufficient enough to make up for my wrongdoings.

If there was fallout, I would cry. But more-so because I felt like I should be crying. I feared my partner abandoning me immensely, but more than anything I was angry. I was angry at them for being angry at me. I was angry that just sex was such a big deal.

If there was fallout, I would refrain from doing anything else for a while. I would “work” on my relationship. I would fall madly in love again and do anything to keep my partner.

If there wasn’t fallout, I would be out again the next night.

I ran as soon as I was loved. Once there was too much love, I got bored. For a relationship of mine to work, I have to be in constant fear of the other person leaving. What does that say about me?

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My response to being cheated on was definitely to question myself worth
, because I think thats natural.  I had self esteem issues from a childhood of neglect, so I didn’t have a great sense of self worth to begin with.  I can say I’m not bad a potential partner goes.  I’m handsome, smart, kind, funny, helpful, and as vain as it may sound, pretty good in bed, but whatever your sense of self worth, you will question yourself.  Moreover it was just simple hurt.  I’d always been a very loyal person, and my loyalty was never returned, and it felt like I’d been wasting my time being honorable.

Mary I would forgive, in small steps, across years.  It took a long time to attempt to restore our relationship.  Intimacy took a while, trust took forever, although I can say I trust her now.  Mary was too important to me to simply cast aside like Mandy, but recovery was very difficult.  I’ve heard a refrain from other betrayed spouses on the blogs that even many years later, you can flash on the event, and the anger returns like the day it happened, and that did happen a lot until just this past year.

I just couldn’t let her go however.  She is kind, and loving, and always there for me, and I consider her stepping outside of our marriage to have been a singular mistake.

However, I don’t think I finally let it go until I myself had stepped outside of our marriage and slept with (a few) someone else(s).

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Now, looking back, I think I know.
I can’t explain where my sympathy or empathy or remorse was, but I can explain one of the reasons I did it.

I was searching for that first kiss feeling. Like an addict who spends their life trying to get back to that first high, I was trying to get back to mine. The early relationship high, when everything is wonderful and grand and there are no problems other than who finds out.

It’s not healthy, I know. It’s not an excuse. It’s not even remotely enough to help heal those I’ve hurt. But at least it’s a start to an explanation I’ll no doubt uncover in time.

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Me becoming a cheater myself had only a little to do with having been cheated on
.  Sure, its there, that sense of having been betrayed is not totally absent from the equation, but it was something else that pushed me over the line on that one.

I’m sorry to my fellow cheatees out there, I know your pain.  I’m sorry for the bad example I’m setting now, though I don’t regret doing it at all now.  To love, and have the capacity to love, is to invite pain.  This is life.  These things will happen. Its unfortunate, but there it is.  To those that have been betrayed, I’m very sorry.  To those that betray, well, know why you are doing it, and maybe try and find a better way.

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To read more from Tempest, check out the rest of Nonsense & Shenanigans.

To read more from Gardener, check out his blog.