I feel like addressing cheating. It’s something that’s been on my mind as of late--and you’ll soon understand why. As you all know, I’m single, so clearly I’m not the one doing the cheating. I’ve had friends be cheated on in the past, and I’ve helped pick up the pieces. Never have I experienced the opposite, in which my friend is very much in the wrong. Until now.
I’ve tried to reserve judgment (verbally at least) so that my friend feels she has someone to talk to about the situation. Whether or not I’m enabling her is unclear to me. But I want to be clear up front. I don’t condone cheating. I think it’s selfish, immature, and frankly, kind of cowardly. If you truly love someone, you want to do everything to make sure they don’t get hurt. I get we all have biological urges and needs, but we’re evolved people. Don’t put your partner through the emotional trauma of being cheated on just because you’re bored.
Here’s the situation: my oldest friend (of about 18 years) has been dating her boyfriend for nearly three years (this September is their anniversary). I’m not going to say she can’t do better, because she can. But he’s no Wickham. He treats her right, and that’s all that matters. They met in college, but he’s from out of state. So he returns home for the summers, and they do long-distance for a few months, which has generally worked out fine--up until about last week.
My friend Melanie ran into an old crush--and by “old crush” I mean back when she was nine and he was ten and they’d never physically talked, only smiled at each other shyly (which isn’t all that different from my boy interactions these days at the age of 20). Anyways, they ran into each other at a wedding about two weeks ago, and they danced and flirted, and my friend drank a little too much. (My friend weights about 95 lbs. so it really doesn’t take much.)
Mel got on Facebook later that night and was faced with a friend request and a message from her old crush. It started out innocently enough. I think she just wanted the attention, which is something I understand. We all want to feel desired and attractive, especially when her boyfriend is so far away. Online flirting turned into hanging out which turned into making out. And it turned into more than just a one time thing. I get that people can slip up. But when you continue to choose the same course of action...blaming alcohol only goes so far when the mistake keeps happening.
The real problem here is that my friend didn’t see any of this as cheating (which just boggles me): “What happens in Omaha stays in Omaha, right?” she joked. She keeps saying it has nothing to do with her boyfriend. But then she’ll say things like, “I can’t help my happiness right now!” about this new/old crush. It seems like not only physical cheating, but a little bit of emotional cheating is creeping in--something I don’t think she expected.
I haven’t told her how surprised I am by her behavior. I did tell her to think carefully before doing anything with this old crush--once something happens, you can’t exactly take it back. I love her, and I want her to be happy, but I can’t support her new flirtationship.
Ironically, as I was finishing up this post, I got a text from Mel explaining that she and her boyfriend had broken up, and for reasons unrelated to her infidelity. Apparently they’d been having problems that she didn’t feel comfortable sharing with me. These problems explain why she was so drawn to this new guy; a fresh start certainly looked appealing.
Fresh starts are starting to look super appealing to me. Mel fell out of love and into like and maybe that was the best possible thing for her. I’m not saying the cheating was good--it wasn’t. But it did lead to her end what apparently was an unhealthy relationship, and now she has the opportunity to pursue single life or jump in with her old crush. Single life isn’t for everyone (and it’s definitely not for her--she hasn’t been on her own since sophomore year of high school).
My takeaway from this whole situation is a reaffirmed belief in honesty and fidelity--first and foremost, honesty to yourself. If you’re in an unhappy relationship, access it, and take care of that situation before you complicate it by bringing in another person into your bed; cheating makes for the worst kind of threesome.