Q: Dear Jenny. I’m at the end of my relationship rope… at least I think I am. My girlfriend (of just over a year) cheated on me three months ago and things have never been good since. All my buddies told me to ditch her right after it happened (she confessed out of guilt), but I think people can make mistakes and still be trusted. Or that’s what I thought at the time. I did my best to forgive her and wanted to trust her, but I found myself becoming suspicious of her… where she was going… who she was with… what time she’d be home. It was driving her and me crazy. There have been a lot of arguments, and I always end up feeling like the bad guy even though it was her cheating that brought about my untrusting behaviour. She’s even given me passwords to her email and Facebook accounts to prove she has nothing to hide but that has only made me more suspicious. I feel like I’m going crazy. What should I do? -Allan
A: I feel for you, Allan. I’ve been cheated on more than once in past relationships, and like you are experiencing, what followed after the confession was almost worse than the initial sting of the betrayal. When couples decide to stay together after one has cheated there is definitely a rebuilding-trust period that can take time and work, and of course commitment on both sides.
Unfortunately, it can feel like starting over and some people find it next to impossible to fully trust a cheating partner again. Talking about your feelings as they come up instead of letting them build is essential. I don’t think sharing passwords with partners is ever a good idea because I think it just promotes snooping and more feelings of insecurity. Ask her to change her passwords and forget about her accounts. That is a first step in being able to trust your girlfriend and will be less crazy-making for you.
It’s only been three months since the “incident” so these are still early days. You should see gradual improvement, if you keep the communication open. If you find yourself becoming more jealous and suspicious, if there are more and more arguments, but you still love her and want to make it work, you may want to consider couples counselling (this worked for friends of mine).
Give your relationship three more months… if things are better, keep at it. If things are worse or the same… re-evaluate. Hope things work out the way you want, Allan.
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