Recently, I found myself in a complicated situation that would take far too long to explain, so I will give you the main point. I became "the other woman" in a relationship. This boy, let's call him Connor, has been a friend of mine for a couple years. There has always been some flirtation between us, but now that has fully escalated into "I like you, you like me" territory. Unfortunately, Connor is currently in a serious relationship where he and his girlfriend are in love and even, uh, make love. However, this did not stop Connor from expressing romantic feelings for me, hanging out with me on several occasions, and finally making out with me a couple months ago. Nothing has happened between us since then, and nothing probably will seeing as I am now at college and he and his girlfriend are still in high school. Anyway, the status of where this guy and I stand isn't as important as my real question: Why don't I feel bad about what I did?
Obviously, I realize that cheating is wrong and I would hate it if a boy did this to me. Still, I cannot get myself to sympathize with the real victim here, Connor's girlfriend, who is completely oblivious by the way. Even worse, she's a sweet girl, and I went to a small high school, so I know her pretty well. I feel like any normal person would be a nervous wreck having to hold in this awful secret, and it worries me that I can be so apathetic. Is something wrong with me?! Am I just insanely selfish? Or do I just watch too many chick flicks that make cheating seem passionate and romantic instead of gross? (I'm looking at you, The Notebook.)
I will answer all your questions, Sparkler, I promise...but first, I think we need to talk about the reasonable definition of the term "awful secret." An awful secret would be "I had an affair with my husband's brother and don't know which one is my baby's father." Or "I sold classified CIA materials to an Uzbekistani terrorist organization in exchange for a burrito." Or "I just wanted to be the queen of Denmark so I convinced my husband to kill this guy and OMG MY HANDS THE BLOOD WON'T COME OFF."
Making out with a guy who has a girlfriend, on the other hand, is... not awesome, granted. But awful? I don't think so. And while yes, you may have violated certain bounds of good taste by pursuing and/or being receptive to the attentions of an off-limits guy... well, really. Haven't we all? (Shhh, it's a rhetorical question.)
So, why don't you feel bad about what you did? First and foremost, probably because what you did just wasn't that bad. Inconvenient crushes are nobody's fault, and having the hots for someone else's boyfriend doesn't make you a corrupt or evil person. Even the guy in question can't really be faulted for feeling his feelings, if not for acting on them. And though it's true that cheating is a gross thing to do to someone... well, you didn't cheat. It was up to Connor to be true to his girlfriend or not; if someone gets karmic black marks for disloyalty, it's him. He chose to pursue you and break his contract with her. It's his relationship, and his responsibility. And if it had imploded as a result of your little dalliance, that would be on him, too.
But it didn't— and that, if I had to guess, is the other reason why none of this seems like a very big deal. Sure, you made a tacky decision, but it was one with absolutely zero consequences. There's been no fallout, no drama; heck, you don't even see these people anymore. And since you know better than anyone how meaningless your fling really was, how much of a threat you aren't to their relationship, and how totally over it you are, it's no surprise that you're having a hard time viewing it as anything other than a blip on the radar.
And as long as it stays that way (and, ideally, remains an isolated indulgence of your capricious youth), then there's no reason why you shouldn't chalk it up to experience, vow you'll do better next time, and enjoy your 500th viewing of The Notebook with a clear conscience.
Have you ever been the other woman? Other man? Other WHATEVER? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.