After you tweeted me last week regarding the cheating situation, I thought about you and it a lot. I think that’s the territory that comes along with being a blogger; you become invested in your readers and want the best for them. I thought long and hard and opted to email you instead of writing a blog post about it because I’ve always been very intentional to not write about cheating on my blog. It’s a fragile topic and isn’t ever one I felt properly equipped to navigate in writing.
There’s a pretty blunt disclaimer on my blog that “This is not advice for how to live your life because, really, I don’t know shit about your life so I certainly can’t tell you how to live it.” It’s the disclaimer that I blanket over anything I tell people, especially people connected to me because of the blog. So, it’s the same disclaimer I would offer you. Take the bits of this that you want, trash the bits that you don’t, and ultimately do whatever it is you want to do.
I know you offered up the details of the situation, but I don’t need that. I know the basics: someone cheated on you. Someone you had feelings for in a major and monumental way lied to you. And, those details alone are facts that will permanently shift your perceptions, perspectives and paradigms about relationships.
When you told me you were 16, it was this incredibly strange moment because I know just how fucking annoying it is when people patronize anyone with the “Aw, you’re so young” mantra. I’m the youngest in my office and I hear that shit so much it makes me want to scream. So, I am not going to do that to you. Because, yes you are young, but you are still human. I remember being 16. I remember the guy I dated. I remember the day I sat in my living room two days before the end of the school year and he broke up with me. And, eight years later, I still know and respect that guy. I saw him just 6 months ago (on purpose.) So, I know that you are at a formative stage when it comes to dating and the mayhem that your situation brought will leave an imprint.
I think it’s very easy, almost elementary, to pull the “That guy’s a douchebag/asshole/motherfucker” phrase out of your back pocket when someone cheats. And, while all of those descriptors would probably be fitting for him, I am going to try and say more than that. I am going to try and give you more than that. Because, that’s what you deserve.
A prominent theme in my writing is ownership–owning your life, your mistakes, the energy you project, and your place in the world. It’s about being proactive, not reactive, about what happens. It’s about being deliberate when it comes to what you allow people to bring into your life. And, that’s a theme that takes years to learn. Hell, I’m still learning it. And, I’m not sure if I even grasped an iota of it eight years ago. But, it is my sincere hope that you get that. Because, that will determine whether this situation sends your life bouncing off of resentment and ricocheting out of control or if you decide that you do not and will not quietly consume someone’s bullshit.
Because, that’s what cheating is. It’s bullshit. It is the lowest common denominator of disrespect. It erodes a bond between two people and puts someone (in this case, you), in the most precarious, rage-invoking and vulnerable space. And, that’s a nasty dungeon to be in. Especially with someone you love.
So, you have to decide. There is nothing I will say, nothing the Male Think Tank will say, that will decide for you. The Male Think Tank could come up with seven different explanations of why this happened. But, knowing the root cause doesn’t change the end result. Waxing poetic about why this man did what he did doesn’t change the fact that he did it. That’s what you have to concern yourself with–the end result. So, this is on you. You have to decide if and when you need to let go. You have to decide if and when you need to torch this bridge. You have to decide if it’s OK for someone to cheat on you and lie through their teeth. And, you have to decide just how unwavering you’ll be in those decisions.
But, know that passivity is a decision. Keeping him around is a decision. Turning a blind eye to what happened is a decision. People are quick to mistake doing nothing as indecisiveness. Doing nothing is a decision. Inertia is a decision.
I could tell you that you deserve better, but I trust you know that. I trust you know that you deserve the world, the moon and the stars. You deserve someone who doesn’t cheat; that is a basic fucking requirement. It is not an option. It is not a nice-to-have. It is not a standard. It is expected.
I would love to tell you that it stops here, but it probably doesn’t. You are green and you will pay more of your dues in dating. I’m still paying mine and I have an inkling I will for awhile. You will meet more shitheads. You will fall in and out of love. But, the more you pay your dues, the more you will learn just what you will and won’t accept. As time ebbs and flows, you’ll become so much more intentional about the men, and just people, you keep around. You’ll realize you don’t have to take anyone, their baggage and their bullshit on if you don’t feel like it. Self-respect is a decision, too.
Maybe this said what you needed to hear or maybe it didn’t. But, I hope you remember that this is your life and you are entitled, hell, you are required, to make the decisions that will keep your sanity, happiness and wholeness in tact.
I hope you’ll keep reading the blog. Glad we’ve connected.