The Betrayal

large (7)We’ve all done it.

Whether it’s about how much we weigh, how many drinks we’ve had or how old we are, lying is, unfortunately, a fact of life.

Pretending you’re ten years younger than you really are or being in denial about the effects of the latest fad diet on your thighs however, is not quite the same as lying about having slept with someone you shouldn’t have or kissing someone when you should be kissing someone else.

It seems to me as though most people wait until they’ve got a white dress, a three-tiered cake and a pair of neat brogues to even begin thinking about remaining faithful to each other. Surely this should come a little earlier and a little more naturally, being one of the fundamentals of a relationship?

I’m under no illusions that there are people who can’t even control themselves within the realms of matrimony. Married men cheat on their wives, women date ten guys at a time and friends have been known to sleep with their best mate’s other half. And I, although it’s probably hard to imagine, am not a saint either.

Relationships are hard, there’s no denying, but the question I’m asking is: when the fuck did morals go out of fashion?

At school we’re taught not to hit each other in the playground and to be nice to our friends. We’re told not to lie to the teacher and to choose our words wisely. Why then, isn’t there a time, perhaps in the latter half of one’s education, when teachers (or parents) get real and explain that cheating is inherently wrong? We’re getting pretty good at progressing from condoms, bananas and films from the 70’s to explain how our genitals work during intercourse, but we fail to explain to kids about when best to use them, perhaps because we’re still grappling with these issues as adults.

I understand very well that children learn best from making their own mistakes, but with some things, it causes more harm than good to let people figure it out for themselves. We don’t wait around for a child to kill someone before using it as an example to explain that it’s inherently wrong, so why don’t we do the same with cheating? Both cause pain and are irreversible, and both can be avoided.

If you think I’m being dramatic by comparing the two then it clearly hasn’t happened to you… yet.

Some people say I’ve had a ‘good run’, considering how common cheating actually is. 25 years it has taken me to join the Cuckold Club and only now that it has happened to me, do I feel like I can comment with conviction.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of finding messages on your partner’s phone, or even better, catching them in the act, then you should know that it’s probably one of the worst things to happen to a person. And the bigger the love, the worse it is. I could sit here and try and explain the feeling but I can’t; it’s indescribable how much it hurts. Forget a kick in the balls or an elbow to the boob the week before your period; this stuff hurts. A lot.

Excuses are void and can range from the desperate to the ludicrous. They’ll explain that they don’t know why they did it and, particularly the male variety, will tell you that they can have sex without it meaning a thing. (It’s at this stage that I’d like to point out that so can women and that doesn’t make it okay.) Another favourite of mine is the, ‘It wasn’t very good’ or ‘I didn’t even fancy him (or her)’. My response? Thank you so much for ensuring that you didn’t take pleasure from putting your penis into someone else’s vagina, maybe next time you’ll get lucky?

Cheaters of the world: whether you did it and enjoyed  it, knew him or just met him, whether she has crap hair and looks like a gnome or has the body of a Victoria’s Secrets model, we don’t care. You did it, it’s disgusting and we’re hurt, so let us move on, be it with you or without you.

In my younger, feistier and perhaps more naive years, I was so sure I would dump a cheater without a second thought. Watching my friends being cheated on by their boyfriends and seeing marriages fall apart, I thought it impossible to even contemplate going back there. But when you’ve actually invested in a future with someone yourself, it gets a little more complicated than the standard duvet day and Beyonce session to help you move on (although both are still completely valid and do still sort of help the situation).

It’s a fact that humans can revert to sex to try and make themselves feel better. We’re suckers for a coping mechanism, hence why we have alcoholics, sex addicts and all the rest and I have seen lots of couples make it through to the other side, changing them for the better. But why let it get to that point? I’m really not sure how many times I have to say this until people get the picture but if you treat people the way that you would like someone to treat your brother, sister or best friend, then the world would be a happier place. I genuinely believe that we have a social responsibility when it comes to people’s hearts and if we each did our own little bit then it could have a huge impact on people’s lives.

Whether you’re the person who is attached or the one who wants that guy with the girlfriend, take responsibility for your actions – gin sodden or sober – and be the better person and prove how strong you are by saying no. Cheating is always a choice, never an accident.

I enjoy rebelling as much as the next person and can completely understand how the temptation of doing something you shouldn’t can be very attractive, but my experience has changed the way I look at things. Will I get over it? I’m not sure yet. But what I am sure of is that relationships aren’t mandatory. There’s no law saying that you must commit and if you do want to go out there and be ‘free’, then do as you please, but simply stay single while you do so. That way, when you jump in a cab back to theirs, nobody gets hurt, except if they’re into S&M, but that’s their prerogative.

