I recently found out that my girlfriend of five years (long distance for a year) slept with someone else. The day after, she called to break up and gave reasons but didn’t mention another guy.
I was confident she’d cheated but had no proof. Until… I did something rotten. I checked her email.
I know that’s horrible but I had to know. And my worst fears were confirmed. I confronted her again, she denied it again. And again and again.
Last weekend she came to visit and we had a wonderful time. Well, I checked her email again and found out that yes, they messed around multiple times. I confronted her again and she admitted to it. I’m devastated, to say the least. How does one, if they decide to try again, get past this kind of betrayal?
Carolyn’s amazing response?
I guess all she can do is accept that you know snooping was wrong and be patient while you demonstrate to her that you can be trusted.
Right. Not the answer you wanted.
Did she cheat? Yes. Terrible. Were you supposed to enjoy getting dumped? No. It’s a hellish, powerless feeling.
But that doesn’t mean it was right to recapture your sense of control by interrogating and badgering and scrounging until you found the smoking bedsheets. And it’s tough to see what you gained. Before, you had a girlfriend who dumped you, making you an ex-boyfriend. Now, you have a reason your girlfriend dumped you, making you… an ex-boyfriend. Congratulations!
If your argument is that you needed the “truth” to “move on”, then okay. Look how well you’ve moved on.
I’m not going to pretend your ex didn’t behave horribly. She did. The breakup call is supposed to precede the tryst with the other man (though by breaking up with you right away, she did make the best of a hurtful decision). And her denying and denying wasn’t morally crystalline, either; in fact, it’s arguably worse than the cheating, since there’s no caving-to-passion element. But these are just rhetorical rabbit holes you wouldn’t have fallen into, and betrayals you wouldn’t now have to fight your way past, had you merely taken her breakup for an answer.
Since it’s too late for that, take a cue from your ex, believe it or not, and start repairing the damage immediately. Stop ferreting through other people’s private business, stop keeping score, stop hanging on to a relationship that’s months past its sell by date and really starting to smell. It was over when your girlfriend broke up with you. Let it be over, please. Be willing to see that she- this- isn’t healthy for you.
I always love it when people act like the real problem isn’t the cheating; it’s spying or snooping on the cheater. Cheating on your partner is fine. No big deal really. Spying on your partner to get the truth about them cheating on you is bad. End of the world stuff.
I also appreciated how she spent the majority of the time chiding this person for getting to the bottom of his girlfriend’s cheating, instead of focusing on the fact that his ex cheated. Did she cheat? Yes. Was that terrible? Yes. But let’s forget all about that and concentrate on what a horrible thing he did by snooping in her email to get the truth. Let’s examine every fault he has as a human being. Let’s completely disregard her unfaithfulness and instead focus on his behavior and his shortcomings. Let’s also forget about how she’s lying (oh yes, Carolyn calls that denying, denying, denying) to him which is why he felt compelled to dig around until he discovered the truth.
Her entire response is predicated on the idea that if he had let it go he wouldn’t be in this situation. If he hadn’t snooped he wouldn’t have found out she cheated. If he was still in the dark about her cheating then he wouldn’t feel betrayed. If he had let her go without asking a single question then none of this would have happened. It all boils down to this: It’s all his fault. Cheater girlfriend is blameless. If he’d just been a good little stooge he’d still be wondering what on earth happened to derail this wonderful relationship. He could still keep worshipping his ex and keeping hope alive that she would come back. Even better, if she decided to “give him another chance” (once she realized she hadn’t traded up) he would jump at the chance, delirious with joy at the thought of reuniting. She could convince him she realized she couldn’t live without him with him being none the wiser. None of that pesky, “How could you cheat on me?” drivel to deal with.
I will give her credit though. She was wise enough to counsel him to move on and told him straight up that neither the girlfriend nor the relationship was good for him. Maybe she should have led with that.
If I had an advice column this is what I would have said:
Hey, Encyclopedia Brown, great job ferreting out what a lying liar your ex-girlfriend is. Can you explain something to me? What is it that you think you have to work with here? She’s a woman who lies to you and cheats on you. Is that what you’re looking for in a partner? Are you just dying to paternity test your kids in the future? If not, move on.
I won’t bust your balls for snooping. She was lying and gas lighting you. That’s what liars and cheaters do. It’s a normal reaction to attempt to sort out the truth when people are trying to make you crazy. Mad props to you for that one, bro. I will, however, smack your nose with a newspaper for your willingness to give her another chance.
She cheated on you. And then turned around and lied to you about it. What do you find appealing about all of this? Is it the way she shakes her ass for another guy? Is it the charming way she smiles and lies right to your face? Do you want to spend the next fifty years fact checking her stories and GPS’ing her vagina? Here’s a little wisdom I picked up during my ex’s infidelity debacle: Any time you need to start snooping your relationship is already over.
Finally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think someone needs to be honest with you. It’s not going to be her. And it’s not going to be that ditz Carolyn Hax. That leaves me. So here it is. The only reason you just spent “a wonderful weekend” together is because she’s either realized her new schmoopie isn’t the knight in shining armor she thought she was getting, or she’s already been dumped by him. You are her Plan B, otherwise known as the backup plan.
Get out now! The sunk costs are relatively low. Save yourself! You have nothing to work with.