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Does one mistake break you forever? Even if you've learned from your mistake and would never ever repeat it?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Cheating, Dating<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (12 May 2018) 5 Answers - (Newest, 13 May 2018)
A female age 41-50, anonymous writes:

Does one mistake make you broken forever? Even if you've learned from your mistake and would never ever repeat it?

My first bf and I were not a good match. Or we were for a codependant relationship. Bit I didn't know that then. Everything was always about him and his problems and I would do everything to help him. I really wanted to, I really believed I was doing good. He, on the other hand, was never satisfied with me. There was always something I should improve, there was always better ways of thinking, talking and acting. And he did everything he could to try and change me to fit his set of criteria. Needless to say, I never could. Basically he was trying to control me and it did border on mental and emotional abuse.

I'm not trying to justify the fact that I didn't know how to leave him. We were together for six years, I was 21. I met someone I fell in love with and I cheated on him before leaving him (emotionally and physically).

I really hate myself for it. I really wish I had done what I did do since then whenever I didn't want to be with a person - let them know it before anyone else.

He didn't deserve - nobody does - to be cheated on. I told him the truth and apologized (saying what I had already said here - my responsibility and not his fault). He wanted to patch things up but I didn't so we went our separate ways.(and it doesn't matter that he cheated on me too, this is about me and my decisions).

As I said, I learned my lesson and have never and would never do that to myself and anyone else, but whenever I think of it I feel bad. I know it cannot be undone. I feels as if it is something that will define me forever.

Whenever he's mentioned in a conversation with my close friends (my husband included) there's always this thought (in my head :) that what I did was horrible and unforgivable. I need to remind myself that I'm human and that people make mistakes, that I've owned up to mine and learned from it. But I still wish I did better.

Can this way of thinking ever stop? When can one stop apologizing?

View related questions: cheated on me, emotionally abusive, fell in love

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (13 May 2018):

Honeypie agony auntOf course you can have an opinion, OP

You can even give her advice from PERSONAL experience! You know what cheating did and how it STILL affects you. So yes, you can advice her not to do it and explain why.

Now she may not AGREE with your opinion (and that is OK) but surely having an opinion doesn't mean you have wear a halo to be taken serious?

I have never cheated on anyone, yet I gave you advice. I have been cheated on so I do have a personal experience. Some people might NEVER have cheated or been cheated on but STILL have an opinion, value system, moral compass, belief system...

Again OP - NO ONE is perfect.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (13 May 2018):

Dear WiseOwlE, thank you for your help!

I've been thinking recently more about this since my cousin, who knows my story, is falling for her coworker and is contemplating cheating on her husband.

I started wandering if I have the right to have an opinion due to my "history"... and my opinion was of course - don't do it.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (13 May 2018):

People seek peace and deliverance from strongholds and abuse in different ways. Cheating is wrong; but you waited too long to get out of your abusive-relationship. Somehow someone came along that gave you courage, and helped you to save yourself.

In a way, I guess you developed Stockholm Syndrome. You've developed sympathy and over-concern for the person who held you captive in a bad relationship; and he's the very person who treated you badly.

Your conscience and built-in moral-compass knows that cheating is wrong, and that people do make mistakes. You shouldn't forever feel so much guilt about it; you were so very young, and that was so many long years ago. You're not marked with a scarlet-letter for it; you've moved on, and you're a better person for learning from your mistakes.

Call it by fate, or by divine intervention, that someone intervened; and interrupted your cycle of dependency. It may have been a very long-time before you came to your senses. He had a sure-grip on you!

Psychologically, you were being help hostage. Had someone not come along at that time; no telling how long you would have remained in an abusive and controlling situation. With time, a controlling person establishes a firmer grip on your psyche. Weakening your self-confidence, lowering your self-esteem, and crushing your spirit. You become so weak, you actually begin to believe they are necessary for your very existence and survival. You would forgive them for almost anything; and believe them when they say awful things to and about you. You'd even start to feel you deserved it. Like feeling guilty for all these years!

