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We are on a break but working on our relationship ... he doesn't understand how his actions affected me.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Breaking up, Cheating, Dating, Flirting, Sex, Three is a crowd, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (7 November 2018) 8 Answers - (Newest, 9 November 2018)
A female United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

7 months ago, my ex and I broke up, mutually. Our relationship was long-term. A few days after our breakup I accidentally read a conversation in his facebook account between him and a female friend. The conversation was very intimate, and almost seemed as if they had been talking like this for some time now (assuming even while me and him were together - so yes I suspect that he cheated). He tried to reassure me that it was only flirting... but I honestly don’t know what to believe.

Currently, we are still broken up and we both want to try to work it out because I still love him. What kills me is that I still think about that conversation that I read and it replays in my mind over and over again. Not to sound too dramatic but it was traumatizing because I’ve never felt this way before. Probably because this is a guy I genuinely love and care for and he hurt me so bad. I want to move forward and believe nothing happened between them. He tells me he wants to forget the incident and move on and that there’s nothing going on between them. He tries to reassure me that he will be better to me and that he loves me. Even though we aren’t officially together, we still are intimate with each other which kills me because I know we’re not together and I hate that what he have going on between us reflects the definition of “friends with benefits”. For some reason I just feel so worthless because we both know we can’t be officially together because we still have our own issues to work through, yet I’m so confused because we both give each other relationship benefits! I really want to work things out with him in hopes that we can get back together but my trust issues is still there and I feel like he just hasn’t taken full accountability for what he did. How do I get him to understand the impact that his actions had on me?

View related questions: a break, broke up, facebook, flirt, get back together, move on, my ex

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (9 November 2018):

N91 agony auntThe whole point of a break is to be apart from each other, to have time to collect your thoughts, work on things and ultimately decide whether you want to get back together. Being on a break doesn’t involve having sex with each other and being in constant contact so you’re not on a break. I will add that i think they’re absolutely pointless. If a relationship gets to the point where you need time away from me each other to evaluate how things are going then it’s dead in the water. You can’t think clearly about how a relationship will progress if you’ve not taken a step back from it can you?

How can you stay with someone that you’re not going to trust? You might care deeply for this man but it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be together. Whilst you are on this ‘break’ he’s free to do whatever he wants, you aren’t together, therefore you can’t hold this against him, you either suck it up or move on. If you think he was doing this WHILST you were still dating then he has technically been cheating, I class that anything you would keep secret from your partner involving another person as cheating, so he has disrespected you massively if that’s the case, completely valid reason to leave and shows that he isn’t in love as much as you seem to be.

Step away from the relationship, stop the sex/contact and decide whether you can forget about what’s happened. If not then the only thing is to move on.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

Maintaining intimacy during a breakup is your first mistake. Others have already addressed the snooping issue. You didn't accidentally read his Facebook, you deliberately spied on him. Sex is being used for the purpose of manipulation; hoping you'll keep his appetite satisfied, while your relationship is on life-support.

You resort to spying and snooping; only if you don't trust someone.

Your relationship died while in ICU! You don't know how to listen to each other, or how to compromise. You don't trust him, and you spied on him; because you wanted to see what he's up to. All evidence indicates there are trust-issues and insecurity in the midst of all this.

Your next mistake is thinking you are going to resolve all this and get back together. Like nothing ever happened.

Men rarely survive the break-period; emotionally, they usually begin to move-on. With regard to getting back together; for the most part, men will tell you what you want to hear. He might pretend he's willing to get back together, but he has to agree in order to avoid drama. Neither of you had the ability to work-out your issues while still together. He also has to convince you he's waiting; to avoid any detection that he might be seeing someone.

You're having second-thoughts with the fear he's moving-on, or messing-around. Well...if you take a break too long, after a period of recurrent fighting; the mind will sometimes resign itself to enjoy the peace and quiet, over fighting. He will get a taste of his freedom, versus fighting with you!

You have suspicion of his cheating in the back of your mind; so you're considering a reconciliation without trust. It's a failure before you even get your plans off the ground.

You are claiming love as your motive. I'd say jealousy and territorial-rights have tainted your love.

You're leaving sex available to keep him from having sex with other women; and you're lying to yourself that this mess is going to work.

He is likely to to be lying about his relationship to the other female. You'll pretend to believe him; because letting-on would spook him away. He'll play along with the whole charade to keep sex and booty-calls available; under the pretense he also wants to get back together. His male-pride and ego doesn't want you fooling-around with other men. Regardless of what he may be doing himself.

He knows neither of you will change overnight. He probably has a Plan-B in the event you misbehave. Comeback for a few weeks, have another fight; then finally admit he wants to breakup for good.

You probably have your homecoming-speech prepared, with a head full of suspicion; and this whole "post-breakup to reconciliation" plan is destined for failure.

You suspect he's cheating! People who take breaks in their relationship are admitting to an impasse and breakdown in communication. You expected him not see to anyone, or have sex with anyone; while you are officially broken-up. Only because you used sex to keep your foot in the door. The theory is always better than the reality of it.

My opinion is, you should consider it over; and just assume that he could be seeing someone else. Suspicion is a sign of distrust. Not to dismiss the fact, that your relationship reached such a bad state that you had to separate in the first-place. This usually starts a cycle of make-up to breakup; if you haven't been doing it all along.

