Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “How Can I Move Past His Cyber Cheating?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’ve been in a very awkward relationship with a man for eight years now. It started with us just being sex buddies then it turned into something more. We dated for about two years then broke up because I was expecting him to cheat on me all the time and I would compare him to my father, who cheated on my mother. We both knew we couldn’t move on so we kept seeing each other with a plan intact.

The plan was that because I had previous sexual relationships with other men due to my promiscuity before I dated him and he was a virgin when we got together, that he would go off and be with other women and then after that he would be over that pain and we would get married. Foolishly, I agreed because I love him so much. Well, six years passed and for a few weeks I had a gut feeling that something was going on with him. He seemed more sneaky and distant than what he normally was. So, yesterday morning I took the liberty to look through his phone, which I knew was wrong but I also knew he was hiding something. I read a couple of cybersex messages that he had been having with a few women in an online game chat room. I blew up and threw him out.

All night I was reluctant to speak to him or to listen to his side of the story because I didn’t want to give in to him until today. We had a conversation laying everything out on the table and I let him know that I’m not okay with him doing what he did and that I feel like I’ve been wasting all these years on him. He’s been putting my life on pause. He’s telling me that he wants to work things out and that after talking to his mother he realizes that it was unfair to have me wait on the sidelines for him. Hearing him say that is a relief for me because I thought I couldn’t tell him how I really felt because then he would leave.

After a long conversation he came up with a plan that we start fresh from the beginning not bringing up each other’s pasts anymore and starting over as a brand new couple. He says that he is now ready for a committed relationship and that as long as we both try to work on our own issues individually then we can come together, take baby steps and make it work. My question is that this is such a unique situation because technically we were not dating and he wasn’t physically cheating but it feels like it is. I’m conflicted on how to move past this infidelity and on how to overcome my trust issues with him as a man. Please help me. — Puzzled and Heartbroken

88 comments… add one
  • avatar

    melanie September 19, 2011, 3:10 pm

    “He’s been putting my life on pause.” Hun, only you have the power to do this. If you would just MOA, you’d be in charge.

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  • thatswhat-she

    Meg September 19, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I guess I’m not clear on how he was “cheating” if you are not dating anyway- is it that you have ok’ed physical relationships (so he can “sow his oats”) but you don’t like the fact that he was hiding this from you?

    The thing is, all of those details seem kind of irrelevant to me. You said right in your letter that you have trouble trusting men because of what you saw in your parents’ marriage- but you don’t seem to have ever addressed that. You tried to come up with a plan so that you could control everything- you don’t have to trust him to be committed to you because you’ve orchestrated pre-approved dalliances. Did he ever say he wanted to experience other women, or was that something you projected? It seems like he’s sort of living up to the role that you created for him.

    I can pick out several things in your letter that trouble me (“we knew we couldn’t move on,” you “couldn’t tell him how (you) really felt because then he would leave,” “he’s been putting (my) life on pause,” but it all boils down to the fact that you clearly aren’t ok and secure on your own. A person can’t be a good partner until he or she can stand on his or her own two feet. It sounds like you’ve gone through a lot in your life- now it’s time to go through the hard work with a therapist so that you can come out stronger for it. Only then will you be able to have a healthy relationship.

    I know it’s scary, but this is a journey you have to make alone.

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  • avatar

    YouGoGirl September 19, 2011, 3:17 pm

    So the LW’s plan was that they would continue to be sex buddies while he was allowed to see other women, which she hoped would lead to marriage. Now she has discovered that he has indeed been seeing other women and she is very upset, even though this was what she agreed to. She also blames him for the fact that she put your life on hold for six years waiting for him to decide that she was the woman he wants to marry.

    I feel very sad for the LW because she has such a low opinion of herself. She is also deeply ashamed of having sex with other men before she met her sex buddy. I want to tell the LW that she is worth so much more than to have a sex buddy who wants to engage in cybersex. She deserves a real boyfriend. My advice to her is to dump this bum.

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  • avatar

    HelloJello September 19, 2011, 3:21 pm

    8 years is a long time to be in limbo… and he wants to take “baby steps” moving forward. It just sounds like more of the same. MOA and find someone who you can actually express your needs and wants to

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  • avatar

    SGMcG September 19, 2011, 3:25 pm

    I have HUGE issues with your “sex buddy” saying that because you had experience, while he was a virgin, he has to go off and be with other women first before you two got married. No no no no. A REAL man wouldn’t care about your history, he would only care about making you happy and wanting to be with you. Who you slept with in the past is not a checklist to be compared with your partner – how you’ll be treated is more important.

    From the start of your arrangement, your sex buddy of 8 years has treated you like something from the side – not as the equal partner you deserve to have. Nevermind about the fact that you have trust issues from your cheating father. Don’t excuse the fact that what your sex buddy did was not cheating because “it’s just cybersex”. You don’t want to have an open relationship with your sex buddy? That’s fine. You should have let him go accordingly and stopped giving him all those benefits from the start if you feel that way.

    So your sex buddy is NOW ready for a committed relationship? Well, fuck him…or in this case Unfuck him. He wasn’t a very considerate sex buddy to begin with, by stringing your emotions from the start. Do you think he’ll be as supportive as an emotional partner since he obviously feels that “quantity of experience” equates to “quality of relationship”? I’m guessing NO – considering how much of a dick he is now.

    A good sex buddy is not only Good, Giving and Game for anything, they’re also very careful to leave a person’s body, heart and soul in as good condition (or BETTER!) as they found it. A sex buddy should take very good care of your emotions. Your sex buddy, is a BAD sex buddy – and please DTMFA.

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    • avatar

      HelloJello September 19, 2011, 3:52 pm

      And he’s not even actually ready to be in a committed relationship, he wants to slowly work towards a maybe hypothetical in a few years relationship.

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    • avatar

      honeybeenicki September 19, 2011, 4:26 pm

      I think “Unfuck him” should be the new way to say MOA 🙂

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    • avatar

      kali September 20, 2011, 2:16 pm

      THANK YOU!! Who says partners have to have equal experience? And who gets to measure what’s equal??

      LW has given all the power to this man and now he’s come up with a new plan for them. I hope she wakes up and takes back her own power and decides FOR HERSELF what will work for them/her going forward.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG September 19, 2011, 3:25 pm

    PLEASE REMOVE – DOUBLE POST.

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  • avatar

    The_Yellow_Dart September 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Are you really sure you want to be in a relationship with this man? When your gut is telling you something, you should listen! Personally, I wouldn’t want to continue a relationship with someone who had cheated on me for six years, someone I could no longer trust. MOA from the relationship, and talk to someone about the residual issues you seem to have regarding your father’s infidelity.

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  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl September 19, 2011, 3:38 pm

    LW, please consider therapy. I know, I know, we are quick to throw out the “get therapy” card around here, but if ever someone needed it, it’s you. You admit to having trust issues, but you hung around with a guy for EIGHT YEARS because you made an “agreement” to get married after he’d had an opportunity to go out and bang randoms? Not to mention you refer to your “promiscuity” before meeting this guy in a way that makes me think you feel very guilty about it. You gave this guy carte blanche to go out and screw around, and now you’re upset that he did?

    I don’t mean to seem harsh, but you seriously need to get some help, if only to work out these trust issues you’re having. And frankly, I think you need to MOA from this weird, mutually-resentful relationship you’re in. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you NOW, not “in a few years when I’ve slept with as many people as you.”

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    • avatar

      Vathena September 20, 2011, 11:41 am

      The “promiscuity” comment caught my eye, too. What, a girl’s not allowed to have intimate relationships? It sounds as though she worried about him cheating, then gave him permission to cheat, because he was being a jerkwad about her sexual history and constantly talking about wanting to bang other chicks to “catch up”. Having had sex does not necessarily make one “promiscuous”. Man, this letter makes my head spin. EIGHT years?! I’m glad everyone else has something intelligent to say in the comments, ’cause I can’t make heads or tails of it. Oh, but if just one extra suggestion will make the difference: THERAPY!

