I’m a 24-year-old lady who’s new to relationship issues and need some advice. About a year and a half ago I met a guy who’s three years older than me. We started dating and fell in love with each other. Last April, though, I realized we were not a good match. We loved each other, but we have different lifestyles and eventually things wouldn’t work. So I MOA’d. But it turned out he was very hurt, said he loved me very much and wanted to be together. I felt bad for breaking his heart but kept my decision.
In the first week of September we ran into each other and went out for coffee. He seemed happy to see me again but a little bit… nostalgic. He told me he was very sad about our breakup but eventually got over it. Then he said he needed to tell me that during the time we were dating he cheated on me. Twice. I was shocked! One of those times was with a (not so close) friend of ours! Later, I confirmed that with her. He said it meant nothing and that the reason he didn’t tell me before was because he didn’t want to hurt me.
I really don’t understand why he cheated. He was never the frat boy kind of guy, he was always the good guy. He never showed any signs of dissatisfaction with our relationship. I wasn’t a controlling girlfriend. Every time he wanted to go out with his friends for drinks I encouraged him to have his time (he cheated with the girl we know one of those nights. The other time was with a stranger on a week I was away because of work).
I got mad. I wanted to yell at him. But at that point, what could I do? I had already MOA’d. So I haven’t talked to him since. He sent me emails apologizing and I deleted them. I think I just got lucky I didn’t get any STIs. But this whole situation got me wondering. Why would someone in a healthy loving relationship do that to the person he loves? I didn’t force him to be exclusive! Will it always be like this? I mean, will it always be impossible to be completely sure that the person you’re with, even if they love you to death, is not cheating on you?
I know there must be guys out there that don’t do this stuff, but I think I’ll never truly trust any guy again. At the same time I don’t want to be that girl, like many friends of mine, who never allows herself to get really attached so she won’t get hurt. How should I deal with this? — Scarred by Past
Your ex-boyfriend’s an asshole. Fortunately, not every man is an asshole like he is. How can you know this for sure? Well, you can trust me. Or, you can look around at all the men you’ve ever known — family members, friends, friend’s boyfriends, teachers, nice guys on the street who gave you directions, that man on the subway who offered his seat to you, co-workers, employers, etc., etc. Men are not limited solely to the men you’ve dated or the ones your friends have dated or even the ones you’ll potentially date. There are millions and millions of men out there and so, so many of them are wonderfully kind, compassionate, and trustworthy.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t make mistakes — that they don’t screw up. We all screw up. But the good man — the kind of man you want in your life — won’t screw up in the way your ex did, and that’s the difference. And I’m not even talking about the cheating. That was a mistake, to be sure. But, you know what? I wouldn’t say that was his biggest mistake or the more telling action of his character. The coldest, most fucked up thing he did, was to tell you about the cheating after you broke up.
He told you for one reason and one reason only: to hurt you and to make you feel vulnerable. If he wanted to clear his conscious or be honest with you for the sake of your relationship, he would have confessed while you were still dating. But he didn’t. No, he only chose to confess after you broke his heart. He wanted you to feel exactly how you feel right now — like he somehow represents all guys out there and if someone who loved you could behave the way he did, then you’ll never find someone to love you who won’t behave that way. He wanted to ruin you for anyone else.
Don’t let him do that. Don’t give him any power. He’s a loser. You’re lucky to be free of him. You’re lucky because now you have the chance to meet the kind of guy you thought he was — the kind of guy who, I assure you, really does exist. They’re out there. You just have to keep an open heart and an open mind and not let your past experiences tarnish your view.
Remember: thought directs energy. You draw into your life the things you think are out there. So, start thinking about the kind of man you want to know. Imagine yourself with him; imagine the kind of relationship you dream of having. Push out thoughts about cheaters and liars and losers like your ex and focus your energy on the good guys of the world. It may not happen overnight — it may not even happen with the next person you date or the person after that or the person after that — but eventually, if you keep a positive outlook, you will draw the right guy to you. And when that happens, all the crap that came before will be a distant memory — one that will surely make you more appreciative of your good fortune when you finally come across it.
How will you “know” when you’ve met the real deal? Well, there isn’t a surefire sign. There never is in love. You just have to trust your heart, love and respect yourself enough to expect the same from a partner, and accept that the right guy may not come in the package you think he will.