Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The Year In Cheating

2012 was the worst year ever for infidelity in America. I know that because I am American, and in 2012, my boyfriend cheated on me. Not only that, my boyfriend cheated on me and I had to recover from it in complete anonymity. Robert Pattinson, cheated on by Kristen Stewart, was invited to unpack this experience on "The Jon Stewart Show." I was not. Someone shot a video of Scott Broadwell in his darkest hour, after his wife Paula's affair with General David Petraeus was revealed, walking with somber solidity to his brother-in-law’s house, while Paula gripped his arm with an assuring sense of ownership. No such video exists of me. Finally, while Holly Petraeus was held up as “a great example for military wives,” I was held up as nothing. And yet something—a sense of shared experience, vanity, delusion—makes it impossible to avoid comparing my own situation to these more public betrayals. Here’s my story against the backdrop of 2012's cuckolded A-listers.

1. Neither Robert Pattinson, Scott Broadwell, Holly Petraeus (or, for that matter, poor Liberty Ross, Rupert Sanders' wife) had the pleasure of attending the wedding of the person with whom their partner cheated. Nor did any of them kindly agree to do this erstwhile bride the wedding-day favor of picking up butterflies—in the blazing parking lot of a Honolulu supermarket, from a woman/butterfly vendor driving a Blue Volkswagen beetle decorated with, what else, painted pink butterflies—to be released at the end of said wedding. (Nor did any of them endure spending the first hour of this wedding sober because the bride’s wedding planner "didn’t want anyone to get too drunk." This, when all is said and done, remains the only crime that can never be forgiven.)

2. At no time during the immediate, tender period after the admission of the infidelity was I invited to convalesce—as was Pattinson—at Reese Witherspoon’s house in Ojai. Also, I do not believe either Pattinson or any of the others spent those first weeks of stunned heartsickness sleeping in a wool hat emblazoned with the logo of a Chicago vintage car remodeling outfit called Mobsteel, because I do not believe any of them spent this period sleeping, in winter, in the Sierra foothills, in the unheated bedroom of a friend, which was, to quote the movie Argo, my "best bad idea" about where to go.

3. Nobody spoke to relationship expert Pepper Schwartz about my relationship with my partner. Someone did, however, speak to Pepper Schwartz about Holly Petraeus’ relationship with David Petraeus. Consequently, Pepper Schwartz never said about my partner, "If he lies down and pees on himself, which is hard for a man like that, his wife will likely forgive."

4. My partner did not lie down and pee on himself, as David Petraeus presumably did. He just left me. My boyfriend and I weren’t married, and we had no children. Several people tried to comfort me that this must have made things easier and while that may be true I don’t know how exactly I could have felt any worse. He and I got together when I was 38. He was the first man I ever loved that I also liked, and I did not want to let him go.

5. Scott Broadwell found out his wife was cheating on him while he was staying in a beautiful bed and breakfast in Virginia. I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me while sitting in my Toyota Yaris in the parking lot of an organic grocery store in northern California, the place where I seem to find out everything.

6. Robert Pattinson, Scott Broadwell, and Holly Petraeus have all been mentioned in The Economist in connection with their partners. When I think of this publication in reference to my own breakup it is around having flung it at my ex-boyfriend (two separate issues on two separate occasions). May I add that despite the sharp incisiveness of The Economist's writing, it is not a particularly menacing weapon.

7. The Daily Beast ran a headline: Scott Broadwell Proves to Be a Class Act in the Wake of His Wife's Affair. Were I well known enough to have merited a headline in the wake of my boyfriend's affair, I am confident the term "class act" would not have appeared in it.

8. When Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson, she was photographed wearing an amazing yellow bra. When my boyfriend cheated on me, he was not, to my knowledge, photographed wearing an amazing yellow bra. I reacted to my boyfriend’s cheating on me by spending a lot of time and money on couple's therapy, by crying a lot, by screaming at him and sometimes at my parents and friends and innocent bystanders, and then, eventually, by standing in a Rite Aid transfixed by the John Mayer/Taylor Swift song "Half of My Heart" and saying to myself, "I hate to admit it, but this pretty much sums it up." I reacted to Kristen Stewart’s cheating, several months later, by doing a Twitter search for "yellow bra," "Kristen Stewart" and "cheat," and, upon discovering that there was a $35 version of the $240 bra she had been wearing, ordering and having two of them express-mailed from Zappos.

