Cheated on by the Perfect Man: How Christine Found Healing and Love Again
Studies have shown that 20 percent of adults in monogamous relationships in the US will engage in extramarital sex at one point in their life. For 32-year old Christine Simpsons of Rockridge, San Francisco, this was more than just a statistic – she got to live it. She was not the cheater but was on the receiving end of 2 years of infidelity.
“Bruce was the perfect man. He was everything a woman might need - loving, caring, and paid me lots of attention. He was hardworking, funny, and smart, too. Smart! Maybe that’s how he managed to keep everything so perfectly hidden for a while,” Christine recalls, with a face that seems to relive the pain for a while. “One day, he got a call while we were having dinner - a meal he made as a treat for me. But he acted really strangely and tried to end the call quickly. The crystal ball in me lit up and I didn't like what I saw. I decided to go through his phone while he slept and found an abyss of messages from one woman - his coworker. My legs turned into noodles and my whole world crashed in a second. By the time he was awake, his shirt was in shreds. I lost it.”
To move on or to stay
According to a study that was published in the Personality and Individual Difference Journal by the University of Austin at Texas, 28 percent of women surveyed said they would be willing to overlook their partner’s affair. Upon catching a cheater, most people imagine they would turn into a no-nonsense cyborg programmed to do just one thing: leave. They imagine they would dash towards their cheating partner, rip them a brand new one, and slam the door behind them never to look back again, ever. But that is easier imagined than done.
“You are hit by a tornado of emotions. It’s disgust, hatred, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, and anger. But that’s not all. It’s not like the love disappears right there and then, if ever. You still love him, and this diabolical blend of emotions leaves you feeling lost and helpless,” Christine says. “After his confessions and apologies, and reflection on my part, I decided to stay. I somehow began to see the man I had always seen in him, maybe not perfect but well within redemption. But this was all an illusion. Bruce would cheat two more times and by the third time, I was ready to just let go. We broke up for good in 2014 - hardest thing I ever did.”
Healing after the breakup
A romantic breakup can be traumatic. It’s a loss that touches all departments of your life. Some people are so badly hit that they end up taking their own lives – it can be that horrible. The worst is a breakup after being cheated on. Beside everything, you feel betrayed, taken for a fool, insulted.
“The most uncomfortable part was the void and that’s on top of all the feelings that come with being betrayed. It was tempting to jump into a new relationship but I knew I had to take my time and not do things in haste before healing.”
Time is a healer and sooner or later, the season passes. But it also matters what you do during this emotional winter. A heartbreak can even take two years or more to heal, depending on the circumstances of your breakup. Christine found that it helped to just let the emotions flow and allow the process to take care of itself without bottling anything up.
“It is tempting to try and sit on all the hurt and force yourself to be happy. But that just does not solve the problem. It only saves it up for later. God forbid the volcano erupts while you are with Mr. Right. I used to listen to music, sing along, dance, watch movies and all that. However I never entirely escaped the uncomfortable emotions.”
It was also important at this point for Christine to find some support. Friends and family helped her get through the whole ordeal with a little more ease. But, sometimes, the only way forward might be getting professional help. If you feel particularly devastated, a therapist might assist you in dealing with certain hard-to-reach issues that might spill into your future relationships. Christine, however, says she made do without any therapist.
Finding love again
Christine got through the chaos and was ready to date again in 2015. With her busy schedule, she knew it was time to try online dating and she wound up on Free Dating America.
“We were having coffee at one of the Starbucks near Rockridge when my friend Jessica casually mentioned Free Dating America. I didn't even pay attention and neither did she think I would take it seriously. But the name stuck (must have been the ‘free’ part) and when I went home, I searched for it. I loved what I saw. Being a tech dinosaur, I always find a website with easy navigation really appealing. Everything just seemed to flow!”
But a nice interface was only one part. For a dating site to actually work, it has to have members and Christine knew she was on a good one when she saw a whole curtain of faces. Some were looking for one night stands, others were searching for casual relationships, and some looking for commitment. She took things seriously and set up a solid profile. A high-resolution pic and a nicely written bio were all the ingredients she needed. Just the following day, messages started flowing in.
“People make the mistake of taking things casually just because it's a free site and that just does not work. Although I did not pay for the service, I knew I had to put in some effort. After all, I really was serious about finding someone.”
Sunrise, at last
After a while, Christine found the man that would be the love of her life.
“His name is Ted, a father of one who works in construction. He lived in Orinda, San Francisco just some minutes’ drive away from my home in Rockridge. He was really cute and when I opened the message he sent, he said all the right things. We instantly clicked! After talking over the web for a while, we decided to make things tangible with a date.”
Christie says it was important for her to be Christine the woman and not ‘Christine the girl who just got disappointed’. It is easy to slip back and look at things through the eyes of a disappointed woman, but that only keeps you imprisoned and keeps your potential mates away. On the date, she made it a point not to bring up her last breakup or any other ordeal for that matter.
“I think it’s important to focus on each other, and just on the surface for the first date. It has to be a friendly chat, talking about the things you have in common and each other's interests without going into any deep personal details. This is a first date, not a session at the therapist's. It turned out fun and I really liked him.”
Christine and Ted have been together for two years now and are thinking of tying the knot.
Not every affair should result in a breakup but it’s important to not be taken advantage of. Everyone deserves respect and honesty. The bottom line: there are lots of great people waiting for you right now.
“Although I am really happy where I am, I still wish I never tolerated my ex’s cheating. You get so used to someone that it just feels uncomfortable detaching from them but in the long run, you end up being hurt more. That is all in the past now, I found the man of my dreams and I’m really happy.”
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