I’ve been in a reflective mood lately, so without ado, here’s another Musing. And today’s topic is: cheating.
Before you jump to any conclusions, yes, I have cheated before, but no, it hasn’t been any time recently, and it most definitely has not been with Boy.
Now, I have some rules and blanket judgments when it comes to the matter of cheating — especially in terms of gauging their future eligibility as a romantic partner now that they boast this blemish on their resumes — that probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone. I’ll outline them here anyway:
- If a person cheats (we’ll call him/her the “cheater”) on a significant other (we’ll call him/her the “cheatee”), it’s on them. So therefore: If A cheats on B, the burden of guilt goes to A. (Think Fred. No question.) At the same time,
- If a person is willing to be the offending paramour (we’ll call him/her the cheat-enabler), they’re obviously just a douchebag.
- If a person has been a cheater, hands down that’s a red flag. Also, they didn’t/don’t truly care for the cheatee.
- If a person is willing to be a cheat-enabler, they clearly have no respect for boundaries. Proceed with caution.
I understand that, by extension, this sounds like a case of me justifying arguments for both sides of the issue, and I fully acknowledge that this is both the impression I am giving off, as well as the act that I’m committing. If I’ve skipped a step here (which it appears I have), allow me to elucidate, beginning with:
About five months ago, Jared (ah, Jared) was in town again for Memorial Day. Long story short, he had a girlfriend (which I had found out prior to this occasion through a mutual friend) insisted I come hang out with him and his friends, I agreed, he made some big show about keeping his distance from me, I called his bluff and left his side, Jared found me later and dragged me out onto the dance floor, we danced, we made out, happy times.
Once we exited the club, Jared suddenly decided now was the time to inform me about his girlfriend.
“So I’m dating someone now,” he said, biting a huge chunk of his lip together with a greatly exaggerated expression of guilt.
“I heard,” I replied flippantly, amused that he’d waited to bring her up until now. Now, I might also add here that I was, at the moment, also feeling a little astonished at how much I didn’t care that I was the “other girl” in this situation. Mainly because, hey, it wasn’t on me.
“You did?” he asked, with more astonishment than me.
He ran his hands through his hair. “Fuck!” he exclaimed slightly too loudly for the profanity to be a natural progression of conversation and cheating-related guilt. “So I cheated.”
“That,” I said, tipping my head back toward the club “usually constitutes cheating, yes.”
He turned around to look at me square in the eyes. “Should I tell her?”
I stopped in my tracks. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Yeah, maybe I should tell her.”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course not!” I growled.
I suppose at this point I should detail my second set of rules when it comes to cheating, specifically regarding dealing with your guilt:
- If you’ve cheated once, and you’re not planning to make a habit of your cheating, don’t tell your significant other.* It’ll just hurt them unnecessarily, and you don’t deserve to have your burden of guilt lightened by coming clean. That said,
- If you cheat again, whether you tell him/her or not isn’t even the main issue anymore. Just break up with them.
*Boy and I have argued about this issue at “length” — i.e. over Gchat — about the principals and consideration behind confessing and not confessing. Needless to say, he very strongly disagrees with me on this point.
So these were the standards I cited when giving advice, as the “mistress,” for what Jared should do about exposing his mistress, i.e. me. I’ll note that he was also asking said mistress for this advice, but will assure you that I did my utmost to offer objective advice, putting aside an albeit very strong desire not to be disclosed to this girlfriend.
I shot Jared a hard look. “Look, are you planning on cheating on her again?”
“No,” he mumbled.
“Do you like her?”
“Well, yes, I mean, she’s my girlfriend.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s just a title. I mean, do you really like her?”
He paused, running his hand through his hair. “Sure… I… that is… I’m sort of, err, thinking of breaking with her?”
I raised my eyebrow. “What, why?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“That’s why I’m asking.”
He smoothed his hair again (he really does do this a lot). “Well… she’s kind of old.”
I smacked him.
“I mean, she’s like 30.”
“She’s 30?” I smacked him again.
“Ow!” He grabbed his arm where I’d hit him twice. “And she’s kind of demanding too.”
“She’s throwing this event for this business that she runs and wants me to do all these things to help out. Like coordinate this, and put that together, and all this extra time on the weekends…”
I shook my head, then scowled. “You’re such a douchebag.” Then I went on. “Well, it’s bad enough that you’re making her this short-term thing and that she’s got all these counts against her. Don’t add insult to injury by telling her you went and did this idiotic thing.”
“Are you sure?” Jared bit his lip.
* * * * * * *
So I’ve illustrated how I’ve removed blame from myself for being the cheat-enabler. But now to turn the tables and pity the cheater while targetting the cheat-enabler (and yet I’ll continue, after the writing of this, to try and straddle both sides of the field, to remove myself from the same blame I’m placing on cheat-enabler above and cheater here).
I’m keeping this as a brief synopsis, given that this story is not mine to tell, and I present it more as an argument than as some bona fide storytelling for entertainment’s sake. The story goes like this.
My good friend Minnie was dating Dan. Minnie and Dan had attained some level of seriousness in their relationship, with Minnie having met Dan’s parents and all. However, Minnie had since developed a crush on another boy, Abel. Abel apparently returned her feelings, and decided to show this by kissing her one day, even though he knew she was dating Dan. Minnie then broke things off with Dan to date Abel, believing his words that he shared her feelings for him. But Abel hinted at some severe qualms at being in a committed relationship. Though for some time he led Minnie to believe she might be the one to change his commitment-adverse ways, sure enough, he swiped the mat out from underneath Minnie by breaking things off with her.
I do think there are some blanket judgment elements at play here. For instance, yes, Minnie definitely did not like her cheatee enough, which is how she allowed the cheating to happen. Yes, Minnie feels the guilt of having cheated to progress affairs with Abel, rather than instituting a clean break with Dan before pursuing this alternative.
That said, I find myself more inclined to side with cheater in this situation — yes, by virtue of my being close friends with Minnie, but also by virtue of Abel just being a douchebag.
According to my blanket rules, Abel was willing to cross the line with Minnie by kissing her, even though he knew she most definitely wasn’t single. This itself shows that he lacks regard for others, that he doesn’t think about the consequences of his whimsical actions, and also that he thinks lightly of commitments as long as they involve individuals but himself — that is, he’s enormously self-centered. Also, cite Point 2: He is the cheat-enabler. Therefore, he is undeniably a douchebag.
Of course, according to this logic, I was also a douchebag. But I still maintain Jared’s cheating was on him.
* * * * * * *
What do you all think? Is everyone equally responsible for an instance(s) of cheating? Is one party ever more blame-worthy/condemnable for cheating, cheat-enabling, or even being cheated on?
And I guess also for that matter, by tangent: Are there ever winners and losers in cheating?