Your cheating is not dismissed as far as the betrayal of trust goes; but my dear, it was a cry for help! Then you also have to recall the broken mental-state you were in, how psychologically-torn you were, and how low your self-esteem must have been at the time.

He wasn't your husband. I don't make excuses or justifications for cheating. I do consider the circumstances and harsh-realities in a given situation. You were hoping for a rescuer. Fortunately, he found you in time!

You took a leap of faith, and you found someone better.

Looking back on it, do you really think you would have just let go and left him? Even if you had no options, motivation, or a better alternative?

The way most abusers think, he didn't really want to patch things up; he wanted to re-establish his psychological-hold over you. Recapture you, both mentally and physically. Domestic-abusers play and prey on your sympathies and emotions. Abusive-men can be very sorrowful; and quite convincing at making you feel guilty, and even deserving of the abuse you received. Crocodile-tears and heart-wrenching pleas melts your heart. It's how narcissism and mental-manipulation works. He has succeeded at leaving you feeling guilty...all these years!

Let's not worry about what he deserves. That's the past, and surely he has gotten on with his life. You were a couple of kids; and guilt over something so old really isn't healthy; nor is it fair to your husband. Get your head out of the past, and back into the present.

You gain your closure by giving yourself forgiveness. Stop saying people make mistakes, simply to rationalize the situation. People do make mistakes; because it is human. Cheating isn't a good thing; but cheating isn't the worst thing you can do either. It would be worse; if the man you cheated on is your husband! He wasn't, and you'd best thank God for that!

You've got to get your mind focused on your present situation; and the man in your life right-now. It's all about you and your family. Ruminating over long-lost boyfriends, when you have a husband and family; is telltale evidence that you've got too much idle-time on your hands. Maybe you're not as into the man you've married as you should be? Perhaps there's a crease in your marriage that needs to be ironed-out? Why else would you be worried about some awful boyfriend left behind a long-time ago?

Are you trying to dig-up some lame excuse to contact that asshat to offer him some undeserved-apology for not driving you insane? Come-on, you're not marked for life for cheating on a guy who even cheated on you!!!


You are blessed. You've long since found new love. I'd say you were forgiven by a much Higher Power, be that the case! Bury that old boyfriend in the past where he belongs!

Now think about that!

If you're lucky, you will live many more years; and make some more mistakes. Hopefully you will learn from them, correct them, and not repeat them! Welcome to the human-race, girlfriend!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (12 May 2018):

Thank you so much Honeypie!

What you wrote really speaks to me.

I guess for me it always was very, very hard to forgive myself.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (12 May 2018):

Honeypie agony auntAt some point you have to realize that beating yourself up for something you did when you were 21 - is pointless.

DID you learn something from it? Have you remained faithful ever since?

If you can say YES to both of those, maybe it's time to forgive yourself.

Most of us don't realize we are JUST as capable of doing bad, making bad choices as we are making good choices. However MOST of us also know a bad choice from a good. And so do you. So DID you. Maybe you cheated because you saw no other way out. You might not have realized it, but it really was in the end what lead you to leave a really bad relationship.

You CAN NOT go back and change the past OP. No one can. Regrets are worthless and pointless. The serve no OTHER purpose than make the person FEEL bad for something they CAN no longer control.

Accept that even YOU made a shitty choice. Then forgive yourself and DO better, BE better for the rest of your life.

Sometimes, OP we just have to accept that SHIT happens and move on.

You are not the first person to feel bad about something you did that hurt another person. You won't be the last.

This ONE thing doesn't define you, UNLESS you let it.

If you can stop a minute and stop wallowing in your own self-pity and guilt, consider all the people who have been through MUCH MUCH worse than you and your ex. Should THEY let whatever happened (rape, drugs etc.) let them define THEM for the rest of their lives? If they have truly worked on dealing with the issue?

While I would not say that cheating is no big deal, because for many it IS. For you it was. Maybe even for him. It's not such an unforgivable offense that you now have to serve some kind of penance and shame for the rest of your life.

LIVE in there here and now. Look to the future. Let the past BE the past.

Chin up. EVERYONE makes at least one bad choice in life. It's all part of growing up and being human.

NO ONE is perfect.

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