Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Will I Always Be Hurt That He Cheated?”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by freelance writer, Rachel East, AKA ReginaRey.

I’m in a one year relationship with my boyfriend. After the first six months he cheated on me with our mutual friend. He didn’t just cheat once but twice… maybe even more…probably more. Since then, we’ve moved in together. He 100% does not have any association with the girl he cheated on me with and he treats me so well. He’s more than I could ever ask for. But will it always bother me knowing he did something so terrible? If that feeling still bothers me six months later and he’s been perfect since he cheated, will the feeling ever really go away? I’ve realized that when I’m not around him, I’m sad and miss him and worried and wondering if he’s right for me. But when I’m with him I’m so extremely happy. Any ideas on how to make it work?! — I’m With Cheater

Your question shouldn’t be, “How do I make this work?” It should be “Should I continue to try to make this work?” Every person has a different definition and tolerance of cheating. I can’t tell you what cheating should mean to you, but I can help you determine if remaining in this relationship will be the healthiest option for your life.

How much did you discuss the cheating after it occurred? What reason did he give, exactly? Did he profess that it was a slip-up, and that it would never happen again? Did you discuss your lack of trust and how to re-build it together? I’m curious how much you two communicated about this before you moved in together (which was a HUGE step to take, especially after the trust was broken).

Ultimately you can’t control what your boyfriend did, but you can control your response to it. It’s telling that when he’s not around, you slip into a state of worry and anxiety about him and the relationship. It means that you don’t trust him fully anymore, which is understandable. But if you want this relationship to work, you have to learn to trust him again. A couple’s counselor would be a good start if what you want is to re-build trust and to improve communication in the relationship.

But know this: The worry, the anxiety, the fear and distrust may never go away. It doesn’t matter how “perfect” he is now. Sometimes, no amount of good behavior now is enough to make you regain the trust you lost back then. Some people aren’t wired to forgive or forget cheating, and that’s ok. What’s not ok is to live your life with constant distrust and doubt. If you realize that these feelings aren’t going to change then you must move on. You may think that he’s “more than you could ever ask for,” but here’s the truth – you can ask for more. Trust and fidelity aren’t too much to ask for, nor are they hard to come by. You can and will find someone who can give you those things, and even more than you can imagine now.

And for the record, “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” is an expression for a reason. Some people make a one-time mistake, regret it forever, and become changed people. But sometimes, no matter how regretful or sorry someone is, they continue to cheat. For any number of reasons – unresolved personal issues, disdain for commitment, a permanent wandering eye, whatever – they are serial cheaters who will stray from every relationship they have.

He blew his chance to write this off as a one-time, “What-was-I-thinking?” kind of indiscretion. He chose to stray from you, to break your trust and to disrespect your relationship, multiple times. Once is one thing, but a pattern of cheating is another. Don’t be the girl who sticks around trying to get the serial cheater to change his ways. It won’t happen. If you want someone who you’re sure will be faithful…well, your boyfriend has already proved that he’s not that guy. There are plenty of men out there who’d never cheat on you. Go find them.

*ReginaRey (Real Name: Rachel East) is a full-time Events & Promotions Coordinator and a part-time freelance writer focusing on dating and relationships. One day, after tackling grad school, she plans to be your Marriage and Family Therapist…because the only thing better than talking about relationships all day is getting paid to talk about relationships all day. You can check out her weekly column here and follow her on Twitter @MissRachelEast.


120 comments… add one
  • Shiz December 15, 2011, 7:35 am

    I agree with the advice – if you do some serious thinking, and you’re committed to making the relationship work, couple’s counseling is a good idea. You’ll both need some guidance to move through what happened and get over it together. For awhile, you are still going to be suspicious and anxious…as you work to move past it, it will involve working to put those thoughts out of your mind in favor of re-learning to trust your boyfriend again.

    However, he is just as responsible to re-GAIN your trust. And while he may be treating you wonderfully, a different level of communication is needed from him, and he needs to be responsible for what he did (from your letter, it’s hard to tell if he even apologized). This isn’t just about you needing to get over it or you needing to build your trust back in him…this is about two people with a rift in their relationship that need to decide whether it’s worth working together to save. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t, but that’s for you to decide.

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    • Anna Bell February 14, 2013, 2:18 pm

      Such a difficult situation in which to be, as I know first hand.
      Trust is such a crucial part of any relationship whether it be friendship or romantic. Once broken, it is so difficult to regain.
      I have made the decision a long time ago that I trust people are going to do exactly what they’re going to do. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
      The man whom I have been dating for almost two years had an affair with his roommate’s ex-girlfriend. I had asked him, “Why?” which was ridiculous, as I already knew the answer: he, like all of us, is selfish and self-centered.
      What hurt me the most about the affair was that he still doesn’t take responsibility for his part, and I cannot make him do this. He used her, and I honestly feel sorry for her. To him, she was just a way to get back at his roommate and to pacify some sexual desires of which he had believed I wouldn’t meet (that was until he had asked me).
      After the fact, she wouldn’t let go. He led her to believe that they were dating, and she tried to “do for him” to prove her love: doing his laundrey, cooking for him, giving him backrubs. . . all the things that a girlfriend would do. But, he never thought of her as a girlfriend.
      When she realized it was going no where, she threated to tell me. Through the Grace of God, I already had found out. I discerned to his “side of the story”. And although it was difficult, I did forgive him. I had made a committment more importantly to God- not just to him. Although his actions had betrayed my trust in him, I have chosen to forgive.
      Because of this forgiveness, I have also decided that I will let God determine what the outcome of the relationship will be. I will continue keeping God first in my life. In doing so, one of two things will happen: 1. the man whom I love will step it up and be a true man of integrity, or 2. he will not, and sadly I will delete him from my life, so God can make room for a man who will.

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  • scattol December 15, 2011, 7:39 am

    “Once a cheater, always a cheater” bla bla bla. It’s a hard call to make but ultimately the decision is yours.

    That said, if you want to know what your life could look like, go through this blog: She was cheated on when pregnant with her first kid, and was cheated on again 10 years later. She called it quits then. Even in recent post you can see she still cares for him even though she pretty much moved on.

    You should start reading her story from the beginning and you can experience her thought process as she is healing from the hurt.

    I am not suggesting Ellie has written a map of the next 20 years of your life, but if he cheats again, that’s what your life could end up looking like.

    That said, what someone never answered is when/why cheaters stop cheating. Certainly they do, 2nd and 3rd marriage are frequent meaning that they aren’t all players with huge bedposts, at some point they settle but when and why?

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    • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 7:49 am

      Regarding your comment “what someone never answered is when/why cheaters stop cheating. Certainly they do, 2nd and 3rd marriage are frequent meaning that they aren’t all players with huge bedposts, at some point they settle but when and why?”: I think they eventually stop cheating because… they get tired. They’re older, less sex-driven. I think it’s more about that and less about them seeing the errors in their ways… What do you think?

      I hope that “bla bla bla” was not in regard to our beloved ReginaRey’s advice!? Because her advice was spot on. “Once a cheater, always a cheater” has merit, you must admit. I like to think of it like smoking. Someone who has never smoked is not likely to oops slip up and have a cigarette later in life. But someone who used to smoke is more likely to sneak a puff later. I’m not saying they definitely will, but the potential is there…. is that analogy way off?

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      • scattol December 15, 2011, 8:06 am

        I don’t see enough in the letter to tell one way or the other if he’s “always a cheater”. And that being a given I won’t hazard a guess if it’s applicable. That’s LW decision to make.

        Of course it’s a saying for good reason but not being able to tell, I just refrain from passing judgement.

        I have no idea if or why cheaters settle, that’s why I am asking.

