Illustrations by Mayur Khadse
Ishq and Wafa – love and faithfulness – are always holding hands. So the movies say, and so the romance novels declare. However, Love, Sex and Dhoka also sometimes come along in an unexpected triangle. Some of us say we’ll never cheat – and do. Some of us say we won’t tolerate cheating – and stay. Some of us say we’re okay, we’ll deal with it – and then find that maybe, we can’t.
What really happens to us when our partner breaks a promise of faithfulness, whether the promise was made implicitly or explicitly? Do we all really think of even the idea of faithfulness in the same way?
Here are some stories from people who discovered their lovers’ infidelity, what happened next and what they think about it now.
One Bad Apple Can Ruin an Entire… Community?
Dislike of everyone from the other person’s community
Timothy, 30, trainer, Bangalore
My girlfriend and I had been together two years when I found out that she had been seeing someone else on the side. I went to see her on her birthday and I had spent so much money on her gifts. I remember walking back afterwards with this huge bag full of things, teddy bears and whatnot, wondering what I would do with it. I couldn’t possibly take it home. She had just told me that she had been introduced to a nice Malayali guy and had been talking to him and considering getting married to him. I am Tamil and Christian so she didn’t think her parents would like me. The next day I was so angry and blank I just felt I never wanted to speak to a Malayali again. I had a couple of Malayali clients, good clients. I called and cancelled. To date, I never even take Malayali clients because it reminds me of my ex and how she crushed my heart.
Okay, She Cheated… Next!
Accepting Premarital Sex
Rahul, 30, marketing professional, Bengaluru
I dated this girl in college. She was two years my senior. I was working at a call centre to earn some pocket money and she joined too. Our office had a policy about dating so I informed my boss. He moved her to a different section.
On my birthday, my friends decided to surprise me at my house. One of my friends picked up my girlfriend and brought her over. He later told me that my boss was the one who dropped her off where he had picked her up from. She didn’t mention it.
I got suspicious.
One day, we were headed to the office terrace for our tea break when she had to go to the loo and gave me her phone to hold. Her phone buzzed. I saw a text from my boss. I opened it. It was a message saying “Achha, Rahul isn’t here, the coast is clear, do you want to come up?”
I didn’t say anything to her. We went up to the terrace and there he was. When he saw us, he casually walked away. I said, “Hey, I read the last message on your phone.” She read it and her face changed. I knew then. She didn’t have to say anything.
Back then I believed sex would happen only after marriage. And hurt and angry as I was, my reaction was, “This woman has cheated on me, so I’m not marrying her. So, I’ll wait for the next one.”
But I did end up having sex soon after. I’m not usually so rash in making decisions but the decision to have sex… usually, I’d think a hundred times before that sort of call. The cheating episode may have had some influence because I had given up on the idea of sex only after marriage. It wasn’t a small shift for me.
Areh, Cheating Was Just a Discussion. Why So Serious?
Rukhsana, 27, lawyer, Bombay
I was in a long-distance relationship with my then-boyfriend. He was in London, I was in Bombay.
He met his ex-girlfriend in London and at the time, he was drunk and she was sober. He had told me all along that their relationship had been a friends-with-benefits situation. While dropping her home, he kissed her. She didn’t kiss him back. He told me all this on the same day, when I asked him how the meeting had gone. He said he was offended by my anger. He felt I should have understood that he did it only for closure.
I felt betrayed and lost a bit of trust in him. I was angry and felt he didn’t care about me or our relationship. It took a while to feel better. I forgave him for it because I didn’t know what else to do. It felt like he didn’t understand my position. So, I forgave him, but didn’t forget. It planted a seed of doubt in our relationship.
Sex with him was usually emotional and when it was, the baggage of the cheating remained. But sometimes, when it was just sex, the cheating didn’t seem to matter. The first time we had sex after the incident, it was good because after that, he proposed, so everything else took a backseat.
But after that, we had a couple of conversations where he talked about wanting to sleep with other women because we were in a long-distance relationship. He never acted on it, though. Once or twice, the conversations made me very angry and made me very aggressive during sex. But then I just lost interest eventually because every time it was brought up, he’d say, “It was just a discussion. Why are you taking it so seriously?” I let it go because it was causing more problems for me than it was for him and I didn’t like that.
Aaah Se No, Thanks Tak
Wildly fluctuating sexual libido
Prateek, 36, media professional, Delhi
I’ve been cheated on at least three times. In fact, it was the reason why my marriage broke up as well. But the first time and the most recent time it happened, I reacted very differently.
The first time, I must have been 22. I had just moved to Delhi and was in a pretty serious relationship with a woman. But soon, I found out there was somebody else. I felt low for a long while and a lot of anger. I went into a phase where I began to tell myself that all women were like that, which I now think was very juvenile.
