Christopher Carter Sanderson cheated on a girlfriend just once. And here is why it was the only time.
Let me be very upfront about this: I don’t think about myself as attractive.
Truth is, I don’t think of myself as unattractive either. And that’s probably my thing: if people talked about how damn ugly I was then maybe I would think about it. And, honestly, if I had ever had any trouble getting laid, I guess I would have had to wonder. But, I haven’t. I’ve been free to go about my completely self-obsessed life as an artist worrying about things like the pronunciation of words in Shakespeare or which stories of Tucker Max’s would make the best show on stage.
I have not had to worry about getting laid because I have by and large been in great, meaningful, monogamous relationships, (admittedly of varying duration) with amazing women. Never worried.
That one time was the one time—and the only time—that I cheated on a girlfriend while we were in a committed relationship. It burnt me so hard and so badly, ripped my admittedly giant ego to such tiny shreds, left me so speechless and lost that I have never even wanted to do again it to any woman I was with. Ever.
And I want to give credit where it is due: to my girlfriend at the time. She did it. Let’s call her “Gale.” What Gale did when she found out I had cheated on her completely robbed me of the desire to cheat ever again. Completely.
Do you want to know what she did? I’ll tell you. She forgave me … it’s as simple as that. She forgave me and we went on with the relationship. And I have not wanted to cheat on a woman again. Ever.
It’s not even like I confessed everything to her in a tearful show of repentant angst. Nope. She found out because her close friend, who I had slept with, told her. Gale was then the one who had the guts to confront it. She asked me and I told her I had.
I was enough of myself to say I would not expect her to be my girlfriend any more. But she was not having it. She asked me if I wanted to see her friend instead. I was shocked that we were even still speaking, having just told the truth. And the honest truth was that I didn’t want to be with anyone but Gale, and really just wanted to apologize to her friend in case she’d thought this meant I’d be dating her now.
Further, I felt so completely like shit that I said truthfully that I would be OK dating neither of them, and maybe should wait until I was over the relationship I’d just ruined before I thought about dating again.
It just came out, it was the truth, and it made me miserable.
I guess it showed. So Gale told me that she’d like to wait until after the holiday that was coming up, but that after that she would want to see me. She forgave me and it would stick.
We stayed together after that for another year or two. It made me feel confident that telling her had been the right thing to do. Being willing to deal with the consequences made me feel like I still had balls, even if I had cheated in a cowardly way.
Eventually Gale and I parted ways. But it was on good terms. We’re still social network friends all these years later.
Now, I had a best friend too at the time. And he asked Gale if she wanted to cut my balls off for cheating on her. My best friend’s sister was the woman I had cheated with, so I bet he had some ideas about cutting them off at the time as well. Gale’s answer? “Yeah, I’d like to cut them off. But I like them too much.”
Ever since that young relationship and what happened, when I think in a cheating way I know that it is just a way of telling myself that something’s wrong with the relationship that I am in. It tells me that I need to address that problem and deal with the consequences, like Gale taught me to.
And that takes balls. I’m glad I still have mine.