learning to trust again
November 16, 2005 1:57 PM   Subscribe

What are some strategies + coping mechanisms for learning to trust a partner after they were found cheating.

We decided it was worth it to continue our relationship but I have not been able to trust him yet. It's been 8 months. Not even sure where to begin.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My 2 cents:
I think you should really examine why you are in this relationship in the first place. Because you love him, or you want to feel secure with a guy? You may be trying to hard to make it work. Trust is the basis of any relationship, romantic or ootherwise. You have to be in iy for each other, otherwise it will fail.
posted by wheelieman at 2:06 PM on November 16, 2005


(excuse my typos)
posted by wheelieman at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2005


If you haven't been able to trust him at all after eight months, then I don't think you ever will. I'm sorry to say that, especially since I would probably feel the same way.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:12 PM on November 16, 2005


You probably won't trust him again. Break up.

I thought I'd get over it and learn to trust again when my first long term girlfriend cheated on me... I didn't. I never grew to trust her, and we never were the same. I just stayed miserable for the last 6 or so months of our relationship - worrying about what she was up to when she was out on weekends, etc...

Trust must be earned, and when it is broken in such a severe, primal way as cheating - it's nearly impossible to repair for many people. This is not a shortcoming on your part... your inability to regain trust doesn't make you less of a person than the girl or guy who CAN regain that trust.

Recognize that you are not that person, and that you've given it your best effort but you still worry about it too much.

Break up, and if you two are really that perfect for each other, you'll go off, do your own thing, be without the burden/worry about what your SO is doing for a while, and maybe cross paths again in the future. (But don't break up with that intention -- break up because it's the right thing to do.. and if serendipity chooses to strike, and it works out, then ok).

Incidentally, I am now, after we stopped talking for a couple years, great friends with that first ex who cheated on me. She's with someone else now long term and I'm actually legitimately very happy for her and not the least bit jealous.
posted by twiggy at 2:15 PM on November 16, 2005


Go here.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2005


I think much depends on:

1. How long you've been together. If you've only been together for a couple years it's going to be a lot harder to deal with. If you've been together for 5+ years there's a chance and if you've been together for a decade or more there is so much invested that it may just take time and patience.

2. The nature of the infidelity. If this was a one-time thing for some random person it could be easier to recover from. If it was an ongoing affair it's going to be much more difficult. Additional difficulty if it was someone he knew socially or through work because you'll always wonder about his new coworkers, social friends, etc.

3. The root cause. Is he just that way? Were there problems in your relationship? etc.

It is the rare relationship that isn't defined by marriage, children and property ownership that can be salvaged after a breach of trust.

If after 8 months you're not trusting your partner you need to determine why. Once you determine why you can't trust your partner you'll need to figure out if it's something that you can ever deal with. Chances are no, but I wish you the best of luck regardless.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:29 PM on November 16, 2005


One of the most memorable positive experiences of my life was the first time I experienced compersion, aka enjoying the fact that my partner was having a good time with someone else. It was wonderful, and a huge weight off my shoulders.

Of course, not all relationships are structured in a way that can handle that. But I still try to recommend it for those who can.
posted by alms at 2:30 PM on November 16, 2005


IMO, unless there are kids involved or something like that, it's not worth trying to work it out.

There are 3 billion people in the world, you'll find someone better for you, eventually.
posted by empath at 2:56 PM on November 16, 2005


Cheating is about one of the worst events in any relationship. Few survive it and the ones that do come out with a whole lotta new scars.

I'd echo wheelieman's advice to examine why you're in the relationship. If you love him then you might be able to move past this (assuming it was a one time mistake) but if you're with him because you don't like sleeping alone then the relationship is doomed.

Sorry, I've dated cheaters in the past. I still don't trust them.
posted by fenriq at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2005


There are 3 billion people in the world

I must point out that there are more than twice that.

posted by Specklet at 3:15 PM on November 16, 2005


In contrast to others here, I would suggest couples (and/or marital) counseling to assist you in making the decision as to whether the relationship can be saved. But, be honest with your partner as to the reason behind your desire for counseling, and be honest with them as to how you are feeling.
posted by WCityMike at 3:18 PM on November 16, 2005


You don't have to stay with someone just because you love them; it's not a mandate and it doesn't obligate you to ignore flaws in your partner or your relationship. If the relationship's not really fulfilling for you, you shouldn't be in it.

I think it's hard to come back from a big dent in trust, whether it's fidelity, money, plain old honesty, whatever. I think it's very difficult for even the betrayer to really move on as well, because it's just always there no matter what you do.

I'm sorry. It's a crappy situation.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2005


Try making a conscious decision to trust your partner. Act as though you do. Give it a couple of weeks. If you still can't do it, get on out of there.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:20 PM on November 16, 2005


Raise your hand if you're an armchair cheating-in-relationships philosopher! Maybe some of you aren't, but it's a damned bit more difficult than just 'ditch that cat.' My relationship resume sports having-been-cheated-on twice, so Trust Me!

