I Cheated on My Boyfriend—Here’s Why I’m Taking It to the Grave

Sorry, not sorry

A woman thinking while holding a phone in her hand.
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I was on my way to an energy healing session when I got the text: “Come over." Suddenly, I had a couple of hours to decide if I was going to cheat on my boyfriend or stay a loyal girlfriend. But I would be lying if I told you that it didn’t take more than 40 seconds to respond: “On my way.” I’d also be lying if I told you I had any intention of telling my boyfriend—yes, we're still together—what happened that night. Why should I? I’ll get into that later, though, so hold on to your seats, folks, and feel free to judge.

The Background

  • Together: 1.5 years
  • Times Broken Up: Once
  • Times Threatened to Break Up: More than I can count
  • Living Arrangement:  Separately
  • Time, on Avg., Spent Together: Maybe 8 times a month due to our schedules (sometimes less)
  • Dating Frequency: Rarely go on dates (not my choice)
  • Sex Life Satisfaction: OK (was not great in the beginning, but slowly but surely getting better)
  • Times Said ‘I Love You’: Never (convinced that both of us are scared)
  • What I Like About Him: He respects my pace, doesn't give up easily and is just one of the sweetest humans
  • Other Misc. Stats: 2-year age difference (he’s younger than me, and I feel like his mom 15 percent of the time)

Maybe you can tell by my cheat sheet (pun intended), but before the night in question happened, my head was all over the place. And it all came to the surface on Valentine’s Day; My boyfriend (“Tom”) and I got into a massive argument about his lack of effort and wound up spending the holiday for lovers apart. I was mad—better yet, I was livid—and ready to break up with him (again). So, I started thinking about my favorite narcissist, “Alex,” and how much more fun I could be having with him (he was all about the fun). I stopped myself from reaching out to Alex at least twice before Tom and I made up. But less than a month later, I went down an even bigger rabbit hole when Tom and I found ourselves barely seeing each other, barely going on dates and hot girl summer was approaching.

I resented Tom for not trying harder. His response? “Do you want me to move in?” That was the easiest “no” I’ve ever said in my life. We didn’t argue; it was a productive conversation—it was apparent we weren’t ready for that (at least to me), but we were still committed to each other (in our own, weird way). You see, our relationship has been a slow burn. If I'm being totally honest, he's the only guy I've taken things slow with. We got to know each other for months before we even kissed, which is a huge change of pace for someone like me who usually cuts to the chase. That's how I knew I genuinely liked him and he genuinely liked me. Then I knew I really liked him when he fought to make it work (more than once). So, for me, there's no question whether we want to make it work; our relationship has just been a bit of a rollercoaster. Sure, I'm no angel, but isn't that what makes it worth it in the long run? 

Here's What Really Happened That Night

I was at brunch, throwing back mimosas when, suddenly, I was messaging the narcissist, from my past. I honestly thought he was going to play hard-to-get, and that by the time he’d come around, I would grow a conscience and think twice about stepping outside my relationship—or at least sober up a bit. But that never happened, and less than 24 hours later, there I was sitting on his couch asking myself if this was really worth losing my boyfriend over. (We had just had an actual adult conversation, and I finally felt like we were moving in a better direction!) But it was too late; I needed to get Alex off my mind. So, we caught up on each other’s lives, I checked in with my boyfriend, he cooked me dinner, I checked in with my boyfriend, we had sex (more than once), I checked in with my boyfriend and we went to sleep. You can probably guess the first thing I did when I woke up—I checked in with my boyfriend.

When I got home the next morning, 50 percent of me felt guilty, while the other half had no regrets. It was then that I decided that I wasn’t going to tell my boyfriend what happened. Not because I was ashamed of cheating; I know it was wrong, but I must admit, I had fun. It was exactly what I needed (what I had been missing in my relationship), and just to be clear, that doesn’t mean that I’m proud of what I did, either.

Here's Where I’m Coming From

For as long as I can remember, admitting to cheating usually ends in a breakup. Carrie Bradshaw and Aidan Shaw from Sex and the City. Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian. My mom and dad. I don’t want my boyfriend and my story to end because I cheated (uh, I’m no masochist…at least I don’t think I am). We’re in our twenties and we’re NOT married! I still have to check the single box on applications and forms. So why does he really need to know what happened that night? Not only would he be hurt if I told him, but he also probably wouldn’t forgive me even though I had no intentions of ever cheating on him again. That said, I couldn’t think of a better time to speak to a relationship expert to get their thoughts on the situation, so I did.

quotation mark

Sometimes cheating is a quiet acknowledgment to self that a relationship isn’t working.

Chanel Dokun

Here’s What a Relationship Expert Thinks

Meet the Expert

When it comes to cheating in general, Dokun told me honesty is a must, especially if you want to have an “authentic relationship.” She explained, “It’s unfair not to disclose information about your behavior that may be harmful or hurtful to your partner.” However, when it came to my situation, she had a slightly different take. “I wonder what is keeping this relationship together. It sounds like a lot of dissatisfaction and disconnect for a year and a half of knowing one another,” she acquiesced. “It’s worth assessing what that [cheating] experience meant and what may be lacking in the primary relationship. Sometimes cheating is a quiet acknowledgment to self that a relationship isn’t working. Instead of holding on until something better comes along to warrant ending the relationship, confront the state of the relationship now.”

In the end, she presented two different paths for me to move forward: “Walk away without further trauma to either [of you] or to go deeper and experience greater intimacy with true commitment.”

So, Here’s Where I Stand

Obviously, my relationship is far from perfect. Dokun wasn’t wrong when she said I probably cheated because I knew the relationship wasn’t working. But instead of seeing that as our ending, I see it as our beginning. Yes, I did what I did, and there’s no going back, but why waste a second hurting him and beating myself up over it when I can use this opportunity to try to go deeper with him? We’ve both been playing it safe for the past year and a half, and I think this is the perfect time to switch it up before it’s too late. After all, as Bradshaw famously said, “Everything before ‘I love you’ just doesn’t count." So, I’m taking this one to the grave. My only fear? He’ll do the same thing to me.

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