Here is what most men will not say: The male ego is bruised by monogamy. Fidelity can be one of the hardest things on earth to maintain, even if your relationship is great. For me, cheating was not intentional, but I learned early on that charm is more powerful than driving a Porsche, being as rich as Scrooge McDuck or having a six-pack. It is the ultimate panty-dropper. Once I mastered the art of making women feel special, I relished the power. I could walk into any room and leave with whomever I wanted—and I did so frequently.
Ironically, that didn’t happen with the woman who became my wife. When we first met, at work, she wasn’t a fan; I campaigned for her. I told all of our co-workers that she would be mine. It took a few months, but I was right. I made it my purpose to give her the world. The problem is that I never stopped giving a piece of that world to other women. For me, having sex with someone else didn’t have anything to do with my significant other; her greatness was not diminished just because I got physical with another person. Instead, I compartmentalized my worlds. If I met someone new and we hit it off, we’d talk, go out once or twice for drinks and have sex. Any guilt was later washed away in the shower.
I was with my wife for seven years and had inappropriate relationships with countless women during that time, including sex with about 20 of them. Only one of those interludes lasted past the euphoria phase of about 90 days. A few years ago, I transitioned to another job and met a woman I found physically attractive. She knew I was in a relationship and that she was one of many flings. We, as had been the case with several of my other partners, engaged in sex without a condom; it was something I never thought about in the moment. Plus, there had never been a consequence—that is, until she became pregnant.
I dragged my feet about admitting what was going on to my wife, but when my mistress entered her second trimester, I knew I had to say something. When I broke the news, my wife was shocked because we’d had a good life and hadn’t started a family yet. I had always doted on and genuinely loved her.
My wife didn’t call it quits immediately. We wanted to fight for our marriage, but she began morphing into someone she didn’t deserve to be. She’d check phone records and call the other woman. About three months after my confession, she left. By that time, I’d begun to grapple with the gravity of my behavior and truly wanted to work on having a healthy marriage, but it was too late. We’ve been separated for the past few months, and it seems unlikely that we will get back together.
Do I regret what happened? Of course. I can honestly say, however, I didn’t know any better. I had no introspection about my desire to continue chasing women or the challenges of monogamy. I felt like I was just “being a man.” My indiscriminate treatment of women complicated not only my life but also the lives of others. In retrospect, I wish I’d been caught cheating 10 years ago. I didn’t honor my wife—my soul mate—because of selfishness and immaturity, and my decisions led to losing her completely. My life now is in the midst of a tsunami: I have a child with a woman I don’t love. Every day, I struggle to maintain healthy boundaries with her and co-parent our son effectively. I lost my best friend and life partner, and it was my own fault. I ruined our relationship. And I can truly say I’m over the chase.
As told to S. Tia Brown
This story was originally published in March 2016