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 was with my ex-boyfriend for three years, and in my time with him, I was happier than I’ve ever been. However, the relationship ended when he went out one night for a friend’s birthday, got really drunk, and hooked up with another girl. He called me and told me what he did the next day, and I told him I never wanted to talk to him again. We didn’t speak at all for a few months, and then, we gradually reestablished contact. He quit drinking completely after the incident, because he realized he was completely out of control. He really, really wanted to make things right and be together again, so he put in a ton of effort for about a year into making that happen. Finally, I decided I was ready to forgive him, and we got back together a couple months ago.
Unfortunately, I found something out a few weeks ago that made me really doubt my decision. I found out that after we broke up, he continued seeing the girl that he cheated on me with. The whole time I had thought that it was a one-time thing and he regretted it soooo horribly, but knowing that he continued to see her after that, I feel like he couldn’t have felt that bad. He says that he was just confused and hurt and lonely and didn’t know where to turn, and she just made herself very available. But when I think about me being at home crying and him gallivanting around town with his new girl, it makes me feel really stupid, embarrassed, and hurt. Now I’m not sure if I can get over this. Is it stupid for me to focus so much on this detail? Is it really that significant, in the big scheme of things? I can’t decide if this is something I should let go. Please help! — Take Two
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].
SpaceySteph May 9, 2011, 7:14 am
My initial reaction… I have Ross Geller screaming in my head “We were on a break!”
However, in my opinion he made an effort to change what he thinks is the source of the incident (his excessive drinking) which should count for something. But the real issue is that you doubt him and don’t trust him, only you can decide if this is a big enough breach of trust to give up on the relationship. Talk to your boyfriend, maybe with a couples counselor present… you can stay with him or you can leave him, but you can’t stay with him and keep punishing him for cheating on your or for seeing someone while you were broken up.
EC was here May 9, 2011, 8:44 am
I was thinking the same thing!
I think since he made an effort to change his behavior that deserves some props. He didn’t turn tail and run the other way during the year he tried to show you that he cared about what he did. I do think it’s pretty crappy of him to still be seeing the girl he cheated on you with while he wasn’t speaking with you. I will point out though that from your letter it sounds like he quit seeing her when you started speaking with him again. We have all met “the girl” who will latch onto a recently broken up guy and try to put their claws into him. I agree that you need to decide if it’s a serious enough of a breach to break up with him again, or if you’re willing to take the time to work on the relationship.
TJ May 9, 2011, 7:36 am
“Girl I love you/ You’re the one/This just sounds like a rerun/Please/What else is on?”
Emsz May 9, 2011, 8:14 am
Rihanna – Take a bow
Took me more time than I’m comfortable with to figure it out 😛
Sarah May 9, 2011, 8:00 am
I write in only to note that the standard advice is that if you can’t get over it, you need to end it. And if you decide not to end it, you need to make a commitment to being over it (or at least never giving him shit for it ever again because the past is the past).
I’m here to offer a slightly different perspective. My (amazing, wonderful, epic sweetheart of a) boyfriend hooked up with another girl before we were officially exclusive but after we were pretty well ensconced with each other (and I probably assumed we were exclusive). Then there was also a little incident where I read his journal (note: don’t keep journals anymore, people) a few weeks later where he indicated that maybe (fun) he liked her better than me.
He didn’t really have a great explanation (beyond “We weren’t officially exclusive, despite your sleepover that ended four hours before I hooked up with her”) but I didn’t cut bait on him. However, it took me a really, really long time to get over it, during which time he would hear about it occasionally (once a week, tapering off to once/6 weeks or so). It took me a couple of years before I wasn’t actively mad at him when I thought about it. Now (seven years later) I still don’t LIKE it, but it’s not something that gnaws at me anymore. (Her first name is my great-grandmother’s name and the name I was always going to name my first daughter. That was off the table for a while but now I’m planning to use it again, because fuck her, really, A, and whatever, B.) I’m lucky enough to have someone who stuck around and took his lumps and didn’t freak out sometime during year 2 all “STOP PUNISHING ME.”
So. While a safer bet is probably cutting bait if you can’t get over it, sometimes, a very patient (and guilty) person will let you get over it on a very extended time-frame, which can still work.
Kerrycontrary May 9, 2011, 9:54 am
AH! This sounds exactly (I mean exactly) like a situation I was/am in. It’s taken me over a year to forgive my boyfriend for that (doing exactly what yours did), and it was a tough year. At first I was on the phone crying and yelling at him once a week, then it turned into once every 6 weeks, and now I stop myself before I ever bring it up. But it was worth it. I know that he made a stupid mistake, we wern’t “official” yet so I can’t actually blame him, and there truely isn’t anyone more suited for me in the world.
LW, if you want to stay with your boyfriend and you are still upset about the past, you need to explain to him that he is going to hear about it from you occasionally. You may bring it up in fights because it’s a weak spot. You may get sad randomly when it comes to mind. If your boyfriend is willing to deal with that, then I would say to try to get over it. If you can’t get over it in an extended period of time (you can give yourself a time frame), then I would say move on. What you really need to consider is: How important is this relationship to me. If he’s “the one” and you really can’t see yourself with someone else, then I would say give it a try. While I don’t excuse your boyfriend’s actions at all, everyone makes mistakes and it’s your choice whether you forgive him or not. But remember this: forgiveness is not an easy task. You have to be committed to forgiving someone when they’ve done something truly hurtful. It will be painful and it will take a long time.
Laurel May 9, 2011, 1:37 pm
Note: don’t read other people’s journals (and then get hurt by what you find).
TheGirl May 9, 2011, 1:41 pm
Yup, my husband keeps one and it is SOOoooo tempting to read it. Especially since he leaves it out and open all the time. Just don’t do it. Most of the stuff people write in there isn’t true for more than the time it took them to write it anyway. Its just a way of working through your feelings.
Sarah May 9, 2011, 4:42 pm
Frankly, even though it hurt/s and even though I wouldn’t do it again, I’m still sort of glad I did. That’s the kind of thing your SO would never, ever say, even if it were true, but it’s also the kind of thing I would really, really want to know before I planned a long-term future with someone (“Are you just in this because of inertia? Are you acting distant because you’re stressed from work or because there’s someone else your pining for? How do you REALLY in your HEART OF HEARTS feel about me? Do you like me less than I like you, which will lead you to a very unpleasant midlife crisis in twenty years’ time when we have two kids” etc.).
It’s also now something I was able to work through and deal with, because I can hold that as one established fact in one hand and hold seven years of him being awesome in the other. I think there’s less uncertainty than there would have been otherwise, which makes me feel more secure.
I’m sure this will be unpopular, and again, I wouldn’t do it again, nor do I recommend it. But all in all, I don’t think it ruined my life/relationship, just as not being able to forgive and let it go in a timely fashion didn’t ruin my life/relationship. Here I am, just flouting the conventional wisdom today!
Spark May 9, 2011, 7:23 pm
Oops, I gave you a thumbs up by mistake. I meant to give you a huge thumbs down. There’s NEVER any justification for reading your SO’s journal. I feel very strongly about that.
Sarah May 9, 2011, 10:23 pm
Let me guess: you keep a journal.
Look, people. Do it as a google doc and password protect it. Anything else in this day and age is you subconsciously asking someone else to read it. (And I say this as a girl whose older brother read her journal on the regular but I didn’t find out about it ’til a decade later. Invasion of privacy? Sure. Worth getting worked up about when the damn thing was just lying around my room? Mais non.)
kerrycontrary May 10, 2011, 11:55 am
I didn’t found out through my boyfriend, I found out through the other girl he hooked up with before we were official. She was mad because he didn’t want to date her. So anyways, even if you DONT read a guy’s journal, you could still find out. I think what Sarah and I are talking about is the act of forgiveness, not debating about reading someone’s journal.
ReginaRey May 9, 2011, 8:39 am
The biggest problem I see when reading your letter doesn’t actually involve your ex-boyfriend, it involves you.
After your boyfriend cheated on you, he clearly tried to move on to an extent. Maybe he WAS lost and hurt and confused, but he did continue to see the girl who partially caused you so much hurt. During that time, did YOU try to move on? Did you accept the break up and try to accept your newfound singledom? You said you cut communication for a few months, which is admirable, but a few months probably isn’t long enough to move on after a relationship of 3 years.
I’m wondering if part of the reason you got back together with him (this person who broke your heart badly and betrayed your trust and continued to see this girl) was because you never truly got OVER him in the first place.
I’m not saying that people can’t ever get back together and have it work out in the long run, but the chances are a lot slimmer – most people have a lot of trouble forgetting or moving past the problems they had the first time around. I AM saying that usually for a second attempt to work, you have to be separated for longer than a few months and the issues you had in the past can’t exist anymore, otherwise nothing will be different. You’ve said that he’s really taken effort to change and to eliminate some of the root problems you had previously, but a large problem still remains – you still feel betrayed, and you don’t know if you can trust him.
If your relationship is going to work a second time, you have to trust him completely. If you can’t get over the feelings you’re having now (and no one would blame you if you couldn’t), it’s time to find someone who you can have a fresh start with.
SpaceySteph May 9, 2011, 9:35 am
BRILLIANT advice ReginaRey.
2 months after being suddenly dumped by my ex I was still crying myself to sleep.
4 months after I was still hoping he would take me back. (This sounds pathetic, ok so maybe I was).
6 months after, I was furious at him for a number of things, including that he immediately (2 days later) was facebook officially in a relationship with a casual friend of mine, but I still probably would have taken him back if he wanted me to. Its very simple… At that point loving him was way easier than training myself not to love him.
However, in retrospect I’m really glad he never came back because I now see that there were so many things wrong and that I wasn’t as happy as I believed I was.
LW, you took him back in what was definitely the “loving you is easier than getting over you” phase and because of that you’re stuck in the limbo where you’re angry he hurt you, but not quite willing to cut an run. Maybe if you take a longer break you’ll see that you’re better off without him. And if not, if its meant to be, you’ll find each other again.
ReginaRey May 9, 2011, 10:17 am
Precisely. I kept getting back together with my ex because I never distanced myself enough from him to fall out of love with him. It’s only with a LOT of time and distance that you can begin to see your relationship in a less biased light, and make a real decision about whether it was right for you or not. I like your description of the “loving you is easier than getting over you” phase, because that’s exactly what it’s like. You’re scared to fall out of love with them, so you cling harder to it. I think if the LW took a step back, took a significant amount of time to be single, and didn’t communicate with him for longer than 3 months, she might find the answers she needs. And it might surprise her that after that, she won’t WANT to be with him anymore.
Jessicaxmx May 10, 2011, 2:09 am
I haven’t read many other posts on this letter but I’m curious as the percentage of couples working through a relationship to where their ex cheated, and if their relationship is still great. And I’m talking about non married couples with no children involved, like in LWs situation.
I also took my ex back after I caught him cheating. We were separated for 4 months when he came running back to me. All I have to say is it takes so much for someone to get over something like this. It’s so hard to keep that thought of your s/o being intimate with another woman. In the end, it did not
work out. And it is sort of hard to believe I am now over this person I was once madly in love with before. But I am so much happier now, and now when he try and talks to me to catch up I feel no need to even stay in contact. I think it’s great that exes keep in contact over the years but for me I just don’t see any point especially if you have so much past bullshit. Moving on is something I’ve always had to do.