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  • avatar

    amber September 19, 2011, 3:46 pm

    oh lw i feel like you need a hug and for someone to tell you that you’re worth more than you have let yourself believe and worth more than your bf/sex buddy/planner has made you to feel. you waited around 6 years while he got over your promiscuity from befor he met you? did you have any part in these plans or did you just go along with them? i just don’t see how this relationship will ever be healthy for either of you. rather than learn to forgive him you need to learn to forgive yourself for the promiscuity you obviously feel somewhat bad about and move on. find someone who really wants to be with you. but, maybe before that learn to be happy and to love yourself. if you can do it on your own great, but it seems like you definitely might benefit from some therapy. to help learn to love yourself again and to get over the fear of cheating and the resentment you obivously still hold against your father.

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  • becboo84

    BecBoo84 September 19, 2011, 3:49 pm

    My now husband was an inexperienced virgin when we met, while I had a few serious relationships under my belt. However, if that had been an issue for him, I can guarantee you that now, 6.5 years later, he wouldn’t be my husband, but some dude I dated for a month or two back in college. Seriously, please, MOA, and a find a good therapist who can help you get over the guilt and lack of trust that seem to be dominating your life.

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  • avatar

    dr bro September 19, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Heh, like that movie.

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    • avatar

      soandso September 19, 2011, 4:15 pm

      what movie?

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  • avatar

    Bethany September 19, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Wow… That’s really all that I can think of to say. There are a bunch of parts of your letter that really confuse me, but this specifically:

    “The plan was that because I had previous sexual relationships with other men due to my promiscuity before I dated him and he was a virgin when we got together, that he would go off and be with other women and then after that he would be over that pain and we would get married.”

    Seriously??? You realize that he talked you into agreeing to let him bang whoever he wanted while somehow making you think that you weren’t worthy of him. What kind of a man does that? And why would you want to be with someone like that.

    I’m not even going to address the “cyber cheating”, because I don’t need to. MOA. You need to spend some time getting to know yourself and what you want/value in a partner.

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  • avatar

    cookiesandcream September 19, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Wow, that’s a really confusing letter.

    Anyway, I get the feeling that the LW and the boyfriend are, in a way, addicted to each other. After reading this letter, it seems like they’re so wrong for each other but they’re willing to cling to the relationship, regardless of the cost, because they don’t know how to function outside of their relationship. Even though the LW threw out her boyfriend after finding the chats, she says that she “didn’t want to give into him until today.” It sounds like she’s been resisting him and then she just gave into all of her feelings.

    I definitely agree with all the posters who have suggested therapy. LW, are you trying to cling to him so you can undo all the pain your father’s infidelity has caused you? Are you afraid to move on from him because your real fear is that this is your only chance at love? Do you want to be in a relationship with him just so you don’t feel like you wasted your time with him? Is your fear of loneliness overriding your need for a functional relationship? There’s at least a little something that you’re gaining from this relationship, LW. Try to figure out what that is to see why it is that you’re still with him.

    To be honest, I really don’t think you love him. If you really did love him, then you wouldn’t feel relief when he tells you that he thinks it’s unfair for you to wait for him. Even though he says that as long as you two work on your own issues individually, I strongly believe that the two of you need to figure out your own issues without being in a relationship. If you two continue to remain in a relationship where you both need help, then it’s a recipe for disaster.

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  • avatar

    emjay September 19, 2011, 4:20 pm

    All I got outta this letter is that the relationship is completely unhealthy and unstable and she needs to MOA.

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  • avatar

    emjay September 19, 2011, 4:22 pm

    All I got outta this letter is that the relationship is completely unhealthy and unstable and she needs to MOA. BTW, is anyone else having data connection problems with the site today?

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    • avatar

      emjay September 19, 2011, 4:41 pm

      Sorry for the repeat msgs! Like I said, was having some connection problems! 🙂

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    • avatar

      MissDre September 19, 2011, 4:42 pm

      Yeah, I keep getting database connection errors. I have to reload like 5 times every time I refresh the page.

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      • avatar

        Eljay September 19, 2011, 5:15 pm

        Ditto.

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        MsMisery September 20, 2011, 10:10 am

        I can’t click on any thumbs.

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        plasticepoxy September 20, 2011, 11:47 am

        I’ve gotten database connection errors every day since last Friday. Obviously not consistently, but definitely everyday. Yesterday I received an error almost every time I refreshed a page to check for new comments.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey September 19, 2011, 3:24 pm

    Wow. This is one of the most confusing and convoluted DW letters I’ve ever read. But thankfully, I didn’t need to grasp the entirety of the timeline to understand EXACTLY what you need to do, LW.

    You know how I know you need to move on? You started your letter with this sentence: “I’ve been in a very awkward relationship with a man for eight years now.” So, instead of being in a relationship for 8 years based on mutual love, trust, passion, shared goals and values, etc., you’ve been with someone (off and on, it seems) for EIGHT YEARS, and it’s been…awkward? Not the most heartening word, to say the least.

    You know how I know you need to move on? Because you uttered this sentence: “The plan was that because I had previous sexual relationships…he was a virgin when we got together, that he would go off and be with other women and then after that he would be over that pain.” So, once again, instead of building a relationship based on love, trust, passion, shared goals and values, etc., you agreed to get married after this guy banged out a whole lot of women, because he was totes jealz that you had banged out other dudes. It might be the understatement of the century to call that…immature.

    You know how I know you need to move on? You said, “I thought I couldn’t tell him how I really felt because then he would leave.” So, instead of building solid communication and understanding with your partner, you were afraid to say what you really thought and felt because then he might leave you. That, in a word, reflects extreme insecurity.

    LW, please move on. Please!! Neither of you are mature enough to be in a serious, committed relationship. Neither of you have the slightest idea what a serious, committed relationship even IS. You’ve been wasting YEARS in an extremely unhealthy situation. A good, healthy relationship is the opposite of what you described. It’s based on love, trust, honest communication, and does NOT entail manipulation, cheating, and wasting years of your life clinging to someone who doesn’t really want you, and enjoys using you. Cut this loser out of your life. And though I say this to a few LWs from time to time, I’ve never meant this more than I do now: PLEASE go to a therapist. You need to investigate, in a healthy manner, how you could allow yourself to go through something like this for EIGHT YEARS.

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    • avatar

      soandso September 19, 2011, 4:13 pm

      Great advice!!!!!

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    • avatar

      Buzzelbee September 19, 2011, 4:30 pm

      I fully agree!! And can not agree enough that going to a therapist is needed. You can’t be a partner in a healthy relationship until you have delt with whatever it is that allowed this situation to continue for so long.

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    • avatar

      Buzzelbee September 19, 2011, 4:30 pm

      I fully agree!! And can not agree enough that going to a therapist is needed. You can’t be a partner in a healthy relationship until you have delt with whatever it is that allowed this situation to continue for so long.

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    • katie

      katie September 19, 2011, 8:28 pm

      can we please make “you know how I know you neeed to MOA?” a regular thing here?!

      it reminds me of the 40-year old virgin (i think) where the guys are playing video games they go back and forth with “you know how I know your gay” and one of the answers is “you listen to coldplay”. god that was funny.

      i vote this being a new thing here. it would be epic!

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      • avatar

        ReginaRey September 19, 2011, 9:29 pm

        Kate, I was totally thinking of that scene the whole time I wrote this! 🙂

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      • katie

        katie September 19, 2011, 10:39 pm

        haha- im glad i got the joke

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    • avatar

      caroline September 20, 2011, 7:12 am

      What a great advice, once again. I always love to read your comments ReginaRey!
      Thank you for your website Wendy!

