He slept with someone else. There is nothing so incredibly devastating as learning that the person you thought would remain faithful to you has thrown that out of the window. More devastating: learning that the individual who chose to betray your trust chose to hide that information, not because they wanted to protect you but because they wanted to protect their own self image, desperate not to seem like a horrible person.
The most devastating: immediately tallying in your mind that you’re three for four on your serious significant others cheating on you.
I cried in the shower this morning and I cried myself to sleep last night, the weight of each sob compounding in on to itself, working to flush out the mental image of him lying next to someone else.
Isak Dinesen said, “the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea”. Yet, as every tear fell down my cheek, my brain churned out reminders of the fact that he chose to sleep with me after he cheated. He deceived me, betrayed my trust and kept me in the dark for his own sexual benefit. I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to salt his house and scorch the earth. I found myself screaming “how fucking dare he” to no one in particular. My psyche is Bertha Rochester. My internal wheels turn out Instagram captions that spurn him just to ensure he knows he hurt me. Just to ensure that he knows I have lost an ability to retain trust and that my confidence in men is shattered. Just to ensure he knows how fundamentally deceitful his actions were.
Yet I won’t. The ex-girlfriend spurned by her boyfriend is an actor that requires only mild pity. She cannot dwell on it for too long — that would make her unable to be strong or to bounce back. She cannot tell everyone that he is a horrible person — that would make her petty. She cannot ask him to leave Cornell — that would make her unfair and cruel. She must move on, grow and be mature. She certainly shouldn’t even be writing this column in the first place. So I’ll smile at him when I see him around, and move on because you can only scream your lungs out and sob so many times before it becomes tiring to even feel the pain.
I write this, instead, as a reminder to every person who has experienced the trauma and pain that can coincide with our relationships: this is your permission to grieve. Men are told that sorrow is completely inconsistent with their masculinity, women are told that their pain is representative of their fragility and incapability of moving on. Hookup culture begs us to bounce to our next relationship as quickly as humanly possible, and informs us that the only way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
Yet, I know that I’ll need at least a day, during which I’ll binge some Netflix and maybe watch a horror movie (because for me right now, love is dead, the only emotions are pain and fear). Social norms tell us not to feel pain and sorrow over our relationships and instead to move onward, bouncing back faster than a boxer who has been knocked out in a ring.
Take a minute before you try to bounce back. Ignore the forces telling you that your pain is invalid, or that you don’t deserve to feel sorrow. I know I’ll need a week and some ice cream.
ReykjaDick is a student at Cornell University. Whoreoscopes appears monthly this semester.