I grew up in a loving home – both parents, older sister, older brother. I went to good schools my entire life and was educated by great teachers and peers. I’ve been in good and bad relationships, all of which I’ve learned from. You might say I have my head on straight.

I vividly remember the day my college roommate, stomped into my dorm room and in a fit of tears yelled, “_(nameless)__ is cheating on me! I’m through. My mother was right. All guys cheat. You can’t trust any of them. They’ll betray you every time.”

The avid girlfriend supporter and boyfriend hater-when-I-needed-to-be wanted to go with her to car keys and post up outside of locker rooms. But instead, the calmer, rational-thinking, tea-sipping psychologist surfaced, put away her ideologies on the behavior of men, threw on her glasses, and got to work.

Whoa. All guys cheat? That’s a pretty broad statement. Not to mention it was a statement that bred a future of bitterness, frown lines, and high cholesterol. I sat her down.

“He’s wrong for that. But just because your mother believes one thing doesn’t mean you have too. You’re not a mirror of your mother. Repeat after me: ‘I am not my mother. Not all men are the same.’ Maybe you should try to work it out.”

Ironically, I had given her this advice while I was in a relationship of my own, and shamelessly cheating. Looking back now I know I didn’t grasp the concept of “we are who our parents are”. And it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that although I had gotten a full set of good traits from mine, I had an equal amount of bad ones that I wasn’t aware of.

My father is a great dad; Like really cool. He could rival any man for a dad of the decade award. When I was younger, I had a t-shirt that read, “When I grow up, I want to be like my daddy.” The influence he had on me was clear. As I got older, I heeded his insight and monitored his actions. Overtime, something had changed.

I would see my father on Friday mornings before I left for school, and then I wouldn’t see him again until it was time for football on Sunday. He would take trips out of town for a few days (sans my mother), and wouldn’t tell us where he was going or who he was with. That kind of thing. And it’s important to note: my father is an adult – not a boy, not a young man. When this occurred he was a full-fledged 50 plus grownup.

I ignored it. After all there are just certain subjects you don’t broach. But, I began to wonder about what I fondly call… the cheating gene. A gene that seems to present itself in nearly everyone I know with the exception of a devout few. It might as well be as common as the X and Y chromosome.

Many girls who are witnesses to their parents’ “cheating genes” determine that they are going to do one of two things. They are going to go above limits to make their personal relationships work. Or, they will accept the fact that men cheat and will always cheat and well…that’s how it’s going to be.

I was different. I was going to be just like my daddy.

I strutted around with my nose in the air and my heart tucked safely away from my sleeve. My mantra became: No man will cheat on me. I will cheat on them.

It was a full proof plan. I cheated, churning good brothers into bad boys, all the while leaving some new woman to pick up the pieces of my insecurities. Halfway through my relationships, I would send ole’ boy packing for some new man and then repeat the process. Inevitably those bad boys, who held their ego in high esteem, morphed into players and cheated on their women.

It’s quite possible that one of those women was my roommate.

I was the one who let the guy go for fear of them cheating on me. If my father, who was well in his golden years, was doing it, then it was bound to happen to me too… right? It was the age old narrative, play or get played.

So, a message to cheating fathers on their daughters. The cycle continues. Take care of what you do and who you do it with. Society still coins the phrase, “Boys will be boys.” But in an era where women are eagerly flashing their independent woman lapels, recognize that girls will be girls.

Writer and philosopher, Elbert Hubbard once said, you have to “live truth instead of professing it.” Trust me, we are far more affected by the decisions that you make than you realize.

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  • modern lady

    It’s wonderful that the author at least has gained some perspective and learned from her own mistakes. A lot of ppl would use their childhood and their parents infidelity as an excuse to continue to cheat! We truly are products of our environments, though-whether we realize it or not. We either spend a lifetime continuing what we saw or killing ourselves to be the exact opposite.

  • I can relate too. I am working very hard to NOT be my parents, the negative stuff anyway.

  • Rae Rae

    Brilliant article Dreux…
    Allow me to share my experience;

    I’ve grown up in a loving and stable family; my parents have been married 25 years, I’m the eldest of three children, and the only girl.

    I’m 30 years of age and I’ve been in a committed relationship for the past 8 years.
    When I was 21, an old school friend of mine told me that she’d seen some photographs that were taken at a mutual friend’s family gathering. She noticed that my Dad was in a few of the pictures, posing with a woman, who wasn’t my Mom, and a young boy.
    I knew nothing.
    I was so proud of the fact that out of all of my friends, my family was the typical ideal of a happy and successful Black family…

    I wrestled with these questions for weeks, months…’Is it true?’, ‘How could I not know?’ The day I had it confirmed was the day I sneaked a peek at a text message on my Dad’s phone. That was the day that the love that I had for my Dad slipped. This was my Dad. The man that I idolised; the benchmark for any man that I could ever wish to share my life with, and he had been revealed to be, to me, the ultimate liar.
    He had destroyed any feelings of trust I had in him. My ideal of ‘manhood’ had been shattered somewhat. To this day I find it almost unforgivable; hey, shit happens, and I find that I’ve lost a little respect for my Mom too.

    She obviously knew, and had kept it secret for years; even now only my parents, myself and my two younger brothers know that we have a ‘random’ brother living not too far away – a fact revealed the night before my 29th birthday! A year or so after my Dad had come round from life-saving surgery, and my ‘random’ brother, his Mom and Grandfather turned up at the hospital to see him…When I asked my Mom who they were (I already knew of course), she was already halfway down the hospital corridor, having given this boy and his Mom the side eye…

    I grew up thinking as most little girls do, that I was destined to ‘marry a man just like my Daddy’.
    Now I’m in a relationship with the man that I’m going to spend the rest of my days with, I’m so glad he’s not.

  • I have to say that the gene doesn’t always come from your father. Although most of us would like o blame the men for everything. My mother is the one who couldn’t be faithful and still to this day can’t commit. Now most likly she got this from her father but it has made it really hard for me as a young women to be faithful in my relationship. My mother never talked about how guys were cheaters I just always saw her with more than one man and I just always thought that’s how you do it. Sadly realizing that she had a problem gave me the strenght to work harder at being a one man women.