Dishonest Emotional Wimp
Q: I just found out that my boyfriend slept with his ex-wife when she was in town a year ago. He was in the military and technically still married to her. He says that if he refused to sleep with her, she threatened to get him in trouble at work for having an affair with me. I don't know whether my hurt and anger are justified since I was dating him while he was still married and I ultimately broke up their marriage. However, he has also been caught perusing escort services, and even paid for one. He swears he didn't go through with it. I am so hurt and don' t know if I will ever be able to trust him again. To make matters worse, I have two kids that consider him to be their Dad. If I decide to let him stay, how do I move past all this? -- Chrissy
Dr. Susan: Doesn't sound like the military made a man out of your boyfriend. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he's a dishonest emotional wimp who can't make up his mind. He cheated on her with you, then cheated on you with her, and meanwhile uses (or is tempted to use) escort services while lying about it. Are your hurt and anger justified? Certainly. Just because you were involved in the break-up of his marriage doesn't give him the right to treat you with disrespect. Each relationship is a fresh chance to behave ethically.
It would be very helpful to re-establishing trust if he would finally make a clean break from his ex-wife and agree to a few counseling sessions with you. He needs to be honest about what's in his mind. Sure, he's going to be tempted at times, but what does he choose to do about it? After a few months of total openness, then you can being talking about whether you're both ready to commit to a life together, giving your kids a stable and loving set of parents. Know that you won't "move past all this" quickly or easily. It takes two to untangle the web you've both helped create.
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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.