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True Stories: I Cheat On Everyone
Monogamy doesn't come easily for everyone.
By Kate F
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I am going to introduce my grad-school boyfriend, Scott, to my family. I think they'll get along. He is studious and social and has published five papers already. He wears glasses and likes button-downs and remembers which polite phrases go where.
I am also having sex with Avi, who is not my boyfriend. He is bipolar, or at least something diagnosable, but he has wild hair, which rises in coarse curls, and elfin eyes that are so much wittier than his words.
I just texted Avi, "Come down now."
Down, because I'm in Manhattan and he's in upstate New York. Now, so that we can have sex before my boyfriend arrives. Of course, it's not just for sex, or, maybe more accurately, sex is never just sex. This time, like all of the other times, the "not just sex" part has to do with my boyfriend, and how I don't really want him to be my boyfriend.
It's actually a theme. I almost never love the boys I date, but I date them anyway, because — well, there isn't a good reason.
When I was twelve, my first boyfriend was also twelve. He picked his nose languorously in public. I asked him not to, but it was a hard habit to break. I liked him, even though I thought he was gross and maybe ugly. I liked the excitement of pressuring him to kiss me, perhaps more than I liked him. But the excitement and the boy himself got tangled together, and sometimes I forgot that they were separate things. Sometimes, I even thought I wanted to stay with him forever and build a big-windowed house with him, where we'd eat whatever we wanted because we'd be grown up and our parents couldn't say things about how processed foods are bad for you.
I cheated on that boy, with another boy who was not much more impressive. And then I cheated on the second boy with a third boy. And the third boy with a fourth boy. After a few months of cheating, I'd swap one boyfriend for the next, until eventually, I was in college. There, I decided things were serious now, and so I stayed with the same boy for close to three years and only cheated on him once. The difference was, when I cheated on him, I didn't trade him in. I had an epiphany: maturity meant coming back, no matter what. I was proud of myself.
When I was fourteen or so, my best friend yelled at me. She said I needed to grow up. She may have called me heartless and amoral. Her parents were religious; she'd been "born again" at ten-years old, so she used words like "amoral" fluently. I sat there and tried not to smile. The boys would never know I'd cheated, so why did it even matter?
She said I should really think about why I was doing what I was doing. I had a few theories — three main ones, actually. One, it was possible that I just didn't care enough about the boys. Two, it was possible that I was greedy. Three, maybe I was scared.
"What the hell are you scared of?" my best friend said. (You knew things were serious when she cursed.)
"I don't know," I said. "Being alone?"
"But you're not alone," she said. "That's what makes it cheating."
She was right. It didn't make sense.