You playin'?

13 October 2018

Funny story, that’s really not that funny – I actually began writing this blog post in the summer last year, and have had the document sitting on my desktop, staring at me accusingly, ever since. The truth is, the urge that inspired me to write it I couldn’t hang on to, because it was so toxic and sent me into a horrible spiral. 

There has been a lot of scandal in the news in the past year, to say the least. In fact, I think the more appropriate term would be ‘a sh*t ton’. Obviously there have been a great deal of women bravely speaking out about being wronged by powerful perverted men, hideous accusations hurled around the House of Commons, and even more pay gap shockers (seriously, folks. It’s 2018. Whut?). I have felt moved by all of these things, in good ways and in bad. However, for some reason, it’s a very silly and much littler thing that’s reignited my need to write this post… 

If you know me well, you’ll know I am a die hard Strictly fan. I’m part of a group chat with friends and family, the designated emoji of which is the classic ‘dancing woman in red dress’; I watch ‘It Takes Two’ most evenings (or save up all the recordings to watch in one night, with wine); I read all the tweets and like all the Insta posts, I place casual bets and take part in sweepstakes, and I often weep uncontrollably when the titles roll and that music plays. I also know about the Strictly ‘curse’, and who has fallen prey to it in the past. And I read all the articles that come out between shows, spilling the secrets from behind the red velvet curtains. 

In the past week, I have been borderline obsessed with the Seann/Katya scandal. No, really. When Dad first posted about it in the ‘STRICTLY!!!’ group chat, asking if we’d seen the photos that had been sold to The Sun, I shook my head and said ‘no way’. I don’t know why, but I refused to believe it at first!? However, once I combed through the article and saw every image (which then for some reason made me think ‘geezz guys, hide it a bit better, eh?’ – another toxic thought!) it horrified me, and for days afterwards I couldn’t get over it. 

Since that first article came out, the glittery sh*t has well and truly hit the fake tan fan. People have ranted and raved all over social media with their differing takes on the story and shared opinions on what they all feel needs to be done next; while a few folks were satisfied with the apologies from both pashing parties and agreed that it was simply a ‘drunken mistake’, others were much less forgiving and some even demanded that they be hanged kicked off the show. Some friends of mine even questioned whether she might be in an open marriage (with gorgeous dancer pro Neil, also on the show - awks) but doesn't feel she can say that publicly...!? 

One could only imagine the madness happening in the BBC HQ, and the pressure the Strictly staff were suddenly under to meet the needs of the public and calm everyone down, while preserving their level of class and not indulging any tabloids. While all press is good press, it’s safe to say these guys wouldn’t appreciate this scandal anywhere near as much as, say, ITV or Channel 4. It’s been announced that Seann and Katya will still be performing in this week’s instalment of SCD, however the rumour is that their assigned dance has been changed from a rumba (aka, The Sexy Dance) to the Charleston (aka, the comedy dance conveniently with almost zero contact between dancers). 

Anyway, as much as I love my Strictly goss, that’s not what this post is about. It’s about betrayal, lies, cheating – and controlling, toxic relationships. Yep, read on for some real joy! 

Cheating is wrong. Let me just start with that – it's not a spoiler, it's more like a disclaimer. The rest of this post will touch on the nature, causes and contexts of cheating, yes, but at the end of the day I am very much of the opinion that it is wrong. We all clear on that? Cool.

I have cheated. I have also been cheated on. I've even been the girl that a guy cheated with. I'm not proud of any of these facts; just thinking about each instance leaves me feeling completely ashamed, sad and angry at Past Me. However, I guess the only benefit of these awful truths is that they give me licence to talk about cheating with a considerable amount of experience, and unpleasantly acquired expertise, in the subject.


