Dear Em & Lo,
I am 26 and have been dating my boyfriend, who is 23, for almost 3 years now. About 6 months after we first started dating, he got drunk and naked with a girl but told me he realized what he was about to do and stopped. Although I was crushed, we worked through it and have had a great relationship since. Over the recent holiday, which he spent with me and my family, I found some suspicious emails on his computer between him and a girl from his work who I know has a crush on him. I confronted him about them and he swore up and down that he hadn’t done anything with her, but admitted that things between him and me had been strained, that I had been taking him for granted because of all my school work (I’ve been taking a lot of tests to finally get my veterinarian degree), and he just liked the attention he was getting from her that I wasn’t giving him. But I eventually found an email where he talked about the sex they’d recently had. I confronted him again and he lied until I told him I had seen the whole email. He finally admitted to it. I broke things off immediately. But we’ve been talking ever since and he says he wants to try to regain my trust and is willing to do whatever it takes to make me fall in love with him again, including counseling. He has cut off contact with this other woman and has said he accepts responsibility for what has happened. I know I haven’t been the most attentive, available person, but he never said anything to me about it bothering him and so I thought we were ok. Do you think he deserves another chance from me? I do still love him. Am I an idiot, weak, etc, if I try to make it work?
(This was an abridged version of the letter. Read it in its entirety after the jump.)
If all you say is true then we think your boyfriend is an asshole: he cheated on you, lied about it until you cornered him to come clean, and probably cheated on you earlier (because if he tried to lie about sex with this recent fling, there’s a good chance he lied about the previous one — seriously, how many people do you know who are capable of thinking straight and making the right decision once they are already naked in bed with another person?!).
Relationships go through highs and lows, but if he never communicated his disappointments to you, then how were you to know there were any serious problems that needed addressing? Even if he had communicated his disappointments to you, that’s no excuse to cheat — if anything, he should have broken things off with you before the affair or else tried to get you to agree to an open relationship.
The fact that he’s only 23 isn’t in your favor, unfortunately. Not to make excuses for him — because a committed relationship is a committed relationship, no matter how many candles on your cake — but when you’re that young (whether you’re male or female), there’s a greater compulsion, partially hormonally induced, to try new things and new partners.
We’d say there’s a good chance that if you stick with him he’ll hurt you again (he seems to really want to have his cake and eat it too). Of course, if you really love him and want to be a saint and forgive him this time, who are we to poo-poo that? It might work…for a while. But are you guys really going to end up together forever, eventually getting married? So few couples who date young end up doing that. And if they do end up married, they often end up divorced soon thereafter because they never had a chance to experiment and experience life with different partners and get it out of their system.
You’re about to embark on a new part of your life once you graduate — you should be free from worry and have a partner (if you have one at all) who supports you during the hardships of your final year of school. But maybe finishing up school without him would make things harder for you. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. If you choose the second chance route (though really it sounds like a third chance to us), we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it works for you. But if you stick with him and he does it again, we won’t hesitate to say we told you so.
All our best,
Em & Lo
Dear Em & Lo,
I am 26 and have been dating my boyfriend, who is 23, for almost 3 years now. I am American and he is British, but I go to Veterinary School in Scotland and met him while at a party. He came to my house in America this year for Christmas with my family and the day after Christmas I used his computer to check my email. When I got on his laptop, there was an email open between him and a woman he works with once or twice a week. I knew she had a crush on him, but I thought it wasn’t a big deal, as I trusted him, and we had even discussed her before. I skimmed the letter very briefly and he had written that “things with the girl (me) were dubious but that things with the girl’s (me again) family were great, making it awkward. “ He also wrote that he missed texting her and having coffee with her, which had been happening for about a week or so. I forwarded the email to myself quickly, since I hadn’t read the whole thing but thought I might want to.
I confronted him about it. He swore up and down that he hadn’t done anything with her, and said that things between him and me had been strained, that I had been taking him for granted, and he just liked the attention he was getting from her that I wasn’t giving him. I asked to read the whole email, and he said he had deleted them.
I read the copies I had sent myself, where he flat out said “I can’t stop thinking about last Tuesday, it was great curling up in bed with you, and the sex was awesome too”. I confronted him and he lied until I told him I had seen the whole email. He admitted he had sex with her the night I left to come back to the US for vacation. I told him it was over and he needed to move his flight up to go back to the UK.
Since then, he has left, but we have been talking a lot. I still love him but I am having issues. About 6 months after we first started dating, I had gone on a quick vacation with friends, he got drunk and brought a girl home with him. They got naked and then he says he realized what he was about to do and stopped. He told me about that incident right away and although I was crushed, we worked through it. It took me a long time to trust him, but I eventually got over it and we’ve had a great relationship since.
The last 3 months I have been finishing my final year of vet school, doing rotations at the small animal hospital. I have to be there at 7 am, usually leave around 7 pm and rarely get lunch or coffee breaks. To complicate matters, I had been studying for the National Board Exams, probably the most important exam I will ever take, as it decides whether or not I can practice in the US. So I know I haven’t been the most attentive, available person, but he never said anything to me about it bothering him and so I thought we were ok. I asked him yesterday if the fact we weren’t having sex as often as we normally did was a part of it and he said yes.
I guess my questions are: I know that I wasn’t being the most GGG girl in the world the last 3 months and I’m not sure it counts as an excuse, but I have never been so exhausted or stressed as I was then, especially in Nov and Dec. We were having little fights and not having sex more than 1 or 2 times a week. However my boyfriend never tried to tell me how he was feeling (neglected, unappreciated), he admits himself now that he should have tried rather than turning to someone else.
How much of what happened, i.e. he starting to see another woman, sleeping with her, coming to my house for the holidays and continuing to email her is my fault? Do you think he deserves another chance from me? I do still love him and he has said he wants to try and regain my trust and is willing to do whatever it takes to make me fall in love with him again. He is willing to do some counseling, has cut off contact with this other woman and has said he accepts responsibility for what has happened. I haven’t been able to get an appointment to see a counselor myself and was just hoping maybe you could give me a little advice. Am I an idiot, weak, etc if I try to make it work? I am going back to the UK in a few days.