How it feels to be “accidentally” cheated on

The first time I met my significant other’s family was at an engagement party for his sister and her new fiance. As I soon learned, this would be the first of ten engagement parties I would be asked to attend throughout their two-year engagement. Each party more miserable than the first until finally the wedding was three months away. I was told the bachelor weekend would consist of drinking, hunting, and a steak dinner…

I met my significant that same weekend for Sunday morning breakfast at our favorite spot. I assume he told me about the drinking and the hunting but all I remember is how my breath caught in my throat and the walls of stomach seized in pain as he told me about his strip club experience the night before. My breath quickly returned vehemently as I began to panic. Suddenly the walls started to close in around me and I ran for the door leaving my steaming coffee untouched on the table.

Somehow I made it home that day. Somehow I managed to forgive the person I trusted the most despite the intense pain and betrayal I felt. Somehow I am able to write about this now — six months later.

From a young age I heard my parents say “boys will be boys” to explain away the violent and sexist behavior of my male cohorts. Ten years later and I would hear this same explanation from some of my closest friends to explain away a lap dance at a strip club.

Yet growing up as a female, my parents taught me to keep my legs crossed tight until the day of my wedding. I learned that men would only want me if I had good morals, if I was okay with the objection of women, if I was okay with a boys weekend that including naked women…

I could take the time to render arguments about the illogical and patriarchal nature of these “lessons.” But instead I will say, it does not matter if men want me. I am a female. I have my own goals and dreams that do not involve a partner. I have had intimate relationships with men and women. I am aware of my feelings. I am not okay with my significant other lusting over a woman other than me.

Realizing these things, my intimate relationships will be more successful because I fiercely protect my feelings and my relationships through the creation of boundaries. Men and women may choose to criticize me for these boundaries. They may choose to deny me a date, and they have every right to do so. These missed opportunities will save me heartache and distractions from my personal and relational success.

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