MissDre May 9, 2011, 10:20 am
Ugh, been there done that. It took me over a year before I stopped hoping we’d get back together 🙁 I’m not a religious person, but finally I prayed for some sort of sign whether or not he was meant for me, and if the sign was no, I prayed for strength to move on. I was definitely pathetic for a good while.
honeybeenicki May 9, 2011, 10:50 am
I think we are all guilty of being a little pathetic when it comes to relationships at least once in our lives. I’ve made the mistake of leaving someone I KNEW wasn’t for me but not distancing myself from him and I was quite pathetic for that time.
WatersEdge May 9, 2011, 8:42 am
It seems pretty clear to me that he was consoling himself with this other girl since he couldn’t have you anyway. If I cheated on someone and they dumped me for it, but the person I cheated with kept calling, I’d probably cope with my loneliness by taking what I could get, too. It’s worth noting that I don’t have the best coping skills for rejection… haha. But I can see why he did it.
I don’t think you’re at the point where you need to “get over it and forgive him or move on”. New information is coming out so you need time to process that. I totally understand why you’re hurt all over again, but I don’t think your boyfriend did anything wrong here. Don’t think about you home crying while he was off having a grand ol’ time with her. Think about him wishing it were you he was calling to tell about his day, or telling that joke to, or sleeping with. He put the effort in to get you back for a YEAR while he was spending time with her, so you can rest assured that he prefers you over her. I’d look past it if I were you.
parton_doll May 9, 2011, 9:34 am
Very sound, realistic advice. Thanks!
Elle May 9, 2011, 10:21 am
I’d also like to give the bf props for honesty. He told you the next day? He knew he would risk the relationship by telling you, and he was right, but he did prefer honesty over anything else.
The bf also knows what he risks if he ever cheats on you again, so, in my opinion, it’s unlikely he’ll randomly hook up with another girl, regardless of circumstances.
LW, give yourself a couple more months. If, at the beginning of July, you trust your bf less than you do now, then you’ll probably never get over it, and it would be best for both of you to move on.
I don’t think you should make a decision right now, since it’s obvious you’re going through some emotional turmoil – settling again in the relationship, rediscovering each other, filling in the blanks for the time you guys weren’t together.
I also agree with what’s been said here – if you want to stay with him, you have to let it go, once and for all, like it never existed. That’s the only way you guys could have a chance to a normal relationship.
Lots of happiness, whichever path you may take
TJ May 9, 2011, 10:24 am
I’m kind of with you…maybe I’m just negative, but yeah, even though we could look at it as while he was with the other girl, he wished it was LW, but there still lies the fact that he continued seeing the other girl. When my ex called off our wedding (a month before it was supposed to go down…ouch), he started sleeping with the town whore (not an exaggeration, or me being bitter. She really is, I promise). As soon as they hooked up, he would tell me how much he still loved me, try to sleep with me all they time when they were together*, and talk crap about who he thought I was seeing/sleeping with. The fact that he was involved with someone else and then doing all that did not shed a good light on him.
I guess bottom line is, the fact that he kept the other girl’s company while trying to win back the ex, that would be a personal red flag for me.
*term used loosely. He said they were just fucking, but what do I know? 🙂
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 12:10 pm
I think this is one of the best answers. You can reconcile or you can move on. I think considering you just got back together a couple months ago, you’re still readjusting and processing everything, including this new information. I agree with Elle that you should wait until a bit later to make your decision. Did you lay out flat what he needs to do so you can regain trust in him? Do you know what it is that you need to feel secure again? How is he reacting to how you’re feeling? And is it not enough?
PFG-SCR May 9, 2011, 9:09 am
If you broke up with him, you don’t have a right to say what he does and with whom after that during the period that you’re broken up. If you decided to forgive him and you both mutually decided to get back together, then he should not have that contact with the other girl. But, it doesn’t sound like that’s happened.
Like the others have said, you need to truly get over the fact that he cheated or move on, but you can’t focus on his behavior during the time you were broken up. I’m sure he was regretful of cheating on you, but it was the “cheating on you” part that he regrets. The fact that he continued to spend time with her after you broke up with him doesn’t change that fact.
I wish you luck in whatever decision you make.
WatersEdge May 9, 2011, 10:57 am
I agree. “You have to be faithful to me, even though we broke up 7 months ago! I refuse to speak to you but don’t you dare have any fun with anyone else, ever ever ever!” <— it doesn't work that way…
caitie_didn't May 9, 2011, 9:20 am
Coming from a similar experience, I can say that I have tonnes of sympathy for the LW and very little for her boyfriend. Sure he stopped drinking- but it’s ridiculous to excuse the cheating because he was drunk. He’s still responsible for his poor decisions. LW- you gotta get over it or MOA. If I was in your position I don’t think I could get over it. Like you said, was he really trying *that* hard to win you back while seeking comfort in the arms of another girl?
Only you can decide if you’re willing to forgive him for this, but if you are willing to give it another try, you have to go all in.
Christina May 9, 2011, 9:24 am
It seems more upsetting that he continued dating that girl than it would have been if he had stayed single or even started dating someone different. Something similar happened with a boyfriend of mine and I could never face going out with him again to our old places and being around his friends who knew it happened and had hung out with him and the new girl. I never could get past that.
Would you have gotten back together with him if you had known it earlier?
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 9:29 am
While I agree that your boyfriend is a pretty big douche, technically you guys *were* broken up…BUT I agree with you, if he was really remorseful & it was a “one time thing” he would def. not have dated her.
IMHO, I don’t think you’re going to get over this. I think you need to MOA. I feel like you’ll always resent him.
Just know, the majority of the time, guys hate being alone. They can say a million times over they just want to be single etc…but in reality, they hate being alone. Even in cases where they jump from girl to girl…
The reasons your bf listed to you as to why he kept seeing the girl are very possibly true (I’m willing to be on it), unless he developed feelings for the girl (which is doubtful as he kept pursuing you).
Now, does that make it right? No, not in your case. You already felt hurt, humiliated, & betrayed when he hooked up with her that first time, & now you find out he *dated* her? If you’re a really a person that can get past it completely, then you may be able to stay with him. However from your letter, it sounds like you won’t.
Cut your losses & find someone else who will validate you for what you’re worth. Which is a lot more than this guy thinks.
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 9:47 am
Every time I’ve broken up with a guy and he’s said “I’m done dating for a while,” he’s been with someone else within a month. Usually less than that.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 5:43 pm
Yupp. When my boyfriend & I broke up for a few months he told me “I just want to be single, I don’t want to be tied down right now…” & a week later, he was dating someone…
Of course, that lasted very little time 🙂
MissDre May 9, 2011, 5:49 pm
Same here, except BOTH my exes immediately got their new girls pregnant. My most recent ex told me I must have put a curse on him and my previous ex. Haha!
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 9:02 pm
oh my! I’m sorry to hear that! Be glad you’re rid of those boys! haha
Joanna May 9, 2011, 9:55 pm
I’ve had that happen. I’ve even had an ex meet a new girl, break up with me for her, get engaged to her and married, all within 6 months. I’m definitely glad to be rid of him though. He was so controlling.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 9:57 am
Although the were broken up, so he’s technically “in the clear,” I can’t help thinking … It’s not too nice to the Other Girl that he was seeing her while actively trying to win the LW back–I wonder if she KNEW that she was a side dish or did she think she had a “real boyfriend” herself?
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 10:07 am
Yeah…that’s another point! I’m gonna go ahead & assume she didn’t. I do agree that they were broken up, I just think in this case, for the LW’s own personal feelings, she probably won’t be able to get over it. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t.
Silver_dragon. YES! My friend is serial monogamist. He has gf’s for a long period of time, then the relationship goes sour (partly bc he gets bored) & then says “I’ve been in relationships since I was in middle school, I’m just going to be alone & single & enjoy myself.” A week later he has a new gf.
convexed May 9, 2011, 11:23 am
I hadn’t thought it was clear from the letter that the bf was *dating* the hook up girl vs just *hooking up* with the hook up girl.
I have immense sympathy for the LW, but it’s too easy to make the bf a villain. What he did was wrong, and calling to admit it doesn’t make it better, hence the breakup. Personally, if I was the LW, I’d think there’s something reassuring in his return to the hook up girl. Why? Because instead of gallivanting around actively looking for a new lay, a new girlfriend, or whatever, he took the easy way out of letting a sure thing come to him. He had not ‘moved on’, he had acknowledged his needs for physical company (we don’t know how deep, if at all, their emotional connection may have been) and fulfilled his needs while spending his time, it seems, focusing on changing his ways to get the LW back.
And, as others have pointed out, you may hate what he did while you were broken up, but you have to realize that it’s unreasonable to hold it against him in any way. You were the one who broke up with him, LW, his preference was to come clean about the hook up and STAY WITH YOU. ( A bit off topic, I sort of want to question your decision to throw away 3 great years over one infidelity that he confessed to you the next day in remorse. The thing that sticks out to me is your refusal to negotiate, your absolutist stance. Everyone has their own threshold for cheating, but this is one of the truly more mild cases I’ve heard of, and a guy who risks a breakup in order to give you the respect of honesty is a guy not to throw out lightly) So, you can’t have it all. You can’t kick him out on your terms, no negotiation, take him back only on your terms, and also monitor or judge his behavior during the breakup according to only your personal standards. He’s not a puppet, he’s a human, and he failed you pretty bad, but he’s owning up to it now and has worked hard for a year to prove himself. It is not at all fair to hold his coping decisions while you were apart as evidence that he wasn’t devoted to getting back together with you.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 11:45 am
I understand your point…but, I am really talking about the LW’s personal feelings. Yes, agreed, they were broken up, yes, she broke up with him, but because he *cheated* on her… I’m not saying it was wrong of him to continue dating the girl after they were broken up, but I am pointing out that the LW obviously felt humiliated & betrayed (once again) that he continued to see her when he was trying *so hard* to win her back. My point was that if she can get over that, then yeah they may be able to salvage the relationship, but from her letter I don’t think she can & I wouldn’t either.
It’s like a huge slap in the face that not only did he cheat on her with the girl he continued to see her after he had told her she meant nothing to him, & she most likely didn’t as he was trying to hard to win the LW back…but it still hurts. & yeah, I did say that men hate being alone, no matter what they say, & his reasons for continuing with the hook-up girl are most likely true…If the LW can get past that then great, idk if she can though, & I don’t blame her… I feel she’d be a lot happier if she just moved on. If they’re meant to be, they’ll be, but I think for now she should let him go. He’s hurt her way too much.
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 12:16 pm
“I sort of want to question your decision to throw away 3 great years over one infidelity that he confessed to you the next day in remorse. The thing that sticks out to me is your refusal to negotiate, your absolutist stance. Everyone has their own threshold for cheating, but this is one of the truly more mild cases I’ve heard of, and a guy who risks a breakup in order to give you the respect of honesty is a guy not to throw out lightly”
I really disagree with this. Any infidelity is grounds for a breakup, IMO. I can tell you from experience that just because he confessed the next day does NOT mean he’s that great of a guy.
