Dating and Relationship Advice

Of all the deceitful acts in a relationship, cheating is the one that hurts the most.

I would know. An ex-partner of mine cheated on me, sending me into a hurling — literally, hurling — rage. I puked for hours when I found out. And the person who became my current partner held the bucket steady right under me.

More than two years later, I still have nightmares about it. I commiserate with anyone who’s been through something similar.

When I watch romantic comedies or sitcoms where someone is cheating on their partner, I feel my face tighten. My lips slowly curl inwards, and I think I blush a bit. My cheeks get hot. Sometimes it happens when I’m watching with my current partner, who I think doesn’t notice. He will likely pay closer attention now.

I don’t wish this experience on anyone. It’s true what they say: trust is the most essential element in a serious relationship. And when it’s broken, it’s hard to regain.

My best friend cheated on her boyfriend recently. They’ve been going out for a year. In that span, they must have broken up six or seven times, with her accusing him of disinterest and him accusing her of exaggeration.

She — we’ll call her Lilly — got fed up one day and downloaded a dating app. Lilly started to poke around and swipe on the men she found attractive. She met up with one match in the middle of the quarantine, and the two took a trip to Costco. As they stood in line outside, waiting to pay, Lilly’s boyfriend — we’ll call him Dominic — pulled up in the parking lot. He had decided to make a Costco run that day.

There was no stopping it. Dominic recognized Lilly. He surmised it was a date and drove off, confronting Lilly hours later.

When Lilly first told me her plans, I discouraged her. But admittedly, I was slightly torn. Dominic never took their relationship seriously — and Dominic had cheated on her before out of vengeance. I empathized with her greatly.

So I didn’t stop Lilly. I began to pretend like everything was normal, and I never lectured or questioned her decision. I even asked her how the date went afterwards, as if it were a perfectly normal encounter.

In retrospect, it was a mistake not to have at least cautioned her that vindictive cheating was not the solution to their relationship issues. That she wouldn’t feel better by going out with another person. That her action would only push them further away from each other.

They ended up calling off their relationship.

I promised myself afterward that I wouldn’t support cheating ever again. Not even for my best friend. I owe at least that to myself and to Lilly.

The damage has been done to Lilly and Dominic’s relationship. None of my newfound moral clarity can right what Lilly did, but I can store it in my back pocket for a future occasion that urges more honesty out of me.

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