I was in a relationship with a cheating partner.
Since I was the one who was cheated on, I’m familiar with betrayal. I’m also familiar with what it feels like to be the cheater—I cheated in one of my early twenties’ relationships. I’ve had several honest conversations with friends who’ve experienced cheating and betrayal.
I blamed myself when my ex-partner cheated on me.
I reckon blame is the most destructive thought that permeates the betrayed person’s mind. It is common to feel because sometimes the clearest answer to infidelity is the shortcomings of the betrayed partner.
Unfortunately, I was with a particular type of cheater—the one who points the finger at their lover.
I’m not a perfect person; however, I was a good partner. I left this relationship with significant feelings of guilt. I lost my self-confidence (and myself), I thought I was unworthy of love, deemed myself a terrible girlfriend and thought I needed to change my ways to avoid being cheated on again.
I ended the relationship after almost 18 months. With time, I gained a better perspective on the whole relationship: I wasn’t the cause of his infidelity.
When the tension between us calmed many months after the breakup, he told me the same. I could relate to the conversations I had with the few friends who cheated on their partner. On the surface, it appears that they cheated because of their partner. The fact is they cheated because of themselves. The cheater rarely admits this.
Here’s the thing: your partner didn’t cheat on you because of you.
In my case almost a decade ago, I cheated because I thought there was a missing element in my relationship—the actual, real reason had nothing to do with this. My ex-partner cheated on me for reasons that concerned his personal life before meeting me. Some people cheat because they’re insecure, others because they’re lonely. Some cheat because they’re too weak, easily tempted, don’t want to commit or simply because they’re just not into their partner.
These aren’t excuses, but they make perfect excuses for the cheater.
Consequently, I would like to voice that cheating is not an excuse. There are different ways to fix a relationship that’s gone awry.
The two palpable solutions that come to mind are to talk it through or end the relationship.
Needless to say, we think our partner is the worst human being on earth for cheating instead of doing one of the two. I remember having one conversation with my ex-partner’s friend who was familiar with our issues. She told me something very poignant. She said, “He is not a bad person. He’s just bad at being in a relationship.”
Okay, let me put this differently. Blaming our partner is as futile as blaming ourselves.
The ugly truth is that cheaters simply don’t know how to be in relationships. They have no idea how to deal with problems. Relationships require hard work and a whole lot of effort—not everyone is suited for it. Cheaters don’t know how to fix a problem through communication or any other possible means. This is why their infidelity is because of them; not because of you.
Understanding a cheater’s mentality is arduous. Nevertheless, it appears to me that the wisest solution here is to understand that this is how much cheaters know. This is how they know how to deal with their inner demons. And hey, understanding them doesn’t imply staying with them. We can understand another person’s issue but choose not to be part of it.
I hope you don’t face cheaters in your lifetime, but in case you do, always remember this: the moment you point your finger at yourself, remember there are other alternatives to dealing with what you think is an issue.
Were you being needy? Your partner could have talked to you about it.
Were you distant? Your partner could have talked to you about it.
Did you change? Are you overworked? Not cooking anymore? Not having sex anymore? Not taking care of yourself anymore?
Whatever the reason is, you know the answer by now: your partner could have talked to you about it. Worst case scenario, again, could have been ending the relationship.
Relationships are unpredictable. Nonetheless, we can save ourselves trouble in the future if we are vigilant about the partner we pursue the relationship with. By all means, there is a big probability of not knowing how things will turn out, but getting to know the person before settling is beneficial—and somewhat safe.
Since cheating stems from personal problems within the person, these problems can be spotted early on—trust me.
I ignored all the red flags before pursuing a relationship with my ex-cheating partner. The biggest red flag of all was learning about his previous cheating history. Funnily enough, I thought I could change him.
Let’s focus on the words “I thought” here. Don’t lull yourself into thinking that you can change people, twist them or mold them. Remember, it’s who they are. If you see a red flag, take the first exit.
And if (let’s hope not) your partner cheats on you, remember it’s not you—it’s them.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caitlin Oriel