      • John Rohan December 15, 2011, 10:56 am

        “Once a cheater, always a cheater” has merit, you must admit.

        What merit? Since there are few (or likely zero) people in the world who have never lied, cheated, or broken a promise in their lifetime (including the LW probably), then you are going to live a very lonely life if you use that standard in choosing partners.

      • iseeshiny December 15, 2011, 10:59 am

        Just to clarify, John, does that mean you advocate staying with someone who has cheated on you because the statement “Once a cheater, always a cheater” has no merit and people who cheat on their SOs will only do it the once?

      • John Rohan December 15, 2011, 12:39 pm

        I’m just saying I wouldn’t base it on that alone.

        I’ve been cheated on, and it certainly isn’t fun. But it also shouldn’t define someone for the rest of their lives. We are human, and everyone has some breaking point where they will give in to temptation. t

      • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 2:45 pm

        I guess you assume everyone is tempted to cheat. And that’s sort of the issue here. Cheaters have this “temptation” that they’ have to overcome … and that I think will trip them up eventually. But is everyone tempted? I doubt it. Hey all you non-cheaters: are you non-cheaters because you are able to control your temptations, or do you not have the temptation to cheat? And I’m not talking about being attracted to other people; I assume EVERYONE will admit to being attracted to others. But are you actually tempted to cheat? I’ve been single too long to even know what commitment feels like, so you answer.

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        JK December 15, 2011, 2:51 pm

        I for one have never been tempted. Sure, I see some guys that I am attracted to, but I´ve never even found myself wondering what if…, not even at the times where my r/ship has been not-so great.
        For me infidelity has always been a dealbreaker, and since I wouldn´t accept it from my SO, I wouldn´t do it either.

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        rainbow December 15, 2011, 3:16 pm

        I’m usually dont-ask-dont-tell non-monogamous (negotiated, not cheater) in theory, but then in reality I don’t get tempted unless there is something very wrong with the relationship I’m in and it’s about to die anyway.
        I don’t know how tempted I would be if I had anything to lose. I don’t think much if I really liked the person I’m with (and if you don’t, then why bother).

      • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 11:12 am

        Agreed, you will lead a very lonely life if you use that standard to reject potential partners for ANY indiscretion. One time a boyfriend ordered me a glass of white wine while I was in the bathroom, which of course is criminal. I forgave him. He learned to order red wine only. But when did I ever say this saying applies to any indiscretion? I think it’s a good one to live by for certain indiscretions, cheating being one. Here’s another good one – once a serial killer, always a serial killer. Does it mean no serial killer can be rehabilitated? No. But I’d probably break up with someone for that.

      • Morgan December 15, 2011, 12:07 pm

        He ordered you white instead of red and you didn’t leave him immediately? Impressive. It wasn’t chardonnay, was it?

        I have very few deal breakers: smokers, Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and Chardonnay.

        Oh, and cheating.

      • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 2:53 pm

        It damaged our trust. Plus, it spoke volumes about what he thought of me as a person. I mean, did he really think I would drink that stuff? Did he not know me at all?! … Once a white wine orderer, always a white wine orderer.

      • AKchic December 15, 2011, 6:52 pm

        *gasp* Wine in general?! How hoity toity of you! *laugh* Rum’n’coke if I’m feeling like a light drink. Long Island otherwise. If I’m the DD – well, then get me a cola or an ice water. Or an iced tea depending on where we’re at.

        There are a few Alaskan brews I like, but in general, wine is not my thing. And no guy has ever presumed to order for me. Ever.

      • Rachel December 15, 2011, 12:23 pm

        Definitely no one is completely innocent, but this guy cheated multiple times with the same person. In order to do that, you have to do it once, think about it, decide it’s not such a bad thing to do, and do it again. If he could rationalize that, how can she trust that he won’t do it again when someone else comes along?

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        theattack December 16, 2011, 2:25 am

        In reply to the question of why cheaters stop cheating…. I used to cheat all the time, but I’ve reformed, and I feel that it’s very unlikely I’ll ever do it again. The change for me was not about being less sex-driven, or older or tired. Hell, I am 22 with a ridiculously high sex drive. The things that have changed for me are based largely in my relationship and the way I perceive it. First, I’m in a relationship that is fulfilling. In the past, there was always something missing from my other relationships, even if I couldn’t quite pinpoint it at the time. Second, my perception of relationships changed. It used to mean that we were attracted to each other, liked or thought we loved each other, and had fun together. The relationships were about being fun. Now I see them more as something that adds a lot of quality to my life just by having intimate interactions and understandings with another person. It’s not about two individuals, but it’s about the amazing connection between them. I really believe it’s about finding the right person and changing perspective for most people who stop cheating. It may not be the same changes that happened for me, but I think similar changes are what make the difference.

  • The_Yellow_Dart December 15, 2011, 7:56 am

    As ReginaRey said, it’s a personal decision – but 6 months seems like too little a foundation to begin to forgive something like that.

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  • DDL December 15, 2011, 8:12 am

    He kept cheating on you and you moved in with him? Honestly, if I were you, I’d tell him to move out. If you’re waffling on whether or not you’ll get over it, you probably won’t because you love him. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t care if he cheated.

    I don’t think it really matters that he’s the perfect boyfriend now – no one’s perfect, especially someone who’s cheated before. You’ll be way more disappointed and angry if/when you find out he’s cheating again. So, I would recommend getting over the relationship entirely.

    Also…how do you know he has no contact with her? Do you check his phone, FB, and email obsessively? Or does he just say so and you trust him so readily? How do you know there aren’t other girls?

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  • Allison December 15, 2011, 8:14 am

    I agree with ReginaRey in that there are plenty of guys who won’t cheat on you. Why hang on so hard to one that did, multiple times, and one who makes you sad half the time? Like the others said, we can’t determine whether he’ll do it again, but honestly, the repetition and the fact that it was within six months doesn’t make it look very good. Also, it makes me sad that you say he’s more than you could ask for, because you could certainly ask for and deserve someone who didn’t cheat on you in the first place.

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    Ruby December 15, 2011, 8:16 am

    The way I see it is this…
    You’ve been together for 1 year, he’s cheated on you multiple times during that time with one person (that you know of!), and you’re still feeling an anxiety about it that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
    Even though he makes you happy when you’re with him, you should feel happy ALL the time in a relationship (or at least most of the time) and you clearly do not.
    Don’t talk yourself into staying with this guy whom you clearly don’t trust!
    It’s ok to MOA and find a guy who is GREAT but who also won’t cheat on you!

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    FireStar December 15, 2011, 8:23 am

    I don’t believe once a cheater, always a cheater – you have to look at pattern and history to determine if that is true. I think it is possible to recover from infedility- with a lot of hard work, therapy and express accountability. The question is – is it worth it for you? You aren’t married with children. Why commit yourself to years of work to rebuild trust when you can start over with someone else who has never broken your trust? Plenty of men would never stray. Speak to a therapist alone to decide what is best for you if you feel too torn to decide. But you ultimately need to decide what you want the next 50 years of your life to look like – and how much work you are willing to do to get there – assuming, of course your boyfriend wil be 100% committed to getting there as well and you are ready to absolutely believe him.

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    caitie_didn't December 15, 2011, 8:30 am

    He cheated on you- not once, but twice (at least!!!) in the first 6 months of your relationship??

    Why, exactly, did you move in with him?

    The first six months to a year of a new relationship should be the easiest part. If you’re already struggling, it’s a sign that the relationship is not a good one and you need to MOA. I’m so tired of hearing girls say “but I really want to make it work” about a 4,6 or 8 month old relationship that is so clearly dysfunctional.

    Seriously DTMFA.

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    • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 8:33 am

      Agreed! But what does DTMFA mean?

