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.”
Related Read: How to Have More Effective Communication in Relationships
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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You have offered some great advice. It is such a difficult topic because building trust back again after betrayal can be so hard.
So true. It’s commendable that the letter writer wants to do that, but it has to be something both partners are willing to work at.
What an excellent piece of advice, Katie! Rebuilding the trust or regaining the trust after betrayal is not that easy, as you mentioned it’s a complicated process. I would say, not only the advice seeker but both of them should work out on this together to get it sorted. However, first only one should initiate at least to reach out to a better conclusion and agreement mutually. As they say, a broken heart can’t be repaired by anyone. We all need closure either by breaking it up or discussing it and mutually all together. Wonderful post, Katie. Loved it as always.
Awe, thank you so much Biren! Your responses are always so thoughtful!
This is a tough one and there’s never a one size fits all approach to this. Some good advice – hopefully this helps someone reading who might be going through it now x
Agreed – it was a difficult one to give advice to. I certainly hope it helps the letter writer though!
You’ve provided some spot on advice Katie – I’ve been in a similar position and I wish I had someone like you outlining how to approach this conversation as it’s not an easy one!
No it’s definitely not easy, but it IS super important. Thanks for reading!
I think your advice is spot on Katie. I had this situation many years ago when I was dating a guy for 6 months. Everything was going well, until his ex wanted him back. We broke up and he married her. A few years later he divorced her and wanted to get back with me. Ah, sorry no. I could never trust that he wouldn’t do the same again. Thanks for sharing.
I can definitely see how hurt you would be by that, and good on you for not taking him back!
The boyfriend is the one who needs to do all the work about repairing this relationship. He needs to be the one to create renewed trust as it was him that broke that — if he isn’t doing that and/or isn’t willing to make big strides to show he has changed and prioritizes his girlfriend then he isn’t really interested in the relationship. That’s my own personal thoughts … the trouble with not having trust in a relationship is that you don’t have it as a foundation to build on — I hope the person going through this finds the answers she needs.
I completely agree – this was a hard question to answer for that reason. The letter writer obviously cares for her boyfriend deeply and wants the relationship to work, but he needs to put in effort to repair the damage.
This one hit my heart. I definitely can relate to the writer and I love the advice you gave.
I’m so glad you liked the advice! Thanks for reading and commenting