“Is it true you cheated on your last girlfriend?”
“Then you told her that everybody cheats?”
Something like that…
“…I cheated on my last boyfriend while I was in Europe.”
Honesty is one of the hardest parts of relationships and dating. Being honest isn’t difficult. Honesty in its own realm is. It’s something many of us struggle with in various relationships. The reason is simple: You want to keep everyone happy. There’s an amount of heroism we inherently want to display while being involved with a significant other… but we’re all inherently selfish.
In 2012 I entered a relationship with a girl 8 years older than me. A year later, I found myself sitting on her couch at 3 in the morning fighting back tears while telling her, “trying to make you happy has made me unhappy.” We drank. We had sex. We cried. It was done. It should have been done months prior but like all relationships, you hold out for that change- be it with that person or within yourself. The truth is, we’re all inherently selfish (seeing a theme here?) and that selfishness can be in the form of martyrdom in holding out on your own happiness to make someone else feel a little better about themselves. Relationships are sacrifices that shouldn’t be made. Yeah, you can jump in front of the bullet for your significant other… or you can realize neither one of you should be in the presence of a shoot out.
Only two months later I found myself in another relationship. I came into it bitter, untrusting, and hurt. It was her first relationship. She would get overwhelmed with emotions on a whim, both good and bad. Crying tears of joy at parties because she “loved me so much” one night, and getting jealous of me bonding with friends at a party the next. She called me perfect. It was a pedestal of pressure I never wanted to be mounted on. It was a roller coaster that I was too indifferent to appreciate. I went through the motions. Meeting friends, family, spending the night for weeks on end. She was great. I just wasn’t ready. It was this idea of making someone happy that made me stay. I was that hero again that everyone wants to be when they enter into a relationship. It’s easy to say you should just get out, but you have created this concept of being the person they’ve built you up to be, no matter how destructive it truly is for both of you. What could I do to make myself happy? Work more? Travel more? Well that comes with other distractions…
Sure enough, I found myself in a situation with an ex from years ago where we spent the night together. I knew where the night was leading the moment I left my house. It wasn’t a mistake or a lapse in judgment. It was something I wanted to happen because I needed it for myself. I took off my cape for a night. I allowed myself to be a different kind of selfish.
Months later, I find myself on the brink of another relationship undoing. My e-mail, texts, and Facebook messages had all been gone through by my then girlfriend, and she discovered all of the information regarding my affairs. It was a heartbreaking moment in watching someone be heartbroken. There were attempts to work things out, but I knew it wasn’t what I truly wanted. I was still the bitter, untrusting, and hurt guy… but I had managed to smile and kiss through 7 months. The cape was destroyed. The question kept coming, “why?” In that situation, you come up with all of the standard answers: “It was a mistake” or “I had a lapse in judgment.” Until finally I realized the one thing that I had been lacking in the relationship the whole time: Honesty. Honesty with her. Honesty with myself. Honesty in what I wanted at the time. “Everybody cheats and nobody is perfect.” Stunned. “We were together for less than a year. There are women walking in on their husbands blowing goats right now.” In that moment, I could see the switch in her eyes. The hero became the villain. Her friends knew. Her online posts all became about crying, cheaters, lovelorn, and sad Beyonce lyrics. That’s the fear in honesty. Watching the death of righteousness for someone you care about. The reason we see those couples sitting at dinner scrolling through their phones or the reason we far too often hear, “yeah, but they shouldn’t be together.” It’s easy to mill about when you see someone else is blissful and you think it’s what you’re supposed to do. We all want to be right. We all want to feel we make the right choices. We all want to be loved, respected, admired, remembered. We all want to be heroes to the point we forget to save ourselves.
I learned an incredible life lesson from that situation. I learned that I am human and therefore a fixture of common error. But more importantly, I learned that it is OK. It is OK to be completely honest with myself and others and that honesty will make you happier in the long run once fear has fallen to the waist side. We’re connected by failure as much as we are connected by a desire for happiness, not realizing the two are interchangeable. Embrace your shortcomings so you’ll realize how to be happy despite them. Not only for yourself but for the next person who may come along that might be ready to take their cape off too.
-TRR Reader, Anonymous-
*This post was submitted by a reader of TRR and not constructed by the site’s author.