I like to plan things—down to the shreds. It gives me a feeling of faux-security, a vicarious control over my future. You don’t get a second shot most times. I have my proposal all planned—I decided to go with the shrieking and jumping up and down bit, followed by a twinkling tear to go with the diamond. I recently perfected the move I would use to handle the bum making lewd gestures, if he were to come within arm’s distance. And my Nobel acceptance speech has been ready for ages, save the few tweaks I make every time I read William Zinsser (His ‘On writing well’ is a delightful read).
It’s just something I do. Regardless of how unlikely the event is. Which brings me to the topic of my post: what would I do If I were cheated on? This one probably belongs to the hall of fame of unlikely events, but is certainly possible. And, yeah, now would be the best time to call me a twisted, paranoid lunatic for planning my boyfriend proposing to me and cheating on me in the same breath. But, this is a brain child of not only my neuroses; it’s mainly my compulsive watching of Mad men. There have been legends about men philandering, but nothing quite like the spectrum of skirts Don Draper has gotten himself into, scared the living hell out of me.
I don’t pretend to imagine what one endures when they gain knowledge of this horrible fact. Even constructing a scenario gives me the chills as I see myself doing things that would need Bobby Donnell to keep my ass out of jail. But, whatcha gonna do? The topic is such that it shoves the vilest of human emotions bubbling to the surface. A relationship hinges on mostly intangible attributes, the most valuable of them being trust. When some jerk stamps all over this already intangible mess, there is very little legal respite you’ve got. I checked it out. Adultery as a crime has no teeth unless you live in Michigan or are willing to settle for $10 in Maryland.
As much as I picture unleashing my feral side at the thought of adultery, I know I am not capable of violence. But, I am no saint either; no turning the other cheek for me. The least I can do is be prepared. So, here I am, shrugging off a thousand sanctimonious voices advising me that life cannot be planned, to present my cheat-sheet—a bite-sized guide for the future me reminding how to get a good deal out of the whole adultery business.
1. Make a kick-ass pre-nup
This should keep most men in their pants, when done the right way. Granted that this is a preventive measure, but what the hell, I am allowed to cheat in semantics. Invest in a good lawyer and make an air-tight prenup agreement; chances are if he’s ready to sign it, you wouldn’t need it at all. If not, you can sleep peacefully knowing you can make him pay through his teeth whenever you want.
2. Leave him
Stop reading what Prudence from Slate magazine has to say. Don’t bother what your shrink has to offer more than a couch to cry out the initial weepies. Just dump him alright. It’s just not worth the rigmarole of forgiving and starting over. No matter how evocative his pleas of undying love for you, tell him he can shove it up an orifice of his choice. You don’t give second chances; not in this department.
3. Shop! Shop! Shop!
As much as you feel like listening to Adele, shrouding yourself in an introspective bubble, break out of it. Take a shower. Let him do the “what went wrong?” song and dance. You—soak in a spa massage, get those Zooey Deschanel bangs you thought you were too old for. Or that red silk Valentino number you wishfully gave up tiramisu for. The phrase ‘nothing to lose’ never had more meaning.
4. Learn to identify a douche
You can’t always thwart infidelity, but you can learn to weed out the riffraff early on. For example, if your guy has a friend who needs relationship help three nights a week, he’s probably screwing you over (with a guy/girl? don’t ask). If he is okay with you having ‘headaches’ every other day, yet wakes up looking like a million bucks, he’s probably getting some on the side. Also, if his face takes up as much space in the media as the state of Florida, there’s a good chance he’s the power-driven, alpha-male prototypic philanderer we all hear of. Nothing condones infidelity, but if you approach a tiger like you would, your garden variety cat, then this cheat-sheet is of no use for you!
PS: This post is just a light-hearted take on an emotionally catastrophic event; I do not mean to trivialize it.
PS1: I am not a rationally closed off femi-nazi who thinks infidelity is a male turf; women cheat too (the relative numbers are irrelevant here). I am sure men go through hell when it happens. So, I give you the stage. Take potshots. Make your craigslist sugar daddy jokes. I’ll root for you.