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      • EB December 15, 2011, 8:38 am

        Dump The Motherfucker Already

        coined by the one and only Dan Savage I believe…

  • oppositeofzen December 15, 2011, 8:34 am

    Oh sweetie. If I was a friend of yours, I’d give yo a big hug, and then grab you by the shoulders and shake you (think Jane in Naked Gun 33 1/3). If it’s still bothering you, you need to MOA. Does your boyfriend even seem interested in salvaging it? When you caught him cheating TWICE and think it’s been more often, why are you still with him. Yes, he may be wonderful, sweet, and everything else, but you don’t trust him. And if there is no trust, there is no relationship. Or, at least one that isn’t healthy.

    If you want to save your relationship, you need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting ASAP. Explain how you feel and try to work out something. If he seems uninterested, then move on. You can find someone who won’t cheat on you (yes, those people do exist) and develop a healthy, trusting relationship.

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    • cporoski December 15, 2011, 9:20 am

      she said he is being a great boyfriend since then so I think he is trying. That is what is making this decision hard for her.

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        Bagge72 December 15, 2011, 11:30 am

        I think once he does get the trust back he wont try so hard though.

      • Rachel December 15, 2011, 6:52 pm

        Honestly, it sounds like the “trying” bar is set pretty low for him. It would’ve been considerate for him to “try” not to cheat on her within the first six months of the relationship.

        As a wise Jedi Master once said, “do or do not, there is no try.” Sound advice, that is.

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    Budj December 15, 2011, 8:38 am

    For me cheating is an instant deal breaker…I can’t give that trust back and I would then unintentionally make the relationship horrible for both of us, but that is just me.

    The only people I know of that cheat are consistent cheaters…might be 6 months…might be 2 years…I have an acquaintance that actively had it on his mind for a year before it actually happened…so yea…I think that statement has merit. There are exceptions however…but it is a situational thing and if a partner was up front about past indiscretions, understood why it happened, and has made adjustments in how they handle relationships so it doesn’t happen again then I wouldn’t hold it above their head in the future (if it wasn’t with me).

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      Budj December 15, 2011, 9:06 am

      The second paragraph was my point but I forgot to embellish- if he has explained why it happened and the reason makes sense and he is actively working on the issues that caused it to happen then I would try and salvage it if you can get over the cheating.

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  • MiMi December 15, 2011, 8:42 am

    The “tell” here is that when you’re with him you fall under his perfect boyfriend spell, but when you’re not, you repeatedly wonder whether the relationship is right for you. Listen to your instincts and take a cold, hard look at this.
    Some people (men and women) are skilled charmers and manipulators, and it sounds as if you might have one here. What were the ways he really showed his repentance, vowed to make it up to you, was and is transparent in an effort to regain your trust? If a review of actions doesn’t show a solid commitment on his part to doing whatever it takes to make it right, or if he has subtly implied that you had a role in his cheating, or that you are imagining things, or that your feelings are unreasonable, etc., then you’ll know.

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  • GatorGirl December 15, 2011, 8:57 am

    Will it always bother you that he cheated? Yes. 110%.

    Can your relationship continue on? Yes. 110%.

    My BF cheated on me one week after our two year anniversary. I was devistated. I cried, I yelled, I got drunk, I lost that butterfly feeling I had had for two years. He cried, he appologized, he begged for my forgiveness. He was truely remorseful and created real change in his life to avoid ever being in a situation to cheat again. We talked for hours on end and took things slow. On Sunday we celebrate our four year anniversary and have an amazing relationship. But I still hate what he did and it still hurts, but it is no longer a huge neon elephant in our relationship.

    You and you’re BF need take a step back. One of you move out. Re-evaluate your relationship. Figure out what caused him to cheat. Figure out how to keep it from happening again. If he doesn’t want to open up to you about it and figure out how to keep cheating from happening again, then you’re going to have to move on.

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      CMF December 15, 2011, 11:19 am

      I don’t mean this to sound snarky or judgemental about you and your boyfriend and your situation, GatorGirl, but aren’t there always situations to cheat again? I’d think the better judge of regaining and rebuilding trust is being in situations where cheating is possible, and choosing not to. You don’t stay with someone because there’s no one else around (at least, I would hope not), but because that is the person you want to be with. Best example I can think of is a smoker. A smoker who has run out of cigarettes for the moment is still a smoker. But someone who’s quit and can be around people who are smoking and not give in, is someone who’s no longer a smoker at all.

      Your comment brought that to mind- just wanted to share. Clearly you guys have worked it out and moved on, and I hope you don’t take offense to my comment.

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      • GatorGirl December 15, 2011, 11:59 am

        You do have a point, and I’m not offended. For us, one of the reasons the cheating happened was him ending up in a secluded place, drunk, with a girl who was throwing herself at him. The is known for going after taken men. So one of the quickest things to “solve” the cheating was for him to not be drunk and alone with slutty women. Sounds overly simple, but it comforted me. Alcohol played a big role in my situation so he cut back on drinking when I wasn’t around. (to further complicate things we were in a LDR at the time too)

        About three months after “the inciden”t- he was out with a group of grad school friends and a friend of a friend’s ungrad friend cornered him and threw herself at him. I’m happy to say he turned her down and left. It’s different for everyone, we’ve been able to re-build our trust luckily.

      • GatorGirl December 15, 2011, 12:00 pm

        *She is known

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        CMF December 15, 2011, 2:15 pm

        Ah, well, yeah, that’s definitely a situation where cheating is possible! Glad my comment didn’t come across as challenging or anything. Your comment just got me thinking. And I’m happy things are going well for you!

  • MissDre December 15, 2011, 9:15 am

    “He’s more than I could ever ask for.”

    No he’s not. You can ask for a guy that treats you well AND DOESN’T CHEAT!

    LW, why aren’t you asking for that????

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    • demoiselle December 15, 2011, 10:45 am

      Thank you for saying what I was thinking.

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      • crazyayeaye December 15, 2011, 11:42 am

        MissDre that was fabulous. Straight and to the point, I love it.

  • cporoski December 15, 2011, 9:18 am

    Here is another perspective. So, men cheat because there is something they are not getting from the relationship. It might be that he isn’t ready to settle down or that you guys hit a spot that wasn’t filling his needs. The only way you can stay in this relationship is to find out the real reason why. Was he feeling negative or unappreciated? You need to know the reason and see if it is something you can work on or not. If he just said that he wanted new experiences or to be wild or he was drunk, those are unacceptable. I will say, it is normally not about crazy bed room stuff. It is deeper then that. The other woman normally makes the guy feel special, sexy, appreciated. Find out the why and then see if it is worth fixing or not.

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      caitie_didn't December 15, 2011, 10:23 am

      But honestly, is it even worth the effort, the heartbreak and the stress after ONE YEAR??? I just really don’t think it is. He’d already cheated on her at the 6-month mark, ergo I don’t *really* think he’s all that interested in her.

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    • Kristen December 15, 2011, 10:49 am

      I disagree with the idea that because he cheated, she needs to look at herself and see “why” he strayed. Sure, maybe she wasn’t making him feel “special, sexy and appreciated” … but then again, maybe he’s just selfish, immature and childish. Especially because he cheated after only six months… when relationships are generally still new and exciting. To me, that says it might not be about her, or about their relationship not being good enough, but about his own tendency to cheat.

      LW, I’d also be wary about him seeming “perfect” now. It’s common for people who are cheating to “make up for it” by showering you with praise, gifts, etc. If you haven’t had an in-depth conversation about what happened, this may be just a facade. Only you can determine that, though. And ultimately, only you can decide if you’re okay with staying with this guy.

