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He says he's sorry he cheated

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dear Counsellor,

I recently found out that my boyfriend of three and a half years cheated on me. I had gone through a phase in dealing with someone from my past and he said that I ignored him during this period, and that was what led him to cheat. Now he says he is sorry. The truth is, the trust between us has been broken. I have forgiven him before for similar things, but now I am not so sure. I have told him I am no longer happy and it reached a point where I went out drinking one night and I stayed out late by myself. He said he wants us to be together but how do I forgive him when I am hurting this much?

Rebuilding trust in a relationship following a case of unfaithfulness on the part of one partner is a great challenge to the offended partner. It is even more heartrending when a great deal of faith was placed in the individual.

Some partners are so traumatised by the experience that they almost never recover. It is for this reason that some women will say that they know that their men will cheat but as long as they keep it to themselves, they are fine. The argument is, 'what you don't know won't hurt you'.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the converse is also true, 'what you do know will certainly hurt you'.

Some men become physical when they find out that they have been cheated on. Women, on the other hand, become extremely emotional. The woman feels rejected and less of a woman if her man were to find another woman more appealing and desirable. This rejection causes deep emotional hurt for some women, so much so that their self-esteem is severely impaired. They become withdrawn and are extremely vulnerable.

Others react to the "bun" by returning the favour themselves, hence "bun fi bun". And so the drama unfolds.

So his excuse is that you ignored him and so he cheated. One wonders, though, if the shoe was on the other foot would he have accepted a similar excuse from you? More than likely not. The truth is, he has to take responsibility for his actions and not use lame excuses to justify his behaviour. In the same breath, do make every effort to pay attention to your partner and not give him time and space to drift off course. Then you would have to take some responsibility.

You reported that you have forgiven him for similar actions which suggest he may have a problem maintaining a committed relationship. So one can understand and appreciate your unhappiness in the relationship. In such an environment it is going to be extremely difficult to build and maintain trust. With the absence of trust comes the breakdown in communication. One partner will become suspicious of the other and even ascribe motives to the person's behaviour, while the other partner will always be in a defensive mode, hence arguments and verbal clashes.

If you decide to continue in the relationship I strongly recommend you both engage in professional counselling to help you both to chart the way forward as it cannot be business as usual. If you decide to move on, a counsellor would also help you to re-build your self-esteem.

In the meanwhile, avoid those late night drink outs. In your vulnerable state you could complicate matters as there is always someone in the shadows who will take advantage of the situation, so please be careful.

Send questions to crisscounselloronline@gmail.com.

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