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 12:20 pm
I agree with this. I don’t think it ‘s fair to question the letter writer. Like it was written, everyone has their own threshold for cheating and for the LW, there is no such thing as mild. But, she just reconciled with him anyway so…isn’t that kind of a moot point?
P.S. I broke up with my ex when he cheated on me and he confessed the next day as well. Didn’t mean the relationship was functional or he was a great boyfriend. Just damage control.
honeybeenicki May 9, 2011, 12:58 pm
I agree that infidelity is definitely grounds for breakup. I have a 0 tolerance policy on cheating because I’ve been burned by it before. And I like to think that if someone loves me, it won’t happen – drunk or otherwise. And if it were me, wouldn’t see my SO sleeping with someone else as “mild” even if it was only once.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 5:20 pm
I don’t think there is any such thing as a “mild” case of infidelity …
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 9:45 am
Oh, this is a tough one. I am going to try not to tell you what I think you *should* have done, and just give you some advice about what to do now.
I think you should leave. I think that the trust your boyfriend broke is never going to come back. I know that’s hard to hear, because you love him. I think it’s great that he quit drinking, and is working to change that, good for him. Just not good enough for you.
It’s true that you were broken up when he was seeing this other girl, but what bothers me is how soon he started something with her after breaking things off with you. If he was really THAT upset, he would have cut ties with her, knowing that her presence in his life would be like a knife in your back. If he REALLY wanted to work things out with you, from the beginning of this mess, he would have had nothing more to do with her.
I think you deserve better. You deserve someone who would never cheat on you, even while drunk, in the first place. Don’t settle for this.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 10:09 am
LW, I’m really sorry for you. This is a hard issue to tease apart. Technically, since you were broken up, you can’t really expect him to have been “faithful” to you during your months off. However, I think that if *I* had broken my with my SO due to an one-time “indiscretion” with another man, I’d be too upset to want to SEE that guy again, let alone keep sleeping with him. I understand, therefore, your feeling that he must not have “felt that bad.”
Moreover, if I understand you correctly, he was actively trying to convince you to come back to him while at the same time seeing this other girl. Did she know that she was his consolation prize while he was working to get you back? If she didn’t know they were not a serious couple, his behavior is troubling to me. It’s not very kind behavior.
A second “betrayal” in such a short amount of time will probably be very hard to get over, and although he sounds like he’s made an effort to make it up to you, his willingness to give things up/try to look good enough to win you back didn’t extend far enough to keep him from grabbing what he could of Ms. Second Best along the way.
In the end, it will be up to you to figure out if you can get past this, too. Perhaps counseling would help?
cmarie May 9, 2011, 11:38 am
I think I just rewrote everything you said. Great minds think alike. 🙂
Darlin' May 9, 2011, 10:25 am
While I totally think your boyfriend was a huge JA for cheating on you, it’s not really a cut and dry situation. When you dumped him (and rightly so), he likely didn’t think that he would ever talk to you again, or that things would ever work out. Having her in his life while you weren’t there wasn’t such a big deal to him. Especially if, as one of the other readers pointed out, she was making herself readily available. I really think that, as part of the process of making ammends, he really should have laid all his cards on the table and let you know just what happened. While he had no reason to consider your feelings at the time, he had to have known that you finding out about them dating now would be devastating. But if he had told you he dated her when he first got back in contact and started trying to fix things, would you have given him the time of day? If the answer is no, then move on. If the answer is “maybe”, then keep trying to work on things. But the real question is “Can you trust him to stay faithful to you, to be honest with you, and to have your best interests at heart?” Those are the non-negotiable parts of any relationship, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Luck and good thoughts to you.
atlimbo May 9, 2011, 9:29 am
I have to agree with PFG-SCR – you were broken up, by your decision. The things he does during that time may hurt (we’ve all had the “he has a new girl before I’ve moved on” moment of horror), but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s perfectly ‘allowed’ to do them. And the fact that he made great strides in fixing the root of the problem as well, during that time, says a lot about him.
If you feel you truly cannot trust him because of his actions while you weren’t together, then the relationship doesn’t have much hope, but if you feel you can work towards it, be honest with him and perhaps get some help for your trust issues if you really want to make it work. Otherwise, it’s not fair to continue for either of you.
Elle May 9, 2011, 10:34 am
I disagree with the “by your[LW’s] decision” part. He hooked up with another girl. What was the LW supposed to do? Of course she broke up with him. I wouldn’t say it was entirely her decision though. More like he pushed her to make that decision.
TheGirl May 9, 2011, 11:54 am
Some people don’t leave when they get cheated on. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m not saying cheating is acceptable. I’m just saying that she did in fact choose to break up with him. There is always a choice. I happen to think she made the right one initially (by breaking up with him), and should probably stick to it. I just disagree that it wasn’t a choice. Semantics, I guess, but it seems important to me.
Laurel May 9, 2011, 1:51 pm
They weren’t officially exclusive though. It’s not cheating if you haven’t defined the boundaries of the relationship.
Laurel May 9, 2011, 2:01 pm
Nevermind, I needed to reread the letter *facepalm*.
Lindsay May 9, 2011, 10:54 am
Even though cheating it bad in itself, it seems like your boyfriend did what he could to try to handle the situation as best he could. Quitting drinking is a big (and good) step, and telling you immediately is also good. It hurts, but if you refused to see him (and were essentially broken up), then it probably seemed like what he did wouldn’t matter, so his thought was probably, “Why not see this girl?”
Personally, as long as he’s not still seeing her, then I think it’s not unreasonable to trust him again. But if you just don’t, then no amount of advice or thinking is really going to change that.
jena May 9, 2011, 11:03 am
It’s been months since he cheated, and now you’re writing into an advice column about the issue. Get rid of this guy — he is wasting your time.
jena May 9, 2011, 4:47 pm
Not sure why I’m getting thumbs-downed for this. She’s obviously unhappy, he doesn’t see a problem with it. He cheated and kept hanging out with the other girl, which pretty much shows a complete disregard for the girlfriend’s feelings. Leave him, you can do better, I’m sure of it.
Fairhaired Child May 9, 2011, 9:40 pm
I think you got a thumbs down because its been a long time since they broke up because he cheated, and after a year of being broken up, and him still pursuing her, they got back together a couple months ago. Now she just learned a few weeks ago (2-3 i’m guessing) that while they were broken up for said year, that her boyfriend (who wasnt her bf at the time) continued to see the girl that caused the end of their relationship the first time.
Its probably been sitting in the back of her mind, and she’s been getting more uneasy about it and wondering if she made the right choice getting back together and if she would hold it as a grudge against him/not be able to live with it.
Perhaps you should reread the letter and some of the responses. I really think that the LW just wrote in to “get the feelings off her chest” and to voice her concern and eventually she’ll work it out for herself if she can live with that knowledge that while her bf and her were broken up that he still saw the girl that caused the end of their relationship. Really I dont think she needs our advice, she probably deep down knows what she should do.
jena May 10, 2011, 11:42 am
I really don’t think she’ll work it out for herself and be okay with the idea that he cheated (which hurt her so badly that she demanded never to see him again) and then found out that he KEPT seeing that girl. And that’s fine. I think this guy screwed up, and instead of working and fighting for her, he conceded defeat and went to hang with the cheat-girl. She deserves better, no? Someone who won’t use “I was drunk” as an excuse for sleeping with someone else.
Fairhaired Child May 10, 2011, 9:45 pm
I’m not stating that she should work it out to BE OK with it, but that she’d work to find out IF she could (and if not then she knows she should MOA). If you read more responses (and mine below as well) I think she should totally MOA if she cant deal with that, and the letter, as well as her clarifying remarks def. show that she will most likely never be able to have such a high level of trust in her bf again and may always hold it against him (and so .. should MOA). Really IMHO, I think only she really knows whats best for her own sanity and happiness, the advice from us readers is just a extra push in different directions.
MsBorgia May 9, 2011, 11:23 am
As everyone has wisely noted, only YOU can decide if you want to get past it or not. However, I have been in your boyfriend’s situation. We all deal with loss and breakups in different ways— I, and it looks like your boyfriend too, prefer to get comfort and companionship from a rebound fling.
Yes, it sucks that he had his rebound with the girl he cheated on you with, but if it hadn’t been her it would have been someone else. Does it really matter who? Maybe it was being with her that made him realize what he’d lost in *you*.
Good luck 🙂
TheGirl May 9, 2011, 11:27 am
I’m going to write what I think even though everyone else has probably already written it. It doesn’t matter if WE think its o.k. that he stayed with this girl. The real issue here is whether or not you can trust this guy and it really sounds like you can’t. Trust is the most important thing to have in a relationship. If you can’t get over it, you shouldn’t be with him. Its not fair to either of you, and I guarantee it will keep coming up over and over again.
cmarie May 9, 2011, 11:36 am
I will preface the post by saying how much I dislike cheaters, just in case I sound biased. I could never be with someone who cheated on me because I know I could never forgive them. What bothers me about this guy is that not only did he cheat on the LW with this girl, but he continued to see her while they were broken up. I personally feel that if he was truly trying to “work” on himself, that would include cutting off contact with the person who helped him cause all this mess. If he truly wanted her back then he should not have been seeing the girl he cheated with. He had to have known how hurtful it was going to be for her and if he truly wanted her back then he would have done what he could to not hurt her again. If he had any hope of getting back together he would have never seen this girl again. If he didn’t think he stood of chance of getting her back then he should have left the LW alone. I feel that he was incredibly callous to see this girl while actively working to get the LW back. It doesn’t speak well to his character. Also, while the girl may have been who he cheated with and maybe she is some sort of trashy ho bag (the LW didn’t mention whether or not she knew he was taken) it was wrong of him to see her while pursuing someone else. Cheater x two he is. They were back together for a couple months before she found out that he had been seeing her. I would think that after he cheated he would want all the cards to be on the table before starting the relationship again so that a couple months down the road that speed bump isn’t there to throw them off. I think the LW would have had an easier time accepting it if he had been completely honest about the extent of the relationship. After seeing how much devastation cheating had done to their relationship and her I would just think that he would learn the honesty is best. I give him props for telling her about the cheating right away and making efforts to work on himself but I have to take them away because he wasn’t honest with her. He took away her ability to make the right decision for herself in resuming their relationship because if she had known that he had continued to see the girl it would have affected her decision to take him back. It doesn’t matter whether or not she still would have taken him back, he lied (by omission) about something that is a big deal to her, something that he must have known was a big deal to her or he would have been honest upfront. His lack of honesty and consideration for a woman he loves enough to woo for a year is not a good indication of his character. In my opinion, he hasn’t changed enough to prove that he deserves a second chance. By hiding this important fact from the LW it shows that he still has a degree of lack of consideration for her and her feelings. Just my opinion, in the end it’s up to the LW to decide if his good outweighs his bad and just how much she can forgive.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 11:50 am
Yeah, cmarie. I hadn’t even thought about the dishonesty of concealing his continued relationship with the Other Woman when he was trying to get back together with the LW. He was honest when he cheated, paid the price, and when he had the chance to get what he wanted again (the LW), he apparently concealed the information she needed to make an informed choice. Probably knowing that she wouldn’t take him back if she knew!
