You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Q: For about a year now, I've been in a long-distance relationship with a guy I met through friends. We live in different states and were fully aware of each other’s intentions early on. We hit it off pretty fast, and before we knew it, we were in a full-blown relationship. We discussed the dynamics of our relationship because I had never been in a long-distance relationship before. We fell in love and wanted to see where love would take us, so we agreed to be mutually exclusive.
A short while ago, I learned my guy had relations with a woman who lives closer to him. I was very hurt because I am completely committed to him and our relationship. He tells me he cut it off with her because he never intended for things to end up that way and he couldn't fathom being without me. He explained he made a selfish choice and got caught up in it and that he never intended for it to get this far. I have been in a similar situation in the past, so I understood where he was coming from and I’ve decided to forgive him. I know he loves me. I believe people make bad choices and learn from them. I'm not one to believe that once someone is a cheater, they’re always a cheater.
Now, we want to put things back together and rebuild what we once had. I just can't figure where to start. I love this man, and I want to trust him the way I once did. Where do I start, Dr. Sherry?
A: Long-distance relationships are difficult even when you have the best intentions. My question is, did your boyfriend cut off the other relationship completely because he "couldn't fathom being without you” or perhaps because he got caught? If you had not found out, do you really believe he would have ended the other relationship?
Part of the problem with your long-distance relationship may be the fact that you hit it off fast and entered into a serious relationship before really getting to know him. It takes time to build a lasting relationship where both are committed and mutually exclusive. You may care about each other and want a lasting relationship, but it takes work and time. You say you don't believe that once someone is a cheater they’re always a cheater, and you mention that because you found yourself in a similar situation in the past, you understand and forgive him. Having an honest conversation with your boyfriend and truly forgiving one another is the starting point.
Look at what attributed to both of you going outside of the relationship. Were you trying to get emotional or physical needs met? If so, the two of you must come up with a plan to address both of your needs. The next thing you must do is work on building trust. Trust is a basic necessity for any relationship. Although you indicated both of you want this relationship, you must both be willing to work for it. Regardless of how much you love him, or are in love with him, he must want the relationship and be willing to do the hard work in order to be in the relationship with you. Remember, it’s not what a person says, it’s what they do! So talk less and observe more! -- Dr. Sherry
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