Yes, our parent cheated. Just like our parents don't let it define them, we don't let it define us, either. But it's inevitable: our parent's infidelity shapes the way we love and approach relationships, in a big way.
Trust issues. Suspicion, out of nowhere. Cynicism. Forgiveness. Building walls. These are all too familiar for us, and will be forever, because one of the people we are supposed to trust the most in life broke it. These are the ways children of a cheating parent love differently.
1. It’s not easy. For us, or for you. And it’s not going to be. Yes, we’ve moved on. All is forgiven. But that doesn’t make anything any easier. It’s always going to be hard for us to love, to be loved. And if you can’t handle that, you’re not worth our time.
2. We’re not quick to trust. You have to earn our trust. You have to earn us.
3. We always have one eye open. Even if we trust you, there will always be a part of us that doesn’t trust you completely. And it’s not you. It’s us. We don’t trust anyone completely, because we were let down by the person we’re supposed with our lives. We’ll ask to go through your phone. Your Facebook messages. But it’s not your fault. It’s because we need reminders that we can trust you.
4. We’re not letting you in easily. Get a (metaphorical) hammer, because you'll have to break down all of our walls. They’re well-built, and made to last ward off damage from any terrible storm, harsh winds, or heartbreak.
5. We must see how committed you are. If we say we don’t want flowers, send us flowers anyway. Show up at our place without warning, just to say hi. Tell us that you miss us five minutes after you left us. Give us help when we don’t ask for it—when we don’t even need it. Love is show and tell.
6. Words are not enough. “I love you” means something to us. But not on its own.
We recognize effort. When you show us how committed you are, we’ll trust you more. We’ll know the spark isn’t fizzling. We might think it is sometimes, but then you give us a reason to forget about our second thoughts.
7. We expect effort. Ae expect the effort we put in to be reciprocated.
8. We’re scared. We will always have second thoughts. But that’s just our past, haunting us.
9. But we don’t always admit how scared we are. We don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you we’re not confident. Just have to understand it’s a part of us. Our past doesn’t mean we love you any less. In fact, we love you even more every day for sticking around—we know how difficult we can be at times.
10. We’re forgiving. We don’t hate our parent for cheating. Love is love. Family is family. Yes, we’ve had hard times, but we’ve moved on, because we had to. If you’re honest with us, we’ll forgive you. You might not know that due to our trust issues, but when we love, we love unconditionally.
11. We’re not cynical. It’s just more reasonable for us to be selective about our optimism.