If he cheats again in the future, I wonder if he will be so honest as to confess.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 11:52 am
All things considered, I think I would answer the LW’s question, “Is it really that significant, in the big scheme of things?” with Yes, for me it would be that significant. I’d never be able to trust him again.
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 12:02 pm
I’m wondering what the timeline on him seeing this girl was. It’s not completely clear from the letter, so I don’t know if it was during the months they didn’t speak or during their reconnection/reconciliation.
demoiselle May 9, 2011, 12:05 pm
True, and the breech of faith is less egregious if he stopped seeing the Other Woman as soon as he started pursuing the LW again. But even if that is so, shouldn’t he have let the LW know that he’d been seeing the Other Woman for a while? It might have altered her choice about whether to take him back, and obviously now that she’s found out (from mutual friends, perhaps?) it’s hurt her a lot. Was he counting on her never finding out?
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 12:16 pm
That’s also true. Hmm. I’m betting he felt like if he was honest about it, she’d call getting back together off and (if he was really truthful about wanting to get back together) he was afraid to tell her. That’s no excuse and doesn’t reflect so great on him either. I wonder how she ‘found out’? From a friend? Old email snooping? If she ‘found out’ then it’s likely he didn’t confess, but they discussed it in the letter. Sometimes the wording in these makes a big difference. I’m going to assume that he didn’t tell her and she confronted him.
Kind of a mess all around.
leilani May 9, 2011, 5:41 pm
I am the orignal letter writer. I wanted to clear up a few things that weren’t clear in my letter….the time that we weren’t speaking was the time he was seeing the other girl. When we started casually talking again, I asked him if he was hanging out with her/seeing her, and he told me that he wasn’t, which was the truth at the time. He did not, however, tell me that he had been seeing her in the first place (I don’t really know the depth of it–I know that they hooked up mulitple times, went to parties together, and talked on the phone). He didn’t outright lie about it, but he knew that it mattered to me, and he opted not to tell me. I found out because I saw a picture of them together at a party when I was surfing through an old friend’s album, and the picture was taken about a month after we broke up. I confronted him about it and he was honest with me, but I’m pretty sure he was aware that I had the impression that it was a one-night fling and never bothered to clear that up until he had to.
demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:35 am
Thank you for the update. I wish that we could give better advice–but in the end, I think you will know whether you can regain trust in your BF again. Good luck.
jena May 10, 2011, 11:43 am
So in addition to cheating on you, he also lied about hanging out with her after the fact…
Sarah May 9, 2011, 12:12 pm
I think in some way, your inner self is using this as a defensive measure against getting hurt. I don’t think you are over the cheating, and I think your subconscious is using this hurtful news as a shield to keep you from loving this person again. But that doesn’t mean its wrong to do so though.
I once had a guy break up with me pretty coldly while he was drunk. He spent the weeks and weeks afterward saying it was a mistake, begging for forgiveness and for me to take him back, which I did. A few weeks after I did take him back, he stood me up for a date with no call until later that night. The next day I broke up with him. I realized that I never got over how much he hurt me the weeks beforehand and that my extra pain and hurt feelings over being dumped hadn’t been processed all the way yet. It took being stood up, a relatively minor offense, to realize that my instincts wanted to push away from this man and although it hurt, it felt right.
Do a gut check. Can you get over the cheating AND this new revelation entirely without regret and be with this man, or are your instincts telling you that you should not be with this guy? Will you feel better knowing you’re with this man in spite of what happened, or that you used this opportunity to end things and work on yourself?
Sistine May 9, 2011, 12:27 pm
I don’t know. He was so hurt he messed up his relationship he had no choice but to continue the behavior/keep seeing the person who destroyed it in the first place? To the common observer it doesn’t look like he was that regretful in the beginning. Seems like it took him a while to decide he even wanted to win the LW back. Maybe the relationship with the new girl just didn’t work out. The LW has to decide for herself if she can forgive him and move on in their relationship or not. But I do think she’s justified in feeling hurt especially since he actually kept this information from her and she only found out a few weeks ago. I think the dishonesty is a bigger issue than the cheating at this point.
Budjer May 9, 2011, 12:48 pm
Hey…been lurking since Dear Wendy was on The Frisky and decided to finally weigh in…
First things first…I don’t condone cheating, but do have a little sympathy for the boy friend. Based on how the letter and timeline of events was written I’m making an assumption that this guy was with the other woman during the time frame that the lw was ignoring him for 3 months. Guys can do some pretty desperate things when they are down in the dumps so a ready and willing woman combined with being essentially shut out from your girl friend of 3 years(!) is definitely a recipe for disaster. When this was going on he was probably under the impression she really wasnt ever going to talk to him again.
With that in mind and putting myself in the bf’s shoes I don’t really blame the guy for not telling the lw about the “residual” hook ups. He was (in his eyes) severely punished for his honesty before and, as most people seem to agree, she has no say in what he did in that off time so what was the point in bringing it up? He obviously regrets it and most men I know wouldn’t spend even 3 months trying to win someone back. I also give him a lot of credit for getting himself help and being able to recognize his kryptonite and get control over it…..mind you that was something he did regardless of his relationship with the lw working out. So if you can bring yourself to move on I would keep this guy around.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 12:59 pm
Ah, this seems as good a place as any to jump back in after my break.
First, I want to make sure I’m clear on a few points here, LW:
(1) The relationship made you incredibly happy up to the point he cheated.
(2) His cheating occurred when he was incredibly drunk, which means that not only was he legally incapable of consenting to sex, he might actually have been raped if the girl were relatively sober.
(3) As soon as he was able to realize what had happened, he immediately confessed it to you.
(4) After three years of a great relationship, you told him that, after one mistake which he confessed and apologized for, you never wanted to see him again.
(5) When you told him you never wanted to see you again, he respected that enough to assume you meant it and left you alone…
(6)…but was so stuck on you that he then spent a year trying to ease back into a relationship with you by slowly working back up to a position of trust.
(7) After three wonderful years with you, someone he loves so much that he altered his lifestyle after a mistake and spent a year trying to win you back, he messed up once and was told to go away forever. After hearing that, and with months going by without any contact with you, he spent some time with the other woman to console himself but then was unable to get you off of his mind.
Now, you’re still wondering if you should let this guy back into your life? Seriously?
Look, I know there are those who think that cheating, no matter what the circumstances, is utterly unforgivable. Relationships to me are not nearly so black and white. As far as I can tell, what seemed like an amazing relationship was tossed aside due to five minutes of drunken activity, and you managed to get another shot with the person who spent 100,000 times that long trying to win you back. And now you’re wondering if you should throw it all away again after finding out what he did after you told him to go away.
By all means, toss this out the window. But good luck finding someone who never, ever does anything wrong. This guy screwed up for a few minutes while incredibly drunk and still confessed it to you. He changed his life to try to make sure it’d never happen again, and he spent a year trying to win you back. I seriously disagree with anyone who thinks the five drunken minutes outweigh everything before and after.
Budjer May 9, 2011, 1:06 pm
Agreed dude. When my comments get approved you will see I wrote something similar.
MissDre May 9, 2011, 1:28 pm
Really glad to have you back!
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 1:30 pm
Thanks! It’s good to be back.
WatersEdge May 9, 2011, 2:22 pm
I wrote something like this but deleted it for fear of being flamed. The stuff about finding someone who never messes up, specifically. And that if this LW wants to dump this guy forever then that’s her choice but to me she is throwing away a good relationship over a one-time mistake.
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 2:34 pm
I agree with JSW when he says these things usually aren’t black and white. I think the LW has to weigh her feelings and his actions. It seems to me like he’s putting in a big effort, changing his drinking lifestyle and trying to win her trust for a full year. Seems like a lot of work to me for someone who’s not serious. I think she’s right to have her trust broken, but I think she should look at how remorseful he is now. Ultimately, if she still can’t trust him though, she can’t trust him.
I do disagree with point (2) though. We don’t really know how drunk he was. I would rather assume that he take personal responsibility than excuse his actions on alcohol alone–which it seems like he did.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 2:46 pm
I was basing that on the LW’s use of “got really drunk” and “he realized he was completely out of control” statements. My interpretation was that he went out, got hammered, had some woman who’d had him in her sites come onto him, and ended up getting physical with her.
I also don’t get the impression at all that he used it as an excuse, but I do think the fact that is seems he was legally incapacitated means that he was unable to consent to it, which means that, if this other woman was not drunk but used the fact that he was to get him to have sex with her, he was raped.
So, to me, the fact he was drunk was an excuse, to a lessor or greater extent, and the fact that he didn’t use it as one (as far as I can tell… it’s unclear) makes him even more worthy.
But, yeah, #2 wasn’t my strongest point. Still, when you put everything together, to me it just added to the case to keep him. Obviously, there could be a lot that we don’t yet know which would change my opinion. I’m basing what I feel purely on my interpretation of what was written.
Darlin' May 9, 2011, 2:54 pm
I totally agree that everyone messes up, in relationships, in life, it happens. But there are some things you can forgive, and some that you can’t. It varies from person to person. Myself, I can’t forgive a cheater. I tend to obsess about it and can’t let it go. That’s my issue, but I make it very clear in my relationships that it is my dealbreaker. You have to know where your line is, and what you can and cannot accept and deal with. It doesn’t make you a bad person to walk away or a better person if you just forgive and move on. Every person and realtionship is different.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:05 pm
I understand that, but I feel it’s not necessarily correct to label him a cheater. To me, that depends enormously on how drunk (or not) he was and also on how drunk (or not) the other woman was. I don’t think you can cheat if you’re incapacitated and unable to process the consequences of what you’re doing and especially if someone is actively attempting to convince you to do something your body is inclined to agree with.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 3:26 pm
Sorry. But I don’t agree that he may have been “raped.” If you’re that pist drunk that you can’t determine whether or not you’re having SEX with someone (or hooking-up, idk what she meant by that) then you probably won’t remember you did that because you were blacked out!I’m not going to write him off as a douche, but I def. don’t think he was THAT drunk or should blame it completely on the alcohol.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:33 pm
If you don’t agree that he may have been raped then you need to refresh your understanding of current law. One can legally be raped and yet not be blacked out.
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 3:36 pm
Then he should have told her, from the beginning, that he was raped.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:59 pm
Yeah, it’s not like there’s a huge social stigma attached to men making that claim or like there’s a prevalent belief that it’s almost impossible for a woman to rape a man, and it’s also not as though men themselves would find it difficult to accept or admit they were raped.
Look, maybe it was completely consentual or maybe they were both drunk. I’d say it’s more likely than not that he wasn’t raped. But I think it’s wrong to just assume he’d accept that he’d been raped if, in fact, he had been.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 3:36 pm
I’m not talking about the law, I’m talking about whether or not he was able to comprehend what he was doing or not. If you cannot comprehend that you’re having sex with a human being, it’s because you’re blacked out & you will not even remember anything to confess.
That said, since he did confess the next day, he was most likely completely aware of what was happening & could’ve stopped himself…
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:53 pm
There is an enormous difference between being aware that you’re doing something and being coherent enough to be aware of the consequences of that action.