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    • avatar

      6napkinburger September 20, 2011, 12:20 pm

      Oh! Is that what the “pain” reference was to. That LW’s BF(?) was in pain because he was a virgin and she was not, so by bomping others, he would get over that pain. Did not get that, thanks for clarifying.

      While it may be a little mean to say, this letter made zero sense to me and I hope its a fake. (I know, calling out “fake” isn’t helpful, and ive never done it before, and don’t plan to again.) But all the letters today seem so over-the-top, off-the-deep-end wacky, I honestly thought Miles was answering columns again; I had to check the picture.

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      • KKZ

        Pankakes September 22, 2011, 9:17 am

        I love how you say “bomping” for sex. That has to be my new favorite word. 🙂

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    • KKZ

      Pankakes September 22, 2011, 9:27 am

      You had me until “totes jealz.” The rest of your post is so well-written and you generally articulate yourself very well, and I agree with everything you’re saying. But you had to go throw in those two non-words (well, totes is a word, but when I see it I always think of tote bags, not “totally) which, to me, devalued your very valuable message. It’s nothing personal against you, I admire and respect the advice you usually give. You’re very level-headed, and like I said, articulate. You put so much thought into everything else that you write, it surprised me to see you use that kind of language. (I’m a writer so I probably pay more attention to word choice than most.)
      So forgive my rant, this is just a pet peeve. I blame Justin Bieber. This trend seemed to start at the same time everyone started calling him Biebs – all of a sudden, it’s okay to shorten a word to one syllable and add an s and it becomes cute. Ugh. If someone ever said “totes adorbs” to me, out loud, in person, I would have to restrain myself from reflexively smacking them.

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  • Lyra

    L September 19, 2011, 4:34 pm

    I had to read the letter about five times and I’m STILL not sure if I understand it completely…

    Here’s what it boils down to: you two started a “sex buddy” relationship and then agreed that he needed to go off and get more experience before you wanted to marry him. That in itself confuses me. If you truly to marry this man, spend your ENTIRE life with him and (I’d assume) be sexually exclusive with him, why did you chase him off to go be with other women? You basically told him that you aren’t good enough for him and he should find something better somewhere else. And then later you go through his messages and find that he’s been talking to someone else and sending her sexy messages…when you basically TOLD him he should go and see other women??? Mixed messages. That’s a mega and unfortunate hole you dug yourself into, hun.

    My dear, you are wasting your time. I can guarantee that even if you try to “start over” with him, you won’t be able to because of your extensive (and confusing) history with this man. It appears to me that this relationship or friendship or whatever this is means more to you than it does to him. Cut your losses and start over with someone else who actually DESERVES you and loves you how you deserve to be loved. You ARE worth it. There are plenty of wonderful guys out there who will treat you well. Don’t keep your life on hold for this jerk.

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  • landygirl

    Landygirl September 19, 2011, 5:18 pm

    *Bangs head on the keyboard*

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  • avatar

    AKchic September 19, 2011, 5:34 pm

    *shakes her head*
    He was a virgin when you two had sex. You knocked boots for two years, then you allowed him to knock boots with other women for 6 years because you were afraid he was going to cheat on you partially because he was jealous of YOUR experience. And he had to talk to his MOTHER to figure out that he wanted a relationship with you?

    *bangs her head on the desk*

    Please stop wasting your life with this guy. Please go find some self esteem. Please stop comparing all men with your cheating father. Yes, statistically, females tend to date men that remind them of their fathers, but once you recognize that in yourself you CAN actively strive to avoid it and make HEALTHY choices (should your parents’ relationship not be a healthy one to emulate).
    He’s draining you, and honestly, you are draining yourself.

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    • avatar

      moonflowers September 20, 2011, 2:16 am

      “Yes, statistically, females tend to date men that remind them of their fathers, but once you recognize that in yourself you CAN actively strive to avoid it and make HEALTHY choices.”

      You don’t have to be enslaved to your past. You have free will, a brain capable of making complex decisions, and the self-interest to act in a way that benefits you – use all of these to break out of this self-defeating prison. You can only stay stuck as long as you refuse to confront these issues head on.

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  • avatar

    HmC September 19, 2011, 5:38 pm

    Stop seeing this man cold turkey and go to therapy.

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  • avatar

    EB September 19, 2011, 5:41 pm

    “My question is that this is such a unique situation because technically we were not dating and he wasn’t physically cheating…”

    Please replace “unique” with “ridiculous”. I think people are being far too nice. Both you and this dude need to GROW THE FUCK UP and not as a couple.

    Reality Check:

    1) It’s not an 8 year relationship if you were technically not dating for 6 of them.

    2) It’s not cheating if you are not technically dating especially if you concoct a plan for him to go sleep with other women

    3)Your Awkward Relationship Partner (ARP) probably shouldn’t pull the “virginity is a special treasure” card since he gave his up to a fuck buddy

    4)ARP’s plan to get over the “pain” demonstrates he’s disappointed… not that you’ve slept with other people, but that he hasn’t

    5) If your biggest fear is him getting involved with another woman, then don’t agree to an open relationship geared around his need to “get past the pain” aka have sex with other women!

    6) ARP said he wanted to have sex with other people you gave him the green light? Why are you surprised/upset that he is pursued this? Was agreeing to an open relationship just your way of testing him?

    7)”He seemed more sneaky and distant than what he normally was…”. Your usage of the word “more” is a red flag in and of itself

    8)His MOTHER had to be the one to finally point out that 6 years was a ridiculous amount of time to spend “not technically dating” a person.

    9)Does ARP’s mother also know why you guys are “not technically dating” aka his plan to sex away the pain? I think she probably does(which is creepy) as he seems to discuss your relationship more with her than you

    10)”He’s been putting my life on pause”. You need to start looking for alternate sources of fulfillment and purpose. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your partner is, you should not be solely dependent on another person to define YOUR LIFE.

    11) People in healthy relationships don’t break up in order to get married

    Please consider focusing your energy on independent, personal growth instead of attempting to salvage this train-wreck of relationship. I am sorry LW but you seem majorly in denial about the extreme dysfunction of this situation.

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    • avatar

      lk September 19, 2011, 6:38 pm

      “his plan to sex away the pain?”

      Singing Peaches now…Still massively confused about this letter, but my advice to LW is to make herself a really great, empowering mix-CD & go for a run & delete that guy’s # from her phone because of reasons 1-11 enumerated above.

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey September 19, 2011, 5:57 pm

      This is exactly what I attempted to say, only much more badass. I love hit. Also, I didn’t even SEE #7 amidst that quagmire of ridiculousness that was her letter. “More distant and sneaky than usual” makes him sound like a real winner!

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      • avatar

        EB September 20, 2011, 7:40 am

        Haha, when a letter is frustrating/ridiculous, I’ll write what first pops into my mind. Then I will read it back and realize it sounds REALLY harsh so I will USUALLY take a few minutes to tone it down a bit and revise a few things to sound slightly more constructive.

        However, since I needed to read this letter THREE different times to even get a basic premise of what had gone down in these eight years of lunacy, I was feeling decidedly less charitable towards this LW; so she got my uncensored take 😉

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    • avatar

      MissChievous September 19, 2011, 8:10 pm

      Also, why is this dude making all the plans? Where is her input in all this?

      LW, whenever you find yourself saying “I went along with it because I love(d) him”, chances are you’re getting screwed one way or another.

      Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t move on, it’s because you don’t *want* to move on. So, MOA.

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    • avatar

      Vathena September 20, 2011, 12:02 pm

      The LW needs to DTMFA, then print out this list and pin it to all of her clothes as a constant reminder not to take the MF back.

