His Cheating Is a Big Deal
Q: I have been with my man for a little over a year now and love him dearly. His job keeps him traveling from state to state so we've kind of had a long-distance relationship. He recently moved to my home town and I thought things were going well. One night his cell phone rings and he looks at it and doesn't answer it. Then he gets a text message, and I pick up the phone and read it. It's from a lady from the state he just left, saying: "Can't you just answer the phone one time?" I ask him what that was all about and he swears it's nothing and he knows her from his home town and they were really good friends all their lives. I continue to question him because his story just isn't jiving with me. If that was a friend from home how does she have a number with the same area code as the place that you just left? He came up with some story of her husband is in the military and he was stationed to the same place he so happens to be. Whatever. Long story short, I received some information regarding this lady from his child and found that they both spent the night at her house on a few occasions. I again asked him about it and he denied it, basically calling his child a liar (in my eyes). After explaining to him that I was not as stupid as he thinks I am, I convinced him that if he could just tell me the truth that I would be okay with it because we have been away from each other for some time and I know things sometimes happen. I assured him that I would get over it and we can still be together.
Well, I got what I asked for and he came out with the truth. He cheated on me!! I think I actually tried to convince myself that I could get past it, but I'm having a hard time dealing with the betrayal. I feel he should be bending over backwards trying to make me feel that he's sorry. I feel like he is not validating my feelings on what he did. I love this man with all my heart and I want nothing more than to be in a happy healthy relationship with him, but how can we get that when he doesn't do what I think I need to move forward? Am I being stupid and just need to end the relationship? -- Tanya, 33
Dr. Susan: We never know how we're going to react to infidelity until it happens. A lot of women say they'd never be able to forgive their mates if they cheated, and then they find they value the relationship enough to let the past go. That's much more likely to happen, though, if the cheater expresses sincere remorse and if he allows the wronged party to vent until she's expressed herself fully, no matter how often and how long that takes. And then the two of them have to talk about how they're going to ensure it doesn't happen again. In your situation, the two of you weren't necessarily committed for the long run, which makes it harder for him to feel as though what he did was terrible. But if you're going to continue to be together, he must give you the emotional validation you crave. And you must be careful to stick to your feelings and not to call him names. In Loving in Flow, my own research found that couples cope in different ways with infidelity, but those who were able to let it go and even forgive their errant spouses had a firm commitment to begin with, so they were able to focus on the bigger picture. Good luck!
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
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.