9. But one thing I'm almost certain Robert Pattinson, Scott Broadwell, Holly Petraeus and I had in common is that as we were being cheated on, lots of our friends were cheating. I spent about half of this last year screaming at my partner for cheating on me and leaving me and the other half counseling friends of mine who were doing the same to other people. (People who were not me, of course.) One minute it was, "How could you betray me, you fucking asshole?" and the next it was, "Well, if you're really unhappy, I don't blame you for looking elsewhere. I mean. What are you going to do?" I even pleaded with a good friend to begin an affair:"You're 37 and you're not going to have sex for the REST of your LIFE? Because you have a SON? That's really your PLAN?"

10. None of the people with whom Kristen Stewart, David Petraeus or Paula Broadwell cheated is an amateur antiques expert who has been kind enough—now that she has essentially moved into my former home, with my former boyfriend—to estimate the value of the items I left behind so that I might choose wisely as to whether to sell them or keep them, and this service, coupled with the fact that I find myself miraculously grateful that my boyfriend left me, turns out to be one for which I am, surprisingly, most appreciative.

11. Neither Robert Pattinson, Scott Broadwell or Holly Petraeus had the recent misfortune of accidentally pushing their Toyota Yaris down an enormous hill and watching it crash into a stone wall. Therefore, neither Kristen Stewart, Paula Broadwell, or David Petraeus was forced, as my now-former boyfriend was, to come over and peel the Yaris from the wall, push it back up the hill, and jack the ruined door shut. (Nor, four hours prior to this accident, did one of them say, "Please do not try to roll-start your car until I come over. I have this image of you trying it yourself and rolling it down a hill and fucking killing yourself.") Though they have not had this particular experience, I can only hope Robert Pattinson, Scott Broadwell, Holly Petraeus, and even poor Liberty Ross have gotten over being cheated on, because it just happens. You sleep with someone and they sleep with someone else. You love someone and they leave you. Then you push your car down a hill and they push it back up and you watch them and realize they didn’t mean to hurt you, because they, you, no one, from one moment to the next, has any fucking idea what they’re doing.

Previously in 2012 In Review: The 10 Best Music Videos Of 2012 That Are Not Gangnam Style

Sarah Miller is the author of Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl, which were regrettably marketed to teens but should really be read by adults. She lives in Nevada City, CA.

36 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#713)

Augh this is …. terrible! I mean, amazingly written, but UGH, I feel bad for you. I also feel bad for asking for clarification but: butterly wedding lady in #1 is the same person as amateur antique expert in #10? And you didn't know about the cheating at the time of the butterfly business?

barnhouse (#1,326)

@jfruh It appears that butterfly wedding lady and antique expert lady are the same varmint. But suspect the cheating part came well after the butterfly business. Also: I AGREE with your first remarks.

sunnyciegos (#551)

Love this sad thing. But how did they know what brand of bra Kristen Stewart was wearing? Also, there are $240 bras? I'm in the wrong line of work, etc.

@sunnyciegos There are entire industries of people devoted to ferreting out the brand names of clothing items that appear in paparazzi photos. Who says the 21st century economy is dead?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

Well so much for that "complete anonymity", I guess!

melis (#1,854)

@Niko Bellic Sometimes I wonder what would happen if every one of us hugged you fiercely, all at the same time.

@melis Prsuta.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@melis Get the Facebook and the Twitter people for a 200K+ turnout (or include a few celebrities). Otherwise, leave me alone to stew in my complete anonymity.

melis (#1,854)

It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.

and I will be there, with the 200Ks, with the drive-by Facebookers

melis (#1,854)

and you will be hugged

scrooge (#2,697)

@melis Excellent movie! Amazing how memorable those relatively unremarkable lines are… However, I am by now skeptical of the philosopher assassin.

2012 was awful. Betrayal was all around.

rhp (#11,316)

Between this and watching "Take This Waltz" the other night, I am just far too full of the cruddiest feelings.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@rhp Take This Waltz was great for me. If I can't make my sob story be non-sob, I'll take it being non-mine!

rhp (#11,316)

@Niko Bellic It was filmed around the corner from my place, on my favourite street in the city. I am pretty sure I will not be able to walk down that street without feeling all the feelings now, but at least several of the feelings will be about movie star strangers.

@rhp But wasn't it kind of weird how she goes for a short run, and all of a sudden is in the Beaches? Or walks around the corner from Parkdale and suddenly is outside Honest Ed's or whatever?

But the cruddy feelings, I know! That movie hovered over me like a personal rain cloud for weeks. My boyfriend and I almost broke up over it for no other reason than because it demonstrated so clearly that all relationships are invariably sad, and doomed, and we are all lost and confused, so why even bother.

bb (#295)

@Sister Administrator wow, I'm so glad my boyfriend and I watched the preview on itunes or whatever and were like… uh, no, I don't think we can handle watching that.