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  • avatar

    Princess Bananahammock September 19, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Wow. I guess I’m not that surprised that you came up with this weird plan to marry after he slept around a bit. I could see two really young, immature people coming up with this arrangement. I am, however, completely shocked that this went on for SIX YEARS without one of you recognizing that it was madness and walking away.

    Listen, if he really wanted to marry you, he would have stopped all of this years ago to be just with you. That doesn’t mean that you are deficient. This is just a seriously effed up situation. It is not salvageable at this point. Walk away completely so that you can move on.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie September 19, 2011, 5:09 pm

    Six years is a long time to invest in a relationship but the fact of him being a virgin when you started counts for something. I’m not saying it’s an excuse, especially given that you put 4 years into the relationship. Those first 2 were merely exploration. Your expectation of him pursuing other experiences is realistic at least for the first 2 years. After that it gets pretty shaky or worse. You’ve gone through some tough times with this but there must have been some good times also. If you can both bare your souls to eliminate all the skeletons in both closets and you can both honestly want to continue as a couple it should work out just fine. Set your doubts aside see if you both can agree to being completely exclusive for the long haul. Nobody can foresee 50 years down the road but 5-10 is very possible if you start off clean. You can plan to succeed but there’s no guarantees. If you plan to fail your fears will surly be realized.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow September 19, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I feel bad for the LW. I think what happened was that she was SO concerned about him cheating (due to her parents’ relationship) that she sabotaged her relationship with her partner. For some reason, they couldn’t let each other go, so she gave him PERMISSION to do what she most feared (possibly due to a fatalistic attitude, thinking it was inevitable anyway, so why not just “let” him do it, right?). My guess is that she thought he would “get it out of his system” and then he would come back to her, she would be reassured that his “oats were sowed” (thus alleviating her fear of cheating at least somewhat) and they would live happily ever after. Now, after SIX YEARS, they still aren’t “together”, he obviously hasn’t gotten it “out of his system”, AND she has proof that he’s been involved with other women – it’s no longer just a hypothetical.

    (At least that’s what I got out of it – the letter was definitely confusing).

    The cyber-sex thing was the catalyst to get the LW to FINALLY start a conversation with her pseudo-partner about the status of their pseudo-relationship- and FINALLY she heard from him what she’s wanted to hear all along – and now FINALLY I think it’s dawning on her that she can’t continue on with this guy (ironic). And while I do think that the cybersex thing technically shouldn’t be an issue because it was part of their “plan” that he could see other people, I definitely see how it stings for the LW because like I said, now there is proof, she can’t unsee it… AND she probably thought that after SIX FREAKING YEARS he would have been done getting back at her for having more sex partners than him when they met. (As an aside, LW – don’t feel bad about your past “promiscuity” and don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty about it. It’s in the past).

    I always try to see things from all points of view. I’ve clung to “relationships” or the hope of a guy coming around and realizing that we are meant to be together, but not for SIX YEARS. I think after that amount of time, LW, you don’t know what a healthy relationship is SUPPOSED to feel like!

    My advice is to break it off with this guy COMPLETELY – no more “plans” with no definite end date – no more plans PERIOD. Cut him out of your life. Get therapy. Find out what you want out of a relationship, find out what you want out of a partner, and then get out there and look for it. Don’t settle for less. It’s not going to be easy, but I think this is SO NECESSARY for you. Once you find someone who truly meets your needs, something will click inside your head and you will GET IT. I’m sure you love this guy, but don’t waste any more time on him. Learn from your past mistakes, and learn how to communicate your needs. You CAN find a relationship that is truly fulfilling, if you put forth some effort and give yourself some credit.

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    Caroline September 19, 2011, 7:59 pm

    Wow. Okay, even I only clung to my first guy/whatever for two and a half years before finally thinking, ‘What the FUCK am I doing??? Longing for some fucktard guy who will never make me his girlfriend?” The good thing about that, though – right when I realized how stupid I was being, I found my current boyfriend, who I have been dating for a year and a half now and love dearly. I can’t believe the LW never took a moment to stop and think about her situation.

    Also, I really, really, REALLY hope this guy wasn’t the only person she was sleeping with or seeing. Because then that’s really sad. Not only did she waste eight years of her life on such a tool, but she didn’t even meet any truly wonderful guys.

    Seriously, LW, I can tell you want a better relationship, and you DESERVE a better relationship. Don’t settle for something that you obviously don’t want that will make you miserable. My advice? Don’t assume that all men will be like your father. Seriously, if you think that, then you will never, EVER be happy in any relationship. Trust me, not all men are fucktards. Some men are actually nice and cool and WANT TO BE WITH YOU. They love you enough to NOT EVEN CONSIDER CHEATING ON YOU. Love? He doesn’t love you. He would have committed to you if he loved you.

    It’s not too late. You can change your life. You can be happy. It might take a while (don’t give up) but it will happen. You just have to believe in yourself.

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  • katie

    katie September 19, 2011, 8:36 pm

    “The plan was that because I had previous sexual relationships with other men due to my promiscuity before I dated him and he was a virgin when we got together, that he would go off and be with other women and then after that he would be over that pain and we would get married. ”

    this bothers me in so many different ways, I cant even articulate it.

    you need to break this off, and not date until your work on yourself for a little bit. grow up, get some self esteem, and find a decent man for a partner instead of some idiot that feels that your were a. promiscuous and b. that he was “missing out” because he was virgin… omg.

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    lets_be_honest September 19, 2011, 8:38 pm

    If only all dirtbag men who want to get it on with women while they have girlfriends/wives came up with the “I have to sex the pain away” excuse…LW stop believing this craziness. Good god!

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    Nick September 19, 2011, 9:16 pm

    Oh dear. Puzzled & Heartbroken, I think I at least understand why you’re so puzzled: From what you describe, your relationship is built upon a few rotten ideas.

    I’m going to take a contrary view here and try to see the potential for a good future. Unless I’m missing something, there doesn’t seem to be any abuse or other real deal-breakers here that would preclude your having a good match for each other.

    First of all, clearly you need a reset. Accept that this whole “he goes out and screws around to make up for your prior promiscuity” plan was a profoundly bad idea. Acknowledge the mistake, and RESET.

    His cyber sex messaging you found, well, you gave him the license to do this stuff, so again, acknowledge the mistake, and hit the RESET button.

    You may be able to have a good successful relationship if you put a GOOD SOLID SET OF NEW RULES in place. A lot of people find that mutually agreed upon monogamy is rule #1. Of course, not everyone does, but you did say marriage was a long-term goal and your instinct was to try to avoid “cheating.”

    Try starting out with that as rule #1 and with rule #2 being that you have a timeline for either getting engaged or deciding not to. Maybe, set this soft deadline at 365 days. That way, you will not allow things to drag out a long time again.
    1. Acknowledge your prior mutual folly.
    2. Hit the RESET button.
    3. Institute new rules a) monogamy b) marriage-direction, c) soft deadline for getting engaged.

    And see if it works. You don’t necessarily have to follow everyone else’s advice here and move on. Bad ground-rules are a big part of where this all went wrong. People can grow up and people can evolve, especially with a little help from their loved ones.

    Good luck!

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      ReginaRey September 19, 2011, 9:36 pm

      Nick, I applaud you for your kindness and patience. But I must HEARTILY disagree with you when you say: “There doesn’t seem to be any abuse or other real deal-breakers here that would preclude your having a good match for each other.” On the contrary, I think there are MANY things in this letter that show me that they are a terrible match. For starters, the letter writer is in no place, as an individual, to have a serious, committed relationship. She has some deep insecurities that have led her to attach herself to someone who has shown over over EIGHT YEARS that he doesn’t love her. That kind of self-disrespect and co-dependence is TOTALLY unhealthy, and would preclude her from having a healthy relationship with ANYONE.

