I thank you for your blog it gives me some comfort. I am not sure I can claim to be “cheated on” but I feel like it fits.
My “partner” protected himself under the ridiculous “friends with benefits” clause. You see he was my boyfriend for five years, we even lived together. Then we broke up as I was aware he had cheated. We saw each other sporadically over the next few years, the last year spending approximately four nights a week together. The other three, he as free to see his friend I affectionately refer to as “crack whore.” Yes, I am completely stupid, and worried for my health.
No, he was never my husband, but I did love him. There were times I could swear he loved me back.
So now that I just can’t take this anymore, how do I stop caring? I have a nineteen-year old son (not cheater’s son) with high functioning autism, who needs his mother to make good, rational decisions. I can see that I was seriously deluded to think there was any kind of future for the two of us with this tragically flawed character. But knowing that and moving on are two different things. You must understand, you are remarried, moved on and still blogging. How do I stop wishing he loved me the way I loved him? The sooner the better. I managed to let go of my son’s father, this has to be possible too. Is there a pill, or a witch’s spell that will make me care less?
Your problem isn’t to learn to stop caring. The problem is directing your love and attention to someone wholly undeserving of it. You want to care for someone, to be intimate with them, and you want them to care about you. So the “friends with benefits” option was never going to work for you. You’ve wanted more from the start — and that’s OKAY. You were just barking up the wrong tree.
I’m not sure from your letter if the relationship was always FWB or he was your boyfriend, he cheated, and then you had the FWB relationship. In any case, after you learned he cheated, or after you spent so much time with a man who would not publicly acknowledge you as his girlfriend, you needed to end it. Everything after that was the pick me dance and settling for scraps. Jen, never, ever devalue yourself that way again, please.
The trick isn’t to learn to stop caring — it’s to know your worth. When you truly know your worth, there is no price on your dignity. You’ll find yourself in one of these mismatches and say “I don’t need it that bad.” I don’t need companionship so bad that I’ll accept being cheated on. I don’t need sex so bad that I’ll be with someone who risks my health. I don’t need the appearance of coupledom so bad that I’ll tolerate verbal abuse.
You have to quit bargaining for kibble starvation rations and start drawing lines in earth about what you will and will not tolerate. Oh no! But then I’ll have NO kibbles! No faux-love! No warm body!
You can do without, because you’re worth more than that. And I really do believe you will not be alone forever unless you want to be. Not everyone sucks. The world is full of decent people and you only need ONE to be a partner.
Oh, easy for me to say from my lofty perch of the Married and Moved On. What do I know of the loneliness and sexlessness of the single life? A LOT. I lived it for years. The smugness of intact families at school functions. Being the Lone Single Mom. The Only Divorced 30-Something In Her Demographic. The awkward odd number at the dinner party. The single person at the wedding. Lived it. Did it. Survived it. You can too.
Being single isn’t a disease or a life sentence. It’s a choice. I CHOSE to be single. I divorced my first husband (mental illness) and then (God help me) I divorced the second as well (serial cheater). I needed to get to a point — and I very painfully got there — where I was truly content if I never paired up again. I had my kid, my house, my garden, my job, my friends. It filled my days. I remember planting oriental lilies in my garden and looking at the sky over the Susquehanna river and thinking, “This is enough. I’m happy. I could die here.”
So when I met my husband, I had a LOT to give up. He had to be someone to really knock my socks off and be worthy of me and my son, because I wasn’t leaving paradise for just anyone, you know? (Especially not to move to a place like Texas, a conservative state the color of dead grass.)
Now, I know I sound like the insufferable people who spout to the single: “Oh you’ll find someone when you’re not looking.”
You might not find someone. Point is to make your life as full as you can anyway. Be happy in yourself.
Fuck that noise! I want someone to love me!
I get it. We aren’t meant to be celibate. Well, then you’re doing the delicate dating balancing act of weighing sex against long-term potential. Let that go, okay? You might find someone to have a fling with and that person does NOT have to be your pseudo boyfriend for the next 7 years. Some shoes don’t fit. Accept it and move on.
Part of dating life is learning to dump and be dumped. If rejection scares you, get past that. It’s simply a matter again of knowing your worth. You dumped? This person wasn’t a good fit, wasn’t worthy of you. You got dumped? You weren’t a match for them. Your values aren’t aligned. Good to know. Onward and upward.
You don’t think you can do that? Sure you can. If you’ve been cheated on, you’ve already survived the worst humiliation and rejection life can dish out. Dating should be a cake walk after that. (Especially when you don’t have 20 years, two kids, and a mortgage invested.)
Be kind to yourself. You’re taking care of a special needs kid. You must give a lot of yourself. You deserve some tenderness. Surround yourself with people who support you, who bring out your best. Being a single parent is a position that naturally makes us vulnerable. It’s hard, hard work. So that’s why we have to be extra vigilant to be strong. Disordered people prey on folks like us — givers, responsible boot-strappers.
You don’t have a lot of extra kibble to spare, you know? So don’t settle.