If you’ve ever been cheated on in a relationship, then you know how painful it is. The feeling of betrayal that comes from it is one of the worst feelings ever. What’s more, the foundation of trust is shattered. And the question then becomes, can you ever repair trust after infidelity?
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written an advice column post, and I’ve missed it! With so many holiday posts, I just haven’t had the time. But, now, we’re back on schedule.
So, if you’re new to the blog, I’ll go ahead and introduce you to this segment. Dear Dating Bitch is my online advice column series where I answer questions from my readers. And, if you’ve got a question for me, make sure to send it in HERE – submissions are always anonymous.
And now, let’s get on to today’s letter.
Q: What can I do to improve my self-confidence in my relationship?
My boyfriend has a past history of cheating on me, but I forgave him. And, yet, I can’t help but feel like he might be doing it again.
Last time it was via text and sexting and I only found out because I needed to borrow his phone. Now every time I see him texting, I start thinking that he might be doing it again. Please help!
– Fearful of Infidelity
Dear Fearful of Infidelity,
I know that you framed this question as a self-confidence issue, but I’m not so sure that it is! It seems like you feel insecure about your relationship and therefore, you’re thinking that the easiest solution would be to improve your own self-esteem.
But, read through your initial letter again. Do you really think that this issue would be solved if you were more confident?
Because, here’s what I see:
- Your boyfriend cheated on you.
- You found out because you stumbled upon the evidence.
- After that, you decided to forgive him and stay together.
- Now, you feel worried that he might be doing it again.
- Your conclusion is that you are the problem, and therefore, you need to fix your own insecurity issues.
Item number 4 makes a lot of sense considering items 1-3. But, then, you get to item 5, and I have to say, letter writer, it seems like you’re taking on way too much of the blame.
So, I don’t think this is an issue of you needing to improve your confidence. I think it’s an issue of trust. There’s been a fundamental loss of trust in your relationship – which, by the way, is pretty typical after a partner cheats.
The real question, then – the on you didn’t actually ask – is how can I repair trust after infidelity?
Related Read: How to Build Trust with Your Partner After Infidelity
How to Repair Trust After Infidelity
I’ll be honest, I struggled a bit with this one. The decision to forgive a partner after they cheat is a very personal one, but I know that after reading your letter, I felt an urge to tell you to end the relationship. I’d bet that some of my readers will feel the same way.
But, regardless, I’ll give you the advice you asked for (or, rather, the advice you should have asked for.)
Trying to repair trust after infidelity is generally a very long and complicated process. It’s also something that requires both people to want to work at rebuilding the relationship. Since you wrote to me for help, I can tell that you adamantly want to do that. So, the question becomes, does your partner?
That’s not something that I can answer for you. Instead, you’ll have to talk to your partner. Approach them with vulnerability and tell them what you’ve told me:
“Partner, I know that we’ve decided to move past the cheating thing. And, I desperately want to trust you. But I’m finding myself really struggling lately and I’m not sure what to do. Lately, when I see you on your phone, I feel worried, and it’s been taking a toll on me.”
Hopefully, your partner will be able to reassure you. But be prepared for some defensiveness. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your fears are warranted, it just means that people don’t like to be reminded of their mistakes.
So, if that does happen, please try to remain calm. Say something like,
“I understand that this is a difficult subject to talk about. It’s not easy for me either. I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m just letting you know that I’m finding it hard to trust you as much as I want to. But I’d like to work on that together.”
Finally, I’d also suggest that the two of you consider talking to a licensed professional. Couples’ counselors are trained in these sorts of issues, and can help guide you through the process of trying to repair trust after infidelity in a much better way than I can.
If your partner refuses to go, consider going to a counselor alone. And if your partner continues to make you feel as if you’re the one to blame for their infidelity, I would strongly urge you to reconsider the relationship. Repairing trust is a two-way street.
It’s certainly not impossible to repair trust after infidelity, but I don’t think it’s easy. The most important thing is that both people are open, honest, and vulnerable with each other.
What do you think of this week’s advice? Have you ever been cheated on? Do you have any other suggestions on how to repair trust in a relationship?
Make sure to let me know in the comments below!
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