I’ve cheated on every boyfriend I’ve ever had. I’ve never been on apps looking for it, and the thought doesn’t cross my mind at home in England, but there’s something about escaping to an entirely new country that means all bets are off. It’s like fleetingly living a different life; trying somebody else’s on for size. For me, it feels as though there is a shift in the air the moment I step off the plane, a tangible sense of (sexual) potential.
The sun warms my skin, bringing freckles out from hibernation. Other people swan around in a permanent state of semi-undress. Every interaction feels loaded; from the man smiling at the check-in desk (is he flirting with me?) to new friends by the pool (they’re definitely flirting with me). I relax so much that I forget my life back home. I behave differently, slipping into different shoes. It’s either a holiday version or something even more authentic to my core self. Holidays are the only time you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but you.
In Vietnam, I had a two-week love affair with an enchanting Australian – also in a relationship. In Mexico, I had sex on a floating pontoon in an ocean of glowing plankton, because it was a chance too good to pass up. And most recently, in Croatia, I embarked on a five day marathon of carnal exploration with a rich American. My ability to compartmentalise knows no bounds.
For context, I flew to Croatia with my best friend three days after it was moved to the green list. By our second morning, we had formed alliances with a small swarm of men and by our second evening, I’d given one of them a blowjob in a restaurant toilet. I don’t even have the excuse of being bored while my single friend was off gallivanting, I made my moves before she did.
At first, I drew the line at a blowjob, drunkenly reasoning that any physical pleasure on my end would be too far, but as the evening wore on and my logic blurred, so did the line that I’d drawn. We went back to his hotel room and had sex. And then we did it again, and then a few more times. In the days that followed, we broadened our remit to include swimming pools, his friend’s yacht, and somebody else’s balcony. It was the post-pandemic release of dreams.
I did occasionally think about my boyfriend. I felt bad that he was sat in our flat (yes, we live together) in rainy London while I was living my best life in 30-degree heat. But not bad enough to contemplate stopping. I can’t help but feel that a year of lazy pandemic evenings on the sofa, languishing in our tracksuit bottoms, half eaten pizza on the table, hasn’t done a lot to keep things exciting. Faced with sudden freedom, every suppressed urge came surging forth with greater force than ever before.
For some reason, I don’t feel the crippling guilt over cheating that I know I should. I never have. In the first instance, I’m not one to wallow in my emotions. But there's more to it than that. I feel compelled, in my life, never to hold back from any experience that might be worth having. I don't want to live with regrets and FOMO.
It could seem that an open relationship or role-play might suit me better than this faux monogamy. But where's the thrill in a life at home dictated by boundaries, rules and carefully discussed fantasies? My aphrodisia is much more about a moment in time snatched, never to be discussed or repeated. Besides, the thought of my boyfriend being with other women makes me nauseous. I know how hypocritical that sounds.
Some people choose extreme sports and cliff jumping to get their kicks on vaycay. Cheating is how I get mine. The exhilaration of engaging in something so wrong, the ecstasy of hot summer nights meeting new people and cutting ties from home and all that keeps you there, is unparalleled.
I do worry about the future and finding love. Perhaps all it'll take is for that one special person to curb my cheating habit for good. If not, the only reasonable solution might be for future partners to accompany me on every trip abroad. Though knowing me, I’ll always find a chance to sneak away.
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