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On Why I Date Married And Unavailable Men

August 2, 2011

In a culture obsessed with monogamy and finding that one perfect person to have happily ever after with, we view any form of infidelity, consensual or not, to be an abomination. We ostracize those who choose not to commit, who play the field, who lure away the partners of others, who practice any form of an open relationship. Although I am loathe to place cheating and polyamory in the same category as a general rule, to the general public they are considered different breeds of the same monster.  My focus for this topic is cheating and non-consensual infidelity, a subject with which I am very intimately involved.

It is difficult to explain the compulsion to explore relationships outside the one you are in and supposed to be happy in. The drive stems from discontent fed by unhappiness, boredom, needs not being met and sometimes even all out abuse. Perhaps things will be better somewhere else, perhaps things will get better here, but it doesn’t matter really, because here isn’t meeting the insistent needs. There’s this unrealistic thought that somewhere out there is the “right” person and that when you meet him/her you will know. “If it’s meant to be”… The problem with this idea is it does not account for silly little things like chemistry – which is determined by genetics – and the reality that on a planet with six billion and counting humans on it, you will eventually meet other people with whom you have that spark. We forget that love and relationships involve work, we fail to maintain them, then are surprised when they fail.

With thousands of books, websites, television shows and professionals out there talking about how to find love and relationships and how to make them work, you would think we’d have figured it all out by now. I’m not here to wax poetic on things you’ve likely said and heard a thousand times over, not in this post. I am the side of the story you very rarely get to hear from the source. I am a cheater.

My days as a cheater started simultaneously with my entering into the dating world. I can honestly say that I have not maintained a relationship of any significant period without dancing around and over the lines of fidelity. My favored form of infidelity usually doesn’t ever involve anything physical. It’s about the connection, the conversation, the flirting. It’s addictive knowing that someone wants me, wants to be with me. The high of flirting and getting to know someone and existing in that perpetual “falling in love” state is dangerous because it is preferable to the harsh reality that comes afterward. This leads to the perpetuation of falling in and out of love. When things stop being shiny and exciting, the feelings fade and it’s on to the next one. For me, this behavior gets triggered most often by feeling neglected or abandoned by my partner. Again, needs not being met incite the seeking behavior.

My personal tendencies with cheating behavior have involved a proportionally large number of married men. I have been the other woman far more times than any married or monogamous woman wants to hear, especially the ones who have military men as their spouses. My time in the military world has made me exceptionally jaded about marriage, it has honestly made me wonder if it is impossible to live in this world without having to lie to sustain the relationship. If people knew how many marriage in the military survived only because of deployments or the lies told to cover up infidelity, I’m sure that far fewer people would enter into this world hoping for a permanent and happy relationship.

The joke I’ve always told about married men is that they are safe. At the end of everything, they have to go home to their wives and their lives.This is a fantastic safety net if, like me, you have severe issues with showing your soft underbelly. Men who are already in relationships are drawn to the excitement of something new and shiny. They are romantic, attentive, fantastic lovers, everything that a girl could ever ask for in a relationship, minus any possibility of having a public relationship. Generally though, the complication of the lies will eventually kill the relationship or drive it to a point where either the marriage or the affair must end. In the process, there is a lot of heartache and should the marriage end and the affair become a legitimate relationship, it will be fraught with trust issues and is likely to end with as big a bang as it started.

Having been on every side of the cheating equation, I can tell you without a shred of doubt that cheating hurts everyone involved, every time. The same high that lies and sneaking around will bring because they are exciting has a backswing. That moment when you look in the mirror and all you see is the liar staring back at you is a harsh reality to face. The quiet sadness of knowing that the person you are with would be devastated by the truth will eat at you. The pain of falling for someone new while knowing that you can never truly be with that person will consume you.

To step out of the cheating realm for a minute, I have found my other frustration to be getting involved with emotionally stunted or unavailable men. Cheating is a terrible process, but I’ve found it preferable to pouring out to someone who cannot or will not reciprocate. I’d rather be the dirty little secret of someone who has a reason for me to be one than be the dirty little secret of someone who’s petrified of entering into a real relationship with me. I currently am living with the excruciatingly painful mistake of giving myself completely and making myself totally open and vulnerable to a man who does not want anyone else to have me, but does not want to take the steps and risk to claim me as his own. Between him and the men who’ve danced in and out of my life who treated me as if I was only good for a good time or couldn’t figure out how to handle a strong female without being emasculated and you’ve got a glimpse at the reasons why I absolutely detest dating.

Why do I date married and unavailable men? Because when I expose my throat and make myself vulnerable in a relationship I always get hurt. If I choose the hurt I know is coming, the hurt that is predictable, it still hurts but I am prepared for it. You cannot help how you feel, only what you do with it. I feel like I am broken that the people I’ve developed the strongest feelings for are the ones that are in some way unavailable or unable to commit to me, either by way of being in a relationship or being mentally and emotionally unable to enter into one. I feel like perhaps I am cursed to never have a healthy, happy relationship because I have stepped foot into so many others. I feel trapped in a cycle of trying to find someone who wants to be with me who actually can and never being able to succeed.

I don’t know how to put into words how it makes me feel every time one of the married men in my life tells me he’s attracted to me or wants to do things with me. I don’t often talk about it because every time it happens, especially when it’s someone I trust, I’m devastated. I can’t talk about the tears I shed internally and externally as they get the load off their chest by burdening me with their secret. It destroys me inside every time the unwanted fact gets forced upon me. I don’t share because some of the most important people in my life judge me very harshly for these things and frankly, I’m tired of being told that if I want to be treated as more than good for good time, I need to be more than good for a good time. That wound cuts far deeper than almost anything. I don’t ask for this. I don’t want this. I own the wrongs that I have done, but that doesn’t make it fair to judge me harshly for the actions of other people that I am not complacent to. I live with it quietly, I hurt quietly, because I don’t know what the reaction would be if the truthful number ever became known. I don’t know that I could live with the disdain and the blame that would get heaped upon me by the judgmental people who are dear to me.

The majority of these men who I have been involved with have not been the selfish, girl-collecting monsters that cheaters are typically portrayed as. They are ordinary men, usually feeling trapped inside relationships that have been broken for a very long time. They feel broken, they’re hurting, they don’t know how to leave or fix what they have and they don’t know if they want to. They want to be happy, they want to feel loved, they want to get their spoken and unspoken needs met. Doesn’t mean that stepping out is the right way to solve the issue, but when you’re drowning, you’ll cling to whatever keeps you afloat.

As I write this, I have yet to break the cycle. Make your judgments and keep them to yourself. You do not know how this feels unless you are here living it. Someday, I hope to be in a relationship that is permanent, happy and lasting. That has whatever rules we both agree on. That is with someone who will look at my past and not use it as an excuse for anything. I have made my mistakes but I am not broken. My having cheated in some relationships does not mean I have or will cheat in them all. My honesty is not a weakness, it is simply the truth.

I am worth having.

Until next time,
~Rose

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