Cheating With My Boyfriend’s Best Friend

*Names have been changed to protect identities

After being single for close to three years, I met my then-boyfriend *Ben in 2012. Like most relationships, the ‘honeymoon period’ was smooth-sailing. But two years into the relationship, he received his enlistment letter.

While our friends broke up with their partners during NS, we were adamant about staying together to overcome this hurdle. It was only a little distance after all, and we’d still get to see each other over the weekends.

But what we didn’t factor in was how our different phases in life would affect our priorities and lifestyles.

Going through different phases

I was accepted into a local university when Ben entered the army. While his ‘freedom’ was taken away from him, I was attending crazy university camps and partying every weekend.

Although our lifestyles were different, we made an effort to update each other via text. But with the overwhelming stress and tight schedule in university, our text messages became less frequent.

Ben didn’t cope well with the separation. His camp buddies often fed his paranoia and he even became too clingy because he was fearful of losing me.

How it started from emotional cheating

As time passed, Ben and I found it difficult to relate to each other. Conversations became shorter and I found myself missing the physical comfort of having a man beside me.

This was when I met *Leo, his best friend.

Though Leo was also serving NS, his vocation allowed him to text and meet up more frequently.

Whenever Ben was away or busy, Leo would keep me company. Of course, my boyfriend wasn’t happy, but I told him he was simply “over-thinking” because he couldn’t spend as much time with me.

I rationalised, Leo wouldn’t do anything because of the ‘bro code’, right? I mean, I was just chilling with a good friend Ben personally knew and trusted.

While I wasn’t blind to Leo’s good looks and charms, I often reminded myself of the boundaries I had to keep.

But without realising, the more I depended on Leo for comfort, the more blurry that ‘friendzone’ became.

The affection, attention and reassurance I received from Leo was the feeling I missed; the same emotions I felt at the start of my relationship with Ben.

Eventually, I started developing feelings for Leo, and so did he for me.

The night it happened

Despite our mutual attraction, I brushed our feelings aside because I didn’t want to ruin my two-year relationship with Ben. I was also acutely aware of how wrong it’d be to cheat on my boyfriend with his best friend.

Until one night, Ben and I fought, and our argument pushed me over the edge.

I had just returned from a two-week school trip when Ben got himself in trouble with the authorities. To cope with his disappearance, I turned to Leo.

As I was ranting to Leo while lying on his bed, I felt him inching closer, and I let him kiss me.

With all my pent up emotions, I wondered why I was staying with Ben when there was such a good guy in front of me.

One thing led to another and I ended up sleeping with Leo that night because of the physical intimacy I craved for.

“I liked the attention.”

After the deed was done, I felt ‘normal’, as though I knew it was going to happen and I was okay with it. But it didn’t take long before the reality of my consequences sank in.

Leo gave me three options: to tell Ben, break up with him, or keep the secret to ourselves. I chose not to say anything because I wasn’t sure Ben would be able to handle the blow.

To cope with my guilt, I started wishing for Ben to hate me, so I would intentionally stir up fights and try to break up. He asked if Leo was the reason I was behaving this way, but I denied it and blamed it on our unresolvable differences.

I wanted him to hate me for being a bitch, than for being a cheater. We broke up eventually and I stopped talking to Leo.

Three years later, I confessed and apologised to Ben. While I did it to ease my conscience, I also felt he had the right to know the truth. He said he forgave me but deep down, I don’t think I deserved his forgiveness.

Avoid cheating in relationships

While you can’t control feelings, you can control actions. I could have controlled the relationship I had with Leo but I let it slip out of hand and ended up hurting two people at the same time.

It’s selfish to say I had feelings for them both but I was torn between which I valued more; something old and familiar, or new and exciting.

No matter how stupid it sounds, I was in love with two people, which I know was no excuse for my wrongdoing.

I cheated because I liked the attention Leo gave me. He was there for me when Ben was absent.

Even though I often called Ben “needy”, “clingy” or “attention-seeking”, I realised I was no better. While Ben turned to me for support, I simply ignored him and turned to Leo.

If I could turn back time, I would have avoided the situation entirely. I should have worked things out with my ex rather than choosing another guy as an outlet to vent my problems to.

Even though my feelings for Leo were genuine, I wished I ended my relationship with Ben before any of this happened.

If there’s one thing I learned from my mistake, is that there’s a difference between loving someone and loving the attention you’re getting.

Related: ZULA ChickChats (YouTube discussion): How do you deal with NS relationships?