My Boyfriend’s Infidelity Still Haunts Me & I’m Not Sure If I’ll Ever Get Over It

In an ideal world, my boyfriend would have been faithful—but this is the real world and he wasn’t. His infidelity was like a mess that I was desperate to clean up and not see anymore. Out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work—his betrayal still haunts me.

  1. Flashbacks and memories send me spiraling. It doesn’t take much to trigger a terrible memory—a word he texted to her, someone with her name, a restaurant where there were those awkward encounters… It doesn’t really matter where I am. My mind gets triggered by anything and everything, and I just wish I could forget.
  2. I suspect every smile and joke he shares with other women. He’s amiable and funny, a true goofball. But now, every time he shares a laugh with another woman, I bristle. If I notice a woman responding to the twinkle in his eyes, I shut down. Is she a new interest? Is there an unspoken understanding? Nothing is just as it seems. My naiveté is gone, and for me, there’s always the potential for deception. He cheated on me once, so what’s to stop him from doing it again?
  3. I boycott his iPhone. I absolutely loathe his iPhone. It’s where I saw her messages come through. It’s what allowed him to say some terrible things about me. It’s what I nearly threw off our balcony. I’ve never disliked an object so much, and now, I don’t even want to touch it. If I hear it buzz or see the screen brighten with an incoming message, I turn my gaze away, afraid of what I’ll see.
  4. I blame myself for not being good enough. When I look back on those dark times, I blame myself for what happened. “Of course he cheated,” I’ll think accusingly to myself. “Why wouldn’t he?” I look back and wish I’d done myself up more. I wish I had played the alluring, bombshell instead of my down-to-earth, more effortless self. Then I remind myself that I shouldn’t have to change who I am to keep my boyfriend’s eye from wandering.
  5. I blame myself for forgiving him too soonI hate fighting and confrontation, and so, as much as his infidelity crushed me, I also wanted to move on. I chose not to give him the silent treatment. I chose to make love. I chose to have pleasant conversations about everything, anything, other than that. But in the end, I didn’t let it go. It’s still here. What’s worse, I think he got off too easily and without much consequence.
  6. Has he stopped or just gotten better? In my boyfriend’s culture, you’re not bad if you’ve done something bad, you’re bad if you get caught. And after getting caught several times, he’s either stopped or he’s just gotten better at hiding. That haunts me, and sometimes I wonder if he’s making a constant fool out of me.
  7. Seeing every woman as a competitor rather than just another woman really sucks. I kind of pride myself in being a feminist who’s all about female empowerment. The one who fills her bookshelf with Girlboss and We Should All Be Feminists. But thanks to his infidelities, women are no longer sisters in my tribe. Women are invaders, intent on sacking and plundering my peaceful relationship. The truth is, 99.99% of them probably don’t even notice him, or me for that matter, but I still watch them with sniper-like vigilance.
  8. His concerns for my friends or sisters raises a red flag. If my girlfriend or sister is going through a rough time, it naturally worries me. I like that I can share my worries with him, and even though I’d hate it if he were an a-hole, who dismissed my concerns or ignored what I was saying, I also hate how he’s sincerely concerned about these women. His questions, his checking-in, his sympathy—to my fragile mind, there must be something more to it than that. I usually regret sharing the ups and downs of my female friends with him.
  9. I avoid any place where we might meet the other woman at all costs. Our town is small, so the chances of bumping into the other woman are always relatively high. I mean, there are only so many bars and grocery stores to go to, and if I knew I’d never bump into her at any of these places, I’d feel so much more at ease. But knowing it’s always a possibility has killed my social life. I’m ashamed to say that I act like a fugitive in my own town. I avoid certain places during the daylight hours and take the scenic route in long walks to stay away from places I might see her.
  10. When we’re apart, I’m desperate for him just so I can be reassured that he loves meIt doesn’t matter if we’re living in separate countries or whether he’s at work—when he’s away for a long enough time, my mind starts questioning, doubting, and worrying. And sometimes, the only remedy for the bad memories I have of him is him. Sometimes, all I want is for him to be with me, holding me, and unknowingly reassuring me that he’s mine.
Audrey Bea uses her life-changing but difficult experiences with anorexia and depression as the catalyst and inspiration for her work. As a writer and illustrator, Audrey creates empowering content to help women love who they are, and overcome the widespread illness of fear.