Q: My girlfriend moved out because I stopped paying much attention to her and didn't show her more affection. There's a reason: For 6 months I kept something secret from her, and that put me into a depression and made me feel guilty. My ex-girlfriend had called me and told me she had an STD. I kept this from my current girlfriend out of fear of what she would think or who she would tell. I was fine up until I was tested and then had to be re-tested within that period. I felt guilty that I may have given her something she could die from. The more it went through my mind, the worse it got. I fell into depression and later showed no emotion to my girlfriend and she moved out two weeks ago. I finally broke down and told her.
She wanted to try to work things out but she needed time to get over being hurt. She says she can't get past the fact that I never told her. When we talk she'll cry and tell me she loves me, but she's afraid and doesn't know if she can trust me at this point. I ask if she wants to go out and she answers me, "I don't know." At the time everything happened I thought I was doing the right thing, but I see now it was wrong. I've explained to her all of this and how much I care. I told her I can't wait for her to make up her mind, maybe she should pick up her things. Then I would call her back and we would talk and I would apologize for what I said. Her reply is, "I'm still having a hard time getting past all of this." My question is do you think she will get past it and let me back in or is it too far gone? -- Mike, 33
Dr. Susan: Two weeks isn't long enough to get over a betrayal. Your keeping an important secret from her for six months isn't something about which she can just say, "Oh, well, never mind." Obviously, she needs help working this out. It would be helpful, of course, if the two of you would see a therapist together about this one thing. Meanwhile, practice being a little more patient. One minute you tell her you love her, and the next you're telling her you can't wait for her to make up her mind. You say things and then you're sorry for them and apologize. You need to do some work on your own impulsiveness, Mike. That's no way to run a relationship (ruin one, yes, but not keep one going happily).
I have to ask: Did your own STD tests come back clean? I'm having a hard time understanding how you could have had yourself tested without letting her know what was going on, thus potentially increasing the risk to her. But anyway, unless she and you were having serious trouble in the relationship before this, there is a chance she could get over this episode and come back. What I worry about is everything that went on in those six months. The way you handled your worries, by shutting her out, doesn't bode well for long-term relationship success. She senses this, of course. Simply telling her you see the error of your ways may not be enough. Talk with her as openly and honestly as you can about your own mistakes, and see if she'll tell you exactly what's bothering her. Then ask her for one more chance to prove you're worth the risk.
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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.