I was the other woman once. At first by accident, then on purpose.
This guy I used to know asked me out. Believing he was single and free, I said yes. We had a date that ended in a hot make-out session, and in the following weeks, I found myself ready and eager for more. Until I found out he had a serious girlfriend with whom he was supposed to be monogamous with.
My first reaction was anger. I was angry I had been fooled into putting myself in a position I had always despised: that of the other woman. I felt used, lied to, almost as wronged as the woman he was cheating on. I decided to end it all.
Around that time, however, he went on a trip abroad, and for a while I couldn’t reach him to unload my frustration. During the time he was away, I cooled my head. The distance allowed me to not only stop and think, but to start rationalising what I had just been through.
I rationalised that it wasn’t my fault. He was the cheater, and if he had that little respect for his girlfriend, then that was his problem, not mine. I wasn’t about to go after him anymore, and that could be it. End of story.
Except he did come after me again. Reminding myself that it wasn’t my fault that he was a cheater, I agreed to meet him, and just like that, it wasn’t the end of the story anymore, but a new beginning.
It wasn’t my fault. He was the cheater, not I.
Through mutual friends, I learned that his girlfriend was really upset. She had hacked into his Facebook account and seen the messages he had sent me. The messages I had sent him. She had even used a phoney excuse to try to obtain my home address from a mutual friend. She wanted to confront me. Luckily, that friend was more loyal to me than to her, and too smart to fall for her number. The confrontation she craved never happened.
I eventually got fed up with that “relationship” and called it quits. I later learned that his girlfriend broke up with him about a year after. Good for her.
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That whole situation took my perspective on who’s to blame for cheating on a complete 360. At first, I felt guilty, responsible; then “I’m not the cheater” became my mantra; and eventually, I came back to the realisation that even though I wasn’t solely responsible, I did have my share of blame.
He could have been the cheater, but I didn’t have to make it so easy for him. When he messaged, I didn’t have to respond. When he called, I didn’t have to pick up. When he asked to meet me, I didn’t have to be available. It would have been one thing if I had remained in ignorance of his relationship status, but that ignorance was extinguished pretty quickly. For most of the time, I knew.