How Hillary Clinton And The Women Who Stay With Cheating Men Aren't 'Stronger'

One of the most difficult decisions I ever made was deciding to leave my boyfriend after seven years. When I learned that he cheated on me, I went through hell. The pain was indescribable. But when he asked me if we could work it out, if we could just fix it and be okay, I caved.

I was in tremendous pain, but the experience propelled me into this intense power-woman mode. I had to show everybody that I was strong, that I could handle this and be the perfect girlfriend. I would not hold it over his head — I would be awesome about the whole thing. People would have huge respect for the way I was handling this.

Later, I realized that staying was not the difficult option. Staying with him didn’t mean I was strong, it meant that I was scared and weak and that my self-respect was nowhere to be found.

I was prepared to explain my decision to stay with him to everyone. I thought all my friends would tell me to leave the cheating bastard. But no, nobody did — quite the opposite, actually. When talking to my friends about it, even after I already knew I wouldn’t leave — I would still say I was planning to leave and call him names, just to let out the anger and frustration. But everyone would respond the same way: “You have so much together, think about your financial situation,” or, “But he loves you.” Nobody said not to take this crap and leave him. Nobody.

I remember that I was just 12 years old when the Monica Lewinsky affair transpired. I didn’t understand the pain Hillary Clinton was likely going through, but I knew the A-word and the C-word: affair and cheating. Throw in a couple of “sexual relations” and even a girl who never had any sexual relations knew it was a bad, bad thing.

I remember everyone talking about what a strong woman Hillary was. No tears, just one hell of a power woman. She earned so much respect for everything she endured, and many women have followed in her footsteps: Victoria Beckham, Huma Abedin, Silda Wall Spitzer, Elizabeth Edwards, Dina McGreevey and the list goes on. We all applaud these women for being so brave and so strong.

Though I can’t help but wonder: Isn’t staying the easy option? Every time his phone beeps, shivers run through your body. Every time he leaves, you wonder if he really does have a business meeting. It’s painful, it’s horrible and it requires a lot of work to rebuild trust. But, it still might be the easiest option.

Still, staying requires you to deal with the pain. The pain of your husband cheating is present whether you pack your bags or not. And when you leave, you also have to deal with losing your loved ones. Your whole life will change and it will be hard. Leaving is a lot harder than going through the pain while staying together.

I wonder if all these amazing, powerful women did us — the partners of cheaters — a favor by setting an example. But, they might have sent us the wrong message; I felt that if Hillary could do it, I could do it. I am strong, too. When adultery scandals end with women standing beside their men, doesn’t this send the message to women we should do the same? We call them “the good wives” and we all want to be good wives.

I felt strong when I put on a smile at social events, that I didn’t cry in public — but I felt a lot stronger when I left. After the fifth instance of cheating, I decided enough was enough and that I deserved better. I made that decision out of love — love for myself. It makes me feel incredibly strong.

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