Why do I still love her after she cheated on me?

Hi Jesse,

Still feeling like shit it’s been roughly three months since this break up. Finding out she’s pregnant and then just the other week found out she’s been cheating on me with the same for about 3 months before this breakup. Every weekend she would go out with her aunt and uncle to have drinks well that’s not the only thing she was doing. I’d even ask her if she was sleeping with anyone cuz their were weekends where she wasn’t calling or at least letting me know. She would lie right to me saying no. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt and gave her my trust that she wasn’t doing anything. The break up was easy compared to the cheating part. I feel betrayed embarrassed, my dignities been taken from me. like my hearts been stomped on its like she stole apart of and I’m searching for it. Picking up the pieces. The sad thing is I still love her. Why would someone love somebody after they crushed their world? It’s affecting how I work at my job I don’t eat sleep and force myself to get things done. Thanks for letting me say some of what’s going on in my life

You still love her because you loved her before you learnt all this and you can’t just turn love off. These feelings need to come down organically, and they will. 3 months is not a very long time.

Getting cheated on feels horrible for one because we instinctively take it as a rejection of who we are. It feels as though somehow this means that you’re not good enough. You trusted her, you made yourself vulnerable to her – and she chose to stab you in the back.

I’ve been cheated on and I’ve been left for another guy. I know the embarrassment you’re talking about.

Looking back, I’ve come to see that those relationships weren’t going to survive in the long run anyway and that the women I was with weren’t right for me. The pain I went through made me stronger and although initially it made me want to close my heart, ultimately it taught me how to be brave and continue to open my heart, despite the risk of getting hurt.

The embarrassment is completely gone. I felt embarrassed because I felt like a joke, a sucker a push-over. But that only lasted as long as I saw myself as the person that had been personally rejected from being in a relationship I wanted to be in with someone I wanted to be in it with. With time and with insight, all of that changed.

Trusting her was brave. Turned out you couldn’t – that’s a valuable life lesson and it will help you develop and hone your intuition going forward. You opened your heart to her and she chose to betray you. That’s sad on her part. I don’t pity you. I pity her, because somehow she wasn’t ready or able to accept that love. I also pity her because she must be living in such darkness and pain for her to be able to deceive someone so close to her so deeply for such a long time.

Make sense?

She used me to move on to another guy. Should I confront her?

Hi Jesse,

Just wanted to say a big congratulations on the site. The advice here is pretty much exactly what I needed and relates so closely to how I’m feeling.

I am 26 and my (ex) girlfriend is 24. We had been together almost 7 years before she broke up with me 5 weeks ago. During the 7 years we had some great times together and I was living at her family home with her, her brother and her dad for the past 2 years. Earlier this year (Feb-April) I believe I was going through a quarter life crisis. I’ve always had the goal to live and work in London (I am Australian), a goal that she never shared. During the period from Feb-April I was short with her and pushed her away due to unseen resentment towards her. In early May she said we needed to take a break and I moved back home for a few weeks. We got back together again and broke up again and then got back together again for a couple of months. The communication was still there and I did everything in my power to become the person that I thought she’d always wanted. Then 5 weeks ago she said she’d had enough and didn’t know if she felt the same way about me anymore. I grovelled for two weeks, cried and wrote her a letter outlining my future goals with her, which resonated well with her for a few days. After two weeks she said it was over and she thought of me as a really good friend.

I have been in no contact for 3 weeks now and still feel helpless. We are on the same phone bill and I went through her records and found hundreds of calls and texts to a number that has been going on for the past 4 months. I called the number and a guy answered. I want to know if I should confront her about this or if I should just remain in no contact? I love her to death but I have a feeling that she has used me for her succession plan with this guy.

Any help would be appreciated.

Hey,

Sounds like this was probably your first relationship, correct? Our first breakup tends to be the most painful. It’s the first time we experience strong romantic passion towards someone else and it’s usually the first time we are on the receiving end of that feeling as well.

Because it is our first time experiencing these feelings, we have no frame of reference. We can’t compare how we feel about this girlfriend to our previous girlfriend. We don’t have the life experience to know, and feel, the difference between what’s special about being with this specific person vs. the pleasant feelings any relationship would give you.

So after 3 weeks of no contact I’m not surprised you “still” feel helpless. That’s normal. This was your first love, you were together for 7 years and now it appears she left you for another guy. The natural response is helplessness. And 3 weeks is no time at all.

Your assessment about what’s going on with this number she’s been texting with is probably right. Our instincts are surprisingly well attuned to these types of situations.

Should you confront her about it? Absolutely not.

