Infidelity is still taboo in 2021. Yet, since we’re here to break stigmas and normalize taboos, that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this post! After all, we’re all about creating a safe space for challenging conversations.
Our brave warrior today is Sherley Altidor. Sherley is a supermom who wears many hats! Indeed, she is a mom of two, a flight attendant, a lifestyle blogger, and an entrepreneur. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also hosts the Femme Naturelle podcast, providing guidance and encouragement for women from all walks of life who are reclaiming their power and rebuilding their relationships after a crisis.
Sherley has been with her partner for twenty-three years (she is not legally married because New Jersey doesn’t recognize common law marriage). During this time, she and her partner both experienced infidelity. Yep, they cheated on each other and are still together.
Therefore, the dynamic mom is always happy to share her story to help destigmatize cheating in relationships and empower women to be themselves and love themselves, no matter what.
Cheating Starts with Friendship
Sherley doesn’t believe in the ‘’once a cheater, always a cheater’’ adage. After all, human beings have animal instincts and try to fight them hard, being as humane, kind, and godly as possible. She also believes that cheating isn’t premeditated, meaning the first cheating act is never planned. Of course, if you are a serial cheater and constantly go back to this behavior, that’s a different story, but repeat offenders aren’t part of our conversation with Sherley today ;).
According to the young entrepreneur, cheating begins as an isolated incident when two people are friends and start building an emotional connection. It happens because this new person you’ve just met is bridging a gap or filling a hole in your relationship. They help you unwind and relax away from the stressful relationship at home, leading you to open up emotionally. While it’s tempting to let yourself go when feeling safe with someone else, there are ways to prevent these types of situations from occurring.
Indeed, as an example, Sherley explains that while taking someone’s phone number for work purposes is fine, you have to ask yourself what the real reason for you to take their phone number is. Do you actually need it for work?
Sometimes, we get ourselves in situations we can’t even explain. We think we’re not doing anything wrong by meeting up with someone or taking their phone number but remember that cheating never starts in a sexual way: it starts as a friendship.
The couple met when they were 15 and 16 years old and were originally friends with benefits.
The cheating started back in 2003 or 2004 for Sherley and lasted for a few years. She was not getting the attention she needed at home, and when she met a man, exchanged numbers, and heard all these amazing compliments from him, she got swept up in the excitement and went along with it. The cheating lasted about two years, and while she could have stopped after the first time, she made the conscious decision to keep going back. It took a long time for her to end this extra conjugal relationship because she felt like she was in limbo. She had a husband at home and this person who made her feel good and wanted to be with her. Keeping the affair hidden was difficult for Sherley, it ate her up inside and she found it very stressful throughout the whole period.
Sherley suspected her partner was being flirtatious with other women. Yet, she didn’t think he was cheating at the time and never associated her cheating with her partner. She is honest about the fact that she could have been open and communicated about her feelings or step away from the relationship. But instead, she decided to cheat, and is very clear that the choice was hers. She takes full accountability for it.
Sherley ended up telling her other half in 2006 after the cheating had stopped. She wasn’t scared to tell him but was wondering what his response was going to be. After all, she had successfully managed to keep the affair quiet for years thanks to her ‘’neat cheating’’ style. And naturally, her partner was taken aback when he learned about it. While confessing was difficult, she is happy she did.
Years after Sherley’s affair in 2012 and 2013, her partner started to cheat, with things getting sexual.
Going to Counseling
The couple had to go to counseling after Sherley’s partner cheated because his mistress fell pregnant. Indeed, this was more than a simple affair. It disrupted the equilibrium of Sherley’s family forever. Not only is Sherley affected, but her two children are also impacted, and so is the child born from the affair.
Sherley found out this woman was pregnant a few days after her birthday (surprise!) and went through depression. Her anger and pain didn’t derive from the cheating but rather from the fact that the mistress was pregnant, and her partner let it go this far. He wasn’t careful, and now that there is an attachment, they all have to deal with the consequences.
While movies show infidelity as this exciting, passionate sex thing between two people, when an issue like this arises, it becomes extremely messy, disrupts families and relationships. And this side of cheating is rarely discussed in society.
Therapy helped her a lot, and she wants to share some key things she learned for anyone in a similar position:
Ask yourself whether you really want to be with this person. In Sherley’s case, she took some time apart, and she realized she wanted to be with her partner regardless.
Forgiveness and respect are important, but they have to happen for your healing, not for theirs.
You have to be strong, keep yourself grounded with whatever works for you (reading, meditation, etc.), and be in a healthy mental state in order to handle something like this. Some days are harder than others. As a result, you need to figure out how to get through those hard days.
At the end of the day, remember that everyone has a story and carries their own baggage, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about yours. Don’t stay a prisoner of your past and share your story as much as you can because it can help others. Sherley shares her story because she hopes it will help at least one person.
You should also remember that infidelity has been around forever and will continue. Therefore, don’t live in an unrealistic world, trying to create the perfect partner in your head because he or she might not be real. Try not to lose yourself in your relationship. You never know whether infidelity will happen to you, so all you can do is try to figure out how to be your best self and live your life to the fullest.
If you would like to reach out to Sherley, you can also find her on Instagram.