Ask the Femme: Once a cheater always a cheater?

Natasia Langfelder of Ask the FemmeADVICE BY NATASIA LANGFELDER

Dear Femme,

I’m at the breaking point in my relationship. I’ve been with my girlfriend for five years and we are both in our late twenties. The beginning of the relationship was great and we moved in together after a year. Two years later, I did something stupid: I cheated on her with a few different women. I didn’t go looking for anyone but it fell into my lap and I went for it. I didn’t have a real reason for this; my girlfriend is really beautiful and I love her. I’ve thought about it a lot and the only think I can come up with is that I was flattered that many women were into me and didn’t want to say no? Weak, I know. If I could go back in time and undo it I would.

One day, I forgot to log out of my Facebook page and my girlfriend found all the messages between me and the other women. She flipped out, dumped me and moved back in with her parents. We were broken up for six months and it was the worst time in my life. I couldn’t eat or sleep without her. After three months of respecting her wishes and leaving her alone, I texted her, asking to talk. I begged to get back together with her but she said no but after three more months, we did finally get back together. But there’s a problem: I don’t think she’s forgiven me for what I did because now she’s incredibly jealous.

Every time I go out without her she freaks out and makes me send her a picture with the whoever I say I’m with, in the place I say we are going. Whenever I’m out and she wants me to leave, I do. It’s not worth the argument we will have if I don’t do what she says.

At first I understood this was what I had to do to win back her trust, so I did it. But now it’s starting to become a burden. I feel like an awful cheater all the time, my friends hate her and they’re sick of the picture taking. I want to propose to her but I want her to trust me too. How can I prove to her that I’ve changed so we can start our future together?

Cheatin’ Heart

Dear CH,

There’s so much wrong here. If you cheated on your girlfriend, can you really say everything was fine in your relationship?

From your reasoning for cheating, which is very honest and introspective, it sounds like maybe you had/have low self-esteem. You aren’t going to be a good partner to anyone else unless you learn how to value yourself. Maybe set some goals in life that don’t have anything to do with relationships and work to achieve them. It could be volunteering, or creative projects, setting fitness goals, staying in better touch with loved ones, or climbing up the ladder at work. Either way, know you have some work to do on yourself.

Now let’s get to the relationship stuff. I’m not someone who believes the adage, “Once a cheater always a cheater.” It gives people who have cheated before carte blanche to say “I cheated before, so you knew I was going to do it again,” which is manipulative, blames the victim and lets the cheater weasel out of any accountability. People can grow and change, but only if they want to and it sounds like you have.broken heart photo: Broken Heart broken_heart.jpg

You broke the relationship the first time, but your girlfriend is the one that’s breaking it now. Loving without trust is the worst kind of love. Your girlfriend must be a sad, nervous wreck all the time if she’s acting like this. She can’t be happy and neither are you. Your relationship is supposed to be a source of comfort and strength but it sounds like a major source of stress now. Whatever you do, DO NOT PROPROSE YET!

Take the initiative and open up an uncomfortable dialogue. Sit down with your girlfriend and talk honestly about the situation. Tell her that you are completely faithful to her and would like to take your relationship to the next level but neither of you are happy and that walking on eggshells is taking a toll on your mental health and alienating your friends. You’re worried that her jealousy is getting in the way of your happiness together and the pictures need to stop. Tell her that instead of demanding that you come home, she should come join you instead. Ask her if she thinks she can ever bring herself to trust you again. Consider going to couples’ counseling.

If she isn’t willing to work on the relationship then you shouldn’t be either. No one deserves to be with someone who wants to make their life a living punishment. Life is too short to live that way.

Good luck CH and let us know how it goes!

The Femme

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