If you want to rebuild trust, you need to speak candidly about how the affairs made you feel, and how you’re struggling to trust her.But you also need to be prepared to hear why she felt compelled to cheat — whether it was because she felt lonely in your dynamic, or she’s not as committed to monogamy.Once you’re both on the same page, you can decide how to best move forward, if at all. If your girlfriend isn’t willing to talk about what she did, that’s a major red flag. 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.
I’ve been dating my girlfriend for four years now. During that time, she’s cheated on me with four men, but I still let her into my life. She currently works as a receptionist in a hotel, and all sorts of men ask her for her number. She gives it to them without hesitation, and when I confronted her about it, she asked if anyone had called our house and said she would end the calls right away if they say anything stupid.I don’t have any trust for her, and whenever she works out of the house I feel she’s going to cheat on me. These thoughts are killing me. Did I make a huge mistake by staying with her after the cheating?- Nigeria
Dear Nigeria,I wouldn’t call your decision a mistake, but the fact that you have zero trust for your girlfriend speaks volumes.It is possible to rebuild that trust and in turn your relationship dynamic, but only if you and your girlfriend really want to make that effort. As psychotherapist Tammy Nelson previously told me, “If you are going to wake up and change your relationship and [yourself,] it could be an incredible moment.”
Though your girlfriend is the one who cheated, repairing a relationship after an affair requires willingness from both partners. That means you need to be open to approaching your girlfriend and honestly telling her how the affairs made you feel. Explain why giving her number to men she meets at her job puts you on edge and reinforces the lack of trust you feel towards her.Now for the hard part.If you want your relationship to have a real fighting chance, you’ll also have to listen to your girlfriend explain what drove her to cheat. Listening doesn’t mean you’re justifying her actions, but will help you to see things from her side.In doing so, you may realize that she cheated because she felt lost, lonely, or disconnected from your relationship. Those reasons don’t absolve her from what she did, but they can act as starting points for moving forward into a healthier relationship.
Of course, it’s also possible she cheated because she isn’t as committed to monogamy as she seems to be. According to Nelson, people who feel this way often end up serial cheaters.Once you consider where your girlfriend is coming from, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether your relationship is one worth repairing, or if it’s time for you to move on.But if you ask your girlfriend to have this talk and she brushes you off or seems uninterested in making an effort to change, it’s a red flag that your relationship isn’t going anywhere.”The person doing the cheating needs to be somewhat unsettled and allow themselves to be disrupted by the experience,” Matt Lundquist, the founder of Tribeca Therapy in New York City previously told me. “It needs to be treated as a significant life event. It needs to hurt a little in order to grow and change.”
If your partner isn’t willing to take that step with you, it’s likely not a relationship worth pouring your time and emotional energy into.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.