Dear Miss Meghan,
My girlfriend recently cheated on me with some other dude at a party. I don’t exactly want to break up with her, but I can’t stop thinking about what she did when we are together. I know she is sorry for doing it, but that does not change what she did. What do I do?
Dear Bamboozled, Many, many theories exist on why people cheat. Some say we are not meant to be monogamous, others believe that cheating is an unconscious act to obtain the best sperm to fertilize the egg / fertilize the most eggs possible, and still others think cheating is done to them because their needs are not being met in the primary relationship. However, none of these theories actually help the person hurt understand their partner’s behaviors (sorry).
Most people that I have talked to who have been cheated on report feeling that the perceived commitment to the relationship was fractured, that trust was broken by the cheating behaviors, and/or that they are somehow not meeting their partner’s needs.
Re-establishing trust and commitment in the relationship are things that time and active work can help build. Increasing communication between you and your partner, being able to express your hurt/anger/sadness, and testing the trust in the relationship may help. Acknowledging that you are fearful that she will do it again when she goes alone to the next party, but knowing that she has the right to go anyways and then having a successful outcome, will build that trust.
It may also be helpful to establish where your boundaries, or lines in the sand, are. What type of behaviors do you consider cheating? Is it flirting, kissing, holding hands, “hooking up,” or having an emotional connection with another person of your gender? What type of behaviors does your girlfriend consider cheating? How the two of you define cheating may be very different, so it is helpful to have a conversation and compromise about the boundaries of the relationship.
Also, knowing the behaviors that you are not willing to compromise on will help you explore if you desire to continue the relationship with your girlfriend or not. Do you believe in second chances, but not third? Finally, I am a firm believer that no one person can meet another person’s entire needs. I would encourage any one in a relationship to regularly evaluate what needs of yours are not being met, and then talk (with your partner) about how those desires can be achieved.
Sincerely glad I got to use the