Cheating feels horrible. For all involved. It's obviously bad for the one who is cheated on, but actually some people cannot understand how rough it gets for the one who did the cheating. HEY, wait, hear me out! When I did it – many, many years ago – I felt filthy, corrupt etc., etc. but I also was tormented by the simple knowledge that I'd done it. And what made that worse was that nobody else knew. That my partner at the time didn't know. He knew everything about me – and yet I was suddenly keeping this enormous thing from him. I was surprised he couldn't see it. That he genuinely had no clue. Couldn't he read it in my face, hear it under my words? I didn't make it very long living with this guilt before I told him. 

Then of course, there was the time I was ‘the other girl’. Oh, yes. That was an experience. Basically, I had reason to believe the person I fancied (many years ago, this was) had a significant other, BUT there was never any confirmation or even mention of that when we met up on a night out – that is, until the morning after. I was somehow furious with myself, after that happened. Although really, I shouldn’t have been. It was all on them. They then had to live with the pain of having cheated, as I already had by that point, and while they were quite horrid for doing it, I still wouldn’t have wished that feeling of guilt on them. Still, I felt very… cheap. And dirty, having been the one someone committed a serious act of betrayal with.

Finally, the time I was cheated on (and I mean, it was an epic effort on my then-partner’s part. Seriously, he must have been sprinting from one bed to another) I felt… mostly stupid. To the point that when I finally found out about it (via one of the many women), and the extent of it (she actually gave me a list of names, and each one uttered felt like a shot fired into my gut from a very short distance, BAM BAM BAMM) I actually pretended I had known all along. Yep. I was too embarrassed and felt like too much of a fool to react exactly how I wanted to (bursting into tears and throwing my coffee all over her… then apologising, buying a new coffee and going to find him, the rightful recipient of the minor burns and brown splashes) and instead I shrugged, scoffed and replied, a little too loudly: ‘Yeah, you think I didn’t know about all that!?’

Going back to the inspo for this cheery post, when I found myself in the same position that the wonderful Rebecca Humphries recently discovered she was in (only much worse, as what had happened was between her semi-celeb boyfriend and his dancing partner on a famous BBC show, and the whole world knew about it) I felt too scared of losing face to confess that I’d been completely in the dark. Rebecca, however, dealt a far worse hand than I, dealt with it flawlessly. She released a brilliant statement on her socials – and in doing so made the lame ass apologies from both cheating parties look even more bumbling – in which she told her readers that she had in fact felt controlled and manipulated in her relationship for some time before this story came out, and apparently she’d been called a ‘psycho’ and ‘nuts’ by her partner for suspecting it. She opened with ‘I am not a victim’, and signed off with ‘I’m not sorry for taking the cat’. Legendary. That’s how you do it, imo. 

In researching for this blog post, last summer, I of course took to Twitter. 

Over 1,000 people answered my poll about forgiving a cheating partner, and many of them replied with comments and opinions. I found the replies were quite varied, which was refreshing, but still the poll screamed NO! at me. 

I found I got a lot of responses that referred to 'emotional cheating'. Then there were some replies to those, wondering what that expression meant...  

Emotional cheating (act.): the forming of intimate bonds with someone besides one's spouse/partner, consulting with them on major life events and decisions (before or while also conferring with spouse/partner on same things), revealing secrets, establishing the highest level of trust usually reserved for closest partners. 

While writing (or rather, revisiting) this blog post, I felt that I had to ask around again…

Yes, weirdly this one got a lot less responses (!?) but again, a lot of replies came in saying ‘depends who it’s done with’ and debating ‘emotional vs physical’. Only a few were dead certain. 

I’d definitely say emotional infidelity (confiding in someone else about the deep stuff and/or flirting, via secret DMs or IRL) is almost as bad as physical (dates, kisses, shagging), and definitely grounds for a split (and a verbal bollocking). What do you think, readers? As always, comment or tweet me with your opinions if you wish to do so. I don't know about you, but I'll be watching SCD tonight with particularly rapt attention... and there's every chance there will be booing in my living room... 

Also, wanna read more about this particularly tricky subject? My girl Vix recently posted about it on her blog. She's ace. 

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