I think we can all agree that being cheated on sucks. Yet, it's one of those things that so many people can relate to. It's the plot twist in numerous movies and the plot twist in numerous real life relationships. But is being cheated on really as bad as we make it out to be? Are there any benefits to being cheated on?
Science says there may be. Earlier this year, researchers from Binghamton University and University College London surveyed 5,705 people in 96 countries and discovered that when we're cheated on, we develop "higher mating intelligence" and we are more likely to detect signs in future partners that may show "low mate value." Researchers also found being cheated on was beneficial in terms of personal growth too.
In my last relationship I was cheated on twice – once when my partner hooked up with a stranger at a music festival and once when my partner started dating his ex behind both of our backs. I actually only found out about both of these occurrences through social media after I ended our relationship. Finding out that my partner had been cheating on me during our relationship stung, but I've since realized that in some ways it actually made me a stronger, happier person.
If you've been cheated on, it's hard to see any good in all that bad. When I found out my partner was unfaithful to me, I felt hurt and betrayed. But now that I've had time to reflect on it, I've realized that there were some ways that being cheated on was a good thing for me. Here's why:
1. It Brought Me Closer To Other Women
When I found out about my partner's cheating, I immediately turned to my friends for comfort. My friends hadn't experienced infidelity, but it didn't matter. They made sure they were there for me while I tried to make sense of the situation.
But my friends weren't the only women who I became closer to. My partner started dating his ex while we were still dating. I knew his ex because we went to high school together and I was following her on Twitter (which is how I found out about their relationship). When they broke up, she began tweeting about why she was glad their relationship was over, and I, in a moment of solidarity with this girl, liked her tweets. She sent me a DM immediately and five minutes later we were on the phone with each other bonding over our shared experiences. For the next few months, she would turn to me for support while she navigated her post-breakup life the same way I did with my friends.
If I had never been cheated on, I might never have become friends with this person. She and I have since supported each other in various other aspects of our lives, and we're both stronger because of our friendship and the foundation that it was built on.
2. It Gave Me Validation
When I ended the relationship with my partner, I didn't yet know about how he had been cheating on me. I broke up with him because he was manipulative, abusive, and always looking to start a fight with me. After we broke up, I couldn't help but wonder if I made a mistake — was I being overdramatic? Was I wrong? Was I the problem?
When I found out he cheated on me, it became clear that my intuition and judgment had been right all along. If he was capable of cheating on me, then he wasn't someone I should be in a monogamous relationship with, and because of this realization, I was finally able to stop second-guessing my decision to break up with him.
3. It Made Me Appreciate My Healthy Relationships
After experiencing an unhealthy relationship, I turned to my friends for support and became more appreciative of them and the loyalty, love, and respect we all had for each other. I learned that the people who stand by you are the people that actually care about you, and my partner just wasn't that. There were many things in that relationship that hurt and upset me, but knowing that my partner wasn't truly invested in the relationship isn't one of those things. I learned that I can't force someone to love me, but I can appreciate and love the people who do.
4. It Gave Me A Reality Check
This relationship was the first serious, long-term relationship that I had ever been in. I went into the relationship thinking that nothing bad could happen, because why would it? I knew I was a good friend, so I figured that I'd be a good girlfriend. But just because you're a good person, doesn't mean every relationship you'll ever have will work out. Being cheated on taught me that sometimes people just aren't compatible and that sometimes things don't pan out the way you expect them to.
5. It Helped Me Choose Me
In life, you'll encounter people who make choices that you won't always like or agree with. I didn't like the fact that my partner decided to choose to cheat on me, and I didn't like that his choice wasn't me. But being cheated on taught me that even though sometimes people don't choose you, you have to keep choosing yourself. You have to keep growing, learning, and living. That person made their choice, and it's time to make yours. After the relationship ended, I chose to strengthen my friendships, I chose to bleach my hair, I chose to study abroad in London, and I chose to move on.
I'm much stronger and happier now than I ever was in that relationship. I have healthier relationships with a supportive group of friends and I have a healthier relationship with myself. Being cheated on was a deeply upsetting moment in my life, but I've since grown from it and become a better person because of it.
Images: Courteney Larocca; Giphy