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      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 2:06 pm

        I agree. The timing is short for this much drama. However, She clearly loves him and wants to make this work. You can’t move forward past an infadelity until you understand why it happened. He is trying to be a “perfect” boyfriend which shows he wants to try and make this work too. She can’t trust him because she doesn’t know why it happened.

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      Landygirl December 15, 2011, 12:06 pm

      There is no reason to cheat, any excuse given is an empty one. It is especially wrong to say that the person who was cheated on is the cause of it. If you’re unhappy in a relationship then you try and improve it or you leave it. If you aren’t getting what you need it’s because you aren’t communicating what those needs are.

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      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 2:09 pm

        I think that is like saying there is no reason for suicide. Your right, there needs to be more communication here. He might say, “I am a man and I have needs,” then she should move on. but it sounds like they are both trying so she needs to know what he needs from this relationship. they might work together or they might not.

    • GatorGirl December 15, 2011, 12:37 pm

      I really hate your first sentence. It seems like you’re implying that him cheating is the LW fault. It’s not.

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      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 2:11 pm

        There is something wrong with this relationship. People don’t cheat in fullfilling relationships. It isn’t her fault but they both need to express what they need in order to be secure in the relationship.

      • savannah December 15, 2011, 2:51 pm

        “People don’t cheat in fullfilling relationships.”- Yes they do. All the time.

      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 4:19 pm

        maybe we have different definitions but mine is, if you are fullfilled in every way you need in a relationship, then you won’t cheat. give me an example of a man that cheated and I will show you where he wasn’t getting his needs filled. I am not saying his needs could have been filled by the person in the relationship but they arent.

      • savannah December 15, 2011, 10:18 pm

        Um how about me? I’m in a fulfilled relationship, but I got drunk with a guy friend 2 years ago and thought getting into bed with him would be fun. Turns out, next day-not so fun. Pretty much the most terrible morning of my life. And the worst part about the whole thing was that I had no excuse, I had no explanation for my actions. There was nothing I felt then or today that is missing in my relationship. It just happened. And it sucked and continues to suck (abet a little less every day) for both of us.

      • cporoski December 16, 2011, 5:26 am

        see. the LWs boyfriend cheated multiple times with the same girl. It is an affair, not a drunken night. There is a reason you go back. I don’t know how old you are, but If you were in you 30s like me, I would question why you were getting drunk with men other than your SO. What kind of friend would take advantage of you like that? That isn’t a friend so why are you hanging out with distructive people like that? If you are young, it is different because society tolerates more drinking. I bet if you sat down with a counselor, you will see there was a method to your actions before you got drunk.

      • Matcha December 16, 2011, 7:58 am

        I think it’s somewhat belittling to savannah to say that she doesn’t know why because she’s obviously not thinking hard enough. Sometimes there is a reason , but sometimes there isn’t. It’s comforting to the letter writer to figure out a “why” but even if there is one, there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again. I think picking apart his reasons, or hinging on “There must be something wrong that he or I can fix” gives a sense of control in a situation where she might not have any. I just don’t agree that there HAS to be one.

        As a side note to Savannah, does it ever bother you that you didn’t have a reason you did it?

      • savannah December 16, 2011, 9:34 am

        assumptions, assumptions. I think thats why I have a problem with your reasoning. If you keep urging people to find the ‘problem’ where there just might no be one then they can never feel settled. Say it with me now ‘Good People Fuck Up’. And yeah thanks for telling me if I just look a little harder i’ll find out that there was a ‘method to my actions’?I don’t even know what that means but i’m glad you are so so sure about it. Because afterwards yeah, I did just sit on my ass, didn’t see a couples counselor or do any soul searching really…just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best…mmm not. And as to my ‘destructive’ person? Yeh basically like a brother to me and was way more drunk than I was. All in all a terrible situation. I am younger but I can’t imagine not being about to go out with friends and drink just because I have a SO. interesting.
        And to Matcha- Yes. Always.

      • Matcha December 16, 2011, 12:51 pm

        Agreed. I dumped one ex because I knew the cheating was just a symptom of our relationship being dysfunctional, but I stayed with another boyfriend because he was truly sorry. Like you, he didn’t have a reason–actually the story was almost exactly the same as yours. He says he bothers him to this day that he can’t attribute a reason, that it’s internally really scary to him. But in the end even if someone knows the reason, they can choose to ignore it. The end result–that he felt what he and did a lot of soul searching and promised that nothing like that would ever happen again (sounds a bit cliche, but what else can you say?) Is that I trust that he’s being honest. I took a lot of work, and like the letter writer I was at first oscillating between thinking it could work and feeling like I was insane. But it’s been almost 2 years since and we’re 100% better for it. I don’t regret giving him a second chance.

      • GatorGirl December 15, 2011, 2:54 pm

        People who cheat repeatedly probably are lacking something in their relationship (like the LW’s dude). I just didn’t care for how you phrased it. It implied to me that men cheat because women don’t do enough for them.

        People who cheat once? That’s a mistake.

      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 4:23 pm

        but the reader said it was with the same girl. He is getting something there. Was she the one who got away? was she proof that he still had it? did she laugh at his jokes? There are two people in this relationship and it broke down. If you just say he’s a jerk and don’t get to the root of it, then it can’t work because nothing changed. They both have to fight for this thing if it is going to work. If she is just a martyr and he a cad, they can’t grow.

      • Matcha December 15, 2011, 4:31 pm

        Is there always a reason? Maybe he just wasn’t that invested with the LW and there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it. If it’s six months in, is it worth trying to fight for something like that? The boyfriend has to be putting in some serious effort because he messed up. Does he even want to get to the root of it? That doesn’t make him a cad, but it doesn’t make it right.

      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 5:26 pm

        very, very true. That is why they need to talk. His reason might not be acceptable. This wasn’t cheating, it was an affair. It was the same girl that he slept with multiple times. Now, if his reason was he wasn’t ready to settle down then she should 100% walk. If he says that he needed xyz and the affair gave that to him, then they can move forward if they both try hard in the relationship. If he isn’t ready to really talk about it then she should walk. But everyone is just telling the LW to dump him and depending on his answers, there might be a way to forgive him.

      • Matcha December 15, 2011, 6:01 pm

        I don’t think it’s bad to forgive. But we’re missing so many details! How did she find out? Did she talk with him about it? (The way she says, “…maybe more…Probably more..” might just mean that she doesn’t take what he said to her at face value.) I think he needs to do some self-reflection for his own good, but not everyone is so self-aware. What if he can’t figure out what’s missing, or why he did it? Or he makes up an answer because she’s pressing.

        If she wants to stay together, they need to have a serious discussion, and she needs to give him a chance to explain himself. Then she has to monitor how his actions fit his words.

        I think everyone saying, “Dump him!” is saying so for a few reasons. 1) She doesn’t give indication on whether he’s sorry or not, or guilt stricken or not 2) She’s all over the place! (He’s been perfect and I’ve never been treated so well but I don’t trust him and how can I ever forgive him?) If her line of thinking was, “I’m afraid he may do it again, but I want us to work because I love him and he’s sorry,” then maybe the commenting would be different.

        Also, to the letter writer: It’s okay if you’re not ‘over it’ in 6 months. And yes, the feeling will mostly go away when you move on or you two heal your relationship.

      • cporoski December 16, 2011, 5:36 am

        you are right. I have been saying that they need to talk and she needs answers. If he can’t give them, then she needs to walk away. The reason why she is so nervous is because she doesn’t have that answer. She is thinking it randomly happened so it could randomly happen again. I see him being a great boyfriend and asking her to move in so they are trying and care about each other. That might not be enough to save this. It will all come from the way he answers the quesitons.