      Not to mention, this guy is also in no place to be in a serious relationship. He reeks of immaturity, manipulation, and seems to be pretty content walking all over the LW (while she allows it, of course). He’s had eight years to love her, respect her, treat her like an equal. She’s had eight years to realize that he’s never going to. For God’s sake, don’t suggest that she waste ANY more time on this loser. She needs to take care of herself by getting to therapy, and getting far away from this black hole of a relationship.

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        Nick September 20, 2011, 2:12 am

        You may be right Regina. I kept thinking, they may be in no place for a relationship, but maybe also they are equally suited for each other that way. I started thinking like everyone else, then I just thought: what about that 8 years? There must be a LOT there that didn’t come out in the letter that draws them to each other. That, and today I felt like I just needed to find the bright side of something. I mean, this is their life, their love. But I hear you.

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        ReginaRey September 20, 2011, 8:12 am

        You may be right that there could be something drawing them to eachother for over 8 years. But from the tone of this letter, it seems that what’s drawing them together more than anything is the letter writer’s unwillingness to move on. She’s addicted to this relationship, I think, and that’s why I’m so determined that she move on and get some help!

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    Lindsay September 19, 2011, 9:46 pm

    I’m not even going to get into the facets of this situation. It’s time to move on. He has not been putting your life on hold; you have. It’s problematic enough when people wait on men who will never come around for a year or two, but eight years is a must-run situation. Any man who has not proven himself to be worthy of your companionship in eight years (and really, much less than that) will never be. You sound like a loyal, dedicated and loving person who deserves someone like you. Don’t waste all that on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

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    kf September 19, 2011, 11:19 pm

    This thread is filled with odes to what a great and wonderful person LW is, all of which I find baffling.

    Let’s review:

    * They date for two years; they break up because “I was expecting him to cheat on me all the time and I would compare him to my father”. On my scorecard this looks like 100% LW’s fault, and 0% the guy’s.

    * They then concoct a plan by which he’ll go screw whoever he wants, which she agrees to “because I love him so much”. Barf.

    * He then semi-lives up to the plan, by cyber-screwing whoever he wants to.

    * She then finds this out by snooping on his phone

    * She then throws him out, for having the chutzpah to do what she agreed he could do, druring a time that “technically we weren’t dating”.

    Sure she should dump him, but if the guy were here I’d advise him to get the heck away from her too. What a mess all around.

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    Turtledove September 20, 2011, 12:20 am

    Oh honey, I don’t know whether I should hug you or slap you.

    Here’s the thing, once upon a time, in a land far far away, I was you. Or close enough. So I get it. I was 20 and dating a guy who couldn’t make up his mind. He says he loves me, but then he tells me that this other woman (who is married btw) is his soul-mate. We’d been dating for 3 years and in my mind, anything that hurt this badly had to be important. It was a relationship filled with glorious highs and almost equally glorious lows. It’s addictive as all get out. And if you come from a household where you didn’t learn what real love looks like, it feels enough like what you read about in books or see on TV that it’s easy to mistake– because whatever else it may be, it’s passionate. He broke up with me by letter, on my birthday and I thought I would die. I was sure I couldn’t live without him, I was sure I couldn’t move on. But guess what, the world did not, in fact, end.

    So here’s my guess about you, LW, between your father and this guy, you wouldn’t know love if somebody whacked you with it. You’ve been living dysfunction for 8 years and it’s high time you broke the cycle. You think you love this guy, you may actually love him- but being with him means you don’t love yourself. Your letter screams of insecurity, you’re so afraid of being alone, yet this relationship hurts you so badly that you’re trying to control every single aspect. But here’s the thing, you can’t control other people and you can’t control relationships like that. You have to be able to let go and trust that if you fall that you’ll be fine anyway. This man can’t give you that. Only you can give you that. Him banging some other chicks to make your numbers “equal” won’t fix anything, getting married definitely won’t fix anything, staying with this guy won’t fix anything. Because here’s the thing, LW, YOU are the one who is broken. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. I’ve been there, and looking at it from the other side, I was broken and anything I did in a relationship to try to fix it was just putting a band-aid on a ruptured artery.

    So, please, get out of this relationship and cut off contact. It will probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, it will probably feel like cutting off a limb– but you’ve got to cut it off. Then get a therapist, or a priest, or an oracle… you need someone to mentor you for a while and help you pick up your pieces. But this can be fixed and it does get better. Not all men are like this guy and not all men are like your father. But until you can trust yourself and be secure with yourself, you will only attract broken men.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow September 20, 2011, 10:49 am

      I love this response. It shows compassion and understanding and also gives excellent advice. I completely agree with: “between your father and this guy, you wouldn’t know love if somebody whacked you with it. You’ve been living dysfunction for 8 years and it’s high time you broke the cycle.” That’s exactly what I was thinking… she’s been in this for SO LONG that she really doesn’t know what a healthy relationship looks like – and she may have never known if she never saw a good one modeled for her. So often, people cling to those that they “love” – but love is not enough, unfortunately, to make a relationship work. It’s time for her to learn that lesson and move on.

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      thyme September 21, 2011, 6:36 pm

      “You have to be able to let go and trust that if you fall that you’ll be fine anyway.”

      This might be my new favorite quote.

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    Eljay September 20, 2011, 9:46 am

    THIS!!! Thank you, Turtledove for sharing your story. It sounds quite painful and heartwrenching, but that was the one thing lacking in prior posts – the “I’ve been there, survived and a better person for it” perspective. I hope LW prints your post, read/re-read & take every word to heart. Hang in there, LW, take the advice of these wonderfully thoughtful, intelligent, experienced DW commenters and MOA with a swiftness. Take care of you and good luck to you.

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    Puzzled and heartbroken September 20, 2011, 12:21 pm

    Thank you all for your responses. Like some of you are saying, there is a lot more going on. Yes I do have my own insecurities of being overweight and I was born with a cleft palate so I don’t look like the average girl. But I do have to say that this guy and myself have had many good times with each other. He helped me reunite with my mother and I helped him reunite with his mother. We’ve enjoyed many wonderful moments together, vacations, birthdays, christmases, etc. Many good memories that would make me look past our problems. He’s always had trouble showing affection so that was always a big problem. But now, after this indiscretion things have changed A LOT with him. So much that I don’t even know how to handle it! We are currently living together and have been for financial reasons for the past 2 years. He’s gone from saying he wants to be with other people to let’s be BF and GF because he says he wants to show me the love and respect that I deserve. He’s telling me that he should have never put me in that situation of waiting for him and that he wants us to move forward to have a future together! He’s been showering me with tremendous amounts of affection and love that it takes me by surprise when he suddenly kisses me. Our agreement from before was that he would date other women once we were living separately and in my head I always knew that the time would come when that would happen so I would use that against him all the time. We use to fight almost every week, big arguments on how I felt that he doesn’t love me and that we don’t get along. But for some reason we always would move pass it. It’s been exactly 2 weeks since this has happened and i know I want to seek outside help from someone to help me get over my own trust issues. I want to start fresh with him because I feel like he is my other half. Our families have seen our love for many years since when he asked my father permission to date me, and they’re all rooting for us to work on our communication together. I really do feel like this will work and he’s telling me the same thing but only if I can get over my own trust issues first. What I would want is for him to move out eventually and me work on my own insecurities and communication problems so that we can really start fresh and start building a healthy relationship. I know he’s a good guy because that’s how he was when we were dating and he’s showing me that side again. I’m hoping everything will turn out magnificently well. 

