I have a few cardinal rules when it comes to dating. I expect my guy to text me first thing in the morning, I won’t date a guy that can’t talk about his feelings, and I absolutely refuse to give cheaters a second chance. I never thought I’d go back on any of these rules I’ve set for myself, but things changed when my cheating ex-boyfriend came out of the woodwork.
I was in a rough place. My ex cheated on me in a big way. It wasn’t a little one-night stand — he was dating another woman while we were together. It took me a long time before I’d even consider texting him back, but eventually, I did. Why would I ever give a guy like that a second chance? I was in a bad place, and I was on a self-destructive streak. I didn’t think hooking up with my ex would make me feel any worse than I already did.
Being with him was surprisingly easy. It’s always comfortable falling back into an old routine with an old flame. I’ve done it plenty of times in the past. I was surprised by how easy it was to fall back into step with a guy that had cheated on me, however. I wasn’t constantly plagued by thoughts of our old relationship like I thought I would be.
I was able to truly forgive him. I held onto a lot of the resentment towards my ex for a long time. He tried to explain to me over the years that he was in a bad place and was suffering from depression, but I refused to accept that as an excuse. After going through a bad patch of my own, I started to realize I was no better than my ex. He’d hurt me, but I truly believed he was sorry and I gave him a chance to redeem himself. Forgiving him lifted a surprising amount of weight from my shoulders.
The communication was totally different. My ex and I were brutally honest with each other the second time around. He was fully aware that I wouldn’t tolerate any games or secrets. Before, when we were in college, playing mind games was accepted as the norm. I don’t know why I ever let behavior like that fly, and he knew I had no intention of letting it happen again.
He was much more respectful. My ex knew he had some serious ground to make up if he wanted me to stick around. I didn’t make him jump through hoops just to keep my attention, but I did expect him to be respectful of my personal boundaries and my time. It was obvious that he had grown up in a big way just judging by how he treated me the second time around.
I got the closure I never received before. I refused to speak to my ex after I found out he was cheating. I didn’t want to know his reasoning or the headspace he was in. All I knew was that a guy I thought was my best friend had betrayed my trust. After he and I started hooking up again, we spent a lot of nights going over what had happened the first time we dated. I was finally able to close the door on a portion of my life that had haunted me for years.
The relationship was never the same. Despite the positives, the love I had for him was never the same. I forgave him, but I couldn’t bring myself to fully forget the pain I had gone through when I was with him the first time. He made me realize that I needed to stick with the expectations I’ve always had for myself. I’ve always known that true love takes hard work, but this was just a bit too much.
He and I parted ways as friends. My ex understood why I couldn’t allow myself to stay in the relationship any longer. It was a knee-jerk reaction to a bunch of negative crap that was going on in my life at the time. It was hard breaking things off again, but this time, we walked away with a mutual respect and understanding. I didn’t lose him all over again, I gained a friend.
I learned something interesting about myself. I know hooking up with an ex, especially a cheating one, isn’t healthy, but it taught me something. I have the capacity to forgive and the desire to empathize deeply with other people.
Some guys really do deserve a second chance. My ex learned his lesson the first time around. I’m not suggesting that every woman should consider giving her guy another chance if she gets cheated on, but I am suggesting that everyone should keep an open mind and an open heart. For some people, cheating is not the end of a relationship, and they shouldn’t be judged for it.
I don’t have any regrets. I’m not proud of the circumstances that lead me back to my ex-boyfriend, but I’m not ashamed for giving our relationship another shot. He and I continue to make new memories that I treasure, and I’ve found a new support system through our friendship.
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