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      caitie_didn't December 15, 2011, 1:23 pm

      If “some men cheat because there is something they’re not getting from the relationship”…..why don’t they just leave the relationship? Why go through the extra effort that cheating requires?

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      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 2:15 pm

        He hasn’t left because he probably loves her. He cheated because there was some breakdown in the relationship. but my point is. She needs the why. It isn’t an absolute no. He isn’t a villan, he is a man.

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        caitie_didn't December 15, 2011, 2:25 pm

        Really? You think that he loves her, despite the fact that he cheated on her *multiple times* within the first 6 months of their relationship? There is no love there. There is not even any respect.

      • cporoski December 15, 2011, 5:37 pm

        You might be 100% right. But the only way she can find out is if he explains himself. Right now he has turned a corner so she can only make this descision by finding out why. Even if that answer hurts.

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      katie December 15, 2011, 9:50 pm

      i dont think that cporoski is blaming the LW here. I definitely agree that people cheat to find something that they do not have or have lost- its not like its the LWs fault that he felt whatever way he felt, but that is something that needs to be found.

      the point that i think cporoski is trying to make is that, if they want to make this work, they need to find that root cause and fix THAT. anything else is just a bandaid that will eventually fall off and they will be right back where they are.

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      • cporoski December 16, 2011, 5:38 am

        Exactly! why couldn’t I have said it like that!

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      theattack December 16, 2011, 2:36 am

      I don’t think you can tell her what is an acceptable reason and what isn’t. For a one-time cheater (which I would classify him as), being drunk or wanting a new experience is a real reason for it. I would rather it be something like that that was a one-time indiscretion than a systematic dissatisfaction in the relationship, or a long-term character flaw.

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      • cporoski December 16, 2011, 5:44 am

        You are right. Sometimes people aren’t ready to settle down and that happens. He cheated a few times with the same girl. so that is a trend. The LW needs to decide if the answer is something she can accept or not.

  • silver_dragon_girl December 15, 2011, 9:43 am

    You know, when my ex cheated on me, I took him back. Then he left anyway, because he wasn’t willing to do any of the work or talking necessary to rebuild the trust. My next boyfriend (now also an ex) told me something I will never forget: “Never stay with a guy who cheats. It is so, so easy to NOT cheat.”

    I don’t know what you should do here, LW. But I do know that for every guy you think is so “wonderful and perfect, except for _______,” there is a guy who is just wonderful and perfect for you. There are no perfect people, and every relationship will have its struggles and challenges, but it’s up to you to decide what you will deal with and what you won’t accept.

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  • amber December 15, 2011, 9:46 am

    Did/do you guys talk about the cheating? Or is it something you ignore? And you ask if it will always bother you and I think the answer is probably but that it won’t be with the freshness that it bothers you now. And if you decide to stay with him you have to give him your trust and he has to earn it. No matter what he was or wasn’t getting from the relationship after 6 months, there is no excuse for cheating. If he wasn’t happy at that point he should have left. I think you guys need to talk more about why he cheated and ways that you can rebuild the trust. And like RR said, you might not be able to. But, if you want this to work I really think you need outside help/perspective to get over this.

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  • evanscr05 December 15, 2011, 9:54 am

    Different people have different thresholds of what is acceptable when it comes to cheating (not even just what constitutes cheating, either). There have been women who have dealt with multiple infidelity issues in their marriage that find ways to move past it and rebuild the trust. Hillary Clinton comes to mind as somone that is very high profile who has lived through this kind of scandel and remained with them (though, I would not debate that their marriage is certainly different than before those incidents and the reasons for staying, and what goes on behind closed doors, is not something we’ll ever know). You can forgive without forgetting. In fact, I would suggest you do so, but not for his sake. For yours. Don’t let this one person’s indescretion take away your ability to trust another human being, particularly one you are so open and vulnerable with. However, 6 months is hardly a foundation in which to determine that he’s “more than [you] could ever ask for”. I’m hesitant to even say “once a cheater, always a cheater” because we really don’t have enough information (and some people really can change). All I can say is, you should MOA. Not because he’s a cheater, but because after a very short amount of time with you, he’s already disrespected you. To be respected by one’s significant other is not only expected, but a RIGHT, and he completely took that from you. If he can disrespect you so quickly, and like this, how else might he do so in the future? You deserve that, at the very least. Don’t settle for someone who can’t give you that very basic right.

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    • grendel December 15, 2011, 10:09 am

      I think Hillary Clinton is a pretty bad example as its likely her own political ambitions played a larger role in her not divorcing Bill than anything else.

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        FireStar December 15, 2011, 10:19 am

        You can’t say that – you have no idea what goes on in someone else’s marriage.

    • Kristen December 15, 2011, 10:58 am

      I agree that the disrespect should be a deal breaker. He cheated multiple times in their first year of dating! They’re not married, and they don’t have kids, so she should give herself the freedom to move on and find someone who will truly give her the love and respect she deserves. Moving in with him gave the message that what happened can be swept under the rug. He cheated, and not only does his girlfriend stay with him, she moves in? That doesn’t set a good precedent for their relationship.

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    rainbow December 15, 2011, 10:43 am

    I think it’s really telling that you don’t even know how many times he did it. It means you guys haven’t even talked about it in a way that is satisfying for you. Or that you distrust him so much that the conversation(s) were meaningless to you anyway. I honestly don’t see how you can move past that and still be happy/safe.

    Also moving in with him was one hell of a positive reinforcement, so it might be harder for him now to understand how wrong it was and want to work on it. I don’t know how that feels, really, because I don’t usually do the monogamy thing, but I believe you owe it to your feelings to go deeper. Counseling maybe?

    Anyway, good luck, whatever you decide.

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    leilani December 15, 2011, 10:44 am

    I stayed with my ex-boyfriend after he told me he cheated on me. I knew he was sorry, we were so perfect for each other in other ways, it was just a mistake, etc etc etc. We had a good relationship in many ways after that happened, but yes, it always bothered me. It wasn’t until we had been broken up for a while that I realized what staying with him had done to my self esteem. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, constantly worried that he had his eye on someone else, constantly thinking that I couldn’t hold his interest. Basically every girl felt like a threat. I was jealous, and at times accusatory and emotional over minor things that shouldn’t have bothered me. Now that I’m with someone new (who I actually trust), it amazes me how different I am. I’m really not a jealous person, but that relationship really brought out the worst in me. I’d much rather be with someone I can trust that I can be my best self around, not someone who brings out a jealous, resentful, insecure side of me that I don’t want to be.

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  • John Rohan December 15, 2011, 10:59 am

    I might be alone in this, but when you come down to it, it’s just sex. Should it really be that big a deal?

    I’m just being philosophical here…

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    • amber December 15, 2011, 11:07 am

      If you have a partner who feels the same way that’s fine. If it’s just sex to you both and you want to have sex with other people, go for it. But, if you and your SO are in a monogamous relationship and you choose to have sex with someone else knowing that they would be upset that you were doing so, yes it’s a big deal.

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    • ReginaRey December 15, 2011, 11:09 am

      I imagine this thread might blow up…but as far as I’m concerned – Sex is usually the LAST thing cheating is about. It’s a betrayal of trust. That betrayal leads to emotional damage wherein you might become paranoid, insecure, or distrustful not only of the person who cheated, but of the next person you date, too. It’s an issue of respect. If you love someone and choose to be in a monogamous relationship with them, they’re owed the respect of you not straying physically AND emotionally from the relationship. It’s non-negotiable, in my humble opinion.

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      • callmehobo December 15, 2011, 11:17 am

        Aww man RR, I didn’t see your reply and I said almost the exact same thing!

      • ReginaRey December 15, 2011, 11:21 am

        Ha! It’s fine…I think this point can’t be made enough.