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    Puzzled and heartbroken September 20, 2011, 12:53 pm

    Oh yeah, and when I said prosmescurity what I meant was that I was a very rebellious teenager and didn’t believe in love so I banged 7 guys in the span of 2 weeks before I got with my current guy and they were all his friends and he was there to witness one. 🙁 so yes I do feel guilty about that time on my life, I really do wish I could take back a lot of things that I did to myself because I was hurt. Also, there really are emotions invested from both sides so I’m not even sure of sex buddies would be the right term here. What I do know is that he’s been initiating a lot of the communication lately so thats looking optimistic. He calls me everyday about 4-5 times asking if I’m okay if I need to talk about anything or calls just to tell me that he loves me. Very different from before. Could this be a promising change?

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      kf September 20, 2011, 1:05 pm

      Probably not. Calling each other 4-5 times a day and whipsawing between fighting and overdone displays of affection are more characteristic of needy, co-dependent, dysfunctional relationships than healthy relationships. I don’t think you really understood what the other commenters are seeing here.

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      Turtledove September 20, 2011, 3:51 pm

      So rather than asking us for advice, you’re asking us for permission to stay with this guy?

      I mean, I get it. I understand where you are and where you’re coming from. Right now probably the only thing that hurts more than being with him is the thought of being without him. But that right there defines your relationship. And it is the definition of co-dependent. You’ve got so much history and you’re so wound up in one another that you can’t see a way out. But surely you have an inkling that this relationship is poisonous. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good person or that he’s not a good person– but right now, where you are in your lives, you’re not good for each other.

      A man who loves and trusts you does not need to call you 5 times a day to make sure you’re still there. A man who fears he has finally crossed the uncrossable line will call you 5 times a day.

      Just to be clear, your former promiscuity DOES NOT MATTER. Let that be your mantra. It should not matter in any relationship going forward. It’s water under the bridge and to stay with someone who knows you as well as this man does– who knows your guilt and your thoughts and your reasons– and would still hold it against you, there are no words for how horrible I find that to be. I think most of us, at one time or another, have at least tried casual sex or dabbled in a different lifestyle. I have a very good male friend who upon meeting my husband for the first time felt honor-bound to pull him aside and say, “Dude, just so you know, I never slept with her.” To which my husband replied, “Even if you did, it’s none of my business.”

      Do you want love an acceptance or do you want baby steps and “promising changes”?

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow September 20, 2011, 4:19 pm

      I’m sorry, but it sounds like he’s just trying to assuage his guilt. And anyway, you shouldn’t have to catch your partner cheating and then throw him out in order to get him to show you the commitment and affection that you’ve wanted all along.

      I still urge you to separate from him – NOT just to have him temporarily move out while you work on your trust issues, but truly break it off. (And his commitment still sounds conditional – he’s now saying that it can work *only* if YOU get over your own trust issues first!). I know you have history, but I think that the reasons to leave outweigh the reasons to stay. Just because you’re both afraid to leave each other doesn’t mean that you are meant for each other or that you should stay together. Get over your fear, then get on with your life. I think that the temporary trauma of the breakup will be worth the long-term gains.

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      AKchic September 21, 2011, 2:29 pm

      Stop. I don’t know how much of my life you’ve read about here on this website (I’ve been very honest to many LWs here), but let me tell you what I think.

      He is being nice and saying he wants to be “BF/GF” right now because you two live together (“for financial reasons” by your own admittance) because if you two were to break up, I am assuming he would be kicked out, and you are the main financial support. If you break up, his cakewalk life ends. This is damage control. He is sweet-talking you and being nice in a manipulation to keep his “charmed” existance that is currently happening. This isn’t because he truly loves you, but because he truly loves the current set-up. You need a reality check. He doesn’t love YOU, he loves what you bring to the table. Financial support and stability, a roof over his head, food in his belly, tv/entertainment, an internet connection and sex. Not to mention the added bonus of making him feel superior because he has a woman that he can manipulate/control by sweet-talking her into feeling what he wants her to feel. When you fight and get a backbone and start suggesting breaking up, he loses control of the situation and panics a bit and oozes the charm and smarm. You need to stop falling for it.
      Stop denigrating yourself, and don’t let HIM denigrate you either (he will once you get serious about breaking up – my own 1st husband impersonated a mutual friend online to see if I would sleep with the mutual friend, then told me that I was nothing more than a walking vagina, at 18 my looks were ravaged after two kids, but to a sex-deprived soldier, a pussy was a pussy – even though I had turned down the offer of sex).
      You are hanging on because of familiarity and because he sweet-talks you into thinking there is more. He just doesn’t want to lose his meal ticket. What you did as a rebellious teenager has no bearing on what you do now as a responsible adult. Stop letting him have all the power.

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    • KKZ

      Pankakes September 22, 2011, 10:06 am

      I’ve witnessed something similar to your situation happen to a friend of mine, and based on that, I’m sorry to say I don’t have high hopes that this recent 180-degree change will last. With my friend and her long-time, on-again, off-again, non-monogamous asshole of a BF, he would always pull this shit when they broke up or had a fight. Their relationship also started when they were very young. He kept her strung along for YEARS, and it was partially because she allowed him to win her back over with good behavior every time he fucked up and within months, he was back to his asshole self.
      Thankfully she finally, FINALLY, left him in the dust and his now happily single and living alone. I suggest you do the same. Your guy’s new behavior may seem like a positive thing, but it reeks of continued manipulation — telling you what you want to hear to keep you in his life. I don’t doubt he wants you to stay in his life, but not for the right reasons. I see in your replies that you’re taking steps to work on yourself. That’s awesome. But I hope you’re not going into this process thinking that a few sessions of therapy and some distance from your BF will magically make you have a good, healthy relationship.
      Here’s the only advice I have that no one else has said so far: make a list of dealbreakers for you in a relationship. Cheating, lying, deception, stealing money, drug abuse, whatever you consider a serious enough offense to end a relationship over. It sounds like you don’t really have any dealbreakers now – you were concerned about cheating, but clearly you still want to pursue this relationship in some form, so it wasn’t enough of a dealbreaker for you to be able to cut him out of your life. Once you have your list of dealbreakers, stick to it, with him (if you do pursue this relationship) and/or with other men (if you go your separate ways). Don’t compromise your values or your relationship needs, for anyone, because it’s often a slippery slope to codependency. It’s OK to set the bar higher and have specific expectations for what you desire out of a partner, and you’re selling yourself short if you settle for less.

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  • thatswhat-she

    Meg September 20, 2011, 2:00 pm

    Honestly, Puzzled and heartbroken, It sounds like this is a really codependent relationship. For whatever reasons (and there are many, I’m sure), the two of you do not know how to live without one another- because you both probably have tons of work to do on yourselves. This doesn’t mean that either of you is a bad person or that you haven’t had meaningful experiences together- I’m sure you’ll both always be grateful to one another if you had hands in reconnecting with your mothers, etc- and that’s fine. Just because it is an unhealthy relationship doesn’t mean that there was nothing worthwhile that came out of it. What it does mean is that neither of you is in a place to be in a relationship right now.

    There is no way to do this half way. You can’t make a plan to break up, deal with things, keep one another on the back burner but with the understanding that you still have dibs on one another because you’ll come back together. It doesn’t work that way- you can’t do the work you need to do with that tie, even if it feels like a safety net. You need to get your feel under you ON YOUR OWN. Cold turkey. Once you have dealt with all you need to deal with, then you’ll be able to have a healthy relationship- one in which you can communicate openly, don’t have to apologize for your past, and don’t have to examine your partner’s actions under a microscope looking for “encouraging signs.”

    The fact that you’re looking for “encouraging signs” at all is a DIScouraging sign! When you’re in a good relationship, the whole thing is encouraging and fulfilling- not to say that it’s all perfect and flowers and puppies all the time, but you don’t wonder if he loves you. You aren’t surprised if he kisses you. You KNOW these things in the deepest parts of you. He doesn’t have to call you 4-5 times a day to see if you need to talk about something, because your communication is good enough that if you needed to talk about something you would just do it.

