I was in a happy, loving relationship. Then what happened? Nobody starts out with a plan to cheat on their better halves. But then, sometimes, circumstances eventually lead there…
I used to travel a lot for my work. This often meant long periods of time away from my boyfriend. But still, we would snapchat and text each other all the time, and I couldn’t wait to tell him about every experience and every little conversation I had had. We were the most devoted couple, and friends would look at us and go, “aww!”
I met someone else at a party…
But one time I was traveling for work to another country and I decided to take a short holiday and meet some friends, instead of just going back. It was with these friends that I went to a party when I met *him*. He struck up a conversation with me…
“Hey, how’re you doing there?” he asked.
“Hey, I’m good. What about yourself?”
“So where are you from?”
“I’m from India.”
“Oh and you’re traveling all by yourself to another country? That’s quite brave of you.”
I blushed, but not only because of his flattering words or because I hadn’t thought of my situation in quite this way, but also because he was damn cute looking, and of all the people in the room, he had decided to talk to ME! Haha, but maybe that was also because I was the most exotic person in the room, what with me being a foreigner and all.
But we kept talking through the party and towards the end of the night, he asked me if I would like to take a walk with him so he could show me his favourite places in the city. It was all happening so fast - I didn’t really have a lot of time to think, nor was I thinking straight, thanks to all the party drinking and the romance of a new place - so I said yes.
So we went out after midnight, which is when the party ended. It was a pleasant, summery night, and the streets were mostly deserted and lit with yellow street lamps, and I had the company of a boy who was sweet and interesting. I am easily swayed by such things, and also such gestures of boldness from friendly strangers, so I have to say I was charmed.
I did think about my BF on a romantic walk with this other guy...
Was I thinking about my boyfriend back home? I guess yes - in a way - he wasn’t out of my mind… You don’t suddenly forget someone you’re in love with just because you've met someone new. But somehow meeting this new guy seemed to have very little to do with my boyfriend and my life back at home. It felt a little disconnected - my boyfriend seemed far away, yet always a background presence - I felt like if he had been here, he would actually be happy for me and all my newfound excitement.
You might think it weird, but I was not really feeling guilty then. All I felt was this dreaminess while walking on moonlit avenues, even as the other guy held my hand and kissed me. And I kissed him back, and that night was beautiful because I felt secure enough in my relationship with my boyfriend to be able to do this without guilt and to also feel like I had nothing to hide really…
But next morning...
The insecurities and regrets really began the next morning when I woke up after spending a night with this other guy. And as daylight does so often, it made reality explode. I kept thinking what the hell had I done, and how would my boyfriend react to this? Guilt set in. I was pretty sure even then that I wanted to tell him about this, and not hide it from him - because I really didn’t think our relationship would be worth anything if we couldn’t be honest with each other, and especially if I couldn’t be honest with him about something like this.
I talked to a few of my friends later and asked them for advice on what to do, and some of them did say that what had happened had happened, and what’s the big deal about sex anyway. But then for me, omitting this “little detail” from my trip when talking about it to my boyfriend did seem a lie.
Finally, I had a simple test - I thought if he had slept with someone else, would I rather that he not tell me about it or would I rather he do than I find out about it some other random way? And I realised it was the first one, and that I would probably be more hurt from him not sharing things with me, rather than him sleeping with someone else.
I told my boyfriend about my encounter...
Finally, once I was back home, I gathered the courage to tell my BF - finding an appropriate time means that you can be waiting forever to confess...So one evening I just blurted out the entire incident to him.
He was obviously upset when he heard about this, but then because he loved me - and I do think I had the courage to tell him all this because I knew he loved me - he said it was okay, and that as long as I was okay, he would be okay. I thought, “Wow, that’s got to be one hell of a brilliantly kind and generous guy!” and I did breathe a sigh of relief because I did not want to lose him, and I really, really did not want us to break up.
But my boyfriend had now left me with an important question: “Was I okay with it?”
Pondering on a question like that takes a lot of introspection and knowing yourself. Which means spending a lot of time alone. What are we okay with?... What are we comfortable with?... Do we even know who we are?... In the rush of everyday life, we can often forget that these questions - though seemingly trivial, unimportant, and sometimes, even cliches - are some of the most important ones which will keep us grounded in life. And suddenly, I realised my BF had given me the elusive opportunity to ask these questions to myself, and find the answers to them. And I thought it’d probably be a damned good idea to utilise this opportunity as much as I could, because it is not often in life that people are so generous to others, like he was being to me.
So I thought and thought about who I was and what I wanted in life, and if sleeping with other people was something I wanted to do. And all these thoughts led to a lot of questions about what commitment to my BF really means… Does it just mean sexual exclusivity or monogamy? Or can one sleep with multiple people and still be committed to that one special person, or be committed to all of them - simply by caring for them and being supportive to them when they need you?
These were some very difficult questions to ask or even wrap my head around, because I had grown up seeing relationships in a very particular way, where cheating on the other person is made to seem like the worst thing you can do in a relationship. But what if those commandments were not true, and what if there was a different way of looking at the relationship ideals which society at large sets for us?
My boyfriend and I are still together, and if anything our relationship is stronger because of this incident. But I am now more skeptical of the relationship rules against so-called “cheating” which are laid down for us. I still struggle with all these questions about what it means to be in a committed relationship, and I figured that every person can carve out their own definition of what commitment means, or what a committed relationship looks like, depending on what they want out of their own relationships. It is something so personal, so carving universal rules for this seems rather baffling. I haven’t slept with anyone else since this incident, and I am not sure if I even want to again, but I think I am less frightened or dismissive of this thought than I used to be before.