She Cheated on Me - Am I Overreacting?
Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
Recently, my girlfriend went on a cruise with her roommate (female). I knew this was a bad idea and expressed my apprehension. She assured me nothing would happen and not to worry. I just found out that she did, in fact, break my trust on the cruise and kissed someone else. I'm devestated. I told her that i don't ever want to see her again and that our friendship and relationship is over.
Am I overreacting?? All i keep thinking about is her total lack of respect for me and our relationship. I'm not sure i can ever believe anything she ever says to me again. I always thought her loyalty was one of her best qualities - now i just view her as a lying, cheating slut. I don't think being her friend is possible because i still have strong feelings for her and the thought of her with someone else kills me! I know it was only a kiss, but it represents something more to me. Should i be thankful it wasn't sex? Should i forgive her? It makes me sick to think about the entire situation.
You get at one of the key issues in any relationship. A relationship is founded on honesty and trust, because you are trusting this person with your innermost emotions, with pretty much all that you are. You need to have faith that this person who shares your life can be depended on to think about you and the relationship before other things.
So really it's not that "at least she didn't sleep with the guy." It's about her violating your trust. If she even starts down the road of "I only violated it X much, I didn't violate it Y much" she's playing a game in which she gets to arbitrarily set the limits. If she already decided that betrayal is fine as long as it's in X amount, you now have no reason to trust her, that the next time she won't randomly decide that Y is an OK amount of betrayal too. She's already proven that she *can* betray you, and the amount she will betray you by is just up to how she feels at the moment.
So no, your reaction isn't unreasonable and is one shared by most other people when they are betrayed. But then the question is what to do next.
Yes, people make stupid mistakes in life, and thinking "this betrayal won't really matter" is one of them. In younger people especially, who are used to lying to parents to get what they want, they sort of consider their partner at that point in time as the 'parent preventing me from having fun.' Instead of thinking, "I shouldn't kiss this guy because then *I* would have betrayed the trust of my partner," she probably thought, "I want to have fun! My partner is keeping me from having fun. If he doesn't find out, I can have my fun without any trouble!" So the whole emphasis is wrong. She thinks about wanting X instead of thinking about her responsibilities.
The ability to make those distinctions is a mature mental state that you find examined in many books. Read Spenser sometimes (the books about the Boston detective). If a sexy woman comes on to him, he'll say "Yes, it would be nice to sleep with you. But no, I don't *want* to, because I am in love with a woman and have no desire to betray her, it's not part of who I am" If he 'gave in' that would make him less of a person, both to himself AND to his love.
In any case, your girlfriend made a seriously wrong decision, putting her own short-term needs over the long-term needs of the relationship, and showed her lack of maturity. Yes, it was the wrong thing for her to do from just about every angle. But it's a mistake some people make once or twice while really becoming used to and settled with the idea of a serious relationship.
So it's up to you to judge if this was a "learning lesson" that she has had, or if she's old enough to have already known this and was just not caring about what she knew was right. Some people are just like that - looking out for their own fun and hoping not to get caught. They see their partners as "parents" to hide things from and have fun on the side. If that's her, then I'd stay clear of her. That's not a good relationship to be in.
But on the other hand, if she's young, and is still learning how relationships work, maybe she just hasn't had enough practice making those decisions to do it wisely. Maybe this guy really sweet-talked her and she was in over her head, and now she knows to be more careful. If that's the case, I would give her another chance, but realize that it will take quite a while to heal over the breach of trust. Therapists are out there that specialize in it, and it might help to talk to one.
Good luck either way!
-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com