I Cheated On My Girlfriend — Here's What I Wish I Had Known Before I Did It

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There comes a time in every relationship when your pillow talk turns from sexual fantasies to childhood memories to the uncomfortable questions you’ve been dying to ask about each other’s past relationships: “When was your last serious girlfriend?” “Were you in love?” "Have you ever cheated?”

I’ve been cheated on multiple times: Some were benign make-outs, some were salacious hook-ups, and one was a full-blown affair. I know how much it hurts. I wish I could say that I'd never do that to someone, except I have. I once cheated on my ex-girlfriend Gianna* with my ex-girlfriend Charlie*.

Charlie had cheated on me, then suggested a threesome with another girl, and then left me for her. Yes, I needed lots of therapy to process that sh*t. I wasn’t over Charlie when Gianna and I started dating. When Charlie showed up at my house one random Sunday night, texting me to tell me she was outside, I got in her car without hesitating. It was freezing outside and I remember our faces warming as we kissed and kissed and kissed. I didn't say a word the entire time I was in her car. I felt like if I stayed silent, I could pretend like it never happened.

And that’s what I did. I rationalized that it was just a kiss — no big deal. But here’s the thing: it wasn’t just a kiss. When you have a girlfriend, it’s never just a kiss.

When my current girlfriend asked if I’ve ever cheated, my knee jerk reaction was like being asked if I’ve ever had an STD: an immediate "no" while knowing... yes. Here’s what I wish I knew before I cheated.

1Cheating can happen more easily than you might think.

I used to say I'd never cheat on someone. And I truly believed that — until Charlie grabbed my face and I felt powerless. I didn't even hesitate before kissing her back. I didn't think twice. I couldn't have prepared myself for how easily it happened. If you're with someone hot, or you're turned on, or you have feelings, or even if you're just a human being with hormones, you're capable of cheating.

2Cheating won't necessarily detonate your relationship.

I never said anything to Gianna about what happened with Charlie. Even though we had a cute relationship, I knew deep down what I did was wrong. I had broken her trust. I got away with it, and honestly, I forgot it even happened. I thought that kiss would linger in the back of my mind, torturing me forever. But I was able to move on sooner than I had expected.

3But it will make you feel like sh*t.

Obviously. If you have a conscience and you care about your partner, you'll really feel like sh*t. It can eat away at you.

4If you cheat, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are poly or interested in open relationships.

I attribute my case to a temporary moment of poor judgment. Making a mistake or giving into attraction doesn’t mean that’s what you want all the time. I know that I, at my core, am tragically monogamous.

5You should have an open conversation about boundaries with your partner.

Maybe you’re just a horny AF person. And that’s fine. But why sneak around? If you’re open and honest about your desires, and your partner is a down-*ss b*tch, then you get all the hot and steamy sex without the side dish of guilt. Fabulous!

6People define cheating differently — so you need to talk to your partner about what their views are.

You might be reading this and thinking, she only made out with someone, that’s not cheating. This is why it’s so important to TALK TO YOUR PARTNERS about your boundaries. Your partner might think flirting is cheating and you might think fingering isn’t cheating. Which is why you need to try this amazing new sex position called ~communication.~

7It's not cool to justify cheating just because of the genders involved.

Lesbians, listen to me: You might think it’s hot to hook up with a girl who has a boyfriend. But men are people, too (crazy, I know) and cheating is not a good look, no matter who you're doing it with. If the guy doesn't consider you hooking up with his girlfriend as infidelity, he doesn't see women as people. This has been a PSA brought to you by Carrie Lezshaw.

8You might not be a "cheater."

I’m calling bullshit on "once a cheater, always a cheater." Cheating might make you realize that you never want to do it again.

9You probably aren’t happy!

If you want to cheat on your partner, you aren’t happy. Point blank. Stop lying to yourself.

10You will look at yourself differently.

You have cheated. It’s a part of you. And it can change how you view yourself. Maybe you'll make different choices from here on out, or maybe you'll treat yourself with more kindness and forgiveness, or maybe you'll put a hold on seeking a relationship until you're in a better place.

11You might be scared that no one will trust you.

And then after that honesty, you might spiral into a pit of anxiety worrying that your partner won’t trust you now. I know, it sucks.

12Or scared that you won’t trust yourself.

Then you’ll start to spiral even more and wonder if you will cheat again, even if you're sure you wouldn't. Yeah, this sh*t isn’t fun. Don’t cheat, kids.

13Be prepared to tell your future partners about your history with cheating.

You have to be prepared for your next partner to ask you that inevitable pillow-talk question. If you’re like me and don’t consider yourself a cheater, be prepared for your knee-jerk response to be denial — but if you truly want emotional intimacy with that person, you'll need to come clean.

14. It feels different when it happens to you.

If you’ve been cheated on, then you know how f*cking bad it hurts. But try to remember that you’ve done the same thing. And find the humanity in the person who hurt you. We all f*ck up.

15It doesn’t make you a bad person.

I used to think cheaters were the scum of the earth. And, yes, cheating is bad. But life is messy. Relationships are messy. Desire is messy. At the end of the day, we are all just messy b*tches all trying to make sense of life together. Don’t let one mistake define you. But don’t do it again. Then you’re just an assh*le.

*Name has been changed.

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