Tuesday, September 19, 2006

breaking the cycle of being cheated on

Back in college, I dated this boy named Steve who lived in the OC while I was living and going to school in LA. He was everything I wanted in a guy—super smart, funny, ambitious. In my eyes, everything about our relationship was perfect…except the fact that he was still hung up on his ex. I was determined to be the girl that helped him get over her! After all, she was selfish and distant and condescending and I was none of those things.

Shortly before Valentine’s Day, Steve called me to say that we wouldn’t be spending V Day together. Why? Because he was going to spend it with his ex. Apparently, he had started seeing her again after Christmas and he ended up picking her over me. I was shocked and devastated. I had no idea that he was seeing his ex while still seeing me. I had given Steve so much of myself in an effort to make him happy and to make our relationship work. I was so caught up in my efforts that I failed to see that he put forth no effort of his own. It took me a long time to get over that and an even longer time to trust guys again.

After college, I went out with Jeff. Jeff was everything I didn’t want in a guy—cocky, not in a hurry to finish college, obsessed with money. I knew that I would be leaving California for DC and that the relationship wouldn’t last beyond that, but he insisted that we try a relationship because he really liked me. Unfortunately for Jeff, I had a thick, solid wall around my heart following what Steve did to me. My view of relationships had become very cynical and my standards were very low. I thought to myself, Whatever. He’d be a good guy to pass the time with. Despite the arguments we had (his immaturity irritated me), we had great chemistry. What the hell.

I most certainly didn’t get all emotionally invested in Jeff. Later, I was thankful that I hadn’t. He went out of town for Thanksgiving. When he got back, he was different…almost too nice. A few weeks later, we were discussing X-mas gifts and I guess he felt guilty and spilled the beans. He had hooked up with an ex while he was away. This time I was shocked, but not emotionally devastated. I just couldn’t believe that I had been cheated on again. Somewhere on my body must be a “Please cheat on me” sign. I did everything opposite to my previous relationship—I wasn’t emotionally invested, I didn’t expect anything, I was casual and carefree—and I still got cheated on! I was so upset that I went on a relationship strike. I decided that I was going to go out and have my fun and not worry about a boy breaking my heart because I wasn’t going to do relationships anymore...EVER.

My strike lasted 2 years. It was fun.

One day, the most unexpected thing happened. I met the only man I’ve ever wanted to spend my future with—Jesse. He awoke something in me that had long been sleeping (and broken)—my heart. And it was very strange and scary to feel what I was feeling. I tried to stop myself from falling in love with him because my head kept telling me that he was just going to cheat on me like the others did. On our second date (a very elaborately planned weekend in Baltimore), Jesse and I were enjoying some post O’s game drinks at a bar when he asked me what was wrong. I was scared. I knew I was in too deep. My wall wasn’t as strong as it had been. I told him, “I just don’t know if I can do this.” He said to me, “How are you going to know how great this could be if you don’t try?” With that, my wall came down.

Unfortunately, I occasionally relapse. On Friday, while I was doing laundry (my boss closed the office as a special treat), I was folding the clean whites when I noticed a pair of socks. They were small ankle socks and definitely not mine. They looked girly so they were not Jesse’s. I immediately thought the worse and I started to cry. How else could a pair of girl’s socks get into our laundry? The only explanation is that Jesse brought some random girl home, hooked up with her, and she left her socks here.

You know, even as I typed that it sounded absurd. Jesse called a few minutes later and knew that something was wrong. I told him, “I found a pair of girl’s socks in the wash and they’re not mine.” Jesse calmly said, “Boo boo…don’t think like that. They’re probably my mom’s.” We’ve done laundry at his mom’s house to save money before, so that is a perfectly reasonable explanation. Also, the laundry room in our building is communal so they could belong to a neighbor for all I know. I calmed down and forced myself to believe Jesse.

I hate myself for immediately assuming the worse. I wonder if I’ll ever get over being cheating on. It seems like a stupid thing to hold on to. I think I would die if Jesse ever cheated on me and I know in my heart he’d never do it.

But every once in a while, the thought pops into my head…

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