How I regretted making an ethical decision



Being raised by a pious Catholic household, I naturally adopted the ten commandments. Especially, I could easily memorize three of the ten commandments, which are “you shall not kill, commit adultery, and steal.”

When I was a kid, I made mistakes. I have cheated on exams, I have told lies, and I used to get in trouble with my friends almost every other day. I know it sounds like what most people might have done once in their childhood. But looking back, I never really went astray, and I believe it is all thanks to how my mom — a virtuous, religious, and wise woman, who always came up with the most righteous decisions — built me up. She tried to implant my mind with virtue, morality, and conscience. Her definition of integrity became my own. On top of that, I started building my own principles and set my own ground rules to behave well and prevent making the same mistakes twice.

I tried to live every moment following this set of principles and not to abandon them even when it’s convenient. The biggest benefit I received from living up to morality and conscience is that I am proud of myself — I act honorably and it feels good. Thus, I perceived myself as an ethical person.

And then I met someone.

Not completely true — we knew each other before. But we met again. And, this time, I was mesmerized. By everything about him: how he thinks, how he acts, the music he listens to. I felt the chemistry, and every moment together was amazing. He seemed like a perfect guy to me, except for the fact that he had a girlfriend.

According to the Myers-Briggs, I am an ENFJ — which means I listen to my heart and feelings rather than act upon judgements. It turned out to be true when I realized my feelings and my morals, for once, didn’t align — our time together was both the happiest and the most depressing. On one sleepless night, I thought I should stop. With a lot of pain in my chest, I went through and did what I thought was the “right” thing.

Deep inside, I wished for him to initiate the conversation again. While I was clinging to the last hope, my self-esteem was just crashing. I could not let him walk out of my life. I could not stop thinking about him. I idealized the past. I made it seem like he is the only one. I recalled memories and I dwelled upon them.

At first, I blamed the bad timing. I should have just been friends at least. But not so long after, I realized that my principle of never dating a guy who have cheated or who has a girlfriend created a dilemma in the relationship. I have always wanted him so much, but deep inside, I didn’t want anyone who I can’t morally accept; someone untrustworthy. I pushed him away unconsciously. But, after two years and a half, I am still attached to him because of the fact that I never got a chance to fully be with him.

What would have happened if I did not have a set of moral principles and just enjoyed every single moment with the one I wanted to be with the most? He could have chosen me over his girlfriend. Who knows — the relationship might go bad, we might break up, and I probably won’t be having lingering feelings for him. Even though the whole thing would be wrong and trashy, it would have relieved me from the feeling of regret 2.5 years afterwards.

Once in a while, I ponder upon what I would do if I can go back. I have concluded that I would choose him over my virtue. I would rather love passionately and unconditionally, even if it doesn’t match up my moral standards, than live a life with regret. Because regret is crippling.

Sometimes, it is necessary to follow the heart and intuition, not a set of principles. Because we more often regret those things which we do not do than those which we do.

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