I met a girl last year who lives in another country and we’ve been travelling to see each other ever since.
I haven’t seen her much lately for obvious reasons but when we finally met a few weeks ago, she told me she had had sex with another guy not long after lockdown ceased.
She says she believes we have a future together but that we never said we were exclusive. I honestly didn’t think I had to say it.
She says she will be loyal if we choose to have a committed relationship.
Trust is an issue for me as a past girlfriend cheated on me. Do I give off something that makes women betray me?
I want to believe her but I’m worried she’ll do it again. What should I do?
It’s easy to get fixated on infidelity once you’ve experienced it.
‘What seemed unlikely becomes not only possible but inevitable,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘Try to accept that infidelity is, unfortunately, a part of many relationships.’
The reality is that all adults are free to make sexual choices even if those decisions cause pain, says Rupert Smith.
‘But it would be helpful to stop seeing everything in black and white,’ he says. ‘It’s either total commitment — without even discussing it, simply because you wish it — or she’s cheating on you at every opportunity.’
We know you’re hurt. We know her revelation stings. But instead of obsessing over it, ask yourself what you want.
‘Do you want a relationship with her? Does it mean she likes you any less? I doubt it,’ says James McConnachie. ‘It was early in your relationship. You were living in different countries, and you were both under the strain of lockdown.’
This cocktail of emotional and sensory urgency may be why she went with another, says Rudkin. ‘But she told you, which shows how important you are to her — especially when she could have got away with it.’
We suggest that you now focus on what you mean to each other and agree on a short-term agreement that translates into action and if you are going to ruminate on the past, do so constructively.
‘You say this has happened before but I wonder if your trust issues go back further than a past girlfriend,’ says Smith. ‘Did you learn at an early age to be suspicious of your parents, or to see other people’s autonomy as a threat? Have a think about these habitual ways of responding and consider talking them through with a counsellor.’
You will struggle with trust, for a while at least. But trust is something you decide as much as being something you acquire.
‘It is something you have to want to believe in,’ says McConnachie. ‘There are many reasons to understand her. Plus, she wants to be exclusive now. So try to look forward and look up.’
Would you have given different advice? Let us know in the comments section below.
- Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
- James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
- Rupert Smith is the author of Interlude (Turnaround)
Got a sex and dating dilemma? To get expert advice on your relationship problem, email [email protected]
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