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How do I forgive my boyfriend of 3 years who cheated?

By August 7, 2011 - 11:45am
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How do I forgive him?

Last Tuesday, my boyfriend of 3 years cheated on me. Wow, that feels good to get off my chest...I have been holding it in because I just don’t want anyone to know, so this is why I am here...

Last Tuesday, the night before the love of my life’s birthday, I had a small get together at my place for him for pre-drinks, then we planned to go to the bar. The night was going great, we all had fun, I had a bit too much fun and got drunk, and had a very important interview the next morning. Once the evening got to the point to go to the bar, I knew it was within my best interest to stay home, but I wished him well and sent our friends with him to show him a good time. Feeling guilty about not joining him on his birthday, I went to sleep and waited for him to return after the bar. He didn’t.

At about 4am, I awoke, and saw that I had no texts, calls or anything which was so unlike him. I called him, he ignored it 3 times. I called the friends we were with, they said they had no idea where he went and couldn’t find him throughout the night, so now I was worried. I got in my car, and drove to his apartment to make sure he was okay....

Walking up to his window, which you can see in because he has a bottom floor apartment, my heart sank to my feet wondering what I was going to find. Some part of me knew. I walk over and see him standing in the middle of his room, shirt inside out, and I can see that the bathroom door across the hall light is on, and the door is shut. I ask him “where have you been, we’re all worried about you” and he says “Hey I’ll come out, be there in a second” and hurriedly runs to let me in to the apartment building. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a little black clutch on his computer chair.

When he gets to the door, I can see on his face that something happened. He looks disgusted and shocked, and can’t form words. He says “let’s just go to your place, please let’s just go to your place” and I ask him to take me inside, why he won’t take me inside. We start walking down the path, me trying to convince myself that that was one of our friends purses, and asking myself - If there is a girl there, he wouldn’t just leave with me right now would he?- but I had to go see for myself.

I run back over to the window, to see a skinny, hot blonde walk out of the bathroom, walk into his room, wearing only her slutty bar top and underwear. She proceeds to bend down to put back on her shorts, and my heart shatters into a million pieces. I can’t breathe, I don’t know what to do, and I look back to find him only to see that he’s run away. I march back to the window, knock on it, and ask this poor girl repeatedly “did you sleep with him? Did you just have sex with that guy? Please tell me the truth, did you sleep with him? What happened?.... And she exclaims, no I swear to god we didn’t, he said he didn’t have a condom, I don’t sleep with guys without a condom, I swear.. Then she asks me who are you?.. And tears just start coming down my face as I say “his girlfriend of 3 years”...

I sit with the girl, who just destroyed my entire life, talking to her about what happened, and I call her a cab... Something I never thought I would have to do in my entire life. She tells me over and over that she didn’t sleep with him, but that she was sure they would have if he had had a condom, and that they had made out and danced at the bar .. The bar that I was taking him to for his birthday..

After I watch her drive away in a cab, I can’t help but pace back and forth, wondering how this could have ever happened, if I was just dreaming, if I was mistaken, how he could have done this to me, where he went.... When my friends, who I had called, pull up. They come running and the moment that their body hits mine I just collapse, and cry the hardest, and longest that I have ever done. I hyperventilate, I yell, I bawl my eyes out, with no answer to all of this.

Living just up the road, they put me in their car and drive me home, only for me to realize that all of the lights have been turned off in my apartment, he’s here. I run in, not knowing what I’m going to say to him, or what I’m going to do. I slam open the door and find him sleeping in my bed. I wake him with slaps, punches and screaming. All he can say is he doesn’t know how it happened, he was drunk and it just did and that he’s so so sorry. I am officially numb....

After 4 hours of talking, yes until 8am before my 10:30am important interview, he has described over and over again that he is so sorry, that he had absolutely no intention of sleeping with her, the she asked him if he had a condom, and he instantly said no to get out of it, that she had kissed him at the bar, that he was sorry that he kissed back, that she just got in the car with him and his “work” friends, and had just gotten out with him when he got home, that he had never invited her there or into his place, that he doesn’t know why he didn’t stop her from coming in, that nothing other than a kiss happened...... On and on and on..

I asked a million details, I wanted to know every little thing, and I don’t even know why. As much as each little thing hurt me more and more, and stabbed the knife further and further into my chest, I had to know. I had to know how she ended up in his room, why she was in his bed, who kissed who, how they kissed, how he was laying, what he talked to her about, what he was thinking about when it happened, why the thought of me didn’t make him kick her out, if he would have slept with her had I not shown up, if he liked her at all, if he wanted sex from her....on and on and on...

And after the worst night of my entire life, this is where I am now, almost 1 week later:

I love this boy. So so much, more than I could ever describe. I truly think that I believe he wouldn’t have slept with her, but I also believe there definitely was a part of him that wanted to. I am happy that out of this, as he says, that he realized he definitely doesn’t want to be with anyone else and that he had his doubts of spending his life with someone he met so young, but says he now knows I’m the one - I’m happy about that, as bitter sweet as it may be. I want to make things work, I want to forget about all of this, I want to trust and love him again like I used to, I want to believe that nothing would have gone further, that he actually stopped everything for me. I want to marry him, and start a family with him, and spend the rest of my life with him. I want to take in this what seems to be changed man, who has been doing my dishes, waiting on me hand and foot, and telling me how grateful he is to have me. I want to be with this guy who says he will do anything in his power to convince me to stay, and will never stop trying to make me trust him again so we can spend our lives together. But how?

