Dear Dr. Fizzy,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years and we are getting pretty serious. We were thinking of moving in together after college and I couldn’t be more in love. However, recently I found out through a mutual friend that he cheated on me early on in our relationship. When I confronted him about it, he told me everything and said didn’t tell me because he knew it would hurt me and it meant nothing. We obviously didn’t feel the same way about each other then as we do now but I don’t know whether I should forgive him or not. He has a history of playing the field but I am his first serious relationship. Am I stupid to think he won’t do it again?
I understand your predicament and this isn’t a decision you should take lightly. Every relationship is different and everybody reacts to cheating in a different way so you are right to consider your options. You need to weigh up the situation. Your boyfriend cheated at the start of your relationship which isn’t exactly a great foundation to build trust on, in saying that, I understand that you probably weren’t in love at that stage so it’s possible it was just a mistake that he’s learnt from.
Basically you have two options. Either you forgive him or you don’t and move on. If you decide to forgive him and give him another chance, there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, your relationship will never be the same. This is a hard pill to swallow but let’s be frank, the dynamics of your relationship have changed, whether you want them to or not. Even if you have forgiven him, the trust is gone and he will have to work extremely hard to earn that back. Will you ever really be able to forget it? In a few years time, will you still look back on the betrayal even if he has been an angel since then? If you can’t get past it, it will drive you crazy. Your jealously will hit off the record charts and turn you into MI5. Constantly wondering who he’s texting, checking his phone and hacking his Facebook. This in itself is toxic waste to a relationship and it won’t last. Save yourself the heart ache and get out now.
Girls (and guys!) often make the mistake of thinking they are the exception not the rule. If your man has a history of cheating he’s likely to do it again. Fact. It’s true that some guys, hell bent on cheating, can turn themselves into rock solid, faithful machines but it’s not usually because of a different relationship. These things come from much more dramatic changes in a guys’ life. The most common reason girls get involved with men they know are cheaters is that they think they will be the exception. Don’t fall into this trap. No matter how beautiful he says you are or how much he “thought of you the whole time!” Perhaps this isn’t the only time he cheated, just the only time you found out about.
Your situation is slightly different in that this is his first serious relationship. Maybe he was still trying to find himself and figure out exactly what he wanted. Girls often know exactly what they want, even if they don’t say it. Guys are a little more complicated. They often don’t have a clue what they want until they get it. Perhaps, in the beginning, he was just testing the waters, unsure of what he wanted and now he knows it’s you he wants. You need to be able to talk this through with your S.O. If he cheated because something was lacking in your relationship, you can build on that, change your relationship and begin to trust him again. If he can’t talk to you about why he cheated or he says some dumb shit like he was bored, you probably shouldn’t trust him again. He’s what we call a repeater cheater, someone to whom cheating comes way too easy. Your boyfriend needs to take responsibility for his actions and should be showing you signs that he wants to make it up to you and that he’s willing to work on rebuilding your trust. Multiple bunches of flowers and romantic gestures isn’t enough (although it helps!)
It’s true everyone deserves a second chance, but second chances don’t begin and end with you. It might be the first time he’s cheated with you but not the first time he’s cheated. In that case he’s already had a second chance. I hope you consider these points and they help you to determine whether your man is worthy of trusting again. Remember, trust doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes work from each of you and expect some days to be harder than others.
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