Dear Love Jays,
My boyfriend and I have been together for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I have experienced some heartbreak in the relationship as a result of some mistakes that he’s made. I’m with him, I forgave him. However, I’m having a little bit of a hard time with something else. Even though I forgave him I’m struggling with moving on from it. I’m in that place where my thought process is along the lines of “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”. I don’t want there to be a twice. I trust him, but I would also feel ridiculously stupid if it happened again. I guess my heart is on the fence with wanting to give over my trust (because I can) and then feeling like an idiot for giving it over the first time. Any advice for how to overcome that fear?
Dear Trust Dilemma,
Jumping right in.
What does your gut say? Does your gut say to give this man another chance. What has changed? Did he really learn from his mistake or is he an unchanged man? Sometimes people say they are sorry and beg for you to forgive them because they can’t stand the thought of a person they love being mad at them. They have no plans of fixing the real issue, just the issue that is affecting them in that very moment. In truth, you really should always forgive because people make mistakes but the rest has to be earned.
Let’s use cheating for example. Cheating takes time, there is no “I accidentally had sex with this person.” The real answer should be “I had sex with this person because I was not feeling attractive, and I liked that this person made me feel desired.” Of course no one wants to tell their partner that, but you get the picture. Well if the person who cheated is using the first excuse, the real problem will never be addressed and it will continue to be a problem. Trust has to start with the person who made the mistake. They have to trust their partner enough to tell them the truth and identify the reason why the mistake really occurred. All cards need to be out on the table and nothing should be hidden. Trust cannot be built on a foundation of lies and secrets. It is then up to the unoffending significant other to decide whether or not to trust the person and even then, it’s going to take a while to rebuild that trust into something they can both be proud of.
The ball is in your court. Are all of the cards on the table? Can you really get over his mistakes? Do you trust that it won’t happen again? If the answer is “Yes, I trust him.” then you should have some evidence to support that decision. He’s more engaged, he’s made a real effort, he has been completely honest, he has been patient with my recovery, he is working on himself. Him bringing you flowers or saying sorry, but not really backing it up are merely a formality and a result of guilt. Just remember YOUR .TRUST. HAS. TO.BE. EARNED. If he has really earned it, trust yourself enough to let go of the fear and make the decision you feel is right.
Dear Don’t Fool Me Twice,
Every relationship experiences up and downs. There will be good days, some really good days, great days, average days, and of course — bad days. Despite how “together” a couple may appear on the surface, what truly defines the success of a relationship is how both parties respond when their backs are against the ropes.
You admitted your significant other has made mistakes in the past. These mistakes are now responsible for a shift in your relationship. Completely understandable. However, a relationship cannot go the distance when one of the parties has one foot in, one foot out. When his mistakes came to light, you had a choice: leave or work through the struggle. It may be difficult to pick the best option when our heart and emotions take over, but regardless if love or logic kept you from leaving, you committed to your relationship for some reason. What was that reason? Is the reason valid? Is the battle of forgiveness worth the reason?
You are struggling with moving past his mistakes because you haven’t come in agreement with yourself. Your heart may be saying one thing, but your friends and family may say another. Fortunately, the only person who knows the answer is you. Spend some time identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship. Decide if this relationship has the blueprint for a successful future. Diagnose the acceptable and unacceptable. Recognize your value. And most importantly: has he given you reason(s) to trust him again? The answer will become very clear when you take the appropriate steps towards solving the problem.