By Ally Lopez > Senior > Journalism > University of Maryland, College Park; Photo by A.R. > Sophomore > UMBC > Graphic Design
Every relationship has normal ups and downs. But in college – a pivotal stage in maturity – we throw in hormones, campus behaviors and young-adult temptations. We have wandering eyes. Ranging from drunken kisses and one-night stands to a having completely separate “committed” relationships, cheating affects all parties involved regardless of the level of emotional attachment.
In her first year in college, Jessica Gonzalez, a student at the University of California, said she was cheated on by a serious boyfriend. She called it “selfish, regrettable, and immature. I really couldn’t even begin to describe how hurt I was or how much shock I was in.”
Relationship expert and author of Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match Amy Spencer said the betrayal, though “devastating,” actually has an upside.
“Having someone hurt you so deeply actually makes you a much more empathetic and deeply feeling person … Next time, if someone doesn't call or keep to their word early in a relationship, you can make a more informed decision if they're right for you,” she said.
As inhibitions, and sometimes clothes, are lost in the act of cheating when alcohol is in the mix, not every situation is as “simple” as a drunken mistake. College senior Maurice Frederick admitted to cheating on his long-distance girlfriend by maintaining a romantic relationship with a different girl on his campus. His first relationship lasted one year, the second for five months until both girls became aware of the love triangle.
“There was no excuse for what I did to both of them and I honestly felt guilty every moment I was with either of them,” he said. “I didn’t want to break up with [my girlfriend], I did love her, and I really became close to and cared for the second girl.”
Spencer added that when you go through the experience of cheating, you feel “how painful” it can be and know you don’t want to inflict it on another person. “So next time you even consider cheating,” she said, “You'll remember how much pain you felt and find another way to handle it.”
Frederick said he still feels the pain: “I’ve dated a handful of girls since then but my guilt takes a toll on the progress of the relationship,” he said.
Is the relationship worth rebuilding and overcoming difficult trust issues, or do you go your separate ways? It all comes down to trust: do you trust yourself or your partner to never cheat again? Without trust, the relationship will suffer even more; if resentment and distrust are present from either party, your best bet is to walk away and not put yourself or your partner through any more.
Gonzalez argued that those who cheat aren’t worth one’s trust and patience.
“Only stick with people who make you feel like your best self when you're with them,” Spencer said. “Relationships are supposed to add benefits to your life, not drama. If you're feeling more stress in a relationship than you would feel single, maybe they're not right for you.”