I Have Never Not Cheated On A Significant Other

Ingrid Bergman famously cheated on her husband Dr. Aron Petter Lindström with director Roberto Rossellini. She eventually became preggers with Rossellini's baby.

I have never not cheated on a significant other. It’s true, and the title of this post says it all. I tried to find a prettier way of saying it, but when it comes to cheating and such a level of deceit, you don’t get to replace such things with euphemisms. Instead you have to suck it up and admit that you were wrong. Every time you indulged in something outside of your relationship, now matter what the “excuse” you tried to use to “reason” you’re way out of it, there is none. You’ve cheated, you’re a cheater, and most people will tell you that “once a cheater, always a cheater.” A lesson my father taught me about men that I learned for the sake of my heart, but a lesson I didn’t learn for the sake of others.

I cheated on my high school boyfriend my freshman year in college. We had been together for just over a year when I met Dan at a party. At the time I had only had sex with one person, and there was something about Dan’s blue eyes that literally had me swimming as if I was starring in my own version of Debbie Gibson‘s “Lost in Your Eyes” video.

I was not drunk when I took Dan home that night to my dorm room; I just wanted to see what it was like to have sex with someone else. It was not only my first foray into what true guilt feels like, but that some people say some really freaky things in bed. I don’t know how many times he asked me to tell him he was “harder than any stone, you’ve ever touched.” That’s right; a stone. Not a rock, but a stone? I obliged while laughing under my breath.

It was a one time thing, so I never told my boyfriend. Even when we broke up not long afterward, I kept it to myself. He didn’t need to know what I had done, and he certainly didn’t need to know it was because I wanted to try something new — with a man who had a thing for stones and pebbles no less.

After him I dated people for a few months here and there. Although each one was supposed to be monogamous, our group of friends was so incestuous that people were always making out and hooking up. Some people feel that as long as there’s no sex (penetration or oral), it doesn’t count as cheating, while others feel differently. I’m not sure where I stand on that topic, but if we’re counting making out and fooling around in a closet at a party cheating, then yes, I cheated on them, too. Not to justify my childish antics, but they cheated as well, and when all was said and done we could laugh about it. Now we’re all friends on Facebook where we can laugh about “those days.”

I cheated on my college boyfriend, my first love, with someone who had had a crush on me for quite sometime. He was a friend who came over one night to console me after said boyfriend told me that he wasn’t sure how he felt about me or if we were going to last. Ah, a woman devastated over the potential loss of her fella at the ripe age of 22! It’s like taking candy from a baby without arms!

I pulled away time and time again when he tried to kiss me over the night, but before I knew it clothes were coming off and I figured sex was on its way. But then the phone rang and my love, my first love whom I’ll always love, screamed into the phone that he did love me but was just scared, in this very 1980′s romantic movie type of way, before hanging up because he wasn’t sure how to “deal.” I quickly put on my clothes, sent my guy friend home and felt a wave of guilt that I haven’t felt before or since. When I told that boyfriend what had happened with the friend, he droves to my apartment (he was in art school in Boston, while I was at school in New Hampshire) in the middle of the night to, and I quote, “kill him.” There was no killing to be had; just lots of glares whenever they saw each other as some means to prove who was alpha and who was not.

When I moved to New York City and was seeing a fella for just under a year, I cheated on him, too. But since it was with my first love, who had also moved to the city, I figured it didn’t count. He, the first love, did have precedence in my heart after all, and the only reason we weren’t together was because he was in a relationship, too. It was a bag of deceitful lies, that ended when I found out the guy I was seeing was sleeping with his ex, too, and within weeks everything came tumbling down. I’m just grateful we were all using condoms, or at least I was anyway. That was about five years ago.

Since then I have not had a serious boyfriend. I’ve had the last four years of my life filled up with trying to get my writing off the ground, my on-again/off-again roller coaster with the ever famous Swede, and too many times in which I’ve thrown my hands in the air and left the city to escape it all. I also know that I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship; my past behavior and my current behavior proves that.

A serious relationship, for me anyway, will not involve threesomes, an open door policy on whom can fuck whom as long as a condom is being used and it sure as hell won’t involve cheating. I will never cheat again, nor will I stand for someone who would cheat on me.

I realize that I’m no saint. I realize that some of the choices I make are definitely appalling to many, and I’m sure at the end of my life, although I’ll be able to say that I didn’t say “no” to much (as one reader once commented), I’m also quite sure I’ll also drop my face in my hand and ask myself: “Really, Chatel?”

I fear sometimes I take Fitzgerald‘s quote: “I want to live my life so that my nights are full of regrets,” a bit too seriously. And while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I know now, as an adult, that when it comes to the hearts of others, I have no right to be so reckless. Only an asshole would cheat, and I’d really like to evolve past my asshole phase.

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    • Chatterly

      Amanda– Love the article and I believe you’re most definitely on your way out of the asshole phase.

      The quote at the end is actually D.H. Lawrence from Lady Chatterly.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Really!? (I mean the quote) But I’ve always read it was my buddy Scott… hmm… my apologies!

      • Chatterly

        I kind of feel like I had a brush with a celebrity because you replied directly to me!

        You are amazing Miss Chatel– A-mah-zing!

      • Amanda Chatel

        Ha! You just made me blush, then lovingly admire myself in the mirror for a full 5 minutes!

        Best comment of the day, for sure. Thank you!

    • Cate

      I really love this article. I firmly believe that cheating is wrong and bad and all of those things, but I also know that otherwise awesome people do wrong, bad things all the time. The fact that you admit the wrongness and badness of some of your actions so openly is just really, really lovely and says much more about your character than the fact that you sometimes do things that aren’t so great.

      Basically, I’m trying to say that the honesty in all your writing, but especially this, is beautiful.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Thank you so much, Cate.

    • meteor_echo

      At least you admit it openly.
      I could never understand how you can just hurt a person you love like that. It’s one of the most fucking painful things ever. And by ever, I mean that I’d rather be raped again than cheated upon.

    • Lastango

      Good post. Eventually, one has to stand for something, and against some things. That’s not so easily done if one is surrounded by people who haven’t the slightest idea that might be important, or who band together instantly to scoff at the slightest hint of ethical or personal standards.

      On the subject of infidelity, I once worked with a woman who crumbled to tears as she told me of the time she learned her husband cheated on her with prostitutes. It was and continued to be a devastating, scarring moment in her life. We were at the office in the middle of the day, didn’t know each other on a personal level, and the event was years before, but she trusted me and at that moment just had to tell someone. We really need to think before we do something that could crush another human being.

      One other thing, which I think is related. Life hands us all our share of Trauma, at the end our health fails. Who will sacrifice part of their own wellbeing, perhaps for many years, to see us through it? And can the person who cheats ever really believe in or accept someone else’s total love and commitment?

    • T.

      Not that I condone cheating, but all of these instances sound fairly harmless, in that it seems like nobody’s heart got broken except perhaps the guy friend–that’s the risk you take when you go for someone not-quite-single. I think you’ve done a wise thing to observe the pattern and step back from dating for awhile. People can change, if they really mean to. Best luck with your future romantic ventures.