Know-It-All: My Boyfriend Cheated


My new boyfriend told me he cheated on his ex to get out of the relationship and I am having a really hard time trusting him now every time he looks at another woman and it’s causing a lot of trouble and anxiety. He slept with someone else. I love him so much but I don’t know if I can get past this even when he says it was only once 🙁

Any advice for a girl like me?

Editorial note: In what follows, I am only talking about the person who is the cheater, and not the person who / if is single and involved physically with someone who is in a relationship. Additionally, I am only discussing those who actually take their thinking to a place of action and physically jump into bed with someone who is not their partner.

Dear Girl Like You,

Thank you for your question; I am sending you a very warm hug.

I used to believe that once a cheater, always a cheater. Until people began confiding that they had in fact cheated on their partners, until someone I dearly love became involved with such a scenario. I had to recognize and accept that relationships and matters of the heart have to be taken on a case-by-case scenario and that it’s not fair to generalize in such a complicated situation.

Achtung! Because I don’t know your man or the detailed circumstances, what follows is a generalization.

I read once that there are 17 reasons people cheat, and that it is as often the woman as it is the man. (This is something with which I struggle because I am equal parts extremely naive and fiercely loyal, and assume that most people are like me; the moment my heart belongs to someone, I — quite literally — stop seeing other men. Physically, they no longer register on my radar. That said, I have never been in a relationship where my heart stopped belonging to my partner; I am pretty sure that were this to happen, and to ensure I did not whither and die an emotional death while taking him with me, I would get the fk out of dodge for everyone’s sake.)

Of the 17 reasons, there are only two intended outcomes: the cheater doesn’t wish to leave the current relationship, or the cheater wants to leave the relationship.

The first kind usually cheat repeatedly for the rush, the chemistry, and/or out of boredom.
I don’t wish to talk about these people because this is not pertinent to your Q.

As to the second kind, who wish to leave their current relationship. The more I see, the more I realize that this seems to be the running thing. Most people don’t know how to say: I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore, and so instead act out in ways that will force the partner’s hand to end the relationship.

Usually, the cheating partner is disconnected from their significant other and is desperately looking to connect with someone else. They are not able to leave unless they find that outside connection be it because they are not strong enough, or because matters are far too complex to navigate alone. They don’t usually engage with someone else for fun, but rather to really bridge an emptiness which then allows them to leave.

It sounds like your man falls into this later category.

The reality is that no one is an angel, we all make mistakes, and we all have a varied degree of history — this being the flip-side to the beauty and blessing that is freedom of choice. The fact that he told you is a good sign, as it speaks to a level of trust and communication between you two that you should not take for granted; please don’t punish him for this. All you can do is ask him to not do it to you. I know that sounds dumb and naive, but in a relationship where there is no trust, there is no longevity. Ever.

That said, he’s not getting off this easily.

Bottom line is that cheating is a cuntpunt to everyone involved, no matter the rationality inflicted on ourselves to justify the behaviour. Physical cheaters are cowards who made fucked up choices, while maybe their bottom line intention was a good one (i.e. getting out of a bad situation but not knowing how).

Reality is, ‘I just dropped my peen in there by accident’ and ‘…then suddenly! There was a peen inside!’ aren’t like ‘I just dropped my keys down the drain’ and ‘Before I knew it, the kid had rushed the door…’ In these nuances you need to engage a dialogue with your man. For him, he may not actually know how to walk away from a bad scenario — this is not an excuse for his behaviour but it is something which speaks to how very very very many people behave.

Talk to him about it; do not shut him out. Just maybe not now when you’re clearly still raw. If you can not approach him from a place of compassion, do not approach him at all. Take some time to think about what you want to ask him and how you wish to engage, and remember that:
– He didn’t cheat on you.
– He didn’t cheat for fun.
– He told you.

With these things in mind, ask him why he didn’t choose a different course of action and walk through your own course of action together. If, in the future, you two are no longer compatible, you need to be assured by his word (and that should be enough in a healthy relationship) that he will not act out in this same way. You also shouldn’t spend the rest of your relationship wondering where he is and what he’s doing; suspicion will make a monkey of your mind, you will be enveloped by the Darkness of Mordor, and this will give you frown lines (to be avoided at ALL COST).

The above wasn’t intended to give you any answers, but rather (& hopefully) it has given you some guidelines that you can use to navigate what’s to come.

With warmth,