He included himself in that list, but this I had already known as I had actually attended a couple of his trysts while he slept around on his wife and once upon a time… my mother, too.
Although it seems his older, wiser self would never dare say that to my younger sister, not only did he say to me, but the consequent actions of every man in my life have proven him right.
That made it that much easier for me to adopt this logic, even as a young girl: All men cheat.
While this belief is not something that I make known to the men that I date (no need to give them an excuse for cheating), it still greatly impacts me.
It makes me feel a little less hopeful for love and it naturally relaxes the standard that I have for men because — short or tall, educated or uneducated, dad-bod or not — men cannot remain faithful.
I’m not quite sure if I really believe that all men will be just like my father, who was a perpetual cheater, or if it’s just going to be a one-time thing. A boyfriend or husband cheating on you one time almost seems like some sordid right of passage for lasting, tormented, soul-deep love.
But, really, either way, it doesn’t matter much, because I’ve already been cursed by this mindset. That, or by the years of the bad juju my father put into the world of women for so many decades. It started with the sins of his own father, and now it’s all been passed down to me.
I attract lusty, horny, cheating, lying men.
And while I always think I’ve strived to find something different, at the root they’re all the same — they’re all my father. Sure, their career or ambition, or relationship status might be different, but their motives are all the same.
Moreover, with me being so set in such a toxic mindset, more times than not I go into a situation anticipating the worst on some level — sometimes without any awareness of it at the time.
If it’s not the mindset, it’s this weird desperation to go against the grain; to go against the natural order of life that suggests that I’ll end up with this type of man. But desperation is a different kind of danger.
This is the type of danger that many men suss out and prey on immediately.
They sense my desperation to be loved by someone that’s different than my expectations, and I always — always — find myself back at square one.
So for now, I’m just not looking.
I could point the finger at my father (because shame on him for putting that belief on a 12-year-old), but at the end of the day, it’s like I’ve said: I’ve never seen or known anything other than adulterers — my grandfathers (maternal and paternal), my father, my stepfather — these are the male role models in my life, and they’ve all led me to believe that despite my view of men being tainted when I was only a child, my father was right after all.
All men really do cheat.
I wish I could un-know everything that has led me to this belief.
Certainly, it would be healthy for me, but I’m not sure that type of psychiatric help is covered under my health insurance. And much to my dismay, it’s a hard cycle to consciously break because you just never know what’s really keeping it going.
I can’t help but think how nice it would be to become the sort of girl who hopes to find a man even half the man her father is. Sadly, it’s a feeling I won’t ever know.