Also, the fact that someone has been taken advantage of while intoxicated does not necessarily mean they will admit or accept that they’ve been raped.
I’m not saying he was raped. I’m saying that, depending on the levels of intoxication of those involved, he may very well have been.
To imply that it’s ok to have sex with a drunk person because they’re obviously able to act appropriately in that state would be to take a position many have worked hard to show as being wrong.
Maybe he wasn’t all that drunk. I don’t know. It sounded to me like he was.
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 4:02 pm
I know that saying “just because he was drunk doesn’t mean he couldn’t say no” sets a dangerous precedent for a lot of actual rape scenarios, and I’m not trying to belittle anyone else’s experiences at all. However I’m pretty sure that if you get so drunk that someone else takes advantage of you, you’d say that to save your relationship. You’d say “we all got drunk and she jumped on me.” And maybe he did say that, we don’t know. But the fact that he CONTINUED seeing her says, to me, that he was most likely aware enough to consent to having sex with her the first time. You don’t go back to someone who takes advantage of you.
I just think that “well, he was really drunk” is a bullshit excuse for cheating.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 4:07 pm
Well it’s def. a difference of opinion, then… Because
I’m pretty sure if he was coherent enough to do it & rememeber, he was def. coherent enough to know that that was NOT his gf…
Even if the girl was pushing herself onto him, I just can’t give him the benefit of the doubt that he was THAT intoxicated. & Silver_dragon is right, had that been the case he would’ve told the LW he had been taken advantage of, not that he cheated.
I don’t care what kind of social stigma is attached to that concept, if you’ve been with someone for years & are at risk of losing them, & you really DID get raped, you would say it.
I’m not completely writing him off at all, I think regardless of what he did it was comendable that he owned up to it. It’s really a matter of whether the LW can accept it or not.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 4:26 pm
I guess we’ll just need to hope the LW supplies more details, then.
To me, one must take responsibility for getting drunk. However, once drunk, one isn’t capable of making good decisions. I think that being drunk can be a proper excuse for cheating. If you’re very drunk, of you weren’t aware of the likelihood of being approached like that prior to getting drunk, and if someone else deliberately pursues that with you, knowing you’re drunk, then, yes, I absolutely think it’s a viable excuse.
Some people are pretty coherent and in control at really high blood alcohol levels. Others lose control very early on.
Sex is something that men especially are going to pursue at a very base level, and being drunk removes a lot of the higher level thought required to say no to it.
So, sure, if he had reason to believe he was going to be hit on, he should have stayed sober. But once drunk, it’s wrong to say he should have had control.
It’s also wrong to say people don’t go back to those who take advantage of them… see many of Wendy’s letters.
He might have felt responsible after the fact for what happened, which would explain why he didn’t use being drunk as an excuse. And being heartbroken can remove many of the same levels of proper decision making as can being drunk, which would explain his seeing her again.
And we have no idea that he did anything other than see her a couple more times afterwards. By that point, he’d already lost what mattered to him.
LTC039 May 9, 2011, 3:12 pm
I think the point is how she feels about it. From her letter (which is all we have to go on right now) she doesn’t sound like she’s capable of letting it go. Yes, some people are totally capable, but she sounds very hurt & resentful.
I think for her she was able to get over the inital cheating act…but as they reconciled, she found out he was continuing to see the girl (idk how she found out, but from the sound of the letter, he didn’t tell her off the bat).
When trust is broken in a relationship it’s VERY difficult to get it back. I think she really wants to know if she’s making a big deal out of finding the second part out or not.
I say, it depends on how badly is hurts her. If she’s ok with it, fine, but if she’s resentful & embarrassed, she should just MOA.
Elle May 9, 2011, 2:47 pm
Taking sides with the LW here.
She broke up with him when she found out he cheated on her. While he was commendable for confessing it, I think he did it out of guilt, and basically shifted the blame of breaking up on her.
And I completely understand why she cut off contact with him. She was terribly hurt, and this was her coping mechanism. Before that night, she was in a great relationship, and out of the blue, her bf goes off and sleeps with another girl. I think the LW would have been reminded of how much he hurt her everytime she would see him, everytime she would hear his voice. Nevermind being intimate. The only way she could deal with the hurt was with the guy out of the picture.
For me, a third uninvolved party, it’s not a big deal, right? One time mistake, get over it. But if I would have to deal with that one-time mistake day in and day out, I might behave quite differently. Pretty much like the LW here.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 2:58 pm
The thing is, I’m not siding against the LW for her initial decision to break up with him. I get that, completely. When one hears something like that, the initial reaction is rarely to sit back and reflect leisurely on the relative pros and cons of the relationship to that point. I’ve had the exact same sort of call the LW received, and I reacted similarly, at least initially. I very much understand her reaction.
My issue is with the current situation, after he’s spent a year working on restoring the relationship. I don’t feel that it’s right to blame him for spending time with a woman who was throwing herself at him after the one he loved broke off contact with him (admittedly due to his actions). His life after the LW ended things was his life to lead, not hers, and dwelling on what he did initially after the heartbreak of a breakup is not really going to help anyone.
If she cannot trust him, she needs to end things again. But I feel it’s wrong to act on angry with him for what he did after the breakup.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 2:59 pm
“act on anger with him…”
cmarie May 9, 2011, 3:01 pm
I think her new hurt might also be because he wasn’t completely honest with her. He broke her trust when he cheated and then when she was ready to give him a second chance he broke her trust again by not coming clean about seeing the girl. He had to have know it was going to hurt her; this was the girl he cheated with, not some random girl he used to replace her. It’s difficult to rebuild trust if he hides important information that could affect her decision. Ultimately, she needs to learn to trust him again to forgive him for cheating but I understand how hard that would be after finding something like that out, after being back together for several months.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:08 pm
The thing is, the letter is really unclear about what happened. If he ended up in a relationship with her for months and months, even while trying to win her back, and never mentioned it, that’s one thing. But if all he did was end up with her a few times after the fact and then end it, I don’t see any reason why he was obligated to tell the LW something which (a) he know would be hurtful to her and (b) which occurred after their relationship ended and before it rekindled.
The fact that finding out hurt the LW doesn’t necessarily mean that the bf was under any obligation to tell her. The events occurred outside the timelines of their relationship and weren’t really her business.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:10 pm
Sorry, I was unclear. Been away for too long.
“If he ended up in a relationship with the other woman for months and months, even while trying to win the LW back…”
cmarie May 9, 2011, 3:20 pm
The fact that he continued to see the other woman, whether in a relationship or hooking up situation, is something he really should have told her. This girl will always have negative feeling for the LW and if he truly wanted a new start it was the sort of information he should have shared with her. Never assume the no one will find out because they always do. She’s not upset that he saw someone else while they were broken up, she’s upset that he say HER. That is the kind of information you don’t hide because when it comes out it will be an even bigger deal because you weren’t upfront about it. The fact that it was the girl he cheated with makes it an issue. She assumed it was a one-time mistake for him and he was content to let her believe that knowing it wasn’t true. You can’t call it a one-time mistake if you sleep with her again. If my girl cheated on me then continued to see the other woman while we were broken up than didn’t tell me when we got back together and I didn’t find out for months than I would be even more upset. His omission prevent her from making a truly informed decision and prevented their relationship from moving past it because he allowed that secret to exist. There should not have been any secrets between them when they got back together because it prevents her from truly rebuilding the trust she needs to have in him.
silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 3:26 pm
I agree with you. The more I think about it (and I realize I’m really stretching the LW’s exact words here), the more this seems like he cheated, came clean out of guilt, decided “well, I’m single now anyway, might as well live it up and this chick’s cool,” then later regretted it and didn’t want to be found out. If this guy really felt he hadn’t done anything wrong, he would have been up from to the LW that it wasn’t just a one-night thing. And really, since he KEPT seeing her afterwards, I think the whole “he was too drunk to know what he was doing” defense kind of flies out the window.
If I got drunk and slept with a guy and it ruined my relationship, I’m pretty sure that that dude would be the LAST person I’d ever want to lay eyes on again.
Also, if you knowingly get hammered, you bear some of the responsibility for putting yourself in that position.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:31 pm
I understand your points, but I disagree. His life after the breakup and before the reconciliation was not hers to know. Sure, she will find out aspects of it, but that doesn’t obligate him to reveal it all to her, and it does not make him a bad person for not telling her everything.
They weren’t together.
Sarah May 9, 2011, 4:46 pm
I guess I need someone who, when he does do something wrong or screws up for a minute, doesn’t do it with his penis.
leilani May 10, 2011, 9:41 am
LW here. To clarify about how drunk he was, he was definitely wasted, but he was still coherent and knew what he was doing. I don’t think his being drunk was an excuse, but I am pretty sure that it never would’ve happened if he was sober. I have no clue how drunk the girl was, but I don’t think it really matters. He never expressed to me that he felt remotely taken advantage of; its more accurate to say that he was lacking self control, but still capable of making decisions.
But I don’t really want to concentrate on the drinking thing. In response to your original letter, I agree with you, if that’s how it happened–i.e., he was upset, lonely, knew I wouldn’t speak to him again, so he tried to move on with his life. But when I found out that he continued to see her, it made me doubt his intentions. It made me feel almost like he left me for her, which is I’m sure how it looked to mutual friends and acquaintances who saw us out together one week and them out together the next. Maybe I’m being petty (and feel free to tell me if I am, that’s why I wrote in) but it really humiliated me, and made me feel pathetic for taking him back. Like he just went and had his little fling, and I was still there when he was over it and decided to come back to me. And I recognize that everyone makes mistakes, but personally, that’s a mistake that I would never make, and one that I don’t understand. And if I did, I would be sick to my stomach about it…I can’t imagine even seeing the person I messed up with again, let alone calling them up and hooking up with them. To me, that just seems grossly opportunistic, not to mention insensitive. I felt like it just made a joke of our relationship, and a joke of me. So these are the feelings I am grappling with. I waver between seeing things the way you see them, and just feeling really betrayed. I guess these are the emotions you have to deal with in situations of infidelity. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback, and it is really helping me to sort everything out.
demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:52 am
I understand how you feel, and I would feel the same way. I hadn’t even thought about what it would look like to your mutual friends. Nevertheless, I think that the biggest thing for me at this point would be the fact that he concealed the information about their continued relationship when you were deciding to get back together. I’m sure it would have made a difference to your choice, and its neither honest nor honorable that he hid that, and allowed you to find out through Facebook after your decision was already made, and getting out again will be extra difficult and painful.
Fairhaired Child May 10, 2011, 9:53 am
Thanks for writing in to clarify things!
based on this response I really think you should seek some more professional counseling – not because anything that you feel is wrong but because continueing to talk about it with an outside party will make you less likely to continue to hold those feelings inside you which could eventually lead to you exploding/having a breakdown (not necessarily at him).
