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Should I believe him? My heart is saying I'm not ready to give up on us

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Cheating, Three is a crowd, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 August 2014) 6 Answers - (Newest, 1 September 2014)
A female United Kingdom age 22-25, anonymous writes:

My world is in bits. My heart has been ripped out of my chest and my whole body aches. I can't believe I'm here writing this.

I found out Thursday my childhood sweetheart (5 years together) and the man I love to pieces has been cheating.

He had a 5/6 week affair with another women. I should of known, we had hit a rough patch in our relationship around 2 months ago, we were arguing pretty much 5 out of 7 days a week. Then his time for me disappeared, we went from seeing each other 4 days a week to 1/2. I couldn't get hold of him on days and I was horrendously paranoid and suspicious. We stopped having sex and the tears started.

Last weekend he spent the whole weekend with her and lied to me he was with friends.

Monday we ended up having a massive argument again and it ended in both of us crying. We talked deeper than we had ever talked and both decided that we really needed to try. That night he called things off with this other women, he told her that he had been doubting whether he did love me and had made a massive mistake, he said that this whole affair had unfortunately been the reason he realised how much he actually loves me. This women was naturally devastated.

Thursday my friend told me about this affair. The women had been telling people about it. My boyfriend lied to my face and said he had been meeting her but nothing physical. I new he was lying, too much fell into place when I found out. He has now come clean and admitted everything.

I've always said if anybody ever cheated on me that they would be gone in a second. Unfortunately in this situation it's not that simple. My head cannot rule my heart. I know that this boy loves me, his mum, my mum, everybody can see that. At the moment he's a broken man, he's ashamed, disappointed and hurting as well. Which he should be. His mum is refusing to talk to him, the only thing she has said is 'I know that you love that girl, so why have you done this to her?' And apparently he started crying and said he loved me too much and unfortunately he didn't realise the extent of his love until now.

He got sent home from work by his boss for crying, his mum said she heard him crying in the bathroom, bedroom.

He's walking around without making eye contact with anyone, she said he hasn't eaten in 3 days and is refusing to leave the house.

He's cancelled playing in his football match which is his one love in life, he's cancelled going to his friends wedding. Whilst he has hurt me beyond belief, I can see that this has broken him too.

I feel like you need to know this reaction to be able to process your answers.

So now what? He can't look me in the eye, everytime he see's me he bursts out crying.

He's said he loves me more than anything, he doesn't want his adolescent lifestyle and the thought of having that life without me hurts him.

He's said he wants the life where he spends long weekends with his girlfriend, he wants to make me smile and acknowledges he needs to mature. He's said he wants this relationship more than anything in the world but he's not sure that we will ever be able to move on from this.

He's said he doesn't deserve me and hopes I find somebody that will love me like I deserve. He followed this up with, I can promise you on my mothers life that they will never love you like I love you though.

I really don't know what to do. I'm numb, I just want to forget all this happened and be cuddled to sleep by the boyfriend that I love so much. My head is saying leave him, it's the right thing to do, he's disrespected you and betrayed you.

My heart is saying I'm not ready to give up on us, it believes him when he says he will never do this to another person ever again. I know him better than anyone and I do believe that he has learnt his lesson, I really do.

I want to turn this into a positive in my life, and move forward and build a whole new relationship. Be able to think back in years time and be glad it happened and made us better. However, I don't want to appear weak or as if this is acceptable, it's really not. I'm so lost it's unreal.

View related questions: affair, cheated on me, I love you, move on, wedding

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A female reader, Staceily United States +, writes (1 September 2014):

Staceily agony auntI really recommend this book for you-

I Love You But I Don't Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum.

I think it's clear you want to give it a chance. This book helps you to do that. It helps you deal with major betrayals and how to move on from them and stop them from happening again. I recommend this book a lot in my posts, I'd say you are the one it could benefit the most.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (1 September 2014):

Hi everyone,

I am the poster of the question. Thank you for all of your advice I truly appreciate it!

I just wanted to say to ciar, that the affair had ended before I found out! He had ended the affair with her and then my friend found out and told me the following week! Granted he didn't tell me, but the affair had run it's course and hadn't been interrupted by me finding out.

