Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The only thing that counts...

I finally got around to watching The Last Kiss this weekend. There is a particularly stunning scene (I won't say too much in case you haven't seen it) with Zach Braff and Tom Wilkinson, whose character has been married for 30 years. Michael (Zach Braff) says something like, "you can't say you've never strayed." And Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) is quiet for a long moment, then he says: "What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you love. That's what matters. That's the only thing that counts. "

It reminded me that I once had a boyfriend who announced—in a bar, at a table packed with friends and acquaintances—that he didn’t see anything wrong with cheating because, as a particularly psychologically advanced individual, he could separate lust from love. Granted, he hadn’t cheated on me (trust me, a woman knows), and he said as much, but his declaration made my blood run cold.

My father was a cheater. He cheated on my mother openly and often, with younger women, with any woman who would have him, until he finally left my mother for one of them. My grandfather was also a cheater. My grandmother caught him with her best friend when my mother was only three years old and divorced him soon thereafter. He later married the best friend. My boyfriend knew all of this, including my feelings of contempt, yet he still thought it was acceptable to declare himself a potential cheater.

The conversation had turned to the topic of cheating because one of my friends said she wouldn’t divorce her husband if he cheated on her. I, being in my early 20s and na├»ve (not to mention earnest, somewhat optimistic, and emotionally immature), suggested that she’d just given him license to screw around.

“What would you do,” my boyfriend asked, “if I cheated on you?” Without skipping a beat, I said “I’d sleep with your friends and make sure you found out about it” (except I didn’t say “sleep with”—and I might have added something about videotaping it for him).

“But lusting after someone else isn’t the end of the world,” he said.

“No, it isn’t. But acting on it is.” How do I know? Because I've been a cheater more often than I've been cheated on. And my actions spoke volumes.

4 comments:

  1. I was once cheated on. What the poor boy didn't know was that while he was off on vacation cheating on me, I was going to the movies with his brother...

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  2. I think a lot of cheaters know that Karma can be a vicious bitch.

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  3. I was cheated on once, and never cheated on anyone, but the idea of someone who is so nonchalant about cheating is really frightening.
    iVillage had an interesting piece where they interviewed men on the street and asked them if they would want to know if their girlfriend cheated.
    Overwhelmingly the men didn't want to be told. Of those that said that they would want to be told, most said they would immediately dump the cheater.

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  4. I fully believe that once a cheater always a cheater. I had a pretty serious boyfriend that went off to college before I did and he cheated on me his first year. But I just swept it under the rug and didn't really put a fight up because I loved him that much. So 6 months later, he did it again! I hope it comes back to bite him in the ass some day! Well,maybe it already has because the girl he's got now is UGLY! HAHAHAHAHA!

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