The only way this could work is if you forgive him 100%, and start from scratch. Whatever happened when you were apart is forgotten, and will never come-up. Your head has to be clear of any suspicions; and ready to just move forward. You will have to learn to discuss things, and reach solutions, without big fights. Can you do all that?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 November 2018):

I'm not going to be as harsh on you as some others may be about the snooping . Sometimes when people's behaviour is questionable we become confused and don't know what to believe . A little investigation of the facts is often necessary to get to the facts where liars are concerned

However I will agree with a few other things that others have told you. Firstly yoh need to stop sleeping with him. He owes you nothing right now considering there's no official relationship and that means he's free to sleep with whom he wants even if you two are sexual . If you feel bad about a conversation , how would you feel to dond out he had been sleepingmwith other women at the same time as you . Not to mention the physical risks you put yourself at . Protect yourself both emotionally and physically

Secondly , step back and work out what is the truth behind this character before investing one bit more of your energy into him. He sounds like he wants his cake and to eat if too . Don't you want someone who you feel one thousand percent confident in , someone who you trust and don't feel you need to check their fb

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 November 2018):

Yup stop... the nookie .. no ring he doesn't get a thing. Tell him he needs to court you again that means saying you are both dating each other .. to other people .. you can work on yourselves and still date . That means there is a sense of something a promise of what's to be ..of course if it doesn't work it doesn't work and dating doesn't mean sex either tell him he needs to put a ring on your fingers that's your worth .

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (7 November 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntYou didn't accidentally read an entire conversation. That was just a dumb thing to say.

You broke up so he really didn't owe you any fidelity after that. He was free to talk however he wanted with whomever he wanted and your feelings about him cheating are irrelevant as you have no evidence that he did anything with this woman while he was with you. After all, I would expect that you would've "accidentally" read other conversations between them with dates that overlapped your relationship. Since you've cited no such evidence, it stands to reason that you didn't accidentally find any.

Frankly, I don't know why he's bothering with you other than for no-strings booty calls. After all, you're refusing to get back together with him until you get yourself sorted out, and who knows how long you expect him to wait around for that. If I was him, I would've bailed on you by now, telling you to contact me when you get your issues resolved and if I'm still available, then we can try again. However, I wouldn't tolerate being stuck in relationship purgatory while you waste my time.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 November 2018):

The thing is you have NO definite proof he cheated only suspicions. You clearly broke up for reasons so had it been turning bad for a while before you split up?

I split up with my daughters dad when she was a baby and I slept with him once after (I also suspected he had cheated) it didn't feel right so I never repeated it.

Because if a relationship is about love than the sex act is also about that. Once you go into breaking up and not getting back together again it doesn't sit comfortably and it isn't with you.

I have no idea what he is thinking, only you two know why you split up, but he could also be trying to hold onto something that once was.

You need to stop sleeping together and to actually work out what you both really want from the future. I echo what Honey Pie said, if hand on heart you believe he cheated you need to figure out if you can move past that with a clean slate or will the same problems arise?

Only you know but for me I could not get past the feeling of betrayal even without the solid proof, the letter I found without being a glaringly obvious affair was enough, the intention was still there.

All the best

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy + , writes (7 November 2018):

Anonymous 123 agony auntWait I don't understand a lot of things here. How did you "accidentally" read a conversation on Facebook? It means you were snooping. And why does he have to reassure you of anything that he's doing once you have broken up?

If you are broken up then you're broken up and there's no grey area. Try to get into that and you'll be in deep deep shit, which is what has happened to you. What you're essentially doing is hanging on to him for dear life, hoping that if he continues having sex with you then he won't chase after the other girl and that it'll somehow bind you together. What you don't realise is that the harder you try to keep him with you, the more you'll hurt.

If a guy that I was in a long term relationship with starts "flirting" with another girl as soon as we're broken up then I would never ever allow him back into my life. That just goes to show the respect that he has for me and what the relationship and I meant for him. And I would never take it personally... It's his loss, not mine!

I don't think you can ever trust this guy. It's just not worth the headache. Once the trust is gone, it's over. Accept it. Move on.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (7 November 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI don't think you can "make" him understand how HIS actions made YOU feel. If he doesn't "get" it already he never will.

Secondly, stop having sex and being intimate. If you aren't "together-together" then keep sex out of the picture. you are BOTH confusing the issues here. When YOU still OFFER him what he had before (while you dated) he is PRESUMING that you will eventually "get over" your hurt. That you will suck it up.

Thirdly, you can't put this "back" in the bag. He DID what he did (flirting with someone else on a very personal level) WHILE dating you. You REALLY think he will stop that kind of behavior? OR be better at hiding it? YOU lost a HUGE chunk of trust in him and that is not "magically" be fixed. EITHER you believe his story - and decide that it's in the past, that it WAS OK for him to flirt with someone else or NOT. If you STILL don't believe that it was just some "harmless flirting" then you need to step away from him, because it will always be in the back of your mind and you will NOT be able to trust him ever again.

If he CAN NOT (rather, WILL NOT) take responsibility for what he did - it's more likely than not, that he will do it again. Why? Because the REASON he doesn't take responsibility is because he believes he did nothing WRONG.

Is he still in contact with this other female friend? Does SHE live closer to him? If both are those answers are yes, then how do you know they aren't communicating still? And IF he was cheating physically, how do you know he still doesn't do that?

LOVING someone, CARING deeply for someone doesn't MEAN you two are a good fit.

How long were you LD? Why were you LD? How often did you see each other? Was there a plan it make it a NOT LDR?

You are fooling yourself if you think that just because you aren't "officially together" you are actually "working" on the issue.

This is a deal-breaker issue for you. That is WHY the relationship ended 7 months ago. Yet you are willing to play "pretend relationship/FWB" because you really DON'T want to break up with him.

Either you are not OK with what he did, you talk it out, you two SET boundaries for what is OK in a relationship and what is not, forgive and move on.

Or your forgive, forget (which you really can't) and start again.

OR you HAVE to accept that he did what he did while dating you, that he will likely do it again and that maybe as much as you care for him, HE ISN'T the one for you, and then you wish him well and CUT ALL contact.

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