I have a new column in the 24 Hours Vancouver Newspaper, where every second week, readers submit their relationship questions, and I try my best to answer them. This week’s question is from a reader who’s boyfriend of a few years decided one night to get obliterated, and ended up cheating on her:
I dated my boyfriend for a few years and had what I thought was a great relationship. We laughed a lot, traveled a lot and were slowly creating a life partnership together.
One evening, he had a night out with friends, and got completely obliterated. He ended up cheating on me with an acquaintance of mine. I found out in a span of 48 hours by slowly putting together clues that weren’t making sense. I broke up with him and moved out.
For the months that followed, during the darkest low of my life, he was awful to me. He avoided me, didn’t show me compassion and never tried to offer help or communicate he was sorry. The thing is, the love I have for him hasn’t disappeared, even after what he did.
While I may be able to forgive a mistake, I don’t think I can forget how he chose to handle me afterwards. Do you think that a relationship is salvageable after someone has cheated?
There are many cases where infidelity acts as a catalyst that makes a couple examine ignored issues (either in the relationship or with the self). In these cases, where the adulterer realizes the severity of the mistake, its consequences, and takes accountability for his/her actions, there is hope that the relationship can survive.
Cheating doesn’t just happen by accident. Instead, it is really the end result of a series of seemingly harmless decisions. Many steps and choices are made before the actual event occurs.
While I do not condone cheating, I also don’t think it has to be the be all and end all of a relationship. If your boyfriend realizes the mistake he’s made, and shows through action that he is committed to working on himself, making amends and doing everything in his power to show his apology, there may be a chance of salvaging the relationship.
However, it sounds like not only did he cheat on you, he chose everyday after he got caught to treat you poorly. This shows character (or lack of, one could argue). Sure, it is quite possible that he didn’t know how to handle his guilt and pain after losing you. There was likely a lot of shame and regret after he realized the consequences of his behavior.
You have to ask yourself, however, if that is someone you want to build a life and family with. Sometimes a person deserves a second chance, but sometimes it takes a huge mistake and a life low for you to see someone’s true colors. I’ll leave you with a quote that I find true and powerful:
“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves” ― Anaïs Nin
Photo credit: zsófi B