Trust a Cheater?
Q: I dated a man off and on for the last seven years, mainly every other weekend when my kids were at their dad's. In the past year, things seemed to be heating up, and we started talking about marriage or moving in together. But then I had suspicions that he might be seeing someone else, so I hired a detective and just confirmed it a month or so ago. I've been so broken up since then, and so lonely. I spoke to him last week, he came over, and his explanation was that he didn't feel secure with me, that I might leave him, so he needed a back-up. That made sense for everything prior to last summer, but since then, I had been able to let him know how I loved him and wanted our relationship to move forward. He said he misunderstood.
He's still with her. I talked to her and we compared notes. Neither of us had known about the other, but she's willing to stay with him. After seeing him last week, now that my anger is subsiding, I think I want him back. I miss the fantastic sex we used to have, all the places we went, time spent together. He was my friend, companion, lover -- I miss him terribly.
Twice this week he came over and we had sex, even though he's supposedly committed to the other woman now. He says he didn't know I would want him back, and now he has to choose which of us he wants to be with. He has supposedly already chosen her, but has been able to cheat with me this week. He says I was the one he always wanted and loved, she was just the safety net. He's only with her, he says, because I stormed out a month ago when I confronted him with my evidence, and he never thought I would talk to him again.
If he chooses me, would I be able to trust him, or will he cheat on me too?Dr. Susan: Back-ups are for computer data, not for lovers. Your man is a cheater and a liar, and you'd be unwise to let your loneliness put you under his spell again.
Let's take your situation apart for a moment, removing all the confusing emotion. Quite simply, you and he dated off and on for a VERY long time. So probably he was seeing other women during that time too. Neither of you was that sure of one another to commit until seven years had gone by. And once you THOUGHT you'd both committed, he turns out to have been seeing someone else. He made the usual excuses: he wasn't sure of you, etc. Did he admit this upfront? Of course not. He blamed his dishonesty on you, which is pretty much what most cheaters do.
Now he's supposedly chosen this other woman, but is cheating on her with you. Does he just say bye-bye to her, now that he knows how much you care? No. He wants to have you both.
You ask, "IF HE CHOOSES ME, would I be able to trust him?" He's shown you absolute proof that the answer is NO. Plus, why are you sitting around waiting for this lying two-timer to CHOOSE you? I understand that you miss him, miss your sex life, miss the total friendship you thought you had -- but keep in mind that he was lying through much of that time. My advice is to make every effort to be strong and move on. Otherwise you risk wasting more years and then finding out -- again -- for sure -- that you've committed to someone who can't commit to anyone but his own selfish urges. Good luck!
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.