Trusting a Cheater

Let’s tackle another reader’s question!

Question: I love my boyfriend and mostly trust him. But he’s had a history of cheating. He’s about to leave on an extended business trip, and I’m worried the distance will lead him back to his old ways. How can I get rid of these fears? Can you trust a man who has cheated?

Answer: Cheating is typically a symptom and not the problem. Are both of you interested in working on your relationship and getting to the root of the problem? Is your boyfriend willing to figure out what led him to cheat in the first place? If so, a licensed therapist would be in the best position to help as you process your relationship problems and try to restore trust and intimacy.

There are counselors who see one or both of the individuals and the couple, but I recommend having two separate therapists. I appreciate how that might pose logistical or economic difficulties, but the counselor should either be an advocate for one of the parties or the couple as a unit. One therapist for both the individual and the couple could cause a conflict of interest to arise.

With respect to your boyfriend’s business trip, the distance might help facilitate his cheating, but if he’s going to cheat, he can do that anywhere. I hope that he stops for your sake, but the fact that you only “mostly trust him” concerns me. Your fears are legitimate. What is your boyfriend doing to show you and assure you that this will never happen again? Can your boyfriend articulate why he did what he did, why it was wrong, and why he wants to change his behavior? Is he fully committed to regaining your trust? Are your head and your heart telling you the same thing?

I also wonder if his business trip is mandatory. If so, would it be possible for you to join him for part of it? Have you asked him how he feels about the distance piece of it? Could Skype, text or Facetime help you feel connected while he’s away? Whatever you decide, I wish you the best, as I’m sure that none of this is easy.

What advice would YOU give this reader?

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