Personally, I think you need to MOA. Even if you do move on, I think you should continue to talk about how you feel, with an outside person (not to friends! that know you and how the relationship went) or by writing journal your journey each day growing away from him. You need to fix your heart from the initial shock of the cheating still, and then the additional shock of what felt like a double betrayal that he continued to see her. If you MOA dont focus on how much you miss him, but focus on how amazing and strong YOU are, and write a lot of positive things after you write “today I feel really crappy, I had a dream about (insert bfs name) last night, but I’m not going to let that affect my plans.. I’m going to go get a pedicure and then go hang out wiith the girls/go the the park/feed ducks at the pond.”
LTC039 May 10, 2011, 10:32 am
I totally agree with you! & that’s why I kept saying it really depends on how YOU feel about it. You’re def. not ok with it & it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever be. I completely understand why it hurt you that he continued to see her, regardless of why. It’s not ok with YOU.
Now you gotta figure out if you’re willing to compromise your hurt & resentful feelings to fix this relationship.
IMO, I don’t think you should. You’ve expressed enough how not ok this is with you & in your eyes. I think you’d feel a lot better if you moved on, in the long run.
WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 3:01 pm
I wouldn’t call it petty, but I would call it prideful and possibly immature. I don’t think that you should let what you BELIEVE others must think of you (not even what they actually think of you) keep you from being with someone who you love. I think it’s a shame that you don’t seem to be able to look past this, because it seems like you’re holding onto this for the wrong reasons. How it looks to everyone else that you took him back? That he should have done exactly what you believe you would do if you were hypothetically in his shoes? Those are terrible reasons to make major life decisions.
This man clearly did not leave you for her. You dumped him. What I see in this paragraph is you making your boyfriend into the villain at every turn. You don’t want to forgive him. You want to punish him. You punished him by dumping him and by staying enough in contact with him that he felt motivated to continue to pursue you for a year. Now you find out a new bit of information and you’re ready to start all over with the punishment. If you don’t want to forgive him, then don’t. But please, just break up with the guy already and stop making him try to prove himself to you. You’re being really unfair here. If it’s revenge you want, I think you’ve gotten it by now.
PS- You will be hard-pressed to find a guy who is 100% faithful to someone who dumped him during a year of being broken up. And the girl he cheated on you with was an obvious, easy choice. You are out of your mind if you believe you deserved fidelity during that time.
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 3:14 pm
Move on with him or without him, but move on. Stop dwelling on the past. The key thing to decide to forgive or to make a deal-breaker is that drunken hook-up. What followed after the breakup shouldn’t matter.
It is completely OK to decide that you cannot be with him. You can do so for whatever reason(s) you want regardless of how we random Internet strangers feel about it. We know 0.001% of the details of it all, so we really shouldn’t judge (although of course we will).
But don’t expect a ton of support from us for deciding to use the fact that he didn’t come out and tell you that he’d spent time with her after you broke up with him as a reason to continue to punish him or to leave him hanging while you decide the fate of the relationship.
Want him or don’t want him. Act accordingly. Stop dwelling.
And I say that as someone who has been in your shoes. Well, not literally, since I’ve got clown-sized feet. But figuratively. Dwelling and punishing never help anything, ever.
cmarie May 10, 2011, 3:16 pm
She may not have deserved fidelity but she did deserve honestly when she decided to take him back. I think you are being a bit dismissive of her concerns. He cheated on her and that’s a big deal. Yeah, relationships can move forward after infidelity but it takes a while and it takes work. You don’t decide to stay together and things immediately go back to the way they were. It takes time to recover from infidelity. I know couples that still have issues 10 years after the cheating occurred because it’s such a huge mark on their relationship map. They’ve only been back together a few months, not a lot of time for her to begin rebuilding her trust in him and then this information comes along to throw a wrench in the whole system. She’s not being prideful and she’s not being immature, she’s being a woman who has been incredibly hurt by someone she loves and who she thought loved her. Of course she’s concerned about what other people think, they’re her friends, the people who she turns to for advice and support, probably the ones she turned to for comfort after they broke up, and that’s also how she thinks. She feels like a fool for having taken him back in light of this information so it’s only naturaly that that would be how she thinks other people see her. She’s also not being immature. She’s trying to give him the second chance he worked for but it’s hard when he isn’t completely honest with her. She brings up how she would react as an example of how she doesn’t understand his behavior and doesn’t understand how he could continue to hurt her. We all base our actions on our own opinions and thoughts. Also, from the sounds of it, it was the guy who pursued her, not the other way around. Her being in contact with him didn’t force him to continue to try to get back together with her, obviously her thoughts and her feeling don’t affect his behavior much. She may love him but she can’t trust him and by cheating on her and then by not being honest with the fact that he continued to see this other girl he makes it difficult for her to rebuilt that trust the HE destroyed.
leilani May 10, 2011, 3:50 pm
I appreciate a lot of your insight, but I think you might be misinterpreting a few things about how I feel. I did not expect “fidelity” when we were broken up in the slightest. We both dated other people when we were broken up, and I had no problem with that. I also didn’t expect him to be on his best behavior the whole time we were broken up just in case I changed my mind or anything like that. The reason I was upset when I found out he had continued to see the other girl was not that I expected him to stay faithful to my memory–it was because it changed my view on what actually happened, and what I had forgiven/gotten over. I thought I had forgiven a one-night stand, when actually, what happened was far more in depth than that. Also, I understand why he didn’t come out and tell me from the get-go, because he explained it to me. Basically he said that he did that when he thought we had no future, and then when it became clear that we might, he was terrified to say anything that would jeopardize that. He never outright lied, but he was really scared to be honest, so he put it off. I’m less upset about him withholding that information that I am at what he withheld. And I do very much want to move past this–whether that is with or without him. I had no desire to punish him or make him jump through hoops–to be completely honest, I already did that to an extent when we were broken up and my emotions were very raw. I either for this whole issue to be completely behind us or for us to let each other go. But to do that, I really need to sort through the mess of things I am feeling.
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 4:03 pm
It’s a tough spot to be in, and I wish you luck.
I would strongly advise against interpreting what his time with her after the breakup implied about the event that caused the breakup, though.
The fact he spent time with her after doesn’t mean the initial hook-up meant anything, nor does it mean she ever meant anything to him. She was most likely nothing more than an easily available means to try to get past the breakup. Honestly, I think it’d be much worse were he immediately with yet another person. She meant nothing. She was just there and made herself clearly available to him, and he was upset.
Don’t think that him being with her even remotely is the same as if you’d cheated and then spent more time with the guy. Men and women are often quite different in that respect.
leilani May 10, 2011, 4:36 pm
That’s a good point. I guess I can never be 100% sure about what was going on in his head or what he was feeling when he did that. I should probably stop fixating on why he did this or that and letting that be what determines how I feel, because its so subjective and I’ll never be able to get an answer that is verifiable. This would probably be less confusing more me if I just looked at the facts of what he did, which haven’t really changed that much from what I already knew and forgave.
Rachel May 10, 2011, 8:50 pm
I don’t envy what you’re going through. I think it’s really admirable for you to acknowledge that looking at the facts might be the more mature thing to do, but you should really trust your feelings, too.
‘ve been in your shoes (it was a similar situation — we were friends who had developed feelings for one another while he was maintaining a crumbling long-distance relationship and, in the process of tying up loose ends on a break-up visit, decided to share one last hurrah). I was unable to really move past this prior indiscretion. I know because I tried. I was young and really eager to be in a relationship with him. He apologized, and since we hadn’t been official, I forgave him. We became “official” a few months later. I tried to trust him. He never betrayed that. And I made it a point to not mention it or hold it against him.
But I lost a great deal of confidence (in myself and in our relationship) and never really felt like I could truly enjoy it. I felt as though I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was worried about the security of our relationship. I harbored great anxiety whenever I knew he’d be hanging out around girls (in classes for projects, out about town, at friends’ homes) and whenever female acquaintances would call. He had done it once while aware of my feelings, so how could my feelings warrant stopping him from doing that again?
That was my hangup. In retrospect, I know that I couldn’t get past it. At the time, I was happy to have the attention and companionship. But, now that I look back on it and have far more pleasant and mature experiences with love, I really feel like I wasted a lot of my time (a couple years) in that relationship.
It was only after we broke up that I was able to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and what I didn’t want, that I was able to meet a wonderful man. We dated for a couple years and have married. With him, I’ve never worried about infidelity or insecurities. He makes me feel safe and secure.
Your boyfriend may never betray your trust again. He may be a great guy. But there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to move past this indiscretion, or feel truly secure in your relationship with him. Only time will tell. Don’t be so hard on yourself for what you feel. Counseling may help you talk it all out (and that’s the most important thing to do, to say what you need to say as many times and in as many ways as possible). Being able to “get past it” would be great. But if you cannot, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or that you’re a bad person. It simply means your require more security from someone who will not betray your trust, as opposed to someone who already has (however accidental or thoughtless).
PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 4:05 pm
If you want to try and make it work, you need to stop trying to “sort through the mess of things” you are feeling. You’re never going to make sense of it, and all you’re going to do is cause yourself a lot of unhappiness.
You need to decide to put this behind you once and for all or move on without him. If it’s the former, then you need to truly forgive him with your heart (and your head), and you don’t spend any more time punishing him and/or yourself with thinking and agonizing over it. In some ways, it needs to be like starting fresh again – it’s the only way it’ll work between the two of you. But, if you can’t do it, don’t continue to spend any more time on something that is doomed, and for both of your sakes, end it and don’t look back.
cmarie May 10, 2011, 4:24 pm
Only you can decide if you are able to completely forgive him. Although I question anyone who can so easily use someone without any consideration of their feelings, even if she makes herself available. I’m not sure what their situation was, I just think it’s not right to use someone to make yourself feel better. In the end he hurt 2 people. Like I said, not sure of their situation. You have every right to need to sort through everything. This isn’t something you can just snap your fingers and be over with. Your emotions are messed up and you’re hurting and there’s nothing wrong with the way you are feeling. Don’t feel the need to just get over it, it is going to take time. If you force yourself to be over it now it will come back to bite you in the future. If you want to move on, with or without him, you need to give yourself the time to heal. If you want to try to make the relationship work, be honest with him about your feelings and your needs. Tell him you’re not sure but you want to try, don’t punish him but talk to him, be honest with yourself and with him. Just because you’re torn right now doesn’t mean you need to just leave him without thinking about whether you can get over this new hurt.
sobriquet May 9, 2011, 1:11 pm
You have every right to be upset about this new detail, but I wouldn’t let it get to you. Your boyfriend has done a lot to prove that he wants to be with you, right? But something tells me that you’re honing in on this (somewhat insignificant) detail because you’re simply not ready to trust him.
You have to make a decision to leave the past in the past. Maybe talk to him about it one last time and then don’t talk about it again. If you can’t trust him, then you’re not ready to be in a relationship with him. Give him a chance to prove to you how much he loves you. And if you’re not ready to leave it behind you, then move on.
ele4phant May 9, 2011, 2:01 pm
So, I kind of feel divided on this one. Technically, you guys were not together when he was hooking up with this girl, and therefore had the freedom to do whatever he wanted.
However, this was the girl was the reason for your breakup in the first place, and would clearly be a sticking point for you when deciding to get back together with him, and the fact that he purposely withheld this from you is a big deal.