All that I’m asking of you is that you take a couple of seconds longer to think about any decisions you might make in the future and to only partake in the gift of giving this season if you’re ‘giving it’ to all the right people.

Just. Be. Good. It’s really not that hard.

The Friend

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Friends ran for ten seasons; a lengthy lifespan for a television series. But, much like this phenomenon, do real friendships have an expiration date?

Whether it’s because your bum chum turns into a lover, or whether you simply move away, a change in dynamic is inevitable when it comes to primarily platonic relationships. This change can come in the form of growing ever closer, or drifting apart.

Humans are ultimately going to do wrong at some stage. And although a true friend can, at times, be upheld as some sort of modern day superhero for putting up with you, they’re no exception to this fatal flaw. But it’s how much you would forgive them for which is the greatest gage of how much they mean to you. True friends are invaluable. If you think about your best friend and are unable to bring yourself to picture your life without them in it, then they will always be there. Basically, because you won’t let them not be, regardless of the mistakes they make, or how many times they falter. I guarantee that your bestie could poke you in the eye with a needle whilst getting off with your ex and you’d still find it in your heart to forgive them.

Your school friends will have been there with you as you slowly but surely grew into your face and your teeth were being forced into alignment by, what was essentially, barbed wire. Your university companions will have cleaned up your vodka induced vomit from the kitchen sink. Your work makes will have told you, (sorry, lied to you) that your behaviour was totally acceptable on Friday night, despite falling asleep in the loo until closing time. Your gym buddies will compliment your dewy complexion after 45 minutes on the treadmill and your oldest friend will tell everybody that your family are completely normal, whilst ensuring they never, ever mention that time involving your father and a red, glittery thong.

What I guess I’m trying to say, is that a friend can come along at any time, for any length of time, and for whatever reason. You might never truly be aware of why or ever really appreciate their presence until they’re gone, but they all play a part in your story. It’s whether you want to carry them through to the next chapter which is entirely up to you. There are those who will play a leading role right up until the end, there are many who will feature fleetingly and a few that you will kill off for good reason. Regardless of this, they were a friend and we can all do with at least one at the best of times.

The only friend that I can safely say we could do without, is a “friend with benefits”. The benefits of a friendship should not fall under the same category as blow jobs in my opinion.

But who am I to classify the capacities of friendship anyway?

A true friend is like a wonderwall: completely subjective.

The way I see it, as soon as you think you’re able to make sense of how to loosely define what a friend actually is, you’ve defeated the point of them.

After all, it’s impossible to define love.

The Loss

Despite being seventeen, weighing far less than I do now and being head over heels for my boy-band look-a-like boyfriend of the time, 2006 was undoubtedly my worst year to date.

I lost three of the most important people to me within nine months of each other, and it was more than a kick in the ball bag, as I’m sure you’d imagine.

In retrospect, that year consisted of a ridiculous amount of tea, sandwiches and biscuits, memories of relatives that I’d never seen before or since acting as though they knew my life story, a bleary eyed great aunt Phyllis and the need to wear ill-fitting black dresses just because they were funeral-appropriate.

I manage to push all of this to the back of my mind, until those fateful days when I come across an old photograph, a gift from them, or I have to help someone else face losing someone they love.

That’s when I’m reminded of that thudding sentiment of disbelief.

If you’re privileged enough to have never felt this sort of sadness, imagine being really, really hungry. Not “after a run” hungry, really hungry. And now imagine knowing that you’ll never be able to eat again.

Think of the worst break up you’ve experienced and times it by five billion. You might just about come close to what it feels like to lose someone for good.

It’s the control that we as humans strive for so often that in these circumstances we lose, leaving us, ironically enough, for dead. You’re the least in control you’ll ever be when something like this happens.

The only positive that stems from this incurable pain? The sobering effect that it has. Nothing seems a big deal and petit problems concerning a lack of funds or a pair of shoes become trivial. The realisation that you could die tomorrow is the moment that causes you to start living.

So make ends meet. Get back in touch with those who you’ve always meant to, take that trip across the other side of the world, but most importantly, simply take the time to appreciate the people you have around you now.

As scary as it is, we have no idea what tomorrow brings.

This weekend reminded me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such great people.

For Sue and Sue. x