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[OPINION] I don’t understand cheating, and I don’t think I ever will

By Marielle Filoteo Published Oct 22, 2023 8:39 pm

It was recently revealed that the late Francis Magalona had an alleged affair with former flight attendant Abegail Rait, who disclosed through an episode of the YouTube series Pinoy Pawnstars that their alleged love child is set to enter show business and follow the footsteps of the OPM icon.

Rait shared photographs, letters, and stories about the late rapper. She recounted their relationship, the birth of their alleged daughter Gaile Francesca, and his battle with leukemia. According to Rait, it was hard to keep mum about their situation, and, for 15 years, she kept quiet about it until now.

As someone who’s witnessed cheating in different phases of my life, I ache for everyone involved. While I don’t tolerate cheating nor do I think there’s a need to reopen old wounds, I mourn that the painful situation led to this. Behind the legacy of one of the most influential figures in Philippine pop culture are two families that mourn the loss of a father in their lives—one being well-known and the other hidden away from the world. 

When I think about cheating, I think about how easy trust can be given—carefully wrapped in a pretty bow, not fully knowing what it means to put your heart out on the line—and taken away, as if it was never handed with cold, shaking hands and softly whispered: “Take care of this, okay?” At 8 years old, I understood how cheating affects a family. At 19 years old, I felt what cheating meant when it happened to you. 

Cheating is a topic I still don't understand and probably never will. I may be older but I don’t feel all that wiser. I still can’t wrap my head around why people cheat in the first place. 

Did it simply come from stupidity? The thought of “Oh, I’d never get caught” or “I just need a release, what’s the harm?” Or did it come out of malice? The idea that “I can’t break up with them so I’ll let them find a reason to break up with me.” Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Or, maybe it’s none of those reasons at all. 

I may not know why people cheat, but I do know this: The pain doesn’t have to consume you.

At a young age, I found out what cheating entailed. Like many others, my story involved a parent cheating on another for reasons I don’t know, and this event changed the course of the family dynamic forever. It went from the presence of two parents to only one, saying “dad” like he was a “he who shall not be named,” one less authority figure, one less person to ask for baon and toys, and a first taste of life and how much of happiness is shrouded in sadness as well.

As far as I’m subconsciously aware, I don’t think I really hated him or held any resentment. I was never really close to my dad as he wasn’t around much anyway due to work. At the time, it clicked in my little head as “I guess that’s one part of my life that’s over.” I was too young to understand the repercussions—and too naive to know the weight of that action. 

All I knew was there was an absence. A gap that used to be filled by someone who used to be important to me. And, oh, there was pain. Whether from me, my siblings, or even my mom, I’m not quite sure. But, there was pain that lingered through the four walls of our house that I slowly just lived with through time.

At this stage in my life, more than the act itself, I always thought about how much cheating leaves in its wake for the people involved. I think about all the people who’ve been hurt from cheating, who’ve hurt others by cheating, and who’ve hurt to see their loved ones who’ve been cheated on in their lives. 

I’ve heard all the reasons like low self-esteem, disconnection, commitment issues, feeling trapped, sex addiction, or even a fear of breaking things off. But, I truly can’t understand what truly pushes someone to do something like that knowing how much it can hurt another. 

When I was a kid, I knew cheating was bad but what I couldn’t comprehend was how it truly felt. I thought if it ever happened to me, I’d kick my partner to the curb. I’d shout. I’d scream. I’d tell them to go to hell and stay there. That was until it happened to me.

At 19, I was in love. A first for me, and it was amazing. We were friends first—a best friends-to-lovers trope, if you will. We got close. Something developed, and we wound up together. Nothing too out of the ordinary, or a story out of a fairytale. It was just real life and comfortable. Until, suddenly, we broke up, and I found out they cheated on me.

When I think about cheating, I think about how easy trust can be given—carefully wrapped in a pretty bow, not fully knowing what it means to put your heart out on the line—and taken away.

To say I was livid is an understatement. It felt like I went through a hundred different emotions while feeling numb at the same time. The heartbreak from it didn’t come all at once. Slowly, it felt like my heart was being chipped away every time I remembered. I mourned someone who was still existing and perfectly living a life with someone else. I mourned myself who drowned in insecurity and questioned myself a million times over. Over what? Because I wasn’t the one they chose? Because they weren’t who I thought they were?

I don’t understand cheating. If you know it would hurt others, why do it? If you know it would blow up in your face, why put yourself through that? If you know you’re causing everyone all this pain, why put everyone else in the ringer?

I don’t understand cheating. Maybe it's because I come from a place where I’ve seen firsthand how cheating affects a family, a sense of reality, and someone’s trust that can never be given again. Maybe this is coming from my immature brain that still needlessly sees things in black and white instead of the gray it really is in this universe. Maybe it's because I know how truly earth-shatteringly heartbreaking it can feel to be cheated on.

Will I ever understand it? I don’t think I ever will. I can put love, relationships, and all the possible scenarios as to why it didn’t work out into a petri dish, and I still wouldn’t be able to determine what went wrong. I may not know why people cheat, but I do know this: The pain doesn’t have to consume you. 

You can ask yourself a million times over why they cheated and why they chose to do it, and you may never get a proper answer that’ll truly appease you. Sometimes, we live with the pain. Sometimes, it minimizes through time. Sometimes, you end up forgetting all about it. But, the main point is that the pain from cheating doesn’t have to consume you and take over your life.

While sorting through the wreckage from it sucks, you live with it, you move on, and you find peace for yourself by yourself.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of PhilSTAR L!fe, its parent company and affiliates, or its staff.