My live-in boyfriend of three-and-a-half years and I have had some rough patches, but nothing like what recently happened.
We live together. I went away for two nights, and one night he went to a party. We were arguing that day and night while he was there, and I was attempting to text him until 3a.m. but his responses were sparse and dry.
The next day I returned home where he waited with a beautiful ring, roses, and a hand-written letter. He was crying profusely which I found odd, then suspicious.
I finally just asked him if he’d cheated on me. He confessed that he’d gotten very intoxicated at the party, and another woman kissed him, which he immediately stopped and left the party.
Although it isn't a huge deal, I’m heartbroken and I can't believe he’d betray my trust after all this time.
I’m more upset that all of the nice gestures were not out of love, but out of guilt.
I'm trying to work through my feelings and stick this out because he’s never cheated before (although he’s shown interest in other women).
I know this is common, and there’s no wrong way to heal, but what do you recommend for next steps?
Hurt and Confused
Go back to Step One – What led to this event: He knew you’d be away for two nights. There’s a party while you’re gone at which he drinks excessively. Also, you argued that day and even when he got to the party.
That’s a lot to explore right there: Was he upset that you were going away? Does he frequently get intoxicated when he drinks? Was whatever you were arguing about an ongoing issue? Does he often “show interest” in other women?
If Yes to any of the above, it doesn’t mean that he’s a cheater, but rather, that you two have some gentle talking to do.
You obviously care for/love each other. He wore his guilt openly with gifts, tears and a confession. No matter who kissed whom first, he apparently left before it went further.
When you have The Talk, hear him out and make sure he also listens to you. It’s not about the Kiss.
Make sure it’s about what you both can do to make the relationship better, more secure, less fragile when anything goes wrong. And define what’s acceptable to each of you regarding “showing interest” in others.
You may need the help of a professional counsellor.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding the friends wanting to set up a recent widower on a date (January 29):
Reader – “My wife passed away in August 2008, after a 20-month battle with cancer.
“The funeral home paid for grief counselling, offered to all of their clients. The counselling sessions lasted an hour weekly, for six weeks.
“We talked about how we coped, or didn’t cope very well. It was a great therapeutic help. Note that it started five months after she passed.
“Your observation that “there’s no one-time span-fits-all for moving on from a loss” is spot on. The widower in the column only had four weeks dealing with his late-wife’s illness before she died. He’s got a lot to process and it can’t be rushed.
“Eventually, I started dating and three years later, I met a woman who was also a widow.
“We’ve been together since our first date over seven years ago and we’re very happy together.
“Grief counselling could be a godsend for the widower, in time.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who believes her son’s wife turned him off Christmas (Jan. 30):
Reader – “Her son really doesn't seem to like Christmas, but she blames his wife. It sounds more like the son doesn’t want to celebrate the holiday but the wife actually bought Christmas stockings for her Christmas card photo (perhaps to please his mother).
“Maybe there was too much pressure by the mother.
“Meanwhile, the wife knows that her MIL holds an unfounded personal vendetta against her, with the son supporting his wife. Hence, their move 3000 miles away.
“The letter-writer needs to do some self-reflection, start listening to her son’s reasons for not celebrating the holiday, and stop blaming the wife for her son's actions.”
Ellie – We can all speculate about other’s motivations but the fact here is that both the mother and the couple are entitled to choose their own approach to the holiday.
Tip of the day:
Step One in a relationship crisis is talking openly together about what’s gone wrong.