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A Thank-You Letter to the Man Who Cheated on Me

I never dated anyone until this past summer. I was 20 years old.  He was my first unofficial boyfriend who I liked well enough to consider seriously dating, but didn’t want to jump into “Facebook official relationship status” after two weeks of knowing him. I thought giving it time was reasonable, but he was pretty antsy about making it the real deal. A couple months later, he admitted he only wanted boyfriend/girlfriend labels to keep me from sleeping around, which I wasn’t doing. But he was.

Obviously, discovering he had three other women going including his wife (who is now his ex-wife and strangely enough, a new friend of mine) was crushing. I underwent a grueling ritual I’m sure many who have been betrayed experience. I spent weeks unable to eat (becoming nauseous at the very idea of food), chain-smoking, and wondering if I would ever be able to get rid of that agonizing, tormenting, taunting ache within my head, heart and gut that incessantly whispers, “You weren’t good enough. There is something wrong with you. This is your fault. You aren’t interesting enough to keep him at bay. If you had only done this he wouldn’t have cheated.” Blah, blah, blah. Thank God, I learned that’s a crock of bullshit.

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For those of you who were recently betrayed by someone you grew to deeply care about and you’re wondering if you will ever find happiness again—take my word for it, you will. And it will be a more profound happiness than you have ever had. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not in a week. Probably not in a month or even a year. But one day, the authentic happiness will come. There will come a moment when you must consciously pick yourself up and look ahead with the great responsibility of deciding one of two things: you will use the hurt and anger within you to be vengeful toward the person who wronged you and set out on your own personal vendetta or you could use that fuel to live a life better than you ever have before and certainly better than theirs.

It sounds so annoyingly cliché—the best revenge is a life well lived. Every time someone well-meaning said that to me while I was hurting, I wanted to bitch slap them across the face. But they were right. It finally struck me when I was working out and giving my punching bag a hefty ass-kicking (laughably comparing myself to Hilary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby”). I was suddenly inspired to write a thank-you note to the slimy piglet who called me his soul mate, told me I was “special” and “different”, and said he wanted me and only me all whilst porking the rest of his harem. So here it is.

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“Dear Nate,

I want to personally thank you for sleeping around when we were dating. Thank you for feeding me the plethora of pretty little lies and gaining my trust only to rip the carpet right out from underneath me and leave me flat on my unimpressively shapeless ass and devastated (or so I thought I was devastated—it turns out you don’t mean as much to me as I thought at the time).

  • Thank you also for not being discreet enough about the whole matter.

Had you been discreet about it, I probably never would have found out and there’s a sorry chance I would still be with you, never realizing there were men so much better than you. I would have been robbed of the love a real man could have given me. A man who was not a cowardly, deceitful, reckless, and selfish boy who masquerades about as a grownup. A man who has the courage to commit to one woman and mean it when he says he wants only her. Had you not done this, I never would have been broken only to be rebuilt with a greater deal of self-discovery, reflection and appreciation for life.

  • Thank you for making me realize that if I was still with you, I never could be who I am now.

Now I am a person who is constantly aware every day of the opportunity I have to enhance and rely on my internal peace and realize that I serve a purpose on this earth to positively impact as many people’s lives as I can. I am more mindful of my own wrongdoings and more sensitive to people’s emotions in a way I may not have been before. I have a greater understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and hunger to use what I am skilled at to help others. Now I know I am person who cares more about people than you do.

  • Thank you for making me realize that if I was still with you, I never would have seen all that I have and all that I could have.

Let’s face it man, we both know you are a bit of an emotional parasite. You isolate the women you date from friends and family and stupidly I went along with it for a time. You sucked all the life out of me and demanded all my time and always made me do things with you according to your schedule. Now that you’re out of the picture I have an enormous amount of clarity. I see what is meaningful and what is not. I see how invaluable time with my family and dear friends is and how important they are. I now know the importance of a balanced life and I have powerful drive to make something of myself.

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  • Thank you for making me realize my life is better than yours.

At first I was all “Woe is me, this douchebag lied. Wah.” But now you are the one I feel sorry for. I’m sorry your military career ended because you felt the need to lie to your superior officer about your past. I’m sorry your marriage ended and you can’t see your kids because you just couldn’t be honest with your ex-wife. I’m sorry you have no real friends because you can’t respect them enough to tell them the truth. I’m sorry that you don’t have enough of a conscious or soul or heart to know that perpetual cheating is wrong and harmful to other people. But I’m not sorry that discovering all this made me realize I have a very full life with a job doing what I love and a dedication and loyalty to that job. I have strong friendships and relationships with people built on the foundation of communication, mutual respect, and trust. I’m glad I was cheated on because I know firsthand how badly it hurts and know that I could never live with myself if I did that to a person, regardless of whether or not I love them.

Thank you, cheater. You changed my life.

Shannon Nixon

Shannon Nixon

I should have been a pirate. But instead I'll be a writer. I'm a life adventurer. Like Winnie the Pooh.

3 Comments
  1. Good for you (and suck it Richard, no one deserves to be cheated on no matter what)! It takes a strong person to be able to go through this sort of thing and walk away finding the silver linings. Like too many others out there, I have felt the sting of betrayal and have spent seemingly endless nights in tears and pieces, wondering if I’d have done this or that, if the outcome of our relationship had panned out differently. It was emotional torture.

    My boyfriend of nearly four years whom I had lived with cheated on me numerous times, along other acts of complete disrespect. I put up with this madness because I was foolish enough to think that our love for each other would get us past all the garbage he pulled, but the fact was he was toxic and I was compromising my self respect in lieu of something that didn’t exist. By the time we had made the final blow and broke up, I was broken and exhausted. I ran off to Europe for a couple of months to clear my head, and it was there that I made the decision to move to Australia. When I returned home to begin the process of emigrating, I met a man who was intrigued by the travel life and wanted to take off on some adventures of his own. Little did I know at the time that I was chatting with the man who would make me his wife. That cheating a-hole was the drive I needed to learn that I am worth so much more than what he offered me, it was the drive I needed to no longer be held back from my dreams and passions, and it drove me into the arms of a good man who treats me like the woman I deserve to be treated as. Since then, my life has been an adventure worth living, filled with love and happiness. I’m sure he’s still a miserable heap plopped down on his couch while his life just wastes away like a sinking ship.

    I really hope lots of women read your article and get inspiration. Good on you, girl!!

    1. Your story is so inspiring! Thanks for the kind words. It made me smile to read you were able to travel and meet such a wonderful man to spend your life with.

      I am excited to say that after the whole incident with this dishonest guy, I did a tremendous deal of self-reflection and work on myself and this evening I am finally embarking on my first solo trip to Europe!

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