Up until that point, I was the Taylor Swift of my relationships. I was always the victim. At least, that's how I saw myself.
This boy didn't text me back. That boy broke my heart. It was the same story every time.
"I am such a good person," I would tell myself. Why was I always on the receiving end of heartbreak? Couldn't there be just one guy out there who was nice, kind and caring, like I was?
In my own eyes, I was never the problem. I could do no wrong. It was always the other person who was the assh*le. I was the delicate little flower, waiting for her prince charming to sweep her off her feet.
But then came Riley. We were introduced through a mutual friend. I was excited to meet someone who seemed genuinely kind and interested in not just having a girlfriend, but also in keeping a girlfriend. However, he came at the wrong time.
I met him the summer before I was to study abroad in Wales. This was, for the first time in my life, a time when I was actually excited to be single. I would be free to sample different people and experiences in Wales.
I would have no attachments back home. Nothing was holding me back.
The day before I shipped off to Wales, Riley asked me to be his girlfriend. I was hesitant. This was not only specifically because of the reasons listed above, but also because I didn't really feel any spark with Riley.
He was bland, vanilla. But, I said "yes" anyway. Some part of me believed I would be a fool to let the only respectable man who wanted a real relationship with me go.
So, there I was. I was in a relationship that began with us being 3,000 miles apart. On my first night there, I cheated on him.
You see, I knew no one else going to Wales. But, I managed to make an American friend who also didn't know anyone. We hit it off right away.
We spent the first night – and many after that – together. I felt terrible.
But, I didn't let Riley know. We kept our relationship as close as it could be when two people are an ocean away. We talked about all the things we would do together when I got back and how much we loved each other. He was just so excited to have me as his girlfriend. He couldn't wait to show me off to all his friends.
"Ugh. What was wrong with me?" I thought. "I'm the one who gets cheated on. I'm not supposed to be the one who does the cheating."
Up until this point, I thought I could do no wrong. I was the perfect one in the relationship. I was the one who always had your back. I was the one on whom you could depend to never, ever cheat on you.
I saw cheaters as the scum of the earth. They were people who didn't deserve to be loved.
Well, now I was the cheater. So yes, I thought I didn't deserve to be loved.
About two months after I came home from Wales, I couldn't keep it in any longer. I told him what had happened.
He was angry, but he ultimately forgave me, even though I didn't forgive myself. We dated for six months after that. Then, we broke up for unrelated reasons.
However, during those six months, I basically had to change my whole world view and perception regarding myself.
I realized I wasn't perfect, and that I could make mistakes. Even the most virtuous person can be unvirtuous at times. I needed to learn I was capable of being the bad guy. Now that I know I can also have weaknesses and make mistakes, I can work on strengthening them.
I don't consider myself a bad person. I just think I was naive, and I know better now.
I don't keep secrets anymore. I know how to be better person to those around me. It just took a few misplaced steps to get there.