Jo Jo Lyons
Okay, time to get real honest and gritty about myself with you guys. I have been becoming very self-aware lately and I have a confession … I’ve never openly admitted this to anyone, not even my therapist. I can feel the fear welling up in my throat as I type … Oh well, here goes: I’ve cheated on every person I’ve ever had a relationship with.
Even the ones I considered to be really good relationships.
At some point, typically when a conflict was not addressed, I’d find myself being drawn to people outside the relationship, I’d start checking out of my current love and into a fantasy, and eventually the relationship would deteriorate and I would cheat. I used to blame it on the fact that I always dated terrible men or tell myself that if I had an urge to cheat, it just meant the relationship was never going to work out anyways.
However, when I cheated in my last relationship, which was with an incredible man, I was beyond upset with myself. I had even taken precautions to cut all ties with people who I knew I’d be most likely to be drawn to and took note to quickly end any thoughts of other people as soon as they entered my mind. Yet still, one night during a rough patch, I let myself get sucked into someone and I let it go too far. Despite my best efforts, and the fact that I was dating a wonderful man, I still cheated. When this happened I was devastated, and I felt as though I was simply living proof of the old adage: “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
After spending the past few months in self-reflection mode, I now know that my cheating was actually manifested by the fact that I have a severe fear of intimacy. Which is the fear of rejection and the fear of abandonment on steroids basically. I am so afraid of being close to someone and it not working out or of them abandoning me that I self-sabotage my relationships in many ways. But eventually, particularly if there are problems in the bedroom, I cheat. Spoiler alert: since I have a fear of intimacy, there are always problems in the bedroom, eventually.
As I was reading about the fear of intimacy, I read how victims of sexual abuse were more likely to act out sexually in relationships when the fear would surface, specifically by cheating. I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. As painful as it was to read that, after thinking it over, it gave me my first sense of hope about the matter. That’s when I realized it wasn’t that I was once a cheater, always a cheater… this was just another side effect of childhood trauma, which I simply needed to unlearn. That’s slightly better… right? Right!
I am also realizing that because I was sexually abused at a young age, I discovered the power of sex before the power of love. And then, I never really developed the patience for true love. So as I was going through relationships in my life, when I would start to feel like I was falling in love, I would grow very impatient and move very quickly with people, particularly in the bedroom, because impatience was my defense against having to actually open up and be vulnerable.
Since I never got that to that true deep love level with anyone, due to my impatience, I learned to master the level that I was at. The level of intimacy fueled by sex. The level that is afraid of real intimacy. I mastered the art of what so many people today think is love, sex without true vulnerability. I have been accepting that level of “love” as true love my entire life. It wasn’t until I finally realized how much patience is required for true love that I discovered that I have never really experienced REAL love. That was a tough realization to swallow, but also possibly the biggest break through I’ve had thus far in trying to understand myself and love.
I say all of this because I know I am not alone. In today’s culture, many people have mastered the power of sex without vulnerability, maybe because many people also have a deep-rooted fear of truly being intimate with someone or maybe because of some other fear that has manifested in their life. To quote Beyoncé in Lemonade: “When did true love become illusive? No one I know has it.” That statement is so true. So many people think they have love, but they are only scratching the surface of what true love is.
True love itself is scary at first. It shines a light on our own darkness and faults and in order to truly master love, you must first love yourself, ugly parts and all. That is where a lot of people are going wrong, I believe. They aren’t fully acknowledging all of their own darkness because they are so afraid of facing those things and taking responsibility for their own actions. That’s the hard part of true love, but it is ultimately the best and most important part of life. Until we illuminate those issues and work to correct them, we aren’t truly living as our greatest selves, and we certainly aren’t capable of truly loving another.
So I guess this is me, facing my ugliness. I have a fear of intimacy and a propensity to act out sexually in relationships when I choose to give in to that fear. Now that I understand that about myself, I am hoping that in my next relationship, I will finally be able to overcome my fear, let myself be truly vulnerable with another person and possibly finally find true love in my life. I hope to finally disprove the “Once a cheater, always a cheater” theory, because I am in fact not a saying or cliché. I’m a real human being who has the ability to learn, grow and be better.
Cheers to being better.
Jo Jo is a 30 yr old professional who hails from a bigish city out yonder. She is single and always ready to mingle. At this point in her life, she thought she would have figured out the conundrum that is adult dating, but each week she finds herself on a new romantic entanglement that proves there is still so much to be learned about love, life and everything else in between.