Being a Cheater and Loving It

This week, there seems to have been an abundance of online articles about relationships. How couples met. That one thing that hooked them and, ugh...maintenance. Nothing is cut and dry anymore, especially when the pandemic has changed the income and/or spending habits of most adults. Then you may be one of the many adults who realized their upbringing was screwed (regardless of whether it was a single parent or a couple of generations of parents). A Buzzfeed article about ghosting stood out the most, as I recollected (and shared), the last time I committed this immature crime in my relationships.

Do Cheating and Ghosting Go Hand in Hand?

Possibly, yes because you've already left the relationship mentally. Sometimes we derive satisfaction knowing our partner is completely oblivious to the possibility of engaging intimately with another individual. Isn't it easier to voice concerns instead of making another connection outside of the home?

Another online article, from the NY Post, explores how women cheated more than men. For me, cheating is lying and I'm with Chris Rock in a statement he made during his Never Scared standup years ago.

"Men lie the most ... but women tell the biggest lies."

Watch the video and you'll see Rock faced with a mixed sea of boos and cheers. While he keeps going, most people wonder why we women have to lie to maintain a relationship. Oftentimes, keeping quiet about a matter can compromise your relationship - either it will kill it or make it stronger.

What About Emotional Cheating?

The NY Post article mentions this with some opposition from participants. However, I say this is spot on. You may have fallen in love with the perfect person at one point. They look nice, are basically friendly (even though social awkwardness can be appealing to some), and seem to hold a decent conversation. For many, this alone is enough reason to make wedding arrangements and plan a life together...quickly.

As for me, I didn't discover the power of emotional cheating until I realized how much energy I placed into the maintenance of my last relationship. Early on, I was expected to understand and accept a home situation based on what's best for the kids (that weren't mine), reasons for underemployment (and sometimes a lack of it), and endless levels of insecurity.

What I'd learn later on is that no one, man or woman, should be programmed to carry that much luggage because there's no way to control it. The simple reason why some people avoid these types of relationships is that they get lost. As in zero hobbies or interests, little to no social life, and the list goes on - even if you feel you helped remedy the problem. All the sane person's energy goes into their broken partner.

In an episode of the recently canceled sitcom, black-ish, Anthony Anderson's character calls it the broken bird syndrome. This is when his wife neglects his needs in order to have a social life with a new friend, who functions with a lot of personal situations going on. Long story short, he, as a known mama's boy who allegedly received almost no fatherly guidance growing up, was the super needy one.

During the midst of my discovery, I once unintentionally revisited my younger years. Everyone was someone's side piece, or booty call, as it was known in the 90s. The difference was there was some sense of responsibility and no one was intentionally looking to hurt the other person they obviously weren't serious about.

So in getting re-acquainted with this other person, I found something I'd been missing at home - conversation about things I liked. Different types of music, cooking, art, and design...the list seemed to be endless. Then came that moment...' when are we going to hook up?'

Doing the Deed ... with Many Surprises

I knew this wouldn't be a platonic date or even a real date. While this person had exceptional stamina (and yes, I did once mention this to my now-ex, after he'd instigated many vicious spats about past relationships) and I was ready for something outside of a low five, I was perplexed. At this time, I'm over 40, trying to finish school and make my business successful. I'm not supposed to have time for this sort of thing.

Well, one day I made time. I put on everyday clothes and gassed up my coupe to head out to the Westside.  I didn't tell my mate where I was going. I'd left the same way he'd left our home many times - silent yet slightly suspicious in making eye contact.

As I arrived in a part of town I knew little about, I realized my encounter was more of a headache than my home situation. Pulling into an alley to park was a battle of common sense vs. male ego. Then I realized this person had been an aspiring artist for more than two decades - he never believed in punching a clock or developing marketable skills. This meant I was paying for drinks, weed, and possibly snacks.

Entering his home was also a grim reminder of something from the past...I'd never visited during the daytime. And for good reason. While rent is hardly cheap in L.A. County, I never thought I'd be expected to "give it up" in Fred Sanford's living room. When the opportunity presented itself, I got the hell out.

For the first time in years, I was super-happy to see my modest but spacious triplex unit. It was clean, there were no piles of clothes that looked like legs would appear underneath, and Mr. Filthy McNasty would never find me. However, when I went to bed that night, and many nights until I felt too ill, I'd remember those nice romps before going to bed.

By this time, I slept alone and my ex slept in the living room. We'd been abstinent from one another for about a year. Having that visual of getting in with someone from the past made my problems go away momentarily. Sometimes they inspired dreams of someone new I'd have a real life with. The problem was that low fives got louder and I'd hear his stupid voice cheering me on.

Now, if I were a guy and knew this was the only way my partner was able to come (and rather well, I might add), this alone would be worth an open conversation. My attempts to discuss personal matters were dismissed in a number of ways, many resulting in him walking out the door and not returning until I was snoring.  

Finally, two takeaways here. The first is not hooking up with someone who can't help themselves. I hate it when people say someone made them whole. NO THEY DIDN'T. Half of a person can't dress themselves daily, go to work or even watch TV! The other is that silence can kill a relationship. While I've seen many couples embrace non-communication for decades, then there's that moment (usually death or illness) where they wish they could turn back the clock.

When you lie to yourself, you're also lying to your partner. Relationships without some transparency are just an existence we choose to deal with.