I once read that you have 3 types of love in life. Now I don't want anyone reading this and feeling worse about themselves because this doesn't apply to them, this is NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE but it did resonate with me and my story so hear me out. I read that everyone has a "first love". This love feels special and real at the time and you learn from it but it doesn't necessarily change you or shape you as a person. Then comes the second love. This is the "big" love. It's the first time you fall deeply in love with someone. This also comes hand in hand with infatuation, lust, passion, excitement, experimentation, emotions and you experience a relationship with someone on a level you thought only existed in movies and fairytales... However this is also the love that breaks your heart, shapes you, tests you and moulds you into a stronger person and eventually is the love you outgrow. Then there's the third love, the "Forever" love, the one that makes all the others feel insignificant and the one where it was all worth it to meet.
Now back to the title points. This is something i've wanted to write about for a long time. I want to start by saying something really important, Not All Men Cheat.Obviously. However unfortunately this is a topic i have personally experienced and therefore have quite strong opinions on and i finally feel ready to share some of them in the hopes that it may be helpful and one day my nieces might read it and learn from my mistakes.
To start things off i'll give you a bit of background on my relationship history. Growing up, although i went to an all girls school, i was always incredibly sociable and comfortable being friends with both boys and girls. This may seem like a weird point but still to this day some of my best friends are guys and i never had that awkward can't speak to boys phase. I wanted to say this point before you read my calamity of a story and feel like there is no hope and all the good men are either gay, taken or are your dad (i've been there believe me!). Anyway, where was i...
If i'm being honest, from between the ages of 13-18 i had a steady string of "boyfriends" these boys could all be grouped into the category of "young love" or "first loves" i.e. nothing too serious (although obviously they felt like the be all and end all at the time). In actuality there were never any big life altering feelings involved and i was quite careless and carefree in these relationships. It was somewhere in this category where i kissed goodbye to my virginity and started to learn about what i wanted in a man.
There are some fun stories and important lessons were made in that first chapter. For instance, unless he's Jack Sparrow, never date a guy who wears more eyeliner than you. All very important things to go through of course, but It's not what I wanted to focus on here. I mainly want to talk about cheating. You probably gathered from my intro and if you know me you will know that i'm now happily engaged to the most wonderful man i've ever met. Which can only mean that we'Il largely be focusing in on my "big" love era when discussing the topic of cheating.
When i was 18 i fell in love in a big way. It was like nothing i had felt before, I know this will sound absurd but there were times when It really did feel like dying would be easier than being without this person. How Romeo and Juliet of me i know but that's truthfully how it felt at the time. And yes i was very young. AH SWEET PERSPECTIVE AND HINDSIGHT HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE! Very early on in this relationship i was cheated on. I'm talking full on my boyfriend had sex on multiple occasions with his ex girlfriend. It was appalling and inexcusable. No drunk one-night-stands, no accidental kisses with strangers in clubs (not that any of that is acceptable) but i'm just making it clear that it was a straight forward premeditated cheating affair. I can actually remember a time that i know of where he had sex with her and called me after as if he had popped to the shops to pick up dinner. So deceitful and gross. Eventually too many people found out, including one of my best friends at the time who gave him an ultimatum, tell me or they would. So he confessed. And I, being the stupidly loved up fool that i was, eventually took him back and forgave him. It wasn't easy believe me, it was incredibly, incredibly difficult but like i said, i loved him. We were in a long distance relationship at the time too which made it all the more painful and hard. Looking back now i think it's clear that i had some serious insecurities and own self worth issues which led to me putting my own self respect to one side to be with him.
I naively thought it wouldn't happen again, he would change, I was good enough for him, i was enough. I was wrong, and it took me 8 years to work out that sometimes people just don't change. Looking back, I was 100% totally insane to let it go on for as long as it did, insanity as Einstein described it, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That was my life. Don't get me wrong, there were some good times of course but it was like one long roller coaster, things would be getting better and better and then i would find out he kissed someone else, a girl from work has "fallen in love with him", he's innapropriately texting a new "friend" etc etc the emotional turmoil became too much and one day when another unfaithful bombshell hit i just said enough. Best decision i've ever made.
