Then Came Lemonade

Was Lemonade the prequel to the endless news of cheaters?

Shortly after Beyoncé stunned the world with the release of Lemonade, a visual album that played up the long-gestating rumors surrounding her marriage with Jay Z, reports surfaced that Ozzy Osbourne had been involved in an extramarital affair. The revelation led to Sharon Osbourne calling quits on their relationship and drinking lemonade on air. Their daughter Kelly Osbourne took a similar route, posting a picture of herself with a lemon using the hashtag #lemonade.

I can’t figure out if it’s all subliminal or if I’m more drawn to read news stories filled with salacious accusations. Are we now more open to talking about betrayal since Lemonade? Or are we just satisfied to have a cute hashtag to add a smile at the end of our painfully deep-seated subtweets?

Cheaters are virtually everywhere and accusations are dropping out of the sky. Ozzy Osbourne, Vernon Davis, and Bartolo Colon have all popped up in the news recently for their transgressions. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but over the years we have changed the ways we digest this information. These stories dominate headlines, flood social media timelines, and captivate pop culture with a wave of memes. They become punchlines for TV shows. There’s simply no escaping it.

There are people who I refer to as serial cheaters. People, who even in the best relationship with the perfect person, find their need for validation overpowering their word to stay faithful. They value their committed relationships, but still have the urge to feel liberated and date as they please. Some would call it boredom. But really, it’s the thrill of the hunt. Something new and a challenge for them to see if they can get away with it. I am in no means justifying it, just laying out what I have discovered from interviewing people I know through general conversation, mixed with a little of my own personal experiences.

Who am I to judge, I cheated once. Yes – once! In this moment of truth I can admit that I cheated on someone who meant a lot to me. I lived with incredible guilt and knew at that moment that I would never cheat again – ever. If I am dating someone and I have the urge to cheat, that means I either have to work at the relationship or we have to break up. Those are two very simple options I learned from a very harsh lesson. To this day, I have never gone back on that promise.

As I usually do, I took it one step further after my incident and I went to speak to a relationship counselor. I wanted to understand why I did it. How I could prevent from doing it again and how I could forgive myself for betraying someone’s trust. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. When I sat in front of her and began to ramble on to her, she stopped me and said, “I want you to think of one word – validation.” I sat in silence and thought about the word, then reflected on my actions and the outcome. “It works in many ways,” she said. What I learned from that visit was this: we all search for validation from others, but we really need to provide it for our own self. I also learned, which I think applied in my case, my relationship needed to end and my actions validated how ready I was for it to really be over. So instead of nicely closing the door behind me, I slammed it in my own face.

Let’s turn things around…say you are the one that got cheated on. How you handle it is the key to adding lifelong value to your journey and potentially add comfort and happiness to your family. When I read the story about Vernon Davis, I was in shock when I discovered the outcome. His fiancée, who has been with him for 15 years and with whom he shares three kids, had discovered he was cheating on her with a 20-year-old. Sounds like validation to me, because he had it all. A woman who has loved him for years, the mother of his three beautiful children, and let us not forget a coveted Super Bowl ring. Still for some reason, it wasn’t enough. What happened next was even worse. She took it to social media. She put him on blast for us all to see. Of course we can understand and empathize with her pain, but with three kids, is it really wise to air her fiancée’s dirty laundry? Do two wrongs really make a right? No, the answer is simple: it’s no. Falling into the trap of airing dirty laundry is just another sign of validation. She needs to validate herself and make everyone aware of what he did. It is not an easy place for anyone to be in, but there will always be better solutions than public shame.

In my case, I have to give credit to the fact that I still am the only one that has told my truth. My husband never told anyone, we kept it between us, and I respect him tremendously for his loyalty. We tried to work through it, but there were too many things in the way to make it together any further. We were young, things happen, but we made it out okay. Last Thursday would have been our 15-year wedding anniversary. We texted back and forth – our version of a Throwback Thursday – happy almost anniversary.

If you know you are a serial cheater, think about these two things. Karma and the value of your word. One day you may be with someone you really love and you will have all that karma to deal with. We are only as good as our word in this world, so as hard as it is to fight your need for validation, stand up for the need of the strength of your word. In the long run, wouldn’t you rather break up with someone as opposed to breaking someone’s heart? We all just have to accept the fact that you just can’t have your cake and eat it too!

This piece was published by The Stashed  May 20th, 2016