Currently I genuinely believe he is ashamed of his actions. I have told him I am not going to make a decision right now or based on what society, friends or family believe. I have said that I will take each day as it comes and will base whether I forgive him on his actions in those days. If he proves himself, shows he loves me, he is truly sorry and makes every effort in his power to get this relationship back then I will try to forgive him. If after one week his actions do not match the words I have been told or the effort slips then I will be walking away. This may take him months/years of proving himself until I can hold my hands up and say I forgive you, and he's aware of that. He knows what happens next is mainly based around whether he earns his forgiveness and my trust.

Unfortunately like I said my head cannot rule my heart, I do love thiis man. I know this man better than I know myself. I sensed to the week this affair started and my gut instinct was right all along. I do believe he would never do this not just to me, but another human again. I believe him when he says he's truly sorry. I'm just waiting for him to prove it.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (1 September 2014):

Ciar agony auntI wasn't really satisfied with my answer but I was too busy to follow it up until now.

I believe it's incorrect to assume that someone who has cheated will always cheat, just as it would be to say 'once fat always fat' or 'once a smoker always a smoker'. Cheating, like smoking or over eating is a chosen behaviour which people can change at any time. You have to weigh the facts of each case before making a decision.

Here are a few for you to consider before making yours:

1. This was not a drunken indiscretion at the company Christmas party. This affair started out as 'innocent conversations' and was sustained over a period of hours, days and weeks. He was straight and sober throughout that time, and in full control of his thoughts and actions.

2. He only 'ended' the affair when you found out. And you only found out when friends told you. If you hadn't learned of it, he'd still be seeing her.

3. The affair did not run its course. It was interrupted by your discovery, which means the other woman is probably going to be unfinished business for him. I suspect, as will you, that he'll be thinking of her, wondering what she's doing, if she's seeing anyone and if she's thinking about him. I wouldn't be surprised if curiosity got the better of him and he started following her Facebook profile and before you know he's already reached out to her again. Maybe not, but it's far from unheard of.

4. Your boyfriend dated this woman in secret because he didn't want you to leave until he was certain he was done with you.

5. You've heard the expression 'the best defense is a good offense', yes? Some guilty people become aggressive and accusing when confronted and others seek sympathy. Both approaches are designed to shift attention from what they did and how it affects others to how they feel. This is a very old strategy.

Food for thought.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 August 2014):

Hunny save you yourself the heartache and trauma. Let him go. You will regret later staying with him longer. Go on with your life. If he respected you he wouldnt have cheated. Think ABOUT IT. YOU deserve better.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (30 August 2014):

I've heard your story many times over, and I've witnessed such situations in my own life-experience. Everyone makes mistakes, and anyone can go astray. I actually caught my own partner in the act of cheating, five years into our relationship. Yet our relationship survived on to reach nearly 30 years together. It ended with his passing-away.

If you feel your relationship can survive one cheating violation, and it means that much to the both of you. Give it a try. It's not as easy as you think it is. Unlike me, you didn't literally catch him in the act. All his deeds were behind your back. That effects you differently. You got your facts through other sources, and eventually confirmed it through his confession. I saw with my own eyes, he couldn't lie or hide it.

There is a lot of dramatizations and emotionalizing going on between you two; but I hope you regain your composure, and get these performances under some control. Everybody's sorry and everybody misses each other. Now lets cut to the chase and be grown-ups.

Ciar makes a valid point that once a cheater, isn't necessarily always a cheater. As in the case of my partner, people do redeem themselves and never do it again. Unfortunately, that's in rare cases. Most do, and will cheat again; if the opportunity presents itself, and they think they can get away with it. So you have to be willing to accept the reality of this. Not see anything through rose-colored glasses. You can't be a drama-queen and have a serious and viable relationship. You have to be rational and mature.

Here's what I had to do. I had to believe so strongly in our relationship that I felt it was worth saving. I had to be totally convinced by my partner that he felt exactly the same way. We had to work together as a couple and talk about things we felt we could do to rebuild trust again.

I wanted to punch him in the face, and toss them both out the window six stories up! Doing the nasty on my expensive

linen sheets. Yeah, the guy was hot, but stupid!!! He asked me if I wanted him to leave or explain? WTF!!! I've got eyes! You'd better use the elevator, before I give you the short-cut out the bedroom window! I did not give him time to dress. Then I composed myself to address my partner; before I performed an act that could have given me a life-sentence in prison. I was livid!