The months that followed that breakup were some of, if not the hardest of my life so far. I went through such a physical and mental stress that i've never experienced before. If it wasn't for the support of my incredible family and friends i would probably not have survived it (again very dramatic but it's honestly how it felt). There were a good few weeks of feeling like i'd never be happy again. The stress manifested itself quite physically for me, I dropped a lot of weight very quickly and I lost my period as a result. Fortunately it's all back to normal now but it took about 3 years to get it back. That's a whole other story! I went through all the typical thoughts and motions. Would i be alone forever? Was it all my fault? Should i get back with him? How will i ever get over this? If your reading this and in a similar place right now please just know that it will get better. It's totally, utterly shit but time really does work miracles and i can honestly say that from experience. Weeks 1-2 are the worst. Days are long, you don't eat, you can't concentrate, you cry at basically everything, all you can think about is the good times you shared and the future you thought you were going to have, you can't sleep, but when you do eventually sleep you dream about them and when you wake up you have to grieve all over again . Weeks 3-4 you start to feel a bit stronger, definitely not ok yet but you're putting makeup on again, progress. It's week 4/5 where i started to feel like I was going to be ok. The initial weakness had passed and I could see colours and a future again. I remember saying to myself (which sounds a bit strange now but i still tell this to friends going through similar things) I used to say "I need to get though this to let future Maddie have a chance of being happy".This is just my experience, i'm sure everyone is different but i swear it just takes time. I went on to having the best summer of my adult life, i was single for the first time basically since hitting puberty and i was both terrified and excited. That's a whole other chapter but i promise It all worked itself out in the end.
To say i have no regrets would be false. I have many, mostly i regret not caring about myself more than about someone else, i regret giving so much time, so much of my life, so many tears and energy on someone who could never have loved me in the way that i did him. I regret blaming myself. Serial cheats are master manipulators and liars. They will say anything to get out of the lie or to not get caught and that can quite often lead to you feeling like you're the crazy one, you're being paranoid or that it's something you've done wrong. Don't fall into that trap. From my experience 9 times out of 10 if you think something is amiss, it probably is. Women's instincts are second to none, trust them. Take it from me, something I massively regret above all is ignoring the signs. I'm now with someone who is literally the opposite of what i'm describing here, so let me tell you, those paranoid thoughts and suspicions you might feel are not normal and it's not ok, don't waste your life feeling worried or insecure YOLO remember. Ladies if your man is 24/7 glued to his phone like it's his best friend ALARM BELLS, if he purposefully won't share his passwords/changes his passwords frequently ALARM BELLS with the exception of when they're planning an imminent proposal (Joel's input), if he hides his phone from you when he's in the shower or twitches if you try to use it ALARM BELLS, if his phone is always face down and on silent ALARM BELLS if he has shady friends who cheat and he doesn't question their morals ALARM BELLS if he suddenly decides the gym is a bigger priority than you ALARM DUMBBELLS, if he doesn't come home after a night out with a less than plausible excuse MASSIVE FUCKING ALARM BELLS!! Obviously these are just things that I personally look back on as obvious warning signs during my relationship, your man could do all of these things and be a completely trustworthy person, I assure you, if that's the case you will be able to feel the difference.
That all being said, there are things i don't and will never regret. I do think it's important to experience heart ache, heart break and bad times in life. It's the only way of really knowing when something is truly good and worth holding on to. It's made me into the person i am today which i'm pleased to say is a much stronger, more independent and confident person. I know what i will and won't put up with now and I know how i deserve to be treated and won't settle for anything less. Sadly I think often cheating can break a person down so much and make them feel like it was them who was the problem, there must have been something that you did to make them cheat, other girls must have something you don't. Of course these are ideas that circled my head for 8 years but i've come to accept that actually this wasn't about me. This is about someone else and their morals not matching mine, it's as simple as that.
If you've been cheated on, try to not let it define you. Learn from it, don't make the same mistakes again but don't let it change who you are at the core. I'm a naturally very caring and loving person, i'm trusting and loyal to a fault but i haven't stopped loving and trusting people. You can't let one or in my case several let downs make you stop believing there is someone out there who won't let you down and who will never ever make you feel unworthy or lesser than them because you will be equals.
For me love is simple. Love is caring so much about someone that hurting them would be unthinkable and tantamount to hurting yourself. It's about respect, it's about trust, understanding, communication, loyalty, support, friendship and of course fun, laughter, joy and happiness too. You don't need to compromise your morals and what you deem acceptable and nor should you have to. It's about finding someone who makes everything better just by being there beside you. I feel lucky every single day that i found someone who is everything i could ever want in a partner and who I plan on spending the rest of my life with. Ask me if i would do anything differently if i had the chance? The answer is no, i would one million percent go through it all again if it meant i would get the same result. However If the only option was to back with the knowledge i have now would i do things differently? ABSOBLOODYLUTELY. I would tell that boy to go fuck himself because to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt no one should have the power to make you feel inferior without your consent. Well said Eleanor, i couldn't agree more and so should you. Mic drop.