Is cheating contagious?

by Mag
(San Diego)

My boyfriend cheated on me emotionally and physically. He also "cheated" on the other girl. He told her I had died in a tragic car accident, though it took me a year to finally accept that along with the rest of the story.

He started having weekend-long work conferences very short notice.

The girl eventually found out about me, emailed me and called me. He told me she was lying, and I wanted to believe it. I didn't talk to her and tried to ignore everything she said.

A couple weeks after I found out, my father died. I put everything on hold, including my self-respect. Shortly after I started stalking the girl's internet profiles. I don't know why, but I became fascinated with it. It started with me trying to confirm dates, times, etc. Then it became almost an obsession. I would stay up until three looking for comments she had left or comments others had left on her page.

He lied for over a year to cover everything up. I was so distrustful during that time, and had frequent outbursts where I would scream out accusations. Other times I couldn't look at him or talk to him. A few months after, he began covertly emailing one of his female coworkers (who interestingly had met the girl he had cheated on me with). I found out about her and we stopped seeing each other for a month.

Whenever we "break up" we automatically get closer. There's nothing to lose anymore. So of course we got back together, but the unresolved issues didn't go away.

As his story began to unravel, he began forging documents as "proof" of his original story. I noticed odd ink smudges on things, time stamps that didn't make sense. The one thing he wouldn't admit was that they had slept together. A couple times he gave in and said they had. Then when I would get upset, cry, or be angry, he would take it back. He said that the only reason he had admitted it was so I would stop questioning him.

Right before I left for Europe he admitted everything. I broke up with him. We were back together before I returned.

When I got back, I knew everything I needed to know. I thought that was enough to recover. I thought all I had needed was honesty, because it was all I had been searching for for the past year.

We stopped talking about it. The time I spent with him was wonderful, but whenever he was away I couldn't stop thinking about things. I finally stopped crying about it. I tried to suppress everything, but I allowed myself to continue to internet stalk the girl.

The whole time thoughts and plans of revenge were building up. It began on a dating site. I had found the girl's internet profile on a site, and created an account to keep track of her. Then I started putting up photos and filling out information to see who would respond.

A few months ago I agreed to meet a guy from the site in person. I didn't particularly like him, and he wasn't that attractive, but I felt this very definite need to meet him. We met for a movie, got coffee, and kissed. He seemed to like me a lot. I still wasn't that into him, but I wanted to like him. I wanted to do this so I could finally make my boyfriend feel as awful as I did. I wanted to break his heart, leave him in ruin.

We made plans for the next weekend. I felt so guilty the next night. I decided I was going to break up with my boyfriend the next morning, and I did. It was awful. I felt horrible. To him, nothing had been wrong for the past few months, and then all of a sudden here was me with this guy. It was just the way I felt two years before. I guess I succeeded in my revenge.

Now I feel dirty. Horrible. I worry that cheating is like a contagious disease you can never rid yourself of.

Like I said before, once me and my boyfriend break up, we have a renewed intimacy. We feel like we can tell each other anything because there is nothing to lose. So we are back together. He is now the suspicious, distrustful one, but I have told him everything there is to tell. I tried lying, but I couldn't keep it up. I don't know how to stop him from worrying so much. I worry that we made everything too ugly. I don't know if things will work out with him, and any advice is much appreciated. But a really big concern of mine is if things don't work out, how will I be in future relationships? I feel tainted and damaged.

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