Quite honestly, if it were me, I think this would be it for me. Yes, he felt bad. Yes he worked really hard to regain your trust. But he still withheld one pretty critical detail. It would always be in the back of my mind that “If he REALLy wanted a fresh start, he would’ve put everything on the table”. I don’t think I could ever trust him to be fully straightforward with me, I’d always wonder if he was just telling me what I wanted to hear.
Also, I am curious how you found out about how much time he spent with this other girl. Did he tell you? Or did someone else clue you in? If it was him, well then, maybe he is trying to make it right.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I’d do. Can you live with this?
princesspetticoat May 9, 2011, 2:02 pm
Like others have suggested, this is not an easy decision. And different people feel differently about how to forgive cheating.
If it were me, I would have a hard time getting past this. His honesty is commendable and, while his drunken mistake may not be excusable, it is understandable. However, I still side with you in that continuing to see the girl is a big issue. You say he spent a year proving his dedication to you and his desire to be with you…. but at the same time he was fooling around with the other girl? Seems a little contradictory to me. I just don’t understand why he thought it was okay to be hooking up with someone else while he was actively trying to win you back. That action seems to say that having her right then was more important to him than having you for the rest of his life. Definitely a red flag in my opinion.
But it does also depend how long he continued to see her for. If it was just a few times right after you broke up, that may be more understandable. But if he continued to see her pretty much until you got back together with him, then that would be a dealbreaker for me.
So, this can either be chalked up to another mistake that you’re willing to forgive, or grounds to move on. I think you need to assess whether you feel that this incident will be something that will still bother you months/years down the road and whether you think he’s likely to do something similar in the future.
leilani May 10, 2011, 9:48 am
I’m the LW–he did continue to see her for a month or two, but it was in the time we weren’t speaking. He had stopped talking to her before we started talking again.
Fidget_eep May 9, 2011, 2:19 pm
I have a slightly different angle that I want to make. A lot of the comments have been about how the BF was seeing the other girl WHILE trying to get the LW back. I definitely did not get that impression. She said that she cut off communication with him for months, I took it to mean that while she was out of the picture he continued to see/hook up with the other girl, but that once the LW was receptive to seeing him again he stopped talking with the other chick. I agree that he was a jerk for hooking up with someone while in a 3 year relationship (or any length of time actually). BUT she can not hold him to her standard of staying at home crying when she A) broke up with him instead of working it out of thats what she wanted and B) has seen the work he has even now put in to rebuilding that trust that he ruined. If she can’t let it go and accept that he is human and probably drove the other girl nuts talking about her all the time and what he was going to do to get her back (one could hope right?) then she needs to moa and let him find someone new.
Maracuya May 9, 2011, 2:29 pm
I took your interpretation, too.
ele4phant May 9, 2011, 2:46 pm
I got the impression that he was seeing this girl while the LW was refusing to speak with him as well. However, if I were the LW, I would still have an issue with it because A) there was a particular amount of bad feelings around this particular girl which if he was sincere about rekindling the relationship he should have steered clear of, and more importantly B) he wasn’t upfront about it, which would make me doubt his sincerity.
Of course if they were broken up and he had no idea if he could ever get his girlfriend back, he had every right to try to move on with his life before she forgave. There’s no law saying he has to stay home and cry like she did. In fact, I might find it disturbing to know my ex was so hung up on me that he refused to date others. However, the fact that he kept seeing THAT girl, the one who broke up his relationship, and THEN lied, saying it was just a one off when it wasn’t, well, it would be a problem for me.
But that’s just me.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 2:50 pm
” However, the fact that he kept seeing THAT girl, the one who broke up his relationship, and THEN lied, saying it was just a one off when it wasn’t, well, it would be a problem for me.”
I didn’t see that in the letter – from my reading of it, he never lied about the other woman at all. The LW had merely assumed it would be a one-time thing after her bf told her about the incident, but then she broke off all contact with him.
ele4phant May 9, 2011, 3:24 pm
I guess that’s true, it never explicitly says if he said it was a one time thing. However, I still think that this guy would know it would be a big enough deal that he should have told her once they started talking about getting back together. It is such a sore subject that, in my opinion, it needed to be brought to light immediately. Again, maybe that is what he did, but I think as they’ve been together a few months and she’s just now finding out, he probably didn’t. Whether it was a direct lie or just allowing her to go with the wrong assumption, I think this guy wasn’t totally honest with her.
I guess bottom-line, if it were me, I couldn’t handle it. It would be too big a deal.
Lydia May 10, 2011, 7:30 am
This is what stood out to me as well. Hanging around with the girl after he and the LW had broken up isn’t such a big deal to me as him not telling the LW that he did so when they got back together. She got back together with him based, at least partially, on the assumption that it was a one time thing. And well, if it then later turns out that it WASN’T… That would be a major breach of trust for me. He wasn’t wrong in hanging out with her, since they were broken up, but not telling the LW was wrong.
_jsw_ May 9, 2011, 2:48 pm
That’s how I read it as well – that he wasn’t with the other woman while he was trying to win the LW back.
emjay May 9, 2011, 2:43 pm
He was just probably using her for a rebound, and when reality hit him and he realized he loved you, he ended it and spent a year trying to win you back. I like what another poster said, about telling/warning him, that ir still is very hurtful to you right now and that it will bother you at times still. I say give it another shot. He sounds like he trully relaized how horribly he messed up, and even changed his ways to prove it. Usually the guy is dead wrong in these cases ( isn’t the previous LW whose post was deleted gonna be pissed by this one LOL) and we all say MOA, but I give him mad props for changing and proving to you how much you mean to him.
Like I said, he just used her as a rebound. Something I’m sure we are all guilty of doing at one point. Give him another chance, it just mght be one of those things you look back on and smile to yourself “I’m really happy I gave this another shot! ” 🙂
bostonpupgal May 9, 2011, 3:08 pm
First off LW, I am so sorry this happened to you. I was cheated on shortly before my wedding, and it was devastating. The break up was awful, my decision to leave was instant but gut wrenching, and the next few months were absolute hell.
No, it’s not stupid to focus on it, but only you can decide if it’s a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Reading some of the stories here from commenters who went through similar things and stayed made me think of how strong and incredible they are, but it also made me ache for how much pain they have to put up with for so long. I would not be willing to put myself through that pain for someone who had betrayed me so deeply, I can’t even conceive of it. But some have found forgiveness and great reward as a result. If you are the type of person who will hurt about this for a long time, possibly forever, move on. If you think you can forgive and forget and you truly believe it will never happen again, start focusing on building a future.
justpeachy May 9, 2011, 3:44 pm
I think you officially nailed that landing. Very well put. Personally, I’m not a person who can easily forgive (or better forget) and him cheating would mean game over for me. However, I think part of the reason the fact that he continued to see the other girl upsets her so much is because it changes how she sees the end of their relationship. If he continued to see this girl, maybe it wasn’t just a one time thing when he was drunk. Maybe he wasn’t that crushed by their break up if he could get back out there with the other girl. Maybe he didn’t love her as much as she thought he wasn’t crushed afterward. It’s making her doubt what they had when things were good, not just when things were ugly after he cheated.
Fairhaired Child May 9, 2011, 10:19 pm
I just wanted to put my two cents in, I agree with most of what is said along the lines of that only she can decide if she can deal with the knowledge that she has or not. But to me one line stuck out.
“He quit drinking completely after the incident, because he realized he was completely out of control.”
When I first read the letter in the wee hours of the morning it was posted and there were like only 3 replies, my first gut instinct was “You dated this guy for three years and he nor you realized that he perhaps drank a little too much which could lead to possible bad actions”? And so he stops drinking COMPLETELY all because of one night? I know we dont have much background on the boyfriends drinking habits prior to his cheating episode, but if he was used to drinking 4+ beers with the boys every friday, or if he knew he limit was usually x amount of shots, or that he doesnt drink often at all and therefore is a light weight, then why for one birthday party would he get completely wasted? Usually its the birthday boy that gets rediculously smashed, and the friends have a thing set up on who is DD/looking out for the others, or that there is SOMEONE in the group that knows how to handle their alcohol/what is a good stopping point for themselve and then will watch out to make sure that no one else makes “dumb decisions”.
Also, I dont know why his friends would allow him to be possibly “taken advantage off” (if we are going on some statements that he probably was not making wise decisions and she threw herself at him) by some hot young thing, when they knew he was in a long term relationship.
I just think there is more underlying problems either he wasnt as happy in the relationship as she was or that she is leaving something out of her perfectly happy three year relationship description. And then he realized after playing around with his new female toy for a few months that, well he just had it easier/more content with the old relationship and didn’t have to work so hard to keep her since they had already been together for 3 years…
thats just another thought i had about the letter.
But really, all in all I think the LW knows what she feels and that she can make her own decision. Really this letter is probably more to get things off her chest (as I stated undersomeone’s comment above) and to reach out to be told from other random strangers that they have either been in that position, or to get more “outside” thoughts.
leilani May 10, 2011, 9:53 am
I’m the LW- and yes, he did have a drinking problem. Not in the frequency that he drank, but in the way that when he did drink, he would always drink way too much. It was something that we had talked about and he was aware of, but it wasn’t really a huge issue in our relationship; I had no clue that it would lead to him doing something incredibly hurtful to me. And our relationship wasn’t perfect–it was just a normal, happy relationship. We had some issues, like all couples, but nothing that made me question the relationship until this happened.
Fairhaired Child May 10, 2011, 10:01 am
I feel like you have validation for being angry at him, and its a good thing that he stopped drinking! However I still stick by the fact that his friends should have stopped anything like that happening esp. since you guys had been dating for so long, and would have known that something like another woman would ruin his relationship. While its not their job to babysit their friend, it just sucks that they wouldn’t have put an end to it. 🙁
I’m so sorry you are going through all these emotions, I would feel the exact same way in your shoes with being filled with so much doubt and feeling betrayed/hurt.
ele4phant May 10, 2011, 1:36 pm
While I agree its upsetting that his friends didn’t do or say anything to stop this guy from cheating, I have to confess if I were in a friend’s position I probably wouldn’t have said anything either.
My friends are adults, and their relationships are their own. I am not there to babysit them. They can make (and deal with the fallout of) their own mistakes without me trying to mother them. At most, I may have briefly taken him aside and said “Think about what you are doing”, but ultimately he is responsible for his actions.
leilani May 10, 2011, 10:07 am
Yeah, it really bothered me that his friends didn’t say or do anything. He was hanging out with a group of people that I’m not close to, but even if they didn’t try to stop something from happening for me, I wish they would’ve for him. Obviously it isn’t their response to police his behavior, but I would’ve said something to a friend in that situation.
Jessicaxmx May 10, 2011, 1:39 am
Let me just give you this piece of advice. Guys are very different than women. Not all guys, but most of them. Your ex spending time with this woman is probably something most guys would have done. Even though it was a pretty shitty thing to do it does not mean he didn’t care about you. If you take him back just remember to not look back on the past. Because if you do, your mind will playing fucking tricks on you. You two have got to come to some sort of agreement, so to speak. You have to let him understand what happened is NOT ok. People fuck up. If you take him back after what he’s done you just have to live in the present, forget the past. Set your mentality to a different perspective. I know it’s easier said than done but after all, YOU took him back after you found out what he did. I’m just saying from experience. If you can’t trust the guy it will really ruin your relationship. If you feel like you can trust him and move on from the situation without looking back then stop worrying about what he did with this other woman. Unless you have some sort of way to prove he was still seeing her while being back with you.
demoiselle May 10, 2011, 10:09 am
::speaking in an ironic tone of voice:: Do I understand from your letter that guys are very different from women in that most of them are … just pretty shitty? They just can’t help being that way, even if they care?
