You knew it was coming. You hadn’t wanted to accept it, but in the dark, quiet corner of your heart, you just knew. You tried to act surprised when you found out, but honestly? You couldn’t. Because the truth is, a part of you had known for awhile. Maybe it was the way he kept avoiding eye contact when you talked about the future. The way he brought his phone to the bathroom with him, even though his password had changed. The way he smelled when he arrived late for a date or how kept missing your calls. Whatever warning signs were there, you ignored them. You shoved them aside, or convinced yourself that you were just being paranoid. You were perfect for each other. You loved each other. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t.
And then he did.
It didn’t matter if it was a one-time thing or drawn out affair. He slipped. He couldn’t help it. He didn’t mean it. He was drunk. Whatever it was, whatever the reason, he cheated. He chose someone else over you, and things weren’t the same after that. You either broke up and went your separate ways, or clung on to love and tried to make it work. Whichever path you chose, it felt wrong. Things felt off balance. Like he not only cheated on you, but cheated you out of a part of your life. You’re angry and confused. So fucking confused, and all you want is to make it go away.
So you move on.
Or you try to, at least. You cry and hate yourself and hate him and hate love. You miss him and want him. You stalk the girl. You hate her. Is she better? What’s wrong with you? You spend an enormous amount of time feeling sad, and then one day, you stop. Something makes you giggle. A boy smiles at you. Life starts seeming bright again. You forget that you’re sad. So you flirt, and you text, and you find someone new. You see movies, and celebrate holidays, and laugh like you’ve never laughed before. Even though you never thought it would be possible, somehow you fall in love again. As your heart is healing, that wall that you built up slowly starts to crack. You’re so busy being happy you don’t even realize it’s happening. While you were discovering this new person, you forgot to keep your guard up. You forgot to protect yourself. You forgot what happened. You think it’s over, or better yet, you don’t even think about it at all. You’re sure that that dark part of your past is finally gone for good. The insecurity. The paranoia. The jealously. You almost don’t even realize that it’s there anymore. But then, one day when you least expect it, it comes back to you.
Maybe he gets a text message from a girl. Maybe he takes his phone into the bathroom with him. Maybe he smells funny or didn’t call you one night. Whatever it is, something sends a warning signal to your brain. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how trustworthy he is, no matter how improbable it seems – your mind starts screaming at you from a place that you thought was gone: It’s happening again.
The blood rushes to your face and you start panicking. What do you do? What do you say? You try to see who he’s talking to. You consider looking through his phone when he leaves the room. You become withdrawn and unhappy. When he asks what’s wrong you tell him it’s nothing, with every indication that your world is crumbling around you. Eventually it comes out. You tell him. Or you look. Things are fine and your love is fine. But you feel dirty. Wrong. Fucked up in the head for not being able to trust him. For not being able to trust yourself.
The hard part about being cheated on is that it’s always there. You can move on and try to relearn how to trust, but you’re never fully whole again. It doesn’t matter if you cut the person out of your life, you can never cut out what they did, and that changes you. Relationships are different. Love is different. A part of you questions commitment. A part of you wonders if it’s possible.
But despite your fear, and despite the changes, you keep going, you keep loving, and you keep living. The moments of insecurity never leave you, and more times than not you have to talk yourself down when something seems off. Your heart still catches, and his calls going to voicemail make you squirm. Worst of all, the pure idea of love has been tarnished.
But instead of falling back from that, you use it. You realize that no one is perfect. Love isn’t perfect. Instead of running from the pain, you let it be your guide. You learn to appreciate good people and how to spot the bad ones. You stop dreaming of a perfect guy and a perfect relationship, and instead dream of a real one. But most of all, you learn the value of yourself. Because no matter how many boys break your heart, or how many girls blindly take what isn’t theirs, you’re still here. You’re still standing, and breathing, and loving, and that’s someone to be pretty freaking proud of. That’s someone who deserves love..