The First (And Only) Time I Was Cheated On

cheated on

It sucked all the way around. | Source: Shutterstock

As breakups go it was pretty healthy. I was pretty proud of myself. It had been a rough summer. After two good years suddenly we fought a lot. He was starting at Vassar and I had just transferred to NYU. I was ready to start college over, reboot, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the long-distance thing anymore.

Most tellingly, I didn’t miss him. I had been away with my parents for two weeks at the end of August and all I felt was relief. I was ready.

It was a Sunday night. He signed off saying he loved me. I said, “If only that were true.” He said, “Let me call you back.” He did five minutes later and we had an adult conversation. We agreed to stay friends. We said we’d talk next Sunday. I went to bed.

The next day, I called a mutual high school friend and told her we’d broken up and then casually asked what I had wanted to. “So, did you guys ever hook up while we were a couple?”

They had.
At a party.
One I was at.

The call ended with, “Hey, you know who else you should try?” It was a daisy chain of turds. Each call leading to some heinous revelation of hook-ups never more than twenty feet from me. Even though I had only come home on weekends he seemed to pathologically need to do it in the closest proximity possible.

WHERE was he, again?! | Source: Shutterstock

To this day I go red from the humiliation replaying the memories of parties I wandered around asking, “Hey, where’s Mark?” Everyone knew, but me. Sure I had heard rumors. My sister heard rumors. But he had denied them vehemently (and I had been on the receiving end of that high school myth machine so many times myself) that I chalked it up to jealousy.

Never. Again.

I cried for about four months straight. I cried to my new friends. I cried during naptime at my nanny job, and I cried so hard at work that one of my supervisors felt compelled to hug me. I was a wreck.

And then I started to remember. Not the intense love it seemed he had for me, but the panic attacks I would get at those parties. Always about something stupid.
I learned something. It has guided my life and it runs through our books. As a girl or a woman, you always know. Your gut knows. You can displace it onto hiring and firing nannies or in the case of Over You, just a lingering insecurity about everything and everyone. But you know.

I had a string of boyfriends after that who were flawed, but none ever cheated on me again. Because I learned to listen to myself, trust myself. And that is really the secret to everything.

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  • BurningSun

    I agree with this last part. My ex boyfriend cheated on me, only once, but before I even saw him again after (and his strange behavior) or found out, I knew something was up. Something was very very wrong and had messed us up permanently.