I wanted revenge and the way I did it was to have sex with lots of women. I ended up having sex with 52 women in the next 52 weekends. I was very young and I felt that this was how I would get over how this woman had wronged me. But a year of meaningless sex which was not emotional in any way made me realise I was only hurting myself.
The next time? I met a woman online couple years ago and we started dating. We were together for about a year and a half when I found out she was dating multiple other people. I had some doubts about what was going on but every time I asked her, she dismissed my concerns. One day, I had her phone in my hand and saw a stream of romantic and sexual messages. So, I confronted her and we broke up.
Afterwards, for many months I had zero sex drive and went through a bout of depression. I didn’t want to do anything. Eventually, even my therapist began to tell me to ‘do things to myself’ to start feeling again.
I’d started thinking that I wouldn’t ever have sex again. Ki chapter khatam ho gaya ab. So, the first time I did have sex after that, it was a bag of mixed feelings. While I was doing it, it was as good as it used to be. Afterwards I largely had very positive feelings about sex and myself. There were also about 5% negative feelings. It was a turning point and after that things began to get better.
But even now, I no longer take things at face value anymore, which I don’t feel good about because I’m usually a very trusting person. And this affects any budding relationships that come my way.
Bad Timing, Dude
Unsureness about one’s body
Sumeeta, 27, Pune
My boyfriend told me casually one day that he found his night shift colleague sexy. I was just speechless because we were sitting on the balcony in the evening in a romantic mood. I didn’t know what to say.
At that time, I was sharing a house with four other girls. My roommate was very pretty and irritating and my boyfriend must have met her once for two minutes. But he heard all my stories about our fights. A couple of days after the balcony incident while we were having sex he said to me that he thought my roommate was very hot. I asked him in a confused and angry way (he was inside me!) whether he wanted to sleep with her. He said yes, of course. I was speechless again. The next day I asked him if he had slept with his colleague, he said yes. I broke up with him then. Since then, whenever I have sex I am so tense and anxious about how I look. I am always wondering whether whoever I am sleeping with is thinking of someone prettier, someone I know.
Everybody Cheats, No?
No More Faith in Fidelity
Anushka, 25, writer, Bengaluru
I found out that my ex-boyfriend had cheated on me only after we had already broken up. I was about 20 and he was 25, so at the time he felt much older. He’d cheated on me with two women and it had gone on for a while. With one, it was just sex but with the other there was more to the relationship and that affected me.
I blocked him from all social media after sending many angry texts. But we got back together after two years.
During those two years, I didn’t have any serious relationships but I did have sex. Being cheated on didn’t affect my idea of sex (not with other people nor with him later) negatively, but I lost my faith in fidelity. It made me look at long term relationships and assume that someone would cheat eventually. Sex itself stopped being emotional, special, personal. I felt I’d been having crazy loving sex at the time and it had been possibly all pretend.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
Aayushi, 25, works in an export company, Indore
He was my neighbour and we started dating in 2010. In 2011, a mutual friend told me that he’d been dating another girl for three years. I spoke to the other girl and we confronted him. He denied that he and I had ever been dating.
After a month, I begged him to speak to me and we reconciled. After 6 months, we got physically involved. Making out, no sex. I haven’t dated anybody else since then. I still have feelings for him. We still have physical relations. It’s not a relationship, but it’s not less than a relationship.
He’s still with the other girl. He says that she’s been forcing him to be with her, which is very hard to believe.
Back when I found out, I could not accept the fact that he chose her over me and I was ready to do anything to get him back. At the time, I didn’t find it wrong to keep seeing him. Now, while I’m happy with the fact that he is still involved with me, we still fight about his other relationship. While we’re getting physical, I don’t feel bad he’s involved with someone else. But afterwards, I avoid the thought.
I feel no guilt though because that girl was so sure of herself when I confronted her that she said, “I know he’s going to choose me.” I couldn’t really digest that dialogue. I’m happy about the fact that he’s still cheating on her with me. I think she deserves it.
Ab Bas Bhi Karo
Desire to fully move on
Leo, 27, Delhi
We’ve been together for six years. Sure, I was angry for a month after I found out and the night I discovered her infidelity, I sent her packing. But now, I feel like we should talk and move past this. We were about to get married. Let’s see if we can fix it.
Clearly how we respond to cheating isn’t always black and white. It can be all the 50 shades of gray and more. Even how we define what is unfaithfulness changes from person to person and with experience – is it only physical or is it emotional as well? But one thing is for sure, there’s no one fixed way of reacting to infidelity no matter how we think we may react.