No one deserves to be cheated on by their partner. It is possible, however, that miscommunication led to the relationship problems you’re currently experiencing.It’s important you consider previous relationship problems you and your partner didn’t discuss or work through, and how they might’ve contributed to how your relationship is now.Then, you and your partner can work to rebuild your relationship and talk about the new terms that work for you both.You should also consider whether it’s feasible to rebuild trust. If you don’t think you could ever trust your boyfriend again, it could be better to end things and be co-parents from a distance.Have a question for Julia? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously. You can read more Doing It Right here. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
My boyfriend and I have been off and on for 12 years. I’m 32, and we share three kids who are 11, 7, and two months old. We were recently on a break from our relationship for nine months before I got pregnant with my youngest child. When I got pregnant, we decided we were going to try to work our relationship out and move to a different state together to start fresh. But when I was four months pregnant, a woman reached out to me to tell me she was also pregnant by him. He told me he was talking to her when we were on a break and he’s not sure if the child is his. He also told the woman that if she thought it was his child, she should get an abortion. Meanwhile, I uprooted my kids to a different state and we are still working on our relationship. He says he wants nothing to do with the woman or the baby, and I haven’t heard from her since.
My boyfriend says he just wants to move forward like nothing ever happened, but I don’t know if this is going to be a black cloud over our relationship forever, as I’m having a hard time trusting him. How can I make our relationship work?- AtlantaDear Atlanta,I’m so sorry you were cheated on, especially in the midst of a big family move. You didn’t deserve that.
Though your boyfriend thinks it’s best to move on and leave the past in the past, relationships aren’t that simple.You’ve already been through infidelity, so your relationship warrants even more care and honesty. If he isn’t willing to talk about what he did, the chances of your relationship rebounding in a healthy and happy way are quite bleak.But before you even suggest discussing your relationship problems with your partner, you should think about why you’ve chosen to date this man on and off for over a decade, Tammy Nelson, a sex therapist and author of “When You’re the One Who Cheats,” told me.Think about the type of person your boyfriend is, rather than who you wish he was. That will give you a good insight into what you’re looking for in him, why your relationship has been on the rocks for so many years, and why he recently cheated.
“There’s the insight phase, which is, ‘How did I pick this person and how did we get to this place? What happened?'” Nelson said.It’s possible you and your boyfriend were never on the same pageNelson said that, often, people unknowingly choose partners who aren’t on the same page about what being in a committed relationships means. When those differences aren’t addressed at the start of the relationship, they can result in later disappointment. That might be what happened with you and your boyfriend.It’s impossible for me to pinpoint where that miscommunication happened for you, but Nelson said couples who don’t have detailed talks about their sexual needs often end up in contentious relationships.”You have to ask, ‘Well, how many times a week do you want to have sex? More importantly, when we stop doing that, what are going to be the rules?’ If you’re married or you’re in a long-term committed partnership, a part of that monogamy agreement is that you’re going to have sex,” Nelson said. “It’s a betrayal of your monogamy agreement to stop having sex with your partner, just like [cheating is also a betrayal].”
This isn’t to say it’s your fault your boyfriend was unfaithful, but it could shed light on why he cheated in the first place and help you decide whether it’s something you can forgive, or something you can’t. Once you have a think about the things you and your boyfriend didn’t agree on relationship-wise, sex or otherwise, you’ll be better prepared to discuss how to move forward.After you’ve gained some insight, you’ll have to make a decision about how to proceed. You can either stay with your boyfriend, or figure out how to co-parent from a distance.There’s isn’t a single “right” answer here, but if you’re finding it nearly impossible to see a future where you wholeheartedly can trust your partner again, it might be time to move on. You can and should co-parent while living apart, and doing so could give you the space to decide what you want in your next relationship.But if you see a world in which you could mend things, Nelson said you have to rebuild your relationship as if it’s brand-new.
“You can have a new relationship with that same person, but it has to be new. You have to draw a line in the sand and you have to start over from that point,” Nelson said. “What are going to be the new requirements [of your relationship]? You What are the new options? What are the new explicit assumptions that you’re both going to make about what this is going to look like?”If you want to start over, you should discuss both of your emotional and physical needs, and what to do if they aren’t being met. This is a huge conversation, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed about it, that’s completely normal.In fact, Nelson recommended seeing a therapist to help you through this difficult time. That person can help you create a vision for what you want your future relationship to look like and build to tools to execute that vision with your partner.Throughout this process, whatever you decide to do, remember to be kind to yourself and reach out to loved ones if you need support. You’ve been through a lot as a parent and a partner, and deserve just as much as you’ve given in those roles.
As Insider’s resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.Related coverage from Doing It Right:My partner won’t have sex until marriage, but I’m very sexual. Should I have an affair to get it out of my system?I’m having an affair with my best friend’s partner, and he’s become manipulative. Should I come clean?
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