I have been in a relationship for two years. It's not sexual. We've had ups and downs but we always worked things out. We love each other dearly. Things took a twist when I met a man overseas and he came here and we got together. I thought it was just friendship but we had sex once because I got carried away by all his promises and pressures. I felt really terrible afterwards and my boyfriend suspected that I was keeping something from him so I told him what I had done. He was angry with me but he decided to still stay with me because he loves me.
We used to talk every day but now he's busy and I hardly see him anymore. When we do talk it always ends up in an argument. I'm wondering if he is cheating on me because of what I did and I'm wondering how he really feels and thinks about me. Is he bottling up his feelings? What can I do to make things work out between us? I love this man with all my heart and don't want to lose him. Is what I did going to set us back? I don't know what to do.
All relationships go through periods of ups and downs and so your hill and valley experience is not unusual. You are now in the valley phase of the relationship which you trying to navigate with some amount of challenge. The indiscretion on your part seems to be the source of the problem.
Some people would say it would have been better if you had not disclosed to your boyfriend what had happened with the other guy. Then you would have to live with a guilty conscience for a long time. You must then be commended for coming clean and admitting your mistake. It is then up to your boyfriend to accept your regret and forgive you.
You will appreciate though that you have broken the trust that was established and it would be difficult for your boyfriend to deal with and recover from this dilemma. Rebuilding trust is a process that will take time and effort from both partners, especially the one who was negatively impacted. Your boyfriend's reaction is typical and even though he decided to continue in the relationship, he is still emotionally hurt. Withdrawal is one way some men deal with their hurt. They would rather stay away as the very sight of the woman intensifies the hurt and may even elicit anger. The very thought of his woman being sexually involved with another man, especially if he has not had the opportunity to be with his woman in that intimate way, not only impacts him emotionally, but his ego is crushed as well. Such is the distinct difference between men and women and how they deal with cheating. The gender debate on this subject continues.
So what can you do to restore the trust? After confession you now have to first of all ensure that you don't make the same mistake twice. You have to curtail communication with the other guy. No doubt he may want to continue the relationship, so make sure not to encourage him. The next thing you have to do is to try and convince your boyfriend that you are committed to the relationship by being honest and open and keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
Your boyfriend has retreated to his "cave" and so will need his space. Getting angry and instigating an argument will not help as he is still dealing with the hurt. You just have to wait until he is ready to come around. Hopefully he would come out of his man cave soon and make your life less stressful.
Is he cheating on you? Some men do so as a response to the situation, others don't. If he subscribes to the "bun fi bun" notion, he may seek to match your action to equalise the situation and provide some psychological consolation. This may not be the situation so please don't make any assumptions and create any unnecessary allegations.
If you are not able to get through to him on a face-to-face level you may want to write to him, expressing your regret and willingness to do whatever it takes to restore the relationship. In his quiet time of reflection in his cave he might reflect on you and contemplate the future of the relationship. Be prepared, though, to deal with whatever is the outcome of his decision.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.