    • callmehobo December 15, 2011, 11:15 am

      I don’t think that it’s the sex that is the problem cheating. I think that it’s the deception.

      Relationships are built on mutual trust. When one partner violates that trust, the relationship suffers.

      If I found out that my bf was sleeping with someone else, it wouldn’t be the act of sex that hurt me, but the fact that he consistently lied to me and could not respect me enough to remain monogamous or gracious enough to break up with me and pursue someone else.

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      rainbow December 15, 2011, 11:32 am

      It’s not about the sex. The real issue with a cheater for me is that he didn’t man up and negotiate an open relationship. That could mean two things.
      a) he’s a wuss and would rather go behind her back than confront her about his needs, or
      b) he wants to have sex on the side but he doesn’t want her to, which is worse in my opinion.

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      • ReginaRey December 15, 2011, 11:36 am

        You bring up an interesting point in saying that he didn’t “man up and negotiate an open relationship.” Do you think that all cheaters would ideally want an open relationship? I’m genuinely curious about your opinion!

        As for me, I’m inclined to think that not all cheaters would WANT an open relationship…for any number of reasons. Either they wouldn’t want the door to swing both ways in regard to HER having relationships with other guys, or the thrill of “cheating” would be lost, or they actually don’t “believe” in the idea of open relationships.

        I’m very curious as to how many cheaters would actually prefer an open relationship, and how many actually wouldn’t want that.

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        rainbow December 15, 2011, 11:44 am

        I was typing something I left out as you posted this (I’ll paste it here in case it gets buried after many replies because I need to reference it):

        c) it’s the rush that does it for him. He needs it to be a secret because he enjoys the secret agent play. This one most likely means he’s a serial cheater and he’ll go for the rush whenever he’s feeling down or insecure. This one has the same chances of doing it again as any kind of addict. (again, in my opinion. since this is a touchy subject).

        I tend to think most people who cheat fall under b or c, and if their partner offered them an open relationship they’d be unable to handle the insecurity (in case of a) or be bored (in case of b). But I’ve heard from a couple of people that they would have wanted an open relationship and thought they’d get dumped if they brought it up, so they didn’t.

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        rainbow December 15, 2011, 11:46 am

        sorry, in case of *b or *c i meant

      • Painted_lady December 15, 2011, 12:36 pm

        No, there are definitely people for whom the object is the deception and the sneaking around. I had friends who had an open relationship, provided that they were safe and honest about who, what, when, etc. One of them seemed to be working hard at figuring out how to cheat as fully as possible. He would lie and cover his tracks and hide all proof that he’d been with someone else and what they did and that they had used protection. It was so infuriating because it would have been SO EASY not to cheat – he needed desperately to be pulling a fast one.

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        rainbow December 15, 2011, 11:37 am

        c) it’s the rush that does it for him. He needs it to be a secret because he enjoys the secret agent play. This one most likely means he’s a serial cheater and he’ll go for the rush whenever he’s feeling down or insecure. This one has the same chances of doing it again as any kind of addict. (again, in my opinion. since this is a touchy subject)

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      Landygirl December 15, 2011, 12:09 pm


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    • the other guy December 15, 2011, 8:51 pm

      Hence my theory if either party in a relationship ever do cheat…never never tell the other person, serves no purpose.

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  • mcminnem December 15, 2011, 11:02 am

    Now, I don’t really believe in “once a cheater, always a cheater”. I think I would be the type to forgive, as long as I got a real explanation and a real effort to change.

    But not in this case. At six months, if this was a happy relationship, you should both have still been in the butterflies and rainbows phase – everything shiny new, perfect, and easy. He should have been all over you. The fact that he was actually distanced enough from you, *disinterested* enough, to cheat, suggests he was never really in it in the first place. And this wasn’t a one time, “whoops I got really drunk and kissed someone” thing, it was multiple times. Once, I think, can truly be an accident. After that, though, you are aware that you can make that kind of mistake and you guard against it. Multiple times means it was thought out and decided on. With the same person! This is not a party guy going out and getting drunk and just making out with random ladies because he can. This is him consciously seeking out another person. You were not that important to him.

    I think I’m a pretty tolerant person, but I wouldn’t tolerate that.

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    • iseeshiny December 15, 2011, 11:12 am

      Yes! From my experience, there are so many reasons that people cheat with the most common being in one of three categories: first, one-offers where there is bad judgement and usually alcohol involved followed by serious guilt. Two, long affairs where the cheater has lost the sense of passion and closeness with their SO and has gone looking for it outside the relationship. And three: the people who cheat because when it comes down to it they are selfish, want what they want when they want it and figure that what their SO doesn’t know won’t hurt them. The LW’s boyfriend doesn’t seem to fit the first two categories.

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  • demoiselle December 15, 2011, 11:07 am

    Only you can answer whether it will always hurt that he cheated. It certainly seems to be hurting you still. When I’ve spoken with people who *broke up* with those who cheated on them, it still hurt them years later. I know that it would–for me–be a hurt that never went away.

    I can’t answer whether he will cheat again–and honestly, neither can you, LW, and perhaps neither can your boyfriend. But now is a good time to think seriously about whether you can live with the pain that you are already carrying if it doesn’t go away, and what you would do if it were inflicted upon you anew in one year, five years, or fifty.

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    Bagge72 December 15, 2011, 11:24 am

    I’m with Budj, for me cheating is an instant deal breaker, but for other people it definitely isn’t. I think you probably moved in with this guy so quickly, because you want to make things work, and you probably figure that the only way you can trust him right now is if you keep him in your sight most of the time.
    I think this is really a decision you have to make on your own, if you really want to stay with this guy or not. I think for your sake if you find out you really do love him that much after only a year, and multiple cheating situations, then your best bet is going to be couples counseling.
    I think if you two are in your early 20’s things probably aren’t going to workout, you will eventually get sick of always wondering where he is, and if he is cheating on you, and he is going to get sick of not being able to have any friends that are girls, because you are afraid he is going to cheat on you again, and he is probably going to get sick of being on a short leash, and you always checking up on him.

    Side Note: These are my point of views only! So stop telling me what to think! Feel free to disagree though :o)

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    • Kristen December 15, 2011, 11:33 am

      I think you hit the nail on the head with why she moved in with him. She probably was feeling really insecure and thought the best way to make sure he never cheats again was to cling on to him even harder and take their relationship to the next level. Unfortunately, I really think she set herself up for even more hurt by holding onto him tighter instead of taking a step back to re-evaluate the relationship.

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    • AKchic December 15, 2011, 12:46 pm

      Cheating is something that needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. A one-time thing, that happened during the aftermath of a bombing/shooting/high-anxiety issue is going to be less judgy from me than an “I’m bored and you’re cute – let’s fuck” moment. A one-time drunken indiscretion where the SO immediately comes clean and admits to what happened is less likely to be judged harshly than someone who hides it for a few months, or has a year-long affair, or sleeps with multiple partners for months/years on end.

      Being human, we are fallible. There are certain situations where yes, it can be forgiven, to a certain extent. I’m not about to judge someone who is sitting in the middle of a bombing zone in Afganistan who ends up having a one-night stand. And yes, it happens more often than you’d think. Our body-chemistry and mental-chemistry is wired to respond in funny ways sometimes. Sex is a natural release of stresses.
      Sometimes, we only see what we want to see when we’re drunk. It doesn’t excuse it, but it does explain a few things (beer goggles, for one).

      I’m not giving them a pass, I’m just saying that each individual needs to be judged separately, not blanketed.

