Once a Cheater

Anthony Weiner, Jesse James, Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eliot Spitzer. And those are only the ones I can think of off the top of my head. All prominent, successful and some would argue, talented men, who had wives equally as brilliant. And yet, they cheated. Some by sleeping with an unbelievable amount of women, others through sexting – the coward’s way of showing his goods to someone who isn’t supposed to see. Others even fathered other children, keeping their love babies hidden for a decade.

The lack of guilt is astonishing to me. If you decide to get married, why would you stray? If you think there is a chance of that happening, why get married or enter a relationship anyway? I try not to be of the mindset “once a cheater, always a cheater”, considering I did give Mr. P a second-go after the Dubai frenzy. I’d like to think that people make mistakes – some worse than others – and if they really want to change, if they really want to be better for themselves and their partner, then they can be.

But if they’ve promised to be faithful and they continue to jump from bed-to-bed – is there a way to build that trust back up?

I’m not sure. I’m not convinced that once you’ve introduced infidelity into your relationship, that the relationship can ever repair. Even though Mr. P & I weren’t official then, when he explored other possibilities with a woman I had never heard of before – it wasn’t easy to continue with the then-friendship. But I thought he was worth it and I thought he sincerely cared about me, so I swallowed the fear and went forward, promising myself I’d learn to trust him again.

I never really did, though.

Partly because of his hesitation to introduce me as his girlfriend when I was introduced to others. I was usually just “Lindsay” or when absolutely necessary or flat-out asked, he’d balk at the title before actually admitting it. He didn’t want to be claimed by anyone, I suppose – and yet, all I wanted was for him to claim me. This, plus an awful, incurable wondering-eye, always put me on the edge, wondering if he’d repeat history and cheat for real this time. After exclusivity is accepted by both parties, any confusion can basically be put to bed if one strays. I hoped he was getting what he craved at home so he wouldn’t be tempted by the fruit of models in meatpacking, which he constantly commented on, but who knows? You can’t blame your partner for the reason you decide to dip into other parties or to let yourself out to play with others a little too nicely.

He promised up and down, and continues to swear that he’s only been with me and will remain true. I can’t say that I don’t hope this is the truth but I also can’t deny I have my doubts. Even if he does spend the evenings with me, call and text me, keep in touch constantly – there’s a whole world out there that’s changed the face of cheating.

Simply by making it instant and anonymous.

Technology offers limitless opportunities to connect with others, which is great for my parents and I and for video-conferencing at work, but problematic for relationships. With the click of a mouse, with a simple BBM, with a Facebook message that no one can see, by hiding your wall from others, by locking your phone and having everything you own blocked by passwords, you not only welcome others into your world, but you block others out. I’ve never been one to snoop, I find by looking you always find what you think you will, regardless if it’s based on fact or implications. So I don’t log into personal accounts and fish, I just try to remind myself that if anything is hidden, it’ll eventually be uncovered.

Cheaters may make incredibly convincing liars but they are often messy. Tracks will lead to something, or better yet- someone.

I don’t understand why betrayal is so common but we’re all surrounded by it. I once met a guy who has cheated on his girlfriend dozens of times, yet is considering proposing. He reasons that once he’s married, he’ll stop. He’ll make a choice to be faithful. Someone else I know doesn’t think cheating is really wrong unless you are married – in dating relationships, all is fair game as long as you check “single” on your W9. I’ve heard of open relationships that actually work well, and people with different levels of cheating: grinding on a dance floor and a little kissing doesn’t count, but foreplay does. (What’s the difference?)

So will Mr. P cheat? Will I even know if he does or if he has? Can you build trust once it’s shattered? Are celebrities and technology making the road to infidelity surprisingly easy and even alluring? Does monogamy work?

I’m not sure I know the answers to these questions but I will say that for me, being with someone is simple. If I decide to be true and faithful, I will be. If I sleep with you, you’ll be the only one. If someone advances, I’ll pull away. If flirting seems outlandish, I’ll change the tempo.

And if you cheat on me and I figure it out, you better be able to run as fast as I type.