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

I beg to differ – in 2004 I was broken up with for the "other woman" right as the "other woman" in the media was Angelina Jolie. It was a good year for the other woman all around, and a shitty year for me. :( I feel your pain gurl!

shostakobitch (#1,692)

Toyota Yaris is an anagram of "roast ya, I toy"…coincidence?

billywillis (#240,211)

It happens everywhere!

Iron & Whine (#239,453)

Man, that just broke my heart. I got hurt this year too, though it didn't have anything to do with cheating. But it still knocked me on my ass for months.

goodiesfirst (#3,448)

I can't help but think that somehow having the boyfriend try on Marc Anthony for Kohl's wasn't the beginning of the end. Like no relationship can survive that.

Wasabiseed (#240,224)

All right. Time to buy your books at full markup. What your immense talent hasn't yet accomplished, pity finally will. (Please take this as a compliment?!)

aphrabean (#231,420)

Man, I love Nevada City. Also that is where I got MY heart broken, over a decade ago, so I am still a little suspicious of it. Also this was really, really great.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

It's a poor consolation, but as a matter of fat some people know Sarah Miller's name pretty well and have to google most of the names in the post.

LHOOQ (#18,226)

This is a great piece, but ugh, I am so sorry you had to go through that, and without Jon Stewart offering you Ben and Jerry's or even Reese inviting you to Ojai.

trixila (#240,238)

Man, that is some good writing. I had to register for the site just to say that. Plus I feel your pain. Just passed the three year mark and it does get better.

CommonGround (#240,237)

This post has been such a consolation. I have just come back from an interview with an oil company, obviously drinking half a bottle of wine to recover afterwards, was so confused as to who was with whom and am just relieved that a Toyota Yaris took a hit for all of us. Thank you so much for this piece. I am now heading out for some Baileys for my "working brunch" tomorrow. omg. I paid out my husband's "Honda Fit" in September. What does this mean? I so need a job.

loose_seal (#240,240)

@rhp I feel that way every time I know a couple who seems so perfect and happy together, but then suddenly they break up. It's like, if those two can't stay together in this world then what chance do I have for happiness when me and my boyfriend sometimes argue about how finely an onion should be chopped for chili???

Madame Psychosis (#81,523)

I wasn't cheated on, but I left my ex-husband around the time J. Lo left Marc Anthony and I kept seeing her be fabulous in the tabloids and imagining she was my sister-in-divorce (important note: with the exception of "Jenny from the Block" and the brief period when I lived in Cambridge and heard amazing stories about Affleck essentially wandering the streets after their break up, I've never been a J. Lo fan, and I was, and remain, far, far less fabulous). @Sara Miller, come to New York, and I will buy you a drink. Or a million drinks. (Also: PROPS for owning a Yaris.)

phipsi (#240,256)

I found out my fiancee was cheating on me in a Toyota Corolla in a grocery store parking lot! INFIDELITY TWINSIES FOREVA

Seriously though, hugs. Here's to the Year in Not Cheating 2013.

dandelion (#240,262)

Dear Sarah,

You are wonderful. Every time I read an article and love it, I get to the end and am reminded that it's by you. Because DUH IT IS. You see, I love your writing so much so that, while I have been reading the Hairpin since the beginning, and obviously the internet for much longer, I have never commented anywhere on anything. Until now.

So girl, as someone whose fiance cheated on her 5 years ago and yesI'moveritbutfuckdidithurt, you will get through this and it will suck but know that YOU'VE GOT THIS. You do. And maybe you don't feel that now, and maybe it'll take way longer than you want, but you will and until then: you're wonderful.

You've got this.

<3 K

niffy (#240,378)

Please allow me to introduce you to my BFF love angel, vegan chef, who is a kind, kind man. You are wonderful!

niffy (#240,378)

Also… I left my husband because he was not setting a good example for our children, not because I was or ever cheated on him. My Christmas wish is that one day he will speak as kindly about me as you do about your ex. You are a true lady.

ClaireMacM (#240,524)

Funny, I found out my douchebag husband was cheating on me while driving a Yaris also. He accidentally saved a pros and cons checklist to his iPhone notes. Unfortunately it was to our joint email account on Apple and showed up on my iPhone. Most fucking cliched affair ever – young dumb blonde coworker. Damn Yaris. Glad to see the back of 2012 and all the lousy cheaters. Get some integrity, people!

misiekpl (#242,183)

But the cruddy feelings, I know! That movie hovered over me like a personal rain cloud for weeks. My boyfriend and I almost broke up over it for no other reason than because it demonstrated so clearly that all relationships liquidy are invariably sad, and doomed, and we are all lost and confused, so why even bother.

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