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  • Matcha December 15, 2011, 11:50 am

    I’ve gone through a few relationships where cheating was involved. In one, I broke up with him on the spot. In another, we worked through it. But it involved a lot of effort and it really is something that you have to decide on an individual basis. But like rainbow said, you obviously haven’t had the discussion that YOU need to feel like you can trust him again–that or you think he’s lying.

    If you want to keep dating him, you have to be upfront about what you’re feeling. If he wants to be in this relationship as much as you do then he’ll understand that because it was HIS fault, he has to step up and do what you need to regain your trust. Dump him if he implies that you should be over it already. However, if he does all he can and you still don’t trust him–you have to move on for your sanity.

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  • Aaron December 15, 2011, 12:26 pm

    “Once a cheater, always a cheater” may or may not be right, but I’m not going to take the time to give it more rigorous study.

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  • Rachel December 15, 2011, 12:30 pm

    LW, I’ve been cheated on before and I forgave him. You know what? He cheated again. I don’t necessarily think that it’s “once a cheater always a cheater” but even in that relationship the first year was great. I just don’t see that a relationship that’s only 1 year old and already has this many problems would be worth it. At the very least you need to take a break from him. If you can only think clearly about the relationship when he’s not around, then that should tell you something. One of you should move out, and you should have a clean break (no contact) for long enough that you can think about what you really want.

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  • AKchic December 15, 2011, 12:37 pm

    It’s not a slip up if it happened more than once. Even if it was within a relatively small period of time.
    My 2nd husband slept with my sister. They hid it from me for two years. I didn’t find out until after we separated and started reconciling and she told me at a Christmas party, only because she wanted me to get checked for STDs (she had her own and didn’t know when she’d gotten them). He had already been checked and was clean, but had no intention of telling me. Had he come up with anything, he was willing to let me think that I had given them to him from before we’d gotten together and that they’d been dormant.
    That cinched my divorce wagon. The deception, the lies, the outright face-saving and jerky thing he did, even though he was “young” (21) was too much for me. I wasn’t willing to stay in a marriage that I wasn’t respected.

    You need to make some decisions yourself. After the cheating, did he admit to them quickly, or hide it? Was he honest? Open? Did he try to evade? This will tell you a lot about a person and a person’s character.
    You moved in with him after the cheating. Obviously, you both felt something. Jealousy, doubt, and anxiety all play into the aftermath of cheating. Did you move in with him to keep better “track of” him? Or because it was a natural progression of your relationship? Do some deep soul searching on this one.
    The two of you may not talk to this friend anymore, but you need to remember that it takes two to have consensual sex. Punishing her only is like punishing a tree in a head-on collision during a DUI. They both knew what they were doing (and I’m not talking about the poor tree).

    If you choose to stay with your boyfriend, you need to see a counselor to work through your feelings. I would also recommend a couples counselor to help the two of you rebuild some semblance of trust. You may say that you love him and things are “perfect”, but without trust, it’s not “perfect”. I trust my ex-husband with our boys, with my truck, with my home when he is in state, and yes, he is a friend now, but he will never be my confidante or lover again. He lost that right a long time ago. Now when he has girlfriend problems, he calls and asks me for advice. I had never felt karma so deeply when he called asking me for advice when his last girlfriend was cheating on him. Even he recognized the irony.

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  • Calle December 15, 2011, 1:09 pm

    Like others, I don’t believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.” At the same time, I think it takes a special level of jerkiness to sleep with a so’s friend, relative, or co-worker. The fact that he did this more than once….Big, big ass warning flag. You aren’t married with two kids or in a situation where there is a permanent tie. The fact that he did this six months in… I would MOA.

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  • *HmC* December 15, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I think I am becoming a bitter old lady, because I read letters like this and my first thought is usually, “how old is this person?” Seriously, I always find that relevant to these discussions nowadays, which I guess makes me an ageist… but so often these girls sound so naive to me. Not stupid, just so innocent and naive when it comes to guys and relationships.

    A guy cheats on you after 6 months, MULTIPLE times, and “he’s more than I could ask for” because you feel happy around him? Girl, you are not asking for enough.

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  • Jill December 15, 2011, 1:56 pm

    This was my exact same situation, he cheated early on in the relationship and he lied about it even after she sent me a spiteful email AND lamented about it on her (public) online journal. The funny thing is, he still lied about it for 4 months afterward claiming she was crazy, while being the perfect boyfriend to me. But I couldn’t let it go. One night, I just chose not to believe him and it all came out. To him, it was all in the past, but to me in was like it happened the day before.

    And after all this, I let him move in with me when he lost his job…something about it appealed to the nurturer in me. I got in this terrible habit of building him up just to tear him down with random bouts of anger. I cheated on him a few times out of revenge. I wanted to make HIM the victim so I could regain control and he played the part well. In the end I was just damanging myself.

    It took another 6 months for me to realize that the anger and distrust wasn’t worth it (for either of us). I didn’t think he was a bad person, I do think he was sorry and he did love me, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t recognize myself.

    When I was venting to a friend of mine, she said, “You’ll never take back a cheater again. It only has to happen once.” And she was right.

    It took a long while of contemplating who I was and why I put up with such bull**** but I got through it. Now I see it’s almost never worth it to take back a cheater. You’ll just deplete yourself being angry and suspcicious and/or trying to rationalize your decision to stay.

    To phrase it metaphorically — just rip off the bandaid. It’ll hurt, but one day it won’t anymore and you will meet other men. Trust me!

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  • SGMcG December 15, 2011, 2:45 pm

    Since I have yet to hear this perspective in the comments, I am going to voice in as the cheater. I had one instance over the summer where I cheated on my husband – yes, alcohol was a factor in my decision. He and I took a mutual course of actions in order for us to be good again.

    What I did in my situation that your boyfriend could do:
    – I immediately disclosed what happened to my husband. We’re talking the span of hours. If my husband asked me about a specific detail, I gave it to him – I did not skimp out on details. The only course of action for a breach of trust like cheating is to be fully honest about everything.
    – I acknowledged that what I did to my husband was cheating. Boundaries regarding our relationship as it relates to other people were constructed and/or reaffirmed. I stuck with those boundaries and reassured my husband that they would not be crossed again.

    What my husband did that you must try to do LW:
    – He let me know in uncertain terms that what I did was cheating and acknowledge that his feelings were hurt. He asked me to abide by a plan that helped established his trust in me again. He created the terms of the plan for me that spelled out what to do if I got into those kinds of scenarios again. He also let me know that he had every right to MOA if he wanted to, because his feelings were reflecting that pain.
    – He recognized that this instance of cheating, is not that big a deal compared to other matters going on in our relationship. He eventually adapted a blasé attitude regarding the incident. Rather than focusing on that initial hurt, he focused on the positive aspects of the relationship that mattered to him more rather than brooded over this one negative thing.

    What my husband and I did as a couple so that we could move on from the cheating:
    – We each had an individual third party to voice our concerns and gain our perspectives so that we could talk to one another. They sort of acted as a quasai-therapist for us.
    – We worked out a plan on how to address those I cheated with in the future. In our scenario, this was a necessity.

    Now what I did to my husband cannot compare with what your boyfriend did to you. For one thing, in my scenario it truly was one instance of cheating and full sexual intercourse didn’t come into play – I don’t know if the same can be said about your boyfriend. Working through my instance worked for me only because I was willing to put in the work and my husband was honest with himself that it is what he wanted. Before you do anything, you need to be honest with yourself LW, and see if you forgive your boyfriend, you can do so.

