Being cheated on is probably one of the most gut-wrenching experiences anyone could ever have. It leaves you with a whirlwind of emotion and fills you with a toxic, twisted adrenaline.
Cheating doesn't just deprive you of the intimacy and comfort you have in the bedroom. The mistrust and hesitancy trickles through every crevice of the relationship. It robs you of your security, confidence and your faith. The only thing it doesn't rob you of is your love for that person, as much as you'd like it to.
Cheating brings about emotional seasons.
There's the shock season, in which you are so numb and unbelievably sick to your stomach that you feel like it couldn't possibly be real life. The person cheating on you couldn't possibly be the guy who was laying next to you last night, telling you how cute you look when your nose twitches just before you fall asleep.
Then there's the sad season, in which you cry more than you do anything else and eat chocolate cupcakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then there's the angry season, in which you throw all of his stuff in a bag and light it on fire while drinking a bottle of Pino with your best friends and listening to Carrie Underwood.
And then, there's the “glow up.” This is when you tell yourself you don't need him, you go to the gym/bars every day, you trade bagels in for green smoothies and you start rebounding. A lot. Some girls stay in this season, and more power to you. It's a great one to be in.
But the next one doesn't exist. Because the next phase is reality. That's when the all the questions start to swirl in your head, and you crave the closure you truly deserve.
There's this stigma and shame around women who take back the men who have cheated on them. Some of the words and phrases that come to mind are “weak,” “lack of self-respect,” “no morals" and “needs a man.” I'm here to say that's complete and utter bullshit.
First of all, it takes a lot of courage to love someone completely in the first place. To truly let your guard down and let someone in is no easy feat. Most of the time, it's a leap of faith. And that strength deserves some recognition.
Second, relationships are complex because as much as you merge into one being, you're still individuals. You still have needs, wants, doubts and you still make your own mistakes. I'm not insinuating this is an excuse, but it is, at the very least, an explanation.
But the truth is, hating your significant other after their infidelity, resenting them, tearing them down to the level of devastation you feel – that's the easy part.
The hard part? Forgiveness.
As easy as it may be to walk away, bash him to any and everyone, throw away all the memories and make a very aggressive subtweet about how much better off you are, it's much harder to stick around and listen to reason.
You might think I'm crazy, but after having the “cheating” conversation — which consists of "Why?" "How long?" and "How could you?" — there might come a closeness that may have been lost in the hustle of everyday life.
Now, if the reasoning consists of something shallow and fuckboy-ish, then of course, walking away from the cheater is the best option. But sometimes in a relationship, you can become so distant from the person you may be attached to 24/7. Appreciation and conversation can be replaced by distraction and comfort. And when that happens, spirits start to stray. Once again, I'm not saying this is a valid excuse, but if you really care about someone, it's worth hearing their side.
And once that conversation starts, you to see that distance sort of dissipate. You lose the feeling of certainty that you'll never lose the person, and that is healthy. That feeling, which can be summed up as not taking someone for granted, is necessary for a flourishing friendship and relationship.
I'm not saying sacrificing your self-respect is some noble act. However, having a real conversation and offering forgiveness to someone who has shattered you shouldn't be frowned upon, as it takes a great deal of strength and even more grace.