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.
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.