I Cheated, Then I Got My Karma, Then I Learned 8 Lessons
I can’t explain the thrill of cheating to you. I had never done it before this, and never planned on it. I spoke of people who cheated as if they were divine sinners—people I wanted nothing to do with, until I became one. I don’t think I cheated for the same reasons as serial cheaters. I mean it when I say that although I’m sure I’ll never do it again, I regret none of it.
It began when Jason, my ex-boyfriend, contacted me (two months into my new relationship) to apologize for how things ended. I still had feelings for him, but I was hurt, and I carried resentment towards him for ending what we had. I allowed him to speak to me, expressed my feelings, and thought we’d never speak again. I even told my new boyfriend, Arya, that Jason and I had spoken. You know, because I’m a good and honest person. At least I thought I was at the time.
Jason contacted me again. I answered every fucking time. Talking to him was like an addiction, and felt very different than our relationship that lasted only 4 months, and ended 2 months prior to his first attempt to speak to me. I was fascinated by him. I felt like he was fascinated by me too. Without Arya in my way, speaking to Jason wouldn’t have been the same. Now there was a sense of urgency, a desire to get to know each other better in a limited amount of time, the bounds of which we didn’t know. Since my relationship with Arya seemed to be heading towards marriage so quickly, I knew I would have to cut off Jason at some point.
Would this emotional affair be over in a month? 3 months? A year? To be honest, I didn’t want to know.
All I knew was that Jason was both the best and most painful part of my day. If you told me I could attend a Bruce Springsteen throwback concert live and go backstage… or talk to Jason through text, I would choose Jason via mobile, and let me be clear, I fucking love Bruce Springsteen.
As for Arya, he was irritatingly flawless and wholesome—at first. He would take me rock climbing, do Pilates with me, write and perform songs for me, keep in contact with my friends and family, buy me gifts, and take me on spiritual and grand vacations—no strings attached. He would always tell me that he expected nothing from me, which I later learned was a lie. I was always suspicious of this type of person, because I liked my men flawed and authentic. An authentic person wouldn’t do all this for someone who didn’t reciprocate, especially since my lack of burning desire for him was also so obvious.
Jason and I didn’t have this type of relationship. We had something authentic, without all the flashy gifts and vacations. I compared them in my mind often, and like a kid at an ice cream shop, could not make a decision between the two of them for the life of me.
The longer Jason and I spoke on the phone, the more intense the feelings became. When I finally agreed to see him in person on a whim, he canceled on dinner with his family, and met me near my parents’ Malibu home immediately. He threw up and cried. And I was both alarmed and validated by the dramatic nature of his attempt to rekindle with me.
We met up again after that, each time staying up until 5 a.m. Jason’s vulnerability encouraged me to open up about everything, even things I vowed to keep to myself forever. We would drive to Long Beach and faraway towns, because we didn’t want anybody to see us. The music we played during our drives was like a soundtrack to this real-life movie we were both starring in. And like a movie, it was bound to end. And like the soundtrack, each song would soon remind us of each respective memory.
It is a near certainty to me that an observer watching this sequence of events and moments between Jason and I would weep at the exchange. It was so powerful. We were both so raw and honest.
It reminded me of confessionals at church, where people admit their sins and thoughts to the priest, but instead of distant guidance and tacit forgiveness, you got a hug, and eventually, romantic and passionate sex, and also, the sex was consensual. And also, it wasn’t a priest. It was your best fucking friend.
Cheating feels good, until it's over. And then you have to live with yourself. And the fact that you did something wrong to someone, and that someone is you.
I carried on with my “serious relationship” with Arya, who wanted to propose to me, but who didn’t truly know me, and I also continued speaking with Jason. All day, every day. I don’t know how Jason tolerated this. If he were dating a girl and I were in his position, I might have just killed her or figured out a clever way to get rid of her.