In my case I stuck around probably due to the power dynamic that the cheating creates - the cheater is shown to be desirable and in control, while you as the cheatee are lucky to still be around. Instead of the cheater being lucky s/he's allowed to say, it becomes the cheatee who is relieved to still be with the partner. It's hard to convince yourself to get out if you don't have the upper hand.

I went on for a few years afterwards, and it never completely went away. It wasn't why it ended, but it isn't something you're necessarily going to Get Over from just hanging around. At the very least I'd recommend staying apart for a while. It's always hard to break the status quo, which is why it's easier to stay together than to be apart. If you split up, even temporarily, you'll have a better chance at looking at the situation from a clear perspective. I guess that's my recommendation? (Although reeeally I'm rooting for the eventual breakup)

Why the partner cheated is also a pretty big deal concerning the possibility of coping, buuut we probably aren't going to get that story.
posted by soma lkzx at 7:32 PM on November 16, 2005


There are 3 billion people in the world

I must point out that there are more than twice that.

True, but only half of the 6+ billion are of the gender that a given person is looking for (unless you're bi).
posted by Handcoding at 7:51 PM on November 16, 2005


You don't have to do anything. It is up to the betrayer to earn your trust.

Given that 8 months have passed and you still don't trust him, it's getting toward that time to decide whether to continue giving opportunities or not. If he's trying, talking with you a lot, seeking counsel like you are, that might be a hopeful sign. If he's waiting on you to trust him again, as though it's somehow your fault that you don't, then that would be a pretty hopeless sign. Really though, working through feelings is tough, especially about someone who has been in your life a long time. And that's also what makes a mess like this hurt so bad. Perhaps soon you'll find the way to deal with this that's right for you.
posted by oldmanyoung at 7:51 PM on November 16, 2005


I must point out that there are more than twice that.

Yeah, but the person, unless they're bisexual, probably would only look at HALF of that six billion, which is three billion.


To the original poster:
Do you want to be in this relationship? If so, why, after you've been cheated? Not saying it's a bad decision to stay, but you really gotta want to stay and make it work and do the work to make it work. As the one who was hurt, you have the hardest job, to actually trust the person again.

This sounds like someting you're going to work out yourself, and ultimately it comes down to this: trust him. Realize that you have no control over what he does and let him go do what he wants to do. His actions are not a reflection on you.

It's been eight months. Let it go and move on with the relationship or break up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 PM on November 16, 2005


soma:

I didn't say it would be easy to get on with her life. Just that she should.

A cheater is a cheater is a cheater. If he's ever going to go straight(which is unlikely), it's probably going to be with somebody else, and only if he spends a couple of years being miserable and lonely first. It's a sad fact of life, but I have rarely seen anybody change just because they were given a second chance.
posted by empath at 10:00 PM on November 16, 2005


You don't have to do anything. It is up to the betrayer to earn your trust.

Yes, but how DOES one regain trust? Really, the only way is by not cheating. But how can you prove that? "Honey, I went out without you tonight and I didn't cheat! Are you proud of me?" doesn't really work... As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that brings back trust is time, and 8 months is a hell of a long time to still not be trusting your partner.
posted by antifuse at 1:19 AM on November 17, 2005


My S.O. cheated on me, and I have to tell you that, though time has passed, there is not a time when I don't know in the back of my mind that they are not the person that I thought they were. It speakes to a lack of their integrety, respect for me, and their own basic selfishness.

All the therapy, all the time, and all the heartache has made me realize that they would always be the person that chose momentary pleasure over a lifetime with me. It must suck to be that person. It sucks more to be the one left with the pieces.
posted by Haize at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]


All the therapy, all the time, and all the heartache has made me realize that they would always be the person that chose momentary pleasure over a lifetime with me.
If you mean the past can't be erased, I suppose that's true. But I find it remarkably cynical to comment that anyone "will always be the person who..." I don't know about you, but I've changed considerably as I've matured. I made choices during the past ten years that I have come to regret and wouldn't repeat. I expect the next ten years will hold more of the same -- and I think it would be terribly cold if I refused to give my partner the same benefit of the doubt.

People make mistakes. Some folks choose to immediately leave anyone who makes a particular mistake, and that's their prerogative; but I'm always saddened when those people eagerly insist that others exercise identical judgment. No reaction to infidelity is "easy"; but it certainly requires more effort, strength, and character to remain committed and pick up the pieces. Not to thumb the good book at anyone, but: Marriage vows are not conditional, and they're not a contract. Your spouse's transgression doesn't "break" the vow you make before God.

To answer the question: LittleMissCranky, above, was right on target (until her arbitrary two-week nonsense). "Act as if ye have faith, and faith will be given ye." The answer is simply to behave as if you do trust him; and eventually, you will. The bad news is there's no time frame: it may take six weeks, it may take two years. The good news? It's foolproof. If you genuinely behave one way (and that ain't gonna be easy), your mind will follow suit. Chalk it up to Brainwashing 101.
posted by cribcage at 12:25 AM on November 20, 2005


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