We've all heard the statement, once a cheater, always a cheater. But is it 100 percent true? I can't answer that for sure, there's no empirical data to back up either claim. I can only speak for myself. And up until a few years ago, the answer would have been a resounding, yes.
I've always had difficulty remaining monogamous. There are a multitude of reasons/excuses for my behavior, but the older I get and the more research I do into the topic (and myself), the more I realize, it boiled down to one main issue. Although it sounds completely counterintuitive, I was afraid of being left alone.
Right. I know it sounds crazy. In order to ensure I was never alone, I cheated on those who gave me the opportunity to be in a relationship with them. But hear me out. I'm not saying it's right, by any means, but it's how my mind worked. I figured, if I always had someone (or multiple someones) on the side, I would never have to worry about being alone. I never claimed to be smart. There were times I didn't even bother pretending I wanted a relationship, as it's damn near impossible to maintain one, much less four or five. I would just show up on my day, that I typically assigned to myself, do my thing, and be unavailable beyond texting for the rest of the week.
When I think back to the amount of effort I put into my schedule, juggling multiple people at once, I'm astounded. If only I had put in that much work with a real, lasting relationship. However, I can't regret any of it, because I wouldn't be where I am today, nor would I have the amazing wife and relationship I do right now.
I wish I could tell you I learned from my past, saw the error of my ways, and never cheated on my wife, but that would be a lie. I was already in a relationship with someone else when we first met, engaged to be married more specifically. But I still began dating my now wife, and pretended she was the only one for six months, until I was caught. My relationship with my first wife wasn't a romantic one at that point, but I had agreed to marry her for various reasons and went ahead with it. Even though less than an hour away from where we lived, I had a woman who I knew was the love of my life, waiting on me to come home every weekend and continue our relationship.
After I married my first wife, it wasn't long before my then girlfriend found out everything. She was devastated, but gave me the opportunity to come clean and explain myself. To this day, I'll never know why she did this for me, because I definitely didn't deserve it. She asked pointed questions, and expected honesty, even though I had been slack in providing that up until this point in time. I had to decide, once and for all, if I wanted to continue with my sham of a marriage to make one person happy, or begin to work on ending things and move forward with my life, potentially making myself and my girlfriend happy.
It wasn't a difficult decision. Just over a year after I married a woman I didn't love, an almost ruined the best thing that's ever happened to me, I was divorced. In the state where we reside, you're required to be separated for a year and a day before the court will grant a divorce. I filed less than a week after our marriage to ensure our divorce could happen as quickly as possible.
I had been given a second chance at happiness and I didn't want to screw it up. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I was doing the right thing and moving in a positive direction. My soon to be new wife forgave me, but beyond that, she gave me a safe place to land. A place where I knew I wouldn't be judged immediately for my past bad acts, a place where I could share my misgivings and fears without judgment.
It hasn't been perfect by any means, which is on me more than anything. That wasn't the last time I cheated. I was weak and went back to old bad habits when I became afraid. But through it all, my wife has stood by my side. She's provided counseling, an ear, a shoulder, and her heart; None of which I fully deserve in my mind, but she thinks I do, which is what matters.
I've been faithful in this relationship longer than I ever had before in my life. In the past couple of years, we have discussed being polyamorous and have moved forward with that, and it's been a game changer for us both. My wife has experience in this lifestyle and has guided me since the beginning, ensuring we're both comfortable with every aspect of it before embarking on anything new.
For me, I hope the old adage isn't true. I can't say I'll never cheat again, because I don't know the future. What I do know, is for the first time in my life, I have zero desire to do so. Maybe, I've finally learned to accept the love I'm being given and in turn, can fully respond in kind.
@JonicaBradley - Thank you for the prompt, I hope I did it justice.