I needed to listen to what my partner had to say. We both needed to address all the issues that hurt the relationship, not just focus on the cheating. Relationships are complex. If you don't address all your problems, there will always be a weak-link between you. You have to work on all your faults. Not just the fact he cheated and he has to make it up to you. Talk, not always argue. Arguments relieve tension, but you don't get much else accomplished.

You have to have frank, two-way discussions. That ain't easy. It takes discipline and a lot of practice. Accepting criticism.

Then you have to have the capacity to forgive. I don't mean just consciously, I mean subconsciously. Don't take him back, and drown him in your insecurity. That's where it gets tricky. People misuse the word "forgive" just like they misuse the word "love." It is often implied, but not truly meant in the literal sense. Of course you will feel shaky. Your trust has been challenged, if not totally destroyed; but don't say he is forgiven until he really is.

You can't sit on pins and needles every-time he's out of your sight. You can't be snooping through his phone. You can't demand that he contacts you 24 hours a day, checking-in to let you know he's not cheating with someone. That is proof he is not forgiven, and never will be. That only means you took him back to soothe your damaged ego, cool down your jealous rage, and to keep an eye on him.

It's really hard. We had to actually mean it, when we decided we would work through it. I wasn't going to treat him any different than I always had. He went out of his way to prove it to me. That's just how sorry he really was. He continuously apologized to me so many years later. I'd gotten over it long before, but understood that he meant it from his heart. Oh, he thought he had reasons to be suspicious of me too. I hadn't cheated. Won't lie and say I was never tempted. I had a convenient excuse; but didn't.

It was not a series of dramatizations with crying and Oscar-winning performances. We were exactly your age! We had talks and discussions. He let me know when I was being a dick, or when I said something hurtful. I did the same. We had arguments, but agreed to time-outs when things got too heated. My trust still got challenged; because he often had to travel for work, and be gone for days or weeks.

I didn't sit around the house stewing and worried if he's cheating.

I had to force myself to go on with my usual routines, and trust him. Accept once, his wealthy client flew him to another coast for dinner for winning a case! I was furious! He called me hours later; and gave me no heads-up prior to their departure. I had to work my way through that. The wealthy guy was supposedly straight, good-looking as hell, but why would he whisk my gay boyfriend off to dinner when we have fantastic five-star restaurants right here? Why would he go before informing me? Well, it was a spur of the moment deal. He wanted to enjoy the perks and please the client. Private jet, champagne, the works! I accepted that.

I would have accepted too! Only, I would have called and told him first!

If I hadn't fully trusted my partner and forgiven him, that would have remained a bone of contention, and reason to always hold suspicion. I might have just ended it, if I was going to let jealousy get the better of me and fallback on what happened before. I had to live in the present, not punish him for the past. He patiently dealt with my faults, flaws, and mistakes. So I had to give him a chance. I didn't forever punish him for one mistake.

We started from a clean slate, because I had truly forgiven him. Not just by word, but in the true sense.

If you can put insecurity aside, make it work. If you can't, you're wasting your time. You'll end-up breaking-up anyway.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (30 August 2014):

Ciar agony auntI don't subscribe to the belief that once a cheater, always a cheater. I think each circumstance has to be taken on a case by case basis. Forgiving someone and taking them back after such an event is not, in itself, weak if it's only happened the once. Ignoring the same red flags and falling for the same lies and apologies over a prolonged period of time would be.

Your boyfriend is still looking out for himself here with all this not eating, not sleeping, crying and carrying on. All this melodramatic nonsense is about getting you to chase him and bend over backward trying to prove you've forgiven him instead of him bending over backward trying to prove how sorry he is. Notice he isn't paying much attention to how this has affected YOU.

People may be angry with him now, his mum included, but before long they'll start feeling sorry for him because of how 'gutted' he is (or appears to be). That's his plan. To shift focus from what he's done to how he feels.

So I would be very cool and matter of fact about this. You don't have to commit to any one decision or another at this point. Take your time and proceed at your own pace.

If you do decide to stay with him, do not try to return to normal too quickly. Let him earn his way back into your good graces by courting you again. Like he did in the beginning when you were first dating. And don't make any promises. After giving his best effort you might decide it still isn't enough. Second chances are something you grant, not something you owe.

Keep the heartfelt relationship talks to a minimum. Keep it brief and stick to the facts because the more time spent talking the less likely it will lead to any real change.

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