His Ex is Still in the Picture
Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for about 9 months. Even in the beginning, things were kind of rocky because of an obsessed ex-girlfriend of his. Three days ago she brings me a few letters that he wrote very recently telling her that he doesn't care about me and that she is the one he loves. In these letters he also admitted to cheating. When asked about them, he admitted to me that he had sex with her but that he realized that what he was doing was wrong so he stopped. He says that he called her and ended everything because he really cared about me and did not want to lose me. I feel that if he had come to me first instead of my finding out this way, I could have dealt with it better. Most of the people I've talked to said to stay with him because he may really be sincere. I love him with all I have, but I can't take another heartbreak. Is it possible that he's being sincere, or should I just end it now? — Dani, 20
Dr. Susan: Sounds like your guy has only recently made up his mind, if he indeed has. If your relationship was rocky at first, and he blamed it on his ex-, then he wasn't being honest about his own mixed feelings. So he's now admitted to cheating with her long after the start of your relationship. And claims it's over now and you're the only one he wants. How can you tell? How can you ever really know when it's safe to trust someone who has betrayed you in the past?
Part of loving someone with "all you have" is being willing to risk heartbreak. The question now is how high is the risk that your boyfriend will lie to you again? Can the two of you together come up with some ways that your trust in him can be rebuilt? If it were me, I'd be looking carefully for any signs of lying or of avoiding your questions. Be sure he knows how deeply you care for him, and how much you fear his breaking your heart. If he has ANY contact with his ex-girlfriend again, I'd call it quits.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.