Can He Forgive Her?
I am in desperate need of some advice. This time yesterday I was the happiest and most content I’d ever been with anyone. I truly believed I’d found that special person, to me she was perfect in every way.
Today I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact she slept with her ex boyfriend 4 months ago, we’ve been together 10 months. She’s told me now because she says in the past three weeks she’s been the happiest she’s ever been and believes I’m the only one for her… but she couldn’t live with what had happened hanging over her.
I don’t really know how I feel; I’ve felt numb since she told me apart from bouts of anger and hate towards her. I thought she was the most genuine person I’d ever met, the person I thought she was would never have done what she did.
Her reasons or excuses for what happened are that she thought we were going to break up and that we weren’t going to work (which would have been news to me 4 months ago), she says she wasn’t over it (the last relationship with him) but that as soon as it happened she realized the feelings she thought she still had for him were not genuine. However she knows I’d have given her time if she asked for it, and she could have talked to me, or whatever she wanted, but instead she did the one thing she can’t take back.
I’d always tried to be so accommodating with regard to her last relationship because she got together with me soon after it had finished. I’m annoyed at myself for not voicing my concern at her being around him a lot as their groups of friends cross a bit (not that it would probably of made any difference). Trust has always been a major part of our relationship, the scary thing is we’ve talked about problems and I’ve known she’s not always been sure about us but I didn’t have a clue she would ever be able to disregard me and my feelings like she has. I feel betrayed, hurt and foolish but I have to keep reminding myself what’s happened. I found myself defending what she’s done in my head, it makes me feel weak and I get mad with myself.
I know it’s only been 24hrs but I don’t know what to do or how to feel, I’ve never been dealt such a crushing blow. I nearly collapsed when she told me but as I’ve said before I’ve just felt numb since. She says it was the biggest mistake of her life and that she loves me more than anything… I don’t know what to do or how to deal with it. She’s promised me its happened once. Someone suggested to me that I should forget being monogamous with her and be in an open relationship, and that we should be swingers since she can’t be faithful, so that is why I have come to you. Is becoming a swinger with her the only way I will ever be able to trust her not to cheat behind my back because I will be allowing her to cheat?
As for THIS being the reason to enter an open relationship structure, the answer is no. First, being in an open relationship is not “cheating with permission”. People can still cheat even in an open relationship. Cheating is about DECEPTION. Being in an open relationship is finding a relationship structure that meets your mental, physical and emotional needs. It is not a means of last resort to fix people who are dishonest.
As for her promising it will never happen again, the promise is meaningless if you do not trust her. You are doing the right thing here, taking time for yourself to process the emotions, and looking at WHY it happened.
You learned an important lesson about monogamy, which is to voice your concerns about any POTENTIAL threat to it, like her hanging out with an ex in a social circle. You think it would not have made a difference to voice your concern, but I disagree, unless she is the type to disregard your feelings.
When a person breaks another persons trust, you have to look at the reasons behind that trust violation. If they can be forever removed, then you can build trust again. If they cannot be removed, that is how you know the repeating behavior pattern will happen again.
OK now, two questions here. What is she going to do the next time hard issues in your relationship come up? Even the best of long term relationships have periods of challenges and doubts. What is she going to do then? What can you trust her to do then? The second question is about you. What signs were there for her that the relationship was not going to work out that you missed? In what ways were her emotional needs not being met, such that she felt less like your lover, which you did not pick up on? Talk to her about this, and see if there is something you need to learn about her, or about your need to see what is going on (if there was any issue).
As far as her past relationships, is there anyone else that she is not completely over? She better tell you now. We ALL carry torches for our exs if the relationship had any significance… what is she going to do if she meets up with a different ex, or some other guy she dated and only now realizes that is not completely over him? What is she going to do then? What is she going to do when she meets a brand new guy that she is attracted to? It is going to happen. We are human, and we ARE going to be attracted to new people, EVEN WHEN we already have a stable partner. What will she choose to do then?
You Said: “she knows I’d have given her time.” Hmmm…what does that mean exactly? You would have given her time? To do what? Have a break from you to sleep with him? I agree it would have been more ethical, but given how hurt you are from this, would you really have been OK with giving her time? If so, maybe an open relationship would work for you, but that does not mean she is the right person to be in an open relationship with. Lastly, do you present yourself as someone that can handle truth, and is about truth? You did not voice your opinion when she was hanging out with him, and your instincts were screaming to you to say something. Surely she felt your vibe that you were not completely comfortable with it, yet you could not deal or express the truth. If you want people to be honest with you, you must present yourself as a person who wants to deal with truth no matter how unpleasant. Think of it like this…let’s say the reason she did it was because she was drunk (assume it was the key factor). In that case, the only way to trust her again is for her to stop drinking altogether. It is going to have to take something like that once you know the core reason she gave in. If the core reason is that she self-sabotages everything good in her life, then unless she stops that, you will not be able to trust her.
I know couples that were EXACTLY in the situation you are in now. Those that continued to make it work were the ones that changed or removed the behaviors that caused the problem to begin with. Those that failed were the ones that did not change the behaviors surrounding the infidelity… but they stayed together too long, and emotionally damaged each other. Forgiveness is easier than changing. Be sure you both can handle both.