    Yes, he needs to move out. Yes, you need to work on your trust issues and insecurities. But not so that you can marry this guy and hope everything works out “magnificently-” but so that you can be healthy and happy. And then healthy and happy you can start to develop healthy and happy relationships- romantic and otherwise- that will lead to a healthy and happy life.

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    Cindy (Puzzled and heartbroken) September 20, 2011, 4:06 pm

    Thank you Meg. I really appreciate your input. All this feedback on therapy and fixing myself has made me realize that I need to start taking care of myself. I have made an appt. to see the therapist at my college for tomorrow and hoping that this step will assist me in resolving my conflictions with love, trust and co-dependency. I do agree that we are co-dependent and I do wish that one of use would move out but unfortunately for financial reasons either of us can’t but do plan on doing so. I’ve talked to him about seeking outside help to fix my problems and he suggested we go to couples counseling but I feel like I would rather go on my own first and deal with my issues first because if we do have a future together I want to be able to know that I can trust, love and communicate properly. I still don’t understand what people mean about respect, he’s mentioned that as well that from now on we need to respect and love each other but I’m not sure how respect comes into a relationship. I guess I have something to definately ask the therapist tomorrow. Thank you once again.  

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      Vathena September 20, 2011, 5:31 pm

      For example, if he respected you, he wouldn’t be talking about wanting to sleep with other people.

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      Matcha September 20, 2011, 5:55 pm

      Respect, as in he wouldn’t have tried to make you feel guilty for your past. Respect is something that occurs in any relationship, not just a romantic one. With what kind of care would you treat someone?

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      6napkinburger September 20, 2011, 7:50 pm

      How is the financial situation that neither can move out? Why can’t you sublet your room and rent a share in a different apartment for the same price? You guys do sleep in different beds, right?

      Also, ages would be helpful. You mentioned college, which puts your age early to mid 20’s. But that means, even if you’re 24, you started your relationship when you were 16 and by 18 had decided on this “break-to-sleep-around” thing. While I get that a 16 year old might be scared that her BF would cheat on her, not to the level of commitment implied by the relationship you described, not to the sexual component either. So maybe I have your ages wrong?

      You clearly want to remain in this relationship. And I think your desire for separation, for distance, is a step in the right direction. But your refusal to MAKE the change, by blaming finances, undercuts this effort. You guys cannot continue to live together. If its your place, kick him out and get a roommate to cover costs. Even if its a one room studio, there is someone equally broke as you who can pay the same as he does and you guys can get bunkbeds or sleeping bads, or something! (If its a one room studio, whoa are there even more issues). How can you possibly expect to move on, to move up, to reevaluate, to do anything while you guys live together? You can’t even talk about him with a friend or he might hear you! There is ALWAYS a way, there is always something on craigslist, a friends couch for two weeks while you figure it out, going in and talking to the dean of housing to discuss some sort of work/board exchange, because you are in a horrible situation. Become an RA, tell the college you will do whatever you need to get a room. Take out more student loans to cover a year of living. You are a prisoner in that apartment, if not because of him, because of you!

      I am currently living with my EX Bf. So it sounds like i’m a big hypocrit or that i’m projecting, but i’m not. We broke up a month ago and he’s moving out next week. And at first I was sad and pined and wanted him to stay (even though it was my decision) and pretended nothing was different. And then he went away for a week. and i was free!!! Now, I honestly can’t wait until he gets the F out of the stupid apartment he made me move into and which I can barely afford, so that I get my space again. And we had a normal relationship! no cheating or sorta-cheating, no betrayals and slut-shaming and years of my life wasted waiting around for him to decide if he had fucked enough people to make up for two weeks of my life i wish I could take back and which he cannot let go. We didn’t move out immediately because he had finals and I haven’t decided where I want to move yet, and because we still love(d?) each other but know it isn’t going to work long-term, and the extra month didn’t really matter. And yet, still, I am crazy antsy for him to leave. And he’s taking the mattress!!! (It was his, not out of some anger or anything). And if he didn’t leave, you bet your ass I would, because it is crazily messed up to live with an EX you aren’t over. or to prolong a HORRIBLE relationship built on shame and hurt and dependence that you don’t even understand or enjoy, compensated with metered affection and alternating periods of hot and cold. You will never learn who you are until you, literally, live without him. There is no financial reason that you can’t move that can’t be fixed with creativity, flexibility and craigslist.

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        Cindy September 20, 2011, 8:27 pm

        Thank you for your comment. We were both 19 when we started dating and are now 27. Our financial situation is as is, I lost my job last year so I’m still at my parents house living in the guest house he moved in january of 2010 because he lost his job and has been working at a min. wage job just to catch up on paying bills. I have absolutely no income so I can’t leave. After reading all the posts from today I am pursuing therapy to fix my problems and I had already spoken to him that it’s best for him to move out of my home as soon as he can and he does agree. I had an emotional 2 hour conversation with him today as to me seeing a therapist and wanting me to get help and he does agree that moving out eventually is something that should happen. But one thing that he is reluctant to do is leave my life. He says that he doesn’t want to leave the relationship because that he feels that if we solve our individual issues that we can come together and have a happy relationship. I agree with him but I did explain that its gonna be hard for me to fix me while he’s still living here. So with that said he agreed that he’s willing to live temporarily with a family member to help us to start a healthy relationship. He keeps saying that he wants us to be happy and I just feel like I really need to get over my trust issues that I have from my father. I can’t help but to compare him to my father and that really scares me. I’ve always said that women who stay in a relationship where they’ve been betrayed are foolish because I’ve seen it in my own family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends! But here i am. This makes me feel hopeless that there even is such a thing as true love. All I know now is that I want to spend some time on myself now and I’m glad that he understands. But I guess I just have to see where it goes from here. 

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        Rachel September 20, 2011, 10:31 pm

        As a twenty-something year old young woman from the suburbs, I know a thing or two about daddy issues, because I’ve had my own. I never knew my biological father and my (now ex) step-dad was an emotional and verbally abusive tyrant. It instilled a belief within me that I didn’t deserve to be loved. And a fear that kept me from expecting respect from relationships, until I realized I was worthy of love. I dunno what your relationship with your father was like, but it was obviously a blueprint for the relationship you have with your boyfriend.

        Are you so AFRAID of being alone, so afraid of telling him what you actually FEEL for fear that he might leave you, that you’d rather stay with him?? This man who slut-shames you for your sexual experiences? And thinks that should justify him sleeping around and having relationships with other women?? Honey, listen. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not a slut. You’re not damaged goods. You’re not unworthy of love and affection. And you’re certainly not FORTUNATE to be in a relationship where it’s permissible for your partner to cheat and deceive and have sex with other women because of the experiences you had BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN WITH HIM.

        Look. This man doesn’t respect you. This man doesn’t appreciate you. This man has wasted the best years of your youth by making you wait around on him to get his jealousy screwing out of his system. To “get even” or something terrible like that. You need to move on already. MOA. If you’re not willing to do that, then you WILL be just like those “foolish” women who stay when they’re being treated badly. And you will NEVER know what it’s like to be in a meaningful relationship.

        I was just like you when I was younger. I was unconfident, overweight and desperate. I stayed in a relationship for four years with a guy who wouldn’t spend time with my family, wouldn’t have anything to do with my friends, badgered me into having sex for the first time, cheated on me with an ex girlfriend, cheated on me with a professor, and, after I broke up with him, had the nerve to suggest we should still be friends. I wasn’t stupid enough to agree to it. And you know what? I don’t regret getting rid of him. I regret not getting rid of him sooner. I regret staying. Because, as much as I believed he was my true love, he wasn’t. And if I hadn’t gotten rid of him I would’ve never met the man who taught me what true love really is, my husband, who changed my life.

