My Boyfriend Cheated on Me
QUESTION ASKED ON CLARAPY:
I never thought it would happen to me, but my boyfriend cheated on me! My boyfriend of two years whom I have two children with recently told me that he had banged two other women. He wants me to give him another chance to prove to me that he can be trusted. My question is: Should I give him that chance? I cannot get over the fact that my boyfriend cheated on me.
I am so sorry that this has happened to you. Unfortunately, infidelity to a relationship causes problems on so many levels. One of these is the heartache and confusion it causes to its victims (in this case you). Remember that trust is not something that is simply given away, it has to be earned. In your case, he has broken that trust. Is it worth giving him another chance to earn that trust back? Only you will be able to make that call, but there are several things you should consider as you do so.
First and foremost, do not let your romantic-love feelings for him, your own desire for intimate companionship, nor your intense anger or hurt, stop you from being as objective as you possibly can regarding your decision here. Being humble is ultimately the best good for both you and him. Sometimes that requires that we try to work even harder with another to overcome challenges to a relationship. On the other hand, sometimes that requires that we take steps that in fact may end certain types of relationships, for the greater good of all. Your decision is not easy…
What is the likelihood of him repeating the act? Although this is impossible to know for sure, there are some things you can look at to get a sense of this. Consider these questions:
1. What led to his disclosure to you?
If he was “caught” and forced to confess as a result, this is not a good sign (higher likelihood of repeating). On the other hand, if he came voluntarily to you without any prompting from you, this is a positive sign because it means he has a strong conscience (less likelihood of repeating). This is true even if he confesses to an action that occurred months or years in the past, although the closer in time the confession occurs, the stronger a conscience he probably has.
2. Does he currently have access to the same partners?
If he still sees or has contact for some reason (such as work or school) with the same partners he engaged with, then his opportunity for repeating the act increases.
3. Is he willing to sacrifice for the relationship by sharing his relationship concerns with someone else who may be able to help?
If he is willing to sacrifice his pride by sharing his relationship concerns with some third party (coach, minister, counselor, therapist), to discuss how to improve your relationship, this is a positive sign. Ask him and see what he says. You may not feel that you need to seek out help from someone else, but that doesn’t matter here. His WILLINGNESS to do so is a good sign. Any willingness means that he is willing to put this relationship above his own pride.
4. What was the quality of the relationship (as far as you knew) BEFORE you discovered his infidelity?
If you were totally blown away by the revelation, not knowing why he would have done such a thing because you thought the two of you were doing so well, this does not bode well for your future. Why? Because the majority of all infidelity is caused by an underlying resentment and problems in the relationship. Not having an awareness of relationship problems means either a) the communication you had together was already extremely poor, or b) he was NOT acting out of resentment, but instead is emotionally immature when it comes to commitment. What I mean by that is that he is simply allowing his own sexual attractions to other women lead him along, without even thinking about how it could damage the relationship. IF this is the case (and that’s a big IF), then he’s got some serious growing up to do, and until that happens, working on the relationship will NOT guarantee that he will not do something like this again!
If, on the other hand, you two were having problems (yes, even BIG problems) in your relationship before you discovered the infidelity, it means that there is a real connection between his emotional life and his sexual life – if you both work on one, it will help the other. So, with professional help (using a coach, minister, counselor on Clarapy), you can explore your problems together and make positive changes! (assuming he’s willing of course…)
Besides the above, you will need to consider how your decisions would impact the two children you speak of. It sounds like they are under the age of 3 years. That means that more than likely they will not be severely “emotionally scarred” if you should decide to end the relationship. However, you should also consider what risk you place them in (if any) if you decide to continue in the relationship. As they mature, they will become more aware of their emotional surroundings. If your partner should break your trust again…depending on how old they are…this will make a difference to them. On the other hand, the potential joy of having a stable father in their lives is so very, very important, that it may outweigh any other risk in giving him another chance (assuming you consider him to be a good, stable, example of fatherhood to your children).
In this regard, I am a little concerned about a man who is willing to have children with you and yet not commit to you in public (marriage). I must confess that I believe marriage is more than just a piece of paper. It’s a public and legal commitment to a relationship. While I realize that the decision to have children may stem more from a woman than a man, I am a firm believer that the three most important emotional components for a child’s self-esteem are STABILITY, a SENSE OF BELONGING, and POSITIVE SAME-SEX ROLE MODELS (girls with mothers, boys with fathers). As long as he was willing to continue in the relationship with you when you had the children, then he was allowing children to come into the world with the expectation that HE WOULD ALWAYS BE THERE. Now tell me, if this is true…why wouldn’t he marry you? I find this disturbing…(Of course, you may disagree…And please, I hope that your answer would NOT be that you are “sticking it out” with the HOPE for marriage…You’re better than that!)
Finally, you will need to assess your own ability to continue in the relationship without your anger getting in the way. Now don’t get me wrong here, you have every right to be furious (who wouldn’t be?). But if you are to have any continued future together you must not let any anger you have toward him mess up your relationship. If you simply cannot let it go…if you let the grudge constantly put you in a position where you are questioning his every move or belittling his every action….then to try to continue in the relationship would be a waste of time for you.
I know that this is a lot to think about Like I said, infidelity places tremendous burdens on its victims. You will have to weigh how important each of the areas above are to you. I would suggest that you take out a sheet of paper and write down your feelings about each of the issues I have presented here. Try to be fair, but honest. You may find it helpful to ask someone who knows you and your partner (and whose opinion you trust) for their ideas regarding some of these areas…just for your own information. Try to be as logical and non-emotional about it as possible (I realize that this is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT).
I hope you have found something here to help you. I wish you the very best and I hope this answers your questions regarding your boyfriend cheating on you. Also, you may want to consider taking our self-esteem self assessment test. I’m not suggesting you have low self esteem because your boyfriend cheated on you. Infidelity has more to do with the self-esteem of the other person. However, the more you understand about yourself, the less difficult it will be to see the answers that are best for you.