There’s nothing here to be gained by you.

If you do confront her, you’re going to have to break no contact and suffer the consequences of having memories and emotions being triggered.

If she confirms it’s true, what’s that going to do? Make you more angry, more sad – maybe bring up more questions (Who is this guy? How could she do this? etc.)

If she denies it, it may still make you feel bad for getting upset in the first place. Or maybe the way she answers your question makes you doubt she’s telling the truth. Next thing you know you’re obsessing over whether or not she’s lying to you and has been doing so for months.

And what if you get into an argument about the fact that you went through her phone records?

Fuck. That.

Don’t do it man. There’s no value here for you.

Your commitment to no contact is about avoiding temptations like this.

Emotions are going to draw you in. Your mind will find convincing arguments that you should contact her, that you should check her Facebook or her phone bill.

Fuck. That.

No contact all the way man. No exceptions. This wouldn’t help you in any way.

What is the quickest way to get over her?

The quickest way to avoid more pain than you’re already feeling is to make sure you don’t see your ex-girlfriend anymore and aren’t reminded of her anymore.

This is incredibly simple advice, but can be very hard to follow. If you do, you will feel the benefits.

So much for avoiding more pain — what about recovery? What is the fastest way to get over this?

Pause for a second.

If this question occupies your mind, let’s see where it’s coming from first.

Ask yourself this: Am I fully accepting of my current situation?

Because there is something about your current situation that is making you ask how to leave it behind as quickly as possible.

If the answer is yes, great! You have nowhere else to get to and have no reason to concern yourself with doing so quicker.

If the answer is no — dig deeper. What are you not fully accepting of?

Observe whatever thought or feeling surfaces. Do not judge — just observe. (Hard, I know. Perhaps even overwhelming)

That is your next step.

That is what’s making you ask how you can get over your ex quickly in the first place.

The act of observing without judgment will allow whatever it is you’re not accepting to lose its energy until you do become accepting of it.

This may lead you down a long winding path of self-discovery, but it’s the only type of recovery that will truly make a difference in your life.

My ex-girlfriend needs time and space, but she still loves me

My Ex-Girlfriend Needs SpaceFrom a reader:

Hi, my girlfriends been left the house now for 6 weeks saying she wants time and space so that is what I have given her. It’s been tough really tough. Anyway I found out the other week she needs to be on her own and be single, even though she still loves me. Obviously traumatised by this which was apparent to her, I have tryed (sic) to accept this. We haven’t had contact for 3 weeks then boom, she text me two nights ago saying she is coming back to the house on Friday to pick all her things up. ( she only left with a plastic bag full of clothes)which gave me hope, but not anymore! Deeply saddened and know now that this is going to happen! Please help if there’s any advice you could share. Many thanks

Women will tell you they still love you, but they’re not in love with you. What the hell does that mean?

In order to understand what is going on we need to better understand what we mean when we use the word “love”. Renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher asserts there three primordial brain networks that evolved to direct mating and reproduction:

  1. Lust, which is characterized by a craving for sexual gratification and emerged to to motivate our ancestors to seek sexual union with almost any partner.
  2. Attraction, is characterized by increased energy and focused attention on a preferred mating partner. Also referred to as romantic love or being in love evolved to focus our courtship attentions on a single individual at a time, thereby conserving precious mating time and energy.
  3. Attachment, also called compassionate love, is characterized by feelings of calm, security, social comfort and emotional union and evolved to motivate our ancestors to love this partner long enough to rear their young together.

Important to realize is that these three systems can operate independent of one another, as Helen Fisher notes:

Men and women can copulate with individuals with whom they are not “in love”; they can be “in love” with someone with whom they have had no sexual contact; and they can feel deeply attached to a mate for whom they feel no sexual desire or romantic passion.

In the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of romantic love. Feelings of lust quickly enter the mix as you get intimate with each other.

In the traditional Western course of events, you meet a man or woman. You talk and laugh and begin to “date.” Rapidly or gradually you fall in love. As the camaraderie escalates to bliss, your sex drive surges into higher action. Then after months or years of joyous times together, your raging romantic passion and raw sexual hunger begin to wane, replaced by what Theodor Reik called that warm “afterglow,” attachment. In this scenario, romantic love has triggered lust; then with time, these raw feelings of passion and desire have settled into a sinew of emotional union and commitment—attachment.