I eventually left Arya, my seemingly perfect boyfriend, for Jason, and then went back within 2 months. I had no plans of doing this, but I was pulled aside by my parents and was told that Arya’s family wanted to meet with me, and that I had to. A week before I met with them, I told Jason the timing wasn’t right for us and that I needed to think. He agreed, and didn’t really fight me on it, which angered me and reminded me of the first time we broke up, because he didn’t seem to care much or stand up for our relationship back then either.
Within days, I saw Arya at a mutual friend’s party, and met with his family the next day. I forgot to add that both of our families are Greek, and the greatest thing you can do as a Greek man or woman, is get married. So when Arya’s family came to my home with blueprints and renderings of the home they were about to start building for him and I, my family looked eager, their eyes glazed with excitement over his “love” for me and the way that he planned on taking care of me. His family also hinted at financing a lavish wedding and future for the two of us.
I was, as someone had told me before, indoctrinated. But I didn’t want to admit that to myself. Instead, I numbed myself with pills and obliged.
Fine. I’ll fucking marry Arya.
My parents, along with Arya and his entire family, were so happy. I guess I just went along with it because I felt so terrible about myself, and thought I’d never get married to anybody if this didn’t work out. And in my culture, finding a man means you have made it. I wanted to make it too. And badly. But I neglected my own intuition and desires, and followed an ancient Greek formula instead.
You see, as a woman, when your life revolves around men, you will lose your identity. I had lost mine several times over at this point. It happens in Greek culture often, but it can happen to anyone.
I slept over Arya’s place after months apart, and saw Jason driving around in Arya’s neighborhood the next morning when I left. I panicked and fled. In fact, I had a full blown panic attack, with hyperventilation and streaming tears.
Jason had seen me hyperventilate before in person, but at this point, he probably thought I was just trying to “escape him” or that I thought he was crazy for being in Arya’s neighborhood. I didn’t think he was crazy. I can understand stalking, and am mildly turned on by that level of curiosity and invasion of privacy by a lover. But I was, still, infuriated by the entire weekend, and felt guilty for what I had done to me and Jason. This time, I was the bad guy. I left. And I didn’t come back to stand up for our relationship.
I dug a grave for myself, and I couldn’t get out. What was Jason thinking now? That I was a whore? That perhaps, I had cheated on him too? That what we had wasn’t real? These thoughts would keep me awake at nights. I felt like such a degenerate, I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I had received a loving e-mail from Jason, even after he fled from me in Arya’s neighborhood. He promised that he wanted to marry me. I was scared. I didn’t believe him because I felt like he only wanted this because he felt the need to compete with Arya for what was initially his.
Everything was about marriage and urgency, and it shouldn’t have been. It should have been about love and consistency and longevity and careful planning. But nobody seems to get that when emotions are running high, and competition is fierce, and everyone is out of their minds, including me.
I wanted so badly to respond to Jason’s e-mail, but I didn’t know how to explain myself out of this one, so I stayed with Arya, and resumed a relationship that was nothing like the pre-break-up phase. I was verbally abused, put down, controlled, and tested, all the while, telling myself it was endurable because I was about to enjoy luxuries that I couldn’t afford for myself, and if it was enough for everyone else in Los Angeles, it would be enough for me too. I also managed to convince myself that my longing for Jason, his affection, and our deep relationship, would be fleeting. It wasn’t.
Within months, I learned that I was being cheated on by Arya, this “impeccable man,” who I never loved anyway. He was seeing several women, some of them prostitutes. I hated my parents for being fooled by him. But mostly, I hated myself for obliging. At this point I couldn’t contact Jason. He would never have me now. I listened to everyone but my own intuition regarding the decision between these two men.
Now I was alone, but relieved. I didn’t have to end up with someone I didn’t love and go through with a marriage that would have, unquestionably, enabled my depression to resurface, perhaps permanently. But I was also without my Jason, who restored in me a sense of humanity, and who loved me for everything I was, and everything I wasn’t. Regret and relief are powerful emotions, especially when you feel them together, and especially if you’re strong enough to let hope marinate along with them. The pain of it all forced me into a powerful and reflective emotional growth spurt.