I know people fuck up. I fuck up. My husband does, too. But I don’t expect his fuck-ups to be more shitty than mine just because he’s a guy. He doesn’t get kudos for meeting a lower standard due to being a man.
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 12:11 pm
“But I don’t expect his fuck-ups to be more shitty than mine just because he’s a guy.”
No, but you can expect his fuck-ups to be of a different nature than yours.
As a guy, I see nothing wrong with the bf hanging out with the other woman after he’d been broken up with, nor do I see anything wrong with him not telling the LW after the fact. In the first case, he was a free agent. In the second, he wasn’t obligated to reveal what he’d done while being a free agent.
On the other hand, I completely understand the hurt that leilani feels. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. It sucks. It hurts. It pokes at you for a really long time. I’m not sure I could get past it in most cases.
However, the fact that she’s hurt by it doesn’t in and of itself make it wrong.
His initial act was wrong. Knowing now that he wasn’t incredibly drunk makes me agree completely that, while his judgement was impaired (that’s the nature of drinking), it likely wasn’t gone altogether.
But I do not think that what he did after that was wrong in any sense, nor do I feel that he was under some moral or ethical obligation to tell her. It was a past thing, done while broken up, that would serve no purpose other than to hurt her if she found out, which obviously is what happened anyway.
Nevertheless, it’s irrelevant whether or not it’s wrong. If leilani cannot get past it, she needs to leave him.
demoiselle May 10, 2011, 12:21 pm
“In the first case, he was a free agent. In the second, he wasn’t obligated to reveal what he’d done while being a free agent.”
I get this, and can see your point. But what if he didn’t tell her about what he did as a free agent because he KNEW she wouldn’t take him back if he did? Doesn’t that color the situation a bit, even if technically no one is obligated to tell what they do when they are a free agent? Isn’t sticking to the above guidelines in such a situation sort of … self-serving and inconsiderate?
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 12:31 pm
I think it’s more along the lines of not telling her about something he did which was not immoral, not illegal, and not unethical but which he knew would hurt her to discover. In those cases, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to not tell someone something you know will hurt them when it serves no other purpose.
Yes, leilani was hurt by discovering it anyway, and absolutely, I get why she was hurt, and if it were me in her position, I’d absolutely want to have been told, because I have been in her position and ended up finding out later and ended up being hurt by it.
But the thing is, I was hurt because the thought of what happened was hurtful to me personally, not because the other person did anything wrong (well, after they had done something wrong… I really can relate to her story). But what she did after wasn’t wrong, and I can’t really say it was something she should have told me, and honestly, I would have been fine never finding out, because it wasn’t the sort of thing that I “needed” to know.
Likewise, in leilani‘s case, I don’t think the boyfriend was wrong or bad or evil for not telling her.
PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 12:45 pm
As I stated in my original comment, I agree that he could do whatever he wanted while he was unattached. While I agree that he was under no moral or ethical obligation to tell her, if he hopes to rebuild a healthy relationship with the LW, he needs to be open and honest with her now that they’ve gotten back together. That’s a very important part of re-establishing the trust.
Budjer May 10, 2011, 1:11 pm
I don’t know…to me this falls in the realm of a “what’s your list / number” type of scenario and I agree with _jsw_. It’s a stretch to make this correlation because it’s not as severe as the situation, but if you lived in a small town and hooked up with someone your s/o hates prior to your relationship…would you tell them about it if you were inclined to exchange such information?
For me this is a moot point though…I wouldn’t have taken him back. To me cheating is an absolute relationship ender.
PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 2:51 pm
This isn’t the same as sharing one another’s number – this is the girl that he cheated on her with, and it has a direct bearing on them trying to get back together.
cmarie May 10, 2011, 1:10 pm
The BF may not have been wrong to continue the relationship with the other girl, and I don’t think he was wrong. He was a free agent. However, he was wrong to hide it from her. He was dishonest about this girl again and pretty made it impossible for the LW to move past it. His continuing to see the girl changed her perspective on the break-up and while he was not wrong in doing it, he should have been upfront from the beginning. How can leilani learn to trust him again when he hides something like that. It’s not that he saw another girl while they were broken up, it’s that he saw HER, the girl he cheated with and ruined their relatioship for. I disagree that he was under no obligation to tell her about that because that’s the type of information that would affect her decision to take him back. He took away her right to make the most informed decision and has her questioning the relationship months into his second chance. There is some information you’re not obligated to tell a SO, but if that information would affect their decision to be with you than you should do what is right and be honest.
ele4phant May 10, 2011, 1:43 pm
“As a guy, I see nothing wrong with the bf hanging out with the other woman after he’d been broken up with, nor do I see anything wrong with him not telling the LW after the fact. In the first case, he was a free agent. In the second, he wasn’t obligated to reveal what he’d done while being a free agent.”
Eh, so I agree when you are broken up with someone, you are no longer responsible to censor who you date or associate with just because it might hurt your ex.
What you DO owe someone you”ve broken up with is to remember that they have feelings, that your actions can still impact them, that they still exist. If who you are seeing is going to be a big deal for your ex, you owe it to them to be considerate. To not shove it in their face. To tell them yourself so they don’t find out in a way that makes them feel embarassesed or humilated.
Just because you are not with someone means you are given free range to be reckless with their feelings.
This guy owed it to the LW to be open about what happened, doubley so since he got back together with her.
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 1:58 pm
I don’t see his actions as in any way being inconsiderate or shoving them in her face. She looked through an old friend’s album and stumbled across a photo of the two of them together.
For some amount of time, a month or so, no more than several months, he was with the other woman to some extent. Maybe it was often. Maybe it was a few times, one of which was captured in the photo. It wasn’t as though he was gallivanting about town and posting the pics on Facebook.
As I said, I completely understand the LW’s reaction to all of this and the emotions she’s experiencing. However, I don’t feel as though the bf was wrong to not proactively tell her something which was definitely going to be hurtful to her and which occurred during a time when he was under no obligation to her.
Of course, if he had reason to think she’d probably find out, then I think the smart thing would have been to tell her himself, but I don’t think he was obligated to do so.
To those who feel that she should have been presented with “all the facts” so she could make a proper decision, I disagree. If there were some lasting result of his wandering, like an STI or a pregnancy, then absolutely she should know. But if he did something while not with the LW whose only negative is that the LW wouldn’t have liked him doing it, then I don’t think that’s one of the facts that she “needs to know.” It casts an emotional weight that doesn’t have anything to do with the current relationship.
ele4phant May 10, 2011, 2:11 pm
It does have something to do with the current relationship, because she got back together with him under the pretenses that he had a one-off with this woman, when in fact that is not what happened. By not telling her the full extent of what happened (even though technically he was single and could date whoever he wanted), she wasn’t able to take everything into account when deciding if she wanted to get back together with him.
cmarie May 10, 2011, 2:35 pm
I disagree that he didn’t tell her to protect her feeling, I would say he hid it because he knew that it would affect whether or not she would take him back. He didn’t do it out of selfless devotion to her, he did it as an act of selfish self-preservation.
PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 2:49 pm
“It casts an emotional weight that doesn’t have anything to do with the current relationship.”
And by not telling her and having her find out by some other means, it causes her to lose all trust in him. Technically, he’s not obligated, but if he wants a future with her, he needs to put it all out there in order for her to trust him – it’s the only way for them to move past it and have a real chance at a relationship again.
LTC039 May 10, 2011, 2:04 pm
I 100% agree with you, Jessicaxmx!! I’ve made this comment on other letters & got eaten alive for it. I don’t know why though?? It’s common knowledge that men & women are different! To say that they’re not is ridiculous! Men & women handle break-ups differently. Men tend to move on faster (though usually it’s just a cover-up). My boyfriend & I broke up 2 yrs ago for a period of time, when we broke up, we both cried (though I did more than he did) & it was pretty dramatic. TWO DAYS later he’s out fishing with his friends, taking pictures looking pretty happy, a week later he’s already hanging out with a new girl. What was I doing? Groveling. Crying.
While women usually over analyze what went wrong, come up with different scenarios, over think things, men don’t like that. They try to push it far back in their mind…
I believe the LW’s bf was seeing the girl for all the reasons he listed. I don’t think it was totally wrong, however he should’ve told her when the reunited. Only because that was *the girl* the broke up their relationship.
_jsw_ May 10, 2011, 2:13 pm
I think it’s even more correct to say that everyone handles breakups differently. Not all men act cavalier about them. Not all women get all broken up. However, the way that someone acts, especially around others, and the actions they take aren’t necessarily indicative of their inner feelings. I don’t think it’s often a good idea to base one’s perception of how someone feels about their breakup on how they act shortly thereafter.
WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 3:07 pm
I agree with this too. If my husband cheated on me, and if I broke it off with him, he would absolutely console himself with another woman. No question. Maybe not that day, but definitely much more quickly than I would.
LTC039 May 10, 2011, 2:37 pm
I was referring more to the general nature of men & women. There are always exceptions, but this case seems more of the typical kind.
Skyblossom May 10, 2011, 3:41 pm
It’s not at all stupid to focus on this issue because it’s a matter of trust. You were misled by him by a lie of omission. He left out a great deal and just when you begin to trust him again you find out you can’t. My gut instinct (which could be wrong) is that you’ll never fully trust him again because you’ve had trust issues happen twice and that shows the measure of the man.
Rachel May 10, 2011, 8:54 pm
Very well said. I said something similar in a higher thread before I got to your comment, not spoken so concisely. I absolutely agree with you.
AKchic May 12, 2011, 1:44 am
Okay, he cheated and you said you didn’t want to see him again. After he came clean and pretty much begged your forgiveness. That, my dear, is a break-up. What he does during that break up, unless specifically asked when/if you get back together with him is HIS business, completely unrelated to you (unless he is dating a relative or best friend in order to keep tabs on you).
Of course he kept his continued sexual interludes with this woman hidden from you. The first drunken mistake caused you to dump him! When you dumped him, you pushed him right in between her sympathetic legs. Until that point, he had never given you any doubt that he was a faithful person. He just had a drinking issue. He has since remedied that problem. As far as you know, since the two of you have been together again, he has not cheated since.
Get over his deception to protect you or move on away from the relationship.
Reilly September 15, 2022, 12:07 am
It really sounds to me that he was keeping this other girl ‘on a string’ so as to speak, until he found out if the LW would take him back. Quite likely that’s why he went out with her to parties and dating to build a relationship so he had someone to fall back on.
He’s a free agent? Only if he moved on. But Instead he attempted to win the LW back while still seeing this girl.
Plus we only have his word that he stopped seeing her when he said he did.
Regardless, that is shitty behavior towards both of these ladies.
LW only you know if you can be comfortable with this. That said, I would MOA were I in your shoes.