Recently, a close friend of mine found out her partner was cheating on her during their long term relationship. And that was pretty shit.
As everyone knows, loving those close to you means that you feel their pain as well, and it was horrible to see her so hurt and betrayed. For security reasons, I won’t name names, but the cheater (who will be referred to from now on strictly through male pronouns) knows who he is.
If he does ever see this post, know that while my friend has moved on, with you as a distant memory, the rest of us close to her still secretly hope that you’ll burn in hell.
As you can probably tell, most of the pain I felt for her was redirected into anger and even hate for him, which was a fairly new feeling for me, for I consider myself a pretty chill and peaceful individual.
Mind you, this wasn’t your average teenage breakup. My friend and this guy had been together almost eight years, they had a house, and had built a life together. He had been cheating on her for over a year. And when my friend stopped crying after stumbling upon evidence of his betrayal, we got to strategizing her game plan on how to ‘Sun Tzu’ the cheater.
For those who are not familiar with this verb (for my friend and I only just made it a verb, for it is actually a name), Sun Tzu is the author of the historical Chinese classic, The Art of War.
Love, my dear readers, is a battlefield, and The Art of War was my friend’s self-help book in disguise.
Even if you haven’t read this book (which I highly recommend you to do), you’ve probably heard its passages quoted on the internet by random self-obsessed social media users.
Basically Sun Tzu was a powerful and respected general of China during the warring states period. He was a great military strategist and was sought after by many who were desperate to reign over the entirety of China. When China eventually united under one emperor, Sun Tzu was old and retired. He wrote The Art of War to pass on the secrets behind all his greatest triumphs and victories.
And it was his strategies that my friend used to not only help herself move forward from the heartbreak, but to come out winning. Her game plan was pretty successful and I’m 100% sure he feels like a complete butt head. This is because not only did he ruin the best thing that had happened in his life, but also his reputation and many, if not all, of his friendships.
I know I should feel bad for him but I honestly don’t. He is an a-hole and I’m sure he knows it 😃 If you want to know how my friend did it, all you need to do is read on.
Chapter I. Laying Plans
“All Warfare is based on deception… Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
[The Art of War actually has thirteen chapters, but only the first three are truly relevant to this.]
When my friend first found out, her first impulse was to confront him, chuck his belongings out of their house, key his car, burn his clothes and what have you.
But she did not do this because there were things at stake here.
They had a house together. They shared a mortgage. And if she did all of the things mentioned above, she would have lost the element of surprise.
So instead, she calmed down, called her love ones, and together we sat down and brainstormed how she would not only survive through the break-up, but come out owning the house, emotions intact.
This meant that she had to, in part, be deceptive, pretend to be the victimized little girl that he arrogantly thought she was. This was definitely the hardest part for my friend, who is easily one of the most independent and feisty people I know.
What helped her a lot through this time though was writing private letters.
She wrote one to him, detailing what a low-life he was.
She wrote another one to the girl he cheated with (who, by the way, knew full well he had a girlfriend and didn’t care) calling her out as the disgrace she is to the female sex.
I know that in the 21st century, we shouldn’t slut-shame other women, but trust me, this girl acts like a complete skank.
These letters helped her release a lot of the pent up grief that she couldn’t otherwise dispel, while also making us laugh when she read the funnier snippets out to us. This was her first step in ‘Sun Tzu-ing’ the cheater.
Chapter II. Waging War
“He who wishes to fight must first count the cost… In war, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
Laying down her plan took my friend about two days.
Then, it took the rest of the week to ‘wage the war’ (sign agreements, protect her assets, blah blah blah).
AND another few months after that to finalise everything and deal with the barrage of people calling her up and asking her, ‘OMG, did you and [insert cheater’s name here] break up?’
It was safe to say that this took an emotional toll on her, and unfortunately, there were other things she had to compromise on as well.
She couldn’t face seeing him after finding out what he did, and wanted to wait until agreements for the house were signed over before confronting him (I don’t blame her… he was pretty ugly).
This meant she was forced to pack up his stuff, putting everything he owned in a box to the left – à la mode Beyoncé.
And it was in the closet that she found more evidence of his infidelity.
She also lost a couple of friends due to the breakup (although, to be honest, these friends don’t know that he cheated on her).
Furthermore, in order to get him to agree to give her the house instead of selling it and splitting profits, she had to pay him out even though he didn’t deserve a cent.
But that was where her family and friends (including yours truly) came in! Having such a strong support system definitely helped her through the battles where she felt that she wasn’t winning.
Break-ups are the definition of having ups and downs in life. But such traumas can be weathered with a little help from your friends. And it was with support behind her that my friend came out winning during stage two.
Chapter III. Attack by Strategem
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”
Now THIS stage was my favourite bit. This is where my friend made that lying, worthless piece of shit accountable!
She let her inner Petty Petunia out and went crazy, raining hell-fire on his ass.
I won’t go into details, again for security reasons (*sigh), but I will say that some of the antics we got up to were quite entertaining!
Want to chuck out his belongings on the lawn, burn his clothes and key his car? DO IT (just don’t get caught haha).
Some other (verging on illegal) ideas you could entertain;
- signing their email up to heaps of different websites so that they get lots of spam
- hiding tuna juice in his new residence so that it will reek, and he’ll have no idea why
- splashing sunscreen all over his car (doesn’t ruin paint like eggs do, but is a horrible pain to get off)
And last, but perhaps most important…
The Unpublished Chapter: Forgiveness, and Hope
Obviously, there was no chapter in Sun Tzu’s book about forgiveness and hope because warfare, while complex, is not as complex as the affairs of the heart.
After all the stages were completed, and my friend came out victorious, there was still that nagging feeling left behind.
While everything was apparently said and done, I would still catch her holding back tears at seemingly random times, when we were eating ice-cream or buying a mattress.
But slowly and surely, she got better and happier with each passing day. She thought about him less and less, until one day went by when she didn’t think about him at all.
How did she do it? Well, I’d say it was a mixture of time, and forgiveness, and new love… Tinder 😂
Jokes aside, it’s not healthy to hold grudges, even when you have every right to. Once my friend let go of her hurt and anger at him, she opened herself up to opportunities that once seemed so far-fetched with him beside her.
Work was better than ever, she saw her friends and family more, she could do what she wanted with her days, and travel to the places where he never would.
One day I asked her, ‘if you saw him again, what would you do?’
She said ‘Smile, say hello, and keep walking.’
And so my readers, while Sun Tzu hit the mark about how to deal with a cheater in the interim, in the long term his smaller nuggets of advice seem more relevant.
“There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”
The world’s a better place when we simply love, and forgive.