To a casual observer, it looked like we had the perfect modern relationship. He was funny, clever, and had the very attractive habit of whispering seductive Spanish in my ear during steamy moments. Unfortunately, he was hiding something from me that left me completely broken and betrayed: another girlfriend.
I wasn’t even looking for a relationship when we met. Even though my friends constantly tried to set me up, I just wasn’t interested in finding a serious boyfriend. I was too busy loving everything about university life (well, apart from the occasional all-night essay session) to leave room for anything serious, and I’d had my heart broken one too many times to waste any more time on immature little boys.
We’d flirted with each other for ages and our chemistry was off the charts. He was exactly my type; tall, dark and handsome, and with a sense of humor exactly as sarcastic as mine. We often ended up working together in the library (mostly making each other laugh) and always seemed to end up hanging out at parties and dancing. My friends were convinced that we were endgame, but I’d just gotten over having my heart broken, so even though he’d been on my radar from day one, we’d always stuck to flirting and a couple of drunken kisses.
We both planned to keep it casual from the beginning. As we started our final year, the drunken kisses turned into something more serious, and pretty soon it was time for The Talk and all the usual awkward questions. To my surprise, this time it wasn’t awkward. He was still sort of getting over a long-term relationship and I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice anything in my life for a guy, so we pretty easily agreed that we were going to keep it casual and fun as friends with benefits.
For a while, it all seemed to be going so well. It wasn’t just about the sex (even though the sex was seriously good)—we always made each other laugh and even ended up doing actual couple things together like cooking and having late night talks that went on into the small hours. Best of all, we made sure that we avoided the crap so many of our friends in relationships seemed to have by being totally honest with each other… or so I thought.
It turned out he’d been lying all along. I was having a great time at a party with my friends when a girl I knew from the library but had barely spoken to ran up and screamed at me. She’d seen us going back to his room the previous night and found out we’d been sleeping together. She told me she was his girlfriend and that they’d been dating for months. I tried to tell her I had no idea he was in another relationship, but when I confronted him, he said I was lying and that I’d known from the beginning that he was taken but didn’t care.
I couldn’t believe that he’d lied to me and to her. I went into complete denial and refused to believe that this great guy who I’d been so open and vulnerable with could have lied to me for so long. I thought back to all our late-night talks and all the things we’d shared together and couldn’t believe how stupid I must have seemed to him. Even though we’d always kept it casual romantically, there was no denying that we were good friends who had supported each other through hard times and I felt completely betrayed. Even worse, as I nursed my hangover the next morning, I realized he was lying to the other girl as well—she’d had no idea he was cheating on her with me.
I was completely devastated and couldn’t believe what I’d done. I felt sick as I realized that I was undeniably the third person in the relationship. They’d been dating way longer than I’d been sleeping with him, and I was obviously a bit of extra fun on the side to him. For his girlfriend and everyone else, it looked like I’d seduced him and betrayed her. Although my close friends stuck by me, a lot of other people turned on me, calling me a homewrecker and a cheater, and for a long time, I believed them.
It didn’t just ruin my relationship, it broke them up and ruined hers. I felt completely alone. People I thought were my friends hated me and the person I’d been spending most of my time with and confiding in was now completely off limits. Worse, his girlfriend had dumped him as soon as she found out he’d been cheating and he tried to blame me, sending me hateful messages until I blocked him. For ages, I was convinced that I was the problem; because of me, a serious relationship had been completely destroyed.
I’ve learned from the experience and now I’m stronger. It took a long time, but I started to forgive myself for what he did. Once I managed to accept that it wasn’t my fault that he cheated on his girlfriend with me, I found it a lot easier to move on. I’m not responsible for his mistakes but I am ready to move on and make sure I never make the mistake of wasting my time on a cheater ever again.
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