So, the worst has happened… My boyfriend cheated on me… But I want to stay together.
How do I go about convincing him that his cheating could be an alarm wake-up call that we can both get past when he is not convinced that he’ll be able to.
-Mrs. Fix It
Dear “Mrs. Fix It,”
Man, there’s a lot of cheating boyfriends out there who would love you!… Lol. Just kidding. After all, this is a no-judgement zone. And since, for whatever reason, you’ve dug your heels into this man and decided that he is your wolf – (cheating be damned!) – I’m happy to provide you with whatever assistance I can.
To begin with, in order to convince anyone of anything, you must first become convinced of that thing yourself.
And in order for you to be convinced that this is something you two can get past, I suggest you first focus on what you really want out of ANY romantic relationship. And by that, I mean to sit down and get clear on how you want the relationship to feel. Write it down and see if your boyfriend has consistently exhibited behavior that supports those feelings.
If he hasn’t, well then, it’s probably time to cut him loose. (Especially since you two aren’t married and bound by vows to try and work through any and all foolishness.)
If he has, however, it’s time to recognize that while you may be able to look past this infidelity, you have just come across a big, important desire that you haven’t had to acknowledge until now. And that is that you want someone who’s not only determined to work through potentially devastating issues in a relationship, but someone who’s determined to work through them with you. (As reflected in your question.)
So, in this case, the key to convincing your boyfriend that his cheating is something you two can get past is actually – believe it or not – convincing yourself that he’s someone you can get past all this with.
Now, to do that you first have to find out his fight or flight response during tough times, as you’ll need a fighter. And that, my dear, is in a man’s DNA. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about that.
Signs that he’s a fighter who’s determined to work through this potentially devastating incident include him doing things like expressing a desire to go to counseling, and investigating the causes of his behavior in order to make adjustments. If he does stuff like that, you’ve got a fighter on your hands and you can move on to the next step. If not, again, you’re probably better off letting the relationship go as there’s no way to get to a happy, infidelity-free relationship, – (one where you’re not carrying all the weight), – without that “fighter” personality trait.
The next thing you’ll have to do to convince yourself that he’s someone you can make it to the other side of this infidelity with is find out if he’s determined to fight for you and your relationship.
Signs that he wants to work with you for the continuation of your relationship include expressing a relentless desire to be with you; acknowledging your pain, and doing whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to regain your trust; (as well as supporting you in any changes you make to strengthen the relationship).
Once his actions on both regards convince you that he really is “that guy,” your faith in the potential healing of the relationship will be contagious.
You can share articles like “How to Create a Cheat-Proof Relationship” with him for inspiration on you guys’ journey towards healing; but, more than likely, whatever issues you two had that led to this infidelity will be best worked through with the help of a professional.
IF, however, you become convinced that he’s not “The One,” well, as I said in this article on cheating, you can rest assured that when God created whatever wonderful qualities you’ve grown to adore in your boyfriend, guess what? He didn’t stop at him. There are plenty of guys out that there with similar amazing qualities who won’t cheat on you.
And, finally, remember that while commitments like marriage ask us to work through these “unspeakable acts,” dating gives you the opportunity to “see what you’re gettin’ wit’ before you get wit’ it.” (I stole that line from a Jerry Springer hillbilly, he he.) So, since this is the time where you both are free to see if the other person is the right fit for you, I encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing, and use it wisely ;). Best of luck!
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Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.