A taste for forbidden fruit

April 6, 2006, midnight | By Audrey Kubetin | 14 years, 4 months ago

With wanton disregard for their partners' trust, Blair's serial cheaters give into temptation

Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

When her boyfriend of three years went to Jamaica for the summer, Lily, a freshman, did what seemed natural to her: She cheated on him. Not because he neglected her or mistreated her, but simply because she could.

Since she started dating at age 10, Lily has cheated on about half of the 10 boyfriends she has had. From her first relationship to her current one, Lily says that lying to her boyfriends has become increasingly natural, even addictive.

Lily is by no means the only Blazer who has issues with loyalty: In an informal Silver Chips survey taken on March 15 of 100 students who date, half admitted to cheating on a past boyfriend or girlfriend. While infidelity may be common in high-school relationships, Lily and Blair's other serial cheaters take it to the next level as they repeatedly break promises and hearts for fling after meaningless fling.

The more the merrier

Claire, a freshman, is boy-crazy, to put it lightly. At one point in eighth grade, she had 11 different boyfriends - at the same time. Since some of the boys were best friends, her chances of being caught were high, but while some of her partners found out about her two-timing and broke up with her, others never suspected that Claire had another man - let alone 10.

In her eyes, high-school relationships are taken too seriously. When her boyfriends pressure her to be loyal, she views them as controlling. Since chances are slim that she will marry anyone she dates in high school, Claire explains, she sees no reason to be faithful.

For David, a sophomore, cheating is a quick, convenient way to get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. In seventh grade, when David first began messing around behind his girlfriend's back, he was delighted to discover that, as long as he was careful, he could have two girls at once.

If he were to break up with his girlfriend every time he met another girl he wanted, David explains, he would run the risk of being left alone entirely. However, if he stays with his girlfriend while chasing after another girl, he sees two possible outcomes: Either he ends up with the two-girl jackpot or he remains with his original girlfriend, both of which are more inviting options than being single. Therefore, cheating seems logical to him. "It's better to have, like, 20 girls than one," he says. "When a month goes by with the same girl, it gets boring."

Although he maintains that he respects girls, David sees no reason to resist temptation. "I'm still young," he says. "I can be with anyone I want."

"The wandering eye"

Teenage infidelity can be considered a part of growing up, says psychologist Beth Warner, an assistant director of the Counseling Center at the University of Maryland. While some teens may cheat in their relationships for the same reasons as adults, like jealousy, fear of dependency or lack of communication, others cheat as they begin to outline their expectations for love and commitment. Teens' first boyfriends or girlfriends serve as stepping stones to understanding relationships and learning what qualities they want in a partner, explains Warner.

While Lily may have cheated in half of her relationships, she says she is still looking for the right guy. She only cheats on guys who fail to meet her standards. They bring it upon themselves, Lily explains, by making her jealous or not being as romantic as she would like them to be. "You get the wandering eye when someone that you're with is not acting right," she says.

In the six months they have been together, Lily has cheated on her current boyfriend twice. Even though she hopes he will become her high-school sweetheart, he is not without his flaws, she says. He can be emotionally reserved and inattentive at times, Lily explains, and he never calls her enough. But Lily has found other boys who do.

Even when she betrays her boyfriend, Lily still cares about him. "The person that you're with, you may care about enough to stay with, but they may be lacking in some areas," she says. "The person you're with always means more than the person you cheat with."

For other cheaters, boyfriend and hook-up can both mean nothing. When Kate, a junior, is unhappy in a relationship, she has no problem cheating on her boyfriend, whether she has been with him for two months or three years.

Above all else, Kate wants attention, and she knows where to find it. Whenever she feels like her boyfriend is treating her badly, she calls one of a number of guys who can be at her doorstep in a matter of minutes and give her anything she wants, be it dinner and a movie or sex. "I make friends with other boys because my boyfriend isn't showing me time," she says. "When my man is not there, then I'll call another guy."

Because the boys she dates mean nothing to her, Kate has no problem abusing their trust. She blurs the line between betrayal and break-up, almost never bothering to tell her boyfriend when their relationship is over. Rather than ending it with an awkward confrontation, she simply starts going out with another guy. Most of her boyfriends, Kate explains, will take the hint when they see her with another man. Since she first started dating in sixth grade, she has only had to explicitly break up with one of her dozen or so boyfriends.

Whether she is caught or not, Kate feels no remorse for her actions. She plans to stop cheating when she finds the right man, but until then, she couldn't care less about the hearts she breaks.

While some can brush off the costs of their betrayals easily, the consequences of cheating can often be painful for the cheater as well as the cheated. When Lily was caught cheating in the past, she felt pangs of regret, not only because she had been found out, but also because in hindsight, she realized her actions had not been worth their costs. Even so, she feels addicted to her behavior. "It's kind of like someone who smokes cigarettes and can't stop," she explains.

Rather than quitting the habit entirely, Lily avoids being caught by setting rules for herself when she cheats: Never tell talkative friends who might spread the secret. Never act suspicious. And above all, never date two or more guys who know each other.

Lily broke her own rules while her long-term boyfriend was in Jamaica for the summer: She cheated on him with his cousin, who lived in the same house as he did. By the time her boyfriend returned from his trip, things had turned sour between her and the cousin, and he told her boyfriend of the affair. After her boyfriend broke up with her, Lily realized that she had been in love with him, but by that time, it was too late.

Even filled with regret, Lily continued to cheat after her boyfriend broke up with her. Recently, however, she realized that her short, meaningless flings were not worth the risk of losing her long-term relationships. Plagued with guilt, Lily has sworn off cheating for good. "It changes the way that you look at yourself because always in the back of your mind, you're going to know it was wrong," she says.

Audrey Kubetin. Audrey lives off of tea, tofu and Tool. The end. More »

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