How do I erase that skinny, beautiful blonde girl from my mind? How do I believe that he really has realized that he wants to spend his life with me? Do I believe that this guy who never wanted a relationship at all, actually thinks that I am who he will spend the rest of his life with? Will he follow through with making our relationship last forever, and continue to try to make things work, or will he get bored and do this again? Was there something missing in our relationship? Can we ever get back to where we were? Can I believe the promises that he is making to me to never touch another girl, when I thought that was his promise all along?

Please help me...what do I do? How do I get past this? How do I erase this awful image from my head and move on with our lives? Or am I crazy to even think it’s possible?....

Add a Comment2 Comments

Hi Alison,

Thank you so much for your response!

I think that we have somewhat discovered our “missing part” with what seems like hundreds of talks since the incident. We had a really long talk about it last night, and he communicated strongly that he thinks that I was always more ready, and ahead of him in our relationship, which I think played a huge factor. He said that he was never at the point that I was, ie: ready to move in together, talk about our future, talk about getting married, etc. But he said that he feels like he is there now, that this really made him realize that he does want all of those things that I want, and is more ready than he ever was or thought he could be. I have to admit, it has been nice hearing him say over and over daily that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, because looking back now, I realize how hesitant he always was before, but I never really took it in.

That being said, I hate that this is how he had this realization, and can’t help but ask myself “well what will happen if he ever has doubts in our future again, what if we are engaged and it hits him that he’s ‘stuck’ with the same girl the rest of his life, and this happens again?” .... I’m terrified. Which brings me to your questions. I really am afraid that I will always be testing him, whether deliberately or subconsciously, and waiting for him to fail which I know is so unhealthy. In the end, even though he caused this, I know that it’s not fair for me to test him the rest of our lives, and for me to always resent him for this. I know that I have to make a decision if I am going to be able to let this go and move forward with our lives, or if it is always going to be there holding us back from being happy, but I also really do believe that it was a one-time what-was-I-thinking moment.

The one point that you made though, that is the constant heartache for me, is the steps that it takes. For me, I can get past the kiss at the bar, but it’s the steps after that that just stabs a knife in my chest. I can even get myself past as far as the front door to his apartment building, because of how he explains how that happened. But it’s the fact that he got that far, and then kept going. He says over and over that it all just happened and the next thing he knew he was opening the door to his apartment and she was following him, but why didn’t he stop it at that point! I mean there were still a million steps after that - walking in, opening his apartment, showing her his room, sitting on the bed, kissing again, her taking her shorts off....... How were the brakes not put on at any one of those steps?? That’s what hurts the most, and is sooo hard to get past.

I want to fix this so bad! I want to stop thinking about it 24/7 and be happy with him again, I really do. I just find myself constantly being mad at him for little things, and using them against him as reasons I shouldn’t be with him because I’m scared. I’ve built this wall of protection that I am so afraid he will never be able to break down. Feeling what it felt like to be hurt by him made me realize how much I really do love him, and I don’t ever want to feel that pain again.

What do I do? Am I aloud to have him on a short leash, and get so upset about little things? Or am I being too harsh and taking advantage of this situation?

August 10, 2011 - 6:01pm

I don't think there is one way to get over someone cheating on you, but it is possible. There are too many factors that play into each individual relationship, as well as each individual person.

I think the points in your story that made the most impact to me, to give you my perspective:
1. You sound very intelligent and thoughtful
2. You sound hopeful, yet also cautious
3. You also sound very caring, since you stayed with the girl whom your boyfriend "fooled around with" and cared enough to call her a cab
4. Something is missing in your relationship, in order for your boyfriend to consider cheating.

This last point I make is where I think time, communication and just being who you are will determine what this "missing" part is. It could be argued that every relationship has some part "missing" (as in, there is no perfect relationship). What part that is "missing" in your relationship with your boyfriend, and in his relationship with you, is what you two will need to determine over the course of time. This "missing" piece can be a deal-breaker, or it can be manageable. The only way to determine what is missing is continued honest communication. I'm not entirely sure your boyfriend is being completely honest with you (I'm sure he had intent to have sex, however he is defining sex), but I'm not sure I would hold that detail against him---he got caught in a pretty severe way, and people aren't honest upfront with all the details...usually to save another person's feelings. The bottom line: he cheated, and you want to know if this is a continued behavior, a sign that something is wrong, or a one-time what-was-I-thinking moment. That is going to be your call, given this new relationship that you two have (nothing can ever be "the same" after someone takes trust away), how he treats you, how you treat him, etc.

If you really need help with this situation, a couples counselor could really help you two discuss your feelings about what happened, your hopes for the future, and learn how to communicate effectively about difficult situations. Alcohol can only be partially blamed as lessening one's inhibitions, as cheating on someone also involves a lot of steps to get from one place (bar) to another (bedroom) that does not just magically "happen" to someone. In other words: I still would want to know from your boyfriend why he went through with his impulse. We all find other people attractive, are "hit on" or "flirted with", but it takes two people to make a decision to move forward with a physical relationship, and there was something that went on in his body or mind that gave him the "go ahead" instead of putting the brakes on. Perhaps this can be discussed with a counselor present (it helps to have that third person in emotional discussions).

I do think two people can work through an isolated episode of cheating, if both people have their own high self-esteem, sense of self-worth, are committed to the relationship moving forward, are sincerely regretful (not for being caught, but for damaging the relationship).

What are your thoughts? How would you feel about yourself if you continued in the relationship with him? Would you feel like you are always testing him, or waiting for him to fail again?

August 7, 2011 - 8:48pm
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