- Wedding: June 2019 - Tacoma, WA
I agree that it’s easy to say “I would leave and never look back” when it’s not you in the situation. There are just so many variables at play in each relationship, it’s presumptious to judge someoe for deciding to stay and work it out. Or to leave, for that matter.
I have been cheated on, and before that happened I would have been the first to say I would never put up with it or stay with someone who cheated and didn’t understand why anyone would.
But when you’re in that horrible moment, in real life, faced with the knowledge that this person you have loved with everything you have for years, have given everything to, have built a life with, have a long history with, have allowed to bond with your children and become a parent-figure to them, this person you LOVE with all your heart and who your children, if you have them, also love…when you’re in that moment, it’s not so easy to just walk away. In fact, it feels impossible.
For one, you want (with everything inside of you) to believe it was just a mistake, that it didn’t mean anything, that it wasn’t as bad as it was, that they’re really, actually sorry. You have trusted this person with your heart, maybe with your children’s hearts. You want to believe the two of you can fix this and move on. You will practically beg and plead for some shred of evidence that this isn’t the end of everything you know your life to be.
You go through all the stages of grief in the process. It’s excrutiating to think of staying with someone who cheated, and it’s equally excrutiating to think of leaving and rebuilding your entire life over again. There is no good option in that moment. The grief will come either way.
After I went through this, my views changed significantly. It’s easy to talk a big game and say you’d walk away immediately, but it kills you to actually do it when you’re actually in the situation. I don’t have low self-esteem. I knew I could find someone else, someone better, maybe someone who would never cheat. But it wouldn’t be HER. And she was who I still wanted. She was who I had built my entire life around. She was who I had invested everything in. She was who I loved deeply.
And then there’s the cheater, swearing they won’t do it again. Telling you they love you so much. Apologizing every other minute of the day for weeks or months. Vowing to work on the problems in the relationship. Recommiting themselves to you. Crying and begging for another chance. And you desperately want to believe them. That they are who you thought they were, and this was just a blip on the map.
And believe me, you hold on to every one of their words like a fucking lifeline. Like it’s the oxygen that dropped on a plane falling from the sky. Because doing anything else feels like your heart is being ripped right out of your chest.
Sometimes, it can be worked through. There are success stories, and you’ll read about as many of them as you can find. Eventually you’ll stop sneaking peeks at their phone in the middle of the night or popping in at their office when they say they’re working late, just to be sure. As the years go by, the trust is restored. It can happen. I’ve seen it first hand.
Sometimes, the pattern repeats and it’ll be time to really say goodbye. But, by that point, you’ve worked through those stages of grief already and it becomes a little easier to let go.
Either way, I’d never judge someone for the decision to stay and try to save things.