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    • Rachel December 15, 2011, 9:13 pm

      I really admire the candor with which you opened up about your experience, as a cheater and as someone who wanted to work through the aftermath. It takes a lotta courage to open up about something that personal online, and even more so to your husband, I’m certain. I hope your husband appreciates how devoted you are to doing right by him; it sounds like he really loves and wants to be with you. =)

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  • the other guy December 15, 2011, 9:11 pm

    Not going to be popular writing this on a female forum but here I go –

    The reason a lot of guys cheat in a relationship is that women who normally would never give them the time of day actively pursue them once they are in a relationship. The guy isn’t use to the attention and is sort of hardwired to say ‘Yes’ when a hottie makes an offer. Most guys grow out of it after a while..if they are smart, many don’t, but initially when guys get into a seriously relationship its hard to say no to all the offers they would never get while single.

    Lots and lots of guys cheat, there isn’t any malice in the action, they do it, well because they can and sort of feel they should, not from any inner need for something missing from their relationship.

    I can’t speak for the motivation that women have for cheating with a man who is in a relationship but there definitely is a strange attraction for attached guys.

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    • callmehobo December 15, 2011, 9:44 pm

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think that you are giving men enough credit in your comment. Men are not machines automatically programmed to say yes to anything with a vagina.

      Men are people with morals, a brain, and self control. They aren’t drooling sex fiends who will screw anything that’s willing. Men have the ability to say “No”.

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      • the other guy December 16, 2011, 1:22 am

        Yes, yes they do have the ability to say no, sorry you missed the point of my post, namely that it is a learned thing and many guys take time to learn it. Many never learn but most will stray once or twice, usually they regret it, a lot.

    • Addie Pray December 15, 2011, 9:47 pm

      Those damn women, right? They tempt you *because* you’re in a relationship. They have no class! Yes, it’s all the women’s fault. They are fucked up. [Sarcasm]

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    • savannah December 15, 2011, 10:09 pm

      So much wrong but mostly old thinking…what a bore.

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      • the other guy December 16, 2011, 1:16 am

        No problem, I understand my comment would be unpopular but hey it happens…a lot.

        I know several guys that left their wives for younger women, no idea what the younger woman see in him. I really feel pity for both parties.

      • savannah December 16, 2011, 9:40 am

        I know it happens a lot…I just wish you would give guys more agency and look a little deeper. Just so lazy and insulting to men to say its hardwired.

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    theattack December 16, 2011, 2:10 am

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet, so I may come back and change what I say. ReginaRay makes a great distinction between serial cheaters and one-time cheaters. Not many people are insightful enough to understand that not everyone who cheats is the same. However, I do disagree with the idea that he’s probably a serial cheater. I’ve done my fair share of serial cheating in the past, and I’m now completely reformed, so I think I know a good deal about this. To be a one-time cheater does not mean that it was only one single encounter. It can also mean that it was one single, short affair. By short, I mean like a month, month and a half tops. I’m including short, one-time affairs in this category of one-time cheaters because it’s all included as the same slip-up in judgment, and the person reforms afterward.

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  • MissyMaya December 17, 2011, 9:11 am

    6 months really isn’t quite long enough to decide, unless you’re so miserable you want out now. My husband and I have a bit of a non-monogamous relationship. He cheated in past relationships, and told me it was due to boredom. I said to him that if he cheated on me, it would be over. I said if he felt that boredom, it’s something we should work on together. So it started with him asking permission to be with another woman, and that totally didn’t work (for me). I felt uncomfortable with it, and eventually felt it was “cheating” because it was a coworker of his, and even though he knew I was uncomfortable, he continued with that for a short time. The disregard for my feelings constituted the cheating, and not the sex. That was 3 years ago, and I still get angry when I think about it. We have since worked things out. We’ve gone to counseling, and we’ve found that we can alleviate his boredom by participating together with other couples. It’s not mainstream, but now he doesn’t like to do anything without me. So…about the cheating…it was not entirely a dealbreaker, but it’s still a sore point with me years later. My tolerance is much lower, so that’s really the outcome. If my husband were to do anything remotely similar today, he has a lot more to lose (we now have a son as well).

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  • Anon February 8, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Ex-serial female cheater here. I started cheating as a result of being cheated on too many times, (probably because I was a pushover) and because I was tired of feeling hurt in my life. What stopped it was a combination of things. Cutting communication with my family, Healing past trauma, and having kids. Realizing that we only have one life to live and such a short time here, so why tarnish who I am and degrade my self esteem by being the one who deals out the hurt. Guilt is hard to live with, and in the end I want to know I was someone I could live with. You have to treat other people how you wanna be treated, and sometimes you have to turn your cheek to walk away with self worth and dignity, a hard life lesson to learn when you’re hurt and angry. I chose to walk away with whatever dignity I had left. I always felt like no matter how hard I tried, I’d always get cheated on because I wasn’t good enough-so I might as well just go out and do my thing- Until I hurt the wrong man. A really good one, that meant the world to me, and that I probably will never be able to heal the hurt I made. Harsh lesson. These days I get sick thinking of even watching porn behind my lover’s back. I finally feel the intense hurt I dished out. So if you cheat, cheated, thought of cheating…remember karma is going to catch up to you…

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  • JaneD November 17, 2013, 12:18 am

    This is a topic that hits very close to home for me. My bf cheated a couple of years ago, and I took him back. At first, I thought about the pain that he caused me, almost every day. I would go to bed sad and wake up in the morning, mad. I would look in the mirror and cry because I didn’t understand, and couldn’t understand. Til this day, I think that I should have given myself time to truly grieve and let go of the hurt and anger before taking him back. I don’t beat him over the head for his mistake, and I even try to make sure that I’m not punishing him in subtle ways either; however the memories will never go away. It does get easier with time, and it helps if your significant other is making the necessary changes, however, I realized that I had to make changes too. That is what made me stop feeling sorry for myself and stop playing the situation over and over in my mind. I wanted to be the best person, for myself primarily, and then for him. It’s a constant struggle, but again, it’s getting easier as I continue to better myself. I truly hope and pray that all women/men that find themselves in this situation are strong and pray often, because I couldn’t have maintained on my own.

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  • Karima July 14, 2014, 3:35 pm

    I myself have been cheated on not long ago. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 1.5 years and he confessed that he cheated on me with someone else but that it didn’t mean anything and that he regretted it. I stopped talking to him for 2 days because of how painful it was for me to swallow this. I never thought he would be capable of doing this seeing as I thought this relationship was moving forward and yes we did have some differences, and at times had communication issues when we would bicker at each other but I would never had thought he would do this. Two days later, I decided to talk to him again and forgive him, it’s been a week and half ever since this happened and I still can’t move on in my head, not knowing if he could do this again. He has promised that he would never think of doing such a thing again and that he wants to be with me, but at the back of my mind I am still hurt and I am not sure whether I should persue this relationship or not, I guess i’ll have to communicate this to him and see where things go from there, it’s definitely not a good feeling, but I do also in a way believe that whatever happens, it happens for a reason and that with time and working on one’s self ( like working out, taking good care of yourself, and focusing on your career etc) things eventually do get better :).

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  • L September 21, 2014, 5:28 pm

    Reading through the comments, I’ll say this: people who cheat repeatedly are missing something within themselves; impulse control, a lack of self-knowledge, getting enjoyment from “breaking the rules” – there are any number of reasons. There may be something lacking in their primary relationship but cheating is a decision. And in some cases, there could be a need that the partner or relationship can’t meet. It’s the responsibility of the partner who’s need isn’t being met to give voice to that need, see if their partner or relationship can meet that need and if the relationship or partner can’t meet that need then a decision gets made to continue or not in the relationship. Cheating is just selfish.

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  • tebogo November 23, 2017, 11:31 pm

    it also happened to me,my boyfriend n i share a daughter and we are still together,we’ve been dating for 8years now but still I don’t trust him the way I did before and I’m hurt day by day…don’t know what will happen next.

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