Everyone loves Oreos. That Oreo middle is second to none. But now you have to ask… which Oreos do I love? Double stuffed? Vanilla? Original? What was once just a delicious Oreo is now many things to many people.
Oreo diversified its brand… and so has cheating.
For my friend, Alex, his discovery of a Ten-Fingered Cheat began with the ping of his partner’s iPhone. The message was a notification from a gay hook-up site. With a name like ”HotGuy4U”, Alex didn’t think Tad was getting an invitation to visit a museum.
Alex was shocked at first, leading to dismay, which soon led to extreme anger. Considering he and Tad had an open password policy on all electronic devices, Alex decided to take a closer look. He discovered that Tad was active on multiple hook-up sites. On one, he’s single from San Francisco seeking a relationship. On several, Tad was in an open relationship wanting an NSA encounter. Tad even had profile pictures that Alex had taken during the holidays… and a few pics that Alex certainly didn’t take.
My brave friend read the conversations Tad was having with these men. Some included plans to meet, be it in a hotel while on a business trip or a local hotel that Tad was willing to procure. The Ten-Fingered Cheat even went as far as to invite men to the home he shared with Alex, providing dates and times when he knew Alex would not be there. From married fathers to cab drivers to co-workers, Tad wasn’t interested in one particular type of guy; he was open to whatever Oreo that happened to be in the cookie jar.
What Alex found most hurtful were the conversations that weren’t about sex at all. Tad told some guy all about a break-up with Alex that never happened. Tad even said how new relationships can start with “just a kiss”, which was a line he had used on Alex when they first met. Ten-fingered cheating was horrific enough for Alex to process, but in this case it appeared Tad was using both hands and his heart.
Alex decided against confrontation, partly because he was in shock and partly because he knew all too well of Tad’s deflective, Teflon-like personality. Alex was handling a lot, but couldn’t stomach the idea of Ted blaming him for his decision to become a Ten-Fingered Cheat. Instead, Alex continued to torture himself by looking at Tad’s phone, making him feel worthless, unattractive and just plain stupid.
What do we tell people like Alex who find themselves in this situation? If your partner is a Ten-Fingered Cheat, he could be searching online for a myriad of reasons. Maybe he’s going through a period of low self-esteem and this is his delusional idea of a confidence booster. Or maybe he’s simply a horndog that can’t keep it in his pants. Maybe he wants out of the relationship and wants to have the next one lined up before cutting the cord. When it comes to this situation, I believe Tad never considered Alex’s feelings and the implications it would have on his partner’s self-esteem. Tad was a self-absorbed bastard that couldn’t care less about the impact his choices left on his partner.
We do know a couple things for sure. If you find yourself in this situation, it really isn’t about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you’re not part of this equation. There’s no need to torture yourself by checking your spouse’s online activity, because it’s not about you. What is about you is the reality that when your partner’s ten fingers are caressing the keyboard more than your back, you’ve got a problem. What is about you is if your partner’s ten fingers stop caressing the keyboard and start feeling up someone else. That leaves you with have a bigger problem that will not go away no matter how hard you wish for it to do so.
As for Alex, it was only a matter of time that Tad evolved from a Ten-Fingered Cheat to being caught red-handed in their bed with a waiter from a low-rent steak house. Truth told, Alex checked out of the relationship way before this discovery. He simply fell out of love with the self-serving liar that Tad had turned out to be. It took time to mourn the funny and lovable Tad that once told him it could all start with a kiss. It took time to grieve the loss of the life he pictured for himself and the man he deeply loved. It took Alex time to realize that Tad was not an incredible partner, but an egocentric little boy incapable of putting the needs and concerns of others before his own.
Back to that bag of Oreos… if an Oreo is an Oreo regardless of the flavor, does the same rule apply to cheating?
Be it ten fingers online or full body contact in a hotel room- cheating is cheating. It’s a break of trust and a destructor of respect. It nullifies all the good, and makes the one left behind second-guess if those good times were even genuine. Cheating is nothing less than a nasty mind game to play on your spouse, and the one left behind has a lot of mess to get through.
Something valuable can be learned from Alex’s story. With time, we can get past the disappointment and understand that cheating isn’t about us. Yes, those that share a similar experience with Alex have a pretty big challenge moving forward, but it’s not impossible. We can all be like Alex and move forward, understanding that we all deserve to be in a relationship where waiters only bring steaks, cab drivers only deliver you to your destination and married men only play with their children.