Dear Miss U,
My boyfriend and I have always had an amazing relationship. We know we work well together and we always talk about our future together. We’ve been together for 2 years now, and about a month ago I found out he cheated on me a few months back. I broke up with him and did not speak to him for over 2 weeks, but he BEGGED and BEGGED to speak to me. I finally let him and he told me it was the biggest mistake of his life and he wants to spend the rest of his life fixing it. He really seems serious about it. I want to give him a second chance, but it makes me nervous because this year I’m going to college and he’s traveling the world and then going to college next year. I do not know how I am supposed to trust him. There will be times he is home in between each trip; I’ll probably see him 4 or 5 times throughout the 8 months he will be traveling. He knows I do not trust him at all right now and he says he wants to do anything he can to gain my trust back and work towards a marriage in a few years. How do I handle this time we will have apart?
Dear Nervous Nelly,
As experience has taught you, being near-proximity does not stop someone cheating. You can live with someone for thirty years and still catch them in the act. Because of this, I personally don’t think there’s a greater risk of him re-offending just because of the distance.
The biggest healer of trust is time. Over time, with each opportunity to be unfaithful that he remains strong, your faith in him will build back up. I’m talking years here, not a few months.
The important thing is that he doesn’t do it again (obviously) and to avoid that we need to know why it happened in the first place. Are we talking drunken one night stand, an affair, a pre-meditated hook-up… what? Was there something going on in the relationship at that point in time that lowered his resolve/ lowered his respect for the relationship? Sometimes cheating is the symptom of a seemingly unrelated problem, and to avoid infidelity that problem needs to be addressed in a way that’s safe and respectful of both parties. Sometimes it’s as simple as not getting drunk in less-than-ideal environments.
How do you handle it? By using logic, distracting yourself, staying busy and positive self-talk. I know the second he doesn’t reply to a message right away the mind cruelly jumps to the conclusion he’s rubbing bellies with someone else, but often times it’s not true. Maybe he’s taking a poop, has fallen asleep, is taking a tour, is trying to ask directions, his phone battery died… and you can use these examples to talk yourself out of a panic, before you put your mind towards something more useful.
It’s not going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give him this chance. It’s not at all true that every person who cheats once will continue to be unfaithful their whole lives; I would know, I’m one of the reformed cheaters.
Give it time.
Dear Miss U,
My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for over a year now. Everything was going great at first until it started getting tiring. I soon came to realize that long distance is harder than I thought and my trust is wary.
My boyfriend cheated on me two months ago. He claimed they had no sexual relations, just kissing. I decided to give him a second chance because I know and understand why he did it. I almost cheated too, multiple times, because of the lack of physical presence.
After I forgave him, I decided that I wanted to see him this August just for reassurance. Yet, my plans ended up getting canceled…
A little fact about me: I have anxiety, and he’s like my cure. He really helps me through it and I haven’t really had a panic attack in a really long time. Yet, I worry about literally everything, (non-relationship stuff included.)
I’m just worried he’ll fall back into his old habits. He’s 18, and I’m 16, he’s going to college and moving in with his best friend, that means no parental supervision. He tries to reassure me all of the time that his mistake was simply a mistake… I understand and I am past that. I told him that whatever he does, it’s not up to me, I can only love him and support him right now. I love him with all of my heart, and he does to.
Yet, I just want him here. I’m tired of waiting. I just want to kiss and hug him. How can continue to be patient? And stop worrying?
Patience is a Virtue
If you were past it, you wouldn’t be telling me about it. But that’s ok. Healing trust takes time – like I said to Nervous above – and if you stay together you have all the time in the world. You don’t have to rush yourself.
Ah anxiety, that lying demon. I also suffer from mental illness; you have my sympathy. I need to tell you something really important about this: Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket. I’m glad that he’s a fantastic support person and he’s having a positive effect on your well-being, but it’s important for us to fill our toolboxes full of techniques that no one can take away. You need to look after yourself and manage your illness for YOU and nobody else. You need to be ok alone in the horrible and unlikely event it becomes necessary. He is neither your medicine or your doctor. Eat tons of fruit and vegetables, exercise at least an hour a day, back off the caffeine and processed foods and make sleep a priority – these things put the power of your health back in your hands. I also highly recommend learning meditation, it will give you the skills you need to turn off that constantly worrying voice, at least for a brief respite.
Meditation not only helps us worry less it teaches us patience.
The waiting sucks so bad. It’s hard, frustrating, and only made worse by our own minds working against us. But one day you’re going to look back on your time in a long distance relationship and the years will seem like a few months. You’ll wonder why it felt so hard at the time and you’ll think there’s no greater love story than your own for having overcome so much together.
You can do it, one day at a time.