        That man is out there for you, too. But this guy isn’t him. And until you realize that, you don’t stand a chance at finding true love.

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        kf September 21, 2011, 9:50 am

        “This man has wasted the best years of your youth by making you wait around on him to get his jealousy screwing out of his system.”

        Big fat purple thumbs down. He’s not responsible for her life, your twenties aren’t necessarily (or even usually?) the best years of your life, and he didn’t make her do one single solitary thing.

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        Rachel September 21, 2011, 5:35 pm

        You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t have phrased it the way I did. SHE has wasted potentially good years of her own life. And she should remedy that immediately by M(ing)OA.

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        6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 9:22 am

        It’s your parents house; of course you shouldn’t leave. He however has zero claim to live there; better yet for free. You were doing him a favor while he went on tough times and you were involved. You said financial circumstances dictated that nothing could change right now. To that, I say, respectfully, bullshit. Your situation doesn’t have to change but his can the minute you don’t want him in your house. Kick him out! Go read your letter. It was ALL about what he wants and what he thinks and what he feels is best and what he’ll do. If you say” we’re done for right now. Maybe they’ll be an us in the future, maybe not. But I need you to get out of my house by Saturday, or I’m contacting the police to figure out what my options are regarding trespassing and eviction of a non-rent paying , never rent paying person who won’t leave”, he’ll leave. You want him gone but you still love him and your heartbreaks everytime he mentions how much he loves you or how things will be better. Listen, Your relationship troubles won his man have NoTHInG to do with your daddy/trust issues and EVERYthinG to do with figuring out who the hell you are. Even if your trust issues magically disappeared over night, your relationship would still be in shambles, because you know you want better. Just because things suck win this guy doesn’t mean they’ll suck with all guys, and just because you are giving up on “true love” doesn’t mean you have to settle for this guy who continues to hurt you. Kick him out!

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        6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 9:38 am

        And Read your letter — he doesn’t want to leave your life, he thinks it can work, etc. What about you? You say”I need you out of my life right mow because I need perspective” he says, but I don’t want to be out of your life! I’ll get a temporary place so you can go through his phase. Tell him to find a permanent place! That your decision is a permanent one, you might change your mind in the future but that you will never make any progress of you are only in a holding pattern, with him sleeping on a cousins couch, asking If you are done “working on you” yet so he cam “come home”. He needs a different home and you need to be a 27 year old, free woman. Im 27 too. I’m neither talking up or talking down to you. You need your own head space and if this is the guy for you and if he’s as invested as you say he is, he’ll still be an option in 6 months or a year. But we’re almost thirty but not yet. This is the last chance we get to make a big change and be young and enjoy it. Writing this letter was your way of acknowledging that, because you knew we’d all are how messed up this relationship was and we’d tell you to free yourself from it. You wanted to hear it. So listen, and take back control of your life, starting with your home.

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    Bossy Italian Wife September 20, 2011, 5:10 pm

    You need to move on from this relationship because it has all become so convoluted by your “plans” and “rules” and such that there is just no going back.

    The best thing that you could do for yourself would be to get a therapist and work on these issues surrounding the infidelity in your nuclear family. one you can deal with that, then you can have at least a fighting chance at a healthy relationship.

    At no point should you be “forbidden” to discuss one another’s pasts. That is ridiculous!

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    Cindy September 21, 2011, 2:44 pm

    Thank you all once again for your comments. I’m doing evrything that everyone is saying to do. I’m going to my first therapy appointment today and I had an emotional loooong talk with him last night that ended with me telling him that moving on is the only option. So he took the majority of his things and will be coming back this weekend to pick up more things. I woke up today feeling indifferent because I did just lose my best friend and I’m really really hoping that by following everyone’s advice on here im making a good decision. I’ve always been one to follow the crowd and everyone that has responded is making me feel like I should just do what over 50 strangers are telling me to do instead of what one person (him) is telling me. I hope it gets better from here. Thanks again. 

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      lets_be_honest September 21, 2011, 2:47 pm

      Wow. Good for you! I think all too often LWs will update with things like they are still dragging along with their shitty circumstances and then after months and months, finally give up. I look forward to a really happy update from you! Best wishes.

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      6napkinburger September 21, 2011, 5:41 pm

      YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!!!

      GOOD DECISION!!!!!

      Think of it this way: getting a little distance and focus is NEVER a bad decision, because people who truly love us will never begrudge us it, and those who begrudge it don’t truly love us. so you can’t be wrong.

      but you are SO SO SO right. you are being so strong. And now you and your therapist get to tackle YOU and you get to gain control of your life. Paint a wall a different color, do naked yoga in the middle of your living room, do all the things you can’t do when someone is watching or when you have to make compromises about everything. Make a list of stuff you’ve always wanted to do/like to do but have stopped. You get to do that now!! Get excited!!!!

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow September 21, 2011, 6:06 pm

      I’m glad you took our advice to heart. We all want what’s best for you, despite not knowing you. You’ve shown a lot of courage by following through, and I think you’ll come out of this a stronger person. Good luck, and keep us updated!

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    Cindy September 24, 2011, 12:31 am

    Yeah well things aren’t good yet. After he left I realized that now it’s up to me to come up with the income that he was providing me. He had taken over my rent when I lost my job and was paying for my school, car and groceries. He’s been keeping his word of moving on but has been coming by to drop off money and groceries while I’m not home so that I can be taken care of for now. My therapist disagrees with the decision of having him leave because he thinks that we can each work on our problems and later on develop a relationship. Since technically he didn’t cheat on me or slept with anyone else and I did mention to my therapist that I had cheated on him with a co worker last year. So there’s a lot more to the story than what I provided on here for obvious reasons. Now not only did I lose my best friend of 21 years and we were in a relationship for 8 of those years, now I need to drop out of school and find a job ASAP. I’m really trying to be optimistic about this decision but I have a gut feeling that instead of listening to a bunch of strangers maybe I should work on this with my therapist. 

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      cookiesandcream September 24, 2011, 1:09 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that things aren’t going well for you right now. It’s important to realize that going forward with your life will never be 100% easy, but the rewards will be well worth all of the effort. By taking over your financial responsibilities and dropping off money and groceries, your boyfriend is trying to remain in your life. From my perspective, it might be his way of trying to keep you as a “back up plan” (i.e. if he can’t find anyone else to date, then he can come back to you in the future). I’m not going to pretend that finances are easy to figure out, so are there any services at your college that you can use? Have you looked into the services at your school’s financial aid center? Even if they’re not helpful, maybe asking around on your campus will get you in touch with someone who can help you get a better idea of what your finances look like. If there’s a finance department at your school, I’m sure that at least one student there would be willing to sit with you to help you figure out your personal finances. I would definitely do that before dropping out of school.

      Also, with all due respect to your therapist, I’m not sure if he should be disagreeing with your decisions. Therapy is a tool that should be used as a guide that can teach you constructive ways to deal with your issues. For instance, a map shows you the path to your final destination, but it’s up to you to decide what that destination is. If your therapist is doubting your decisions and making you second guess yourself, then he might not be the right therapist for you. When I was in therapy, I had a really good therapist who would ask me questions about how I felt and guided me towards a healthier lifestyle. Finding a therapist that’s right for you might take some effort, but it’s well worth it.

      Another thing is that losing your best friend is always hard, but I feel like if you accept him back into your life you’re going to fall back into old patterns. I think right now you should ask yourself if you would prefer to move forward with your life or continue the life you’re leading now. Make the decision for YOU, and don’t be too afraid of what life would be like living independently.

      Please understand that I’m writing this out of genuine compassion, and I wish you all the best in the world. 🙂

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