If You Cheat On Your Partner, You Do Not Love Your Partner. Period.

Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock
woman caught man cheating

I never really gave much thought to cheating growing up. I knew what it was, but because it was something that was never close to me, it simply wasn't on my radar.

In my mind, it was something you see in movies, something to give what might have been a mundane plot, a bit of a twist. But as we all know, movies and reality are two different beasts entirely.

Then, when I was about 11 years old, my mother's best friend, M, got divorced. Because I was close friends with her daughter, I was told that when her mom sat her and her brothers down to explain why their dad was leaving, it was because he loved his secretary instead.

I didn't realize at the time how much of a cliché it was, but what I was able to deduce was that he had cheated.

It took him all of one month to get remarried after the divorce was final. Although I wouldn't get the particulars until years later, that was my first introduction to cheating.

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When my own husband cheated, I reached out to my mom's best friend. Now that I was an adult, I could talk to her about it because we're both victims of a cliché: She was left for her husband's secretary and I was left for a child... er, I mean, a 20-year-old (which, to be honest, is a child since my husband is 48 and has an 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship).

During that discussion, I was finally really able to see just how much of a betrayal cheating is.

In my case, I was fortunate enough to not have children with my husband, but M wasn't so lucky. She had had three children with hers, the youngest being just a baby when he told her he didn't love her and walked out. And just as my husband tried to justify his own actions, M's husband did the same.

It was the same BS of "I used to love you, but now I found this person whom I love better and love more." Or, as it was in my case, "I thought you were my soulmate, but B is my actual soulmate because we both love The Beatles and have the same birthday."

Ah, the babbling rationale of a 48-year-old man who's going through a midlife crisis.

But what I came to realize through all the tears, the drama, and the piles of poop I sent through the mail to him is this: My husband never loved me. If you love someone, you don't cheat on them. End of story.

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Call me crazy, but I think there are a lot of components in love. If you genuinely love someone, you respect them, for starters.

You also emotionally support them, give them a high-five when they do something great, care for them when they're sick in bed with the flu, stand by them when things get scary, hold their hand when they need you, and look toward the future together as a partnership. That's what love is.

So when you cheat on your spouse, you're cheating on all of that. You're betraying every single one of those components and essentially making a mockery of what you once dared to call love.

If you cheat, what you've really done is said, "I don't love you. I never loved you. I never respected you. I never cared for you. All of this was a lie."

And that's fine. If you want to erase your past, admitting it was a lie — which is exactly what you do when you cheat — then that's your prerogative. It makes you a jerk, a no-good liar, a cheater, and a thief, but you're entitled to be the person you want to be.

RELATED: The 15 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When You're Caught Cheating

Just don't try to tell anyone that you love or ever loved your spouse if you cheat on them. You're not only insulting your spouse and the history you had with them but you're insulting yourself, too. And if you're a cheater, there's a huge part of you that thinks you're right, so why would you want to insult yourself?

If you're anything like M's husband or my husband, you're just the innocent victim in all this, right? A victim of love, so to speak.

Well, we'll take care of the insulting of you for you. And it's definitely NSFW, so I'll let you, dear cheaters, fill in the blanks.

RELATED: The Scientific Reason People Cheat On Those They Love

Amanda Chatel is a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post, and others.