But over the course of a relationship, it’s not unusual that feelings of lust subside, and even the initial feelings of eophoria attributed to romantic love are known to wane. As you’ve gotten to know one another on a deeply emotional level, these initial feelings are partly replaced by feelings of affection for your partner. Non-romantic affection that is. Or as Helen Fisher puts it:

Romantic love did not evolve to help us maintain a stable, enduring partnership. It evolved for different purposes: to drive ancestral men and women to prefer, choose, and pursue specific mating partners, then start the mating process and remain sexually faithful to “him” or “her” long enough to conceive a child. After the child is born, however, parents need a new set of chemicals and brain networks to rear their infant as a team—the chemistry of attachment. As a result, feelings of attachment often dampen the ecstasy of romance, replacing it with a deep sense of union with a mate.

When a woman tells you she loves you, but she is no longer in love with you, she is saying that she feels affection towards you, but she is no longer feel romantic love for you, or for that matter lust.

It seems to be the destiny of humankind that we are neurologically able to love more than one person at a time. You can feel profound attachment for a long-term spouse, while you feel romantic passion for someone in the office or your social circle, while you feel the sex drive as you read a book, watch a movie, or do something else unrelated to either partner.

How did that happen? We can only begin to understand the complexity of love, but I believe what it comes to down to is that she lost attraction for you. Dating guru Eben Pagan coined the phrase: “attraction isn’t a choice”, elegantly summarizing the insight that love befalls us, we do not chose it. I believe it applies to falling out of love as well. Falling out of love is not a choice.

Falling out of love is not a choice

We can, however, hypothesize what might have contributed to this change of heart.

Often women are attracted to a single guy in part due to his independence, his energy and his outlook on life. It’s these characteristics that draw her into the relationship and induce feelings of romantic love and lust.

Women, however, will continue to test you throughout your relationship. It’s their innate mechanism to make sure you’re still the man they fell in love with. They will test to see if you’re the rock in their stormy waters, if you stay true to your values and if you uphold your identity throughout the relationship.

Guys, especially in a first relationship, tend to lose themselves in their relationships. They start appeasing their girlfriends and start putting her needs and her happiness above their own. We do this, ironically, to appease our girlfriends, to make her happy. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect. We become whipped.

This complacent behavior communicates that we do not have a strong identity, that we don’t adhere to our values and that our needs can be superseded by those of others. This is what women test you for. And if you start failing these tests, she loses attraction to you.

Paradoxically, the more you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for her, the more you end up pushing her away.

Fast forward a couple of months and she finds herself in a relationship with someone she has come to know intimately well, but somehow it doesn’t feel right. The initial, overwhelming feelings of romantic love have all but disappeared. She cares about you, she feels she loves you, but she is not in love with you.

I need time and space translated to guy talk is: I feel affection towards you, but I am no longer romantically interested.

Even though she’s not being dishonest, it’s confusing as hell.

Other symptoms are a deteriorating or non-existent sex life, a lack of energy in the relationship and a lack of purpose in your own life. Am I close?

I hate to break it to you, but it sounds like it’s over. What’s more, your refusal to accept that very fact is what is fueling your pain. You need to turn off the stove that is heating up your emotions. Your recovery can only start when you accept that the relationship is over and that the girlfriend you once had no longer exists.

I Know She Still Loves Me

I Know My Ex-Girlfriend Still Loves MeFrom a reader:

Hey, I just lost my girlfriend. I mean, she left me for another guy but I know that guy ain’t good for her. He doesn’t deserve her. I really love her and can do anything to get her back. Just temme what to do. I know she still loves me.

As painful as it is to have your girlfriend leave you for another guy, fundamentally, it’s not something you can control. Eckhart Tolle says about facing situations that bother us: either leave it, change it or accept it, all else is madness.

You must learn to recognize what you can and cannot control, what you can and cannot leave. This is a situation you cannot escape from and a situation that is beyond your control, all that is left is to accept it. The pain you are feeling emanates from the state you are putting yourself in by refusing to accept what is beyond your control.

You say you know that she still loves you, but this is largely irrelevant. Love is not an esoteric, transcending experience. It is more like an intoxicating cocktail of hormonal and neurological constellations that overwhelms us, and in some cases takes the better part of us.

One day she loves you, the next day she’s with someone else. How is that possible?

The answer is that our concept of love is naive and oversimplified. Love is a survival and replication strategy designed to increase our chances of passing on our genes to the next generation.

We are wired to love, but we are also wired to survive and to be opportunistic when necessary. Different situations call upon our evolutionary programming in different ways and often lead to surprising and painful outcomes. She may very well have loved you and felt attached to you, but given the right set of circumstances a more powerful, opportunistic feeling could have taken over. It happens all the time…

The question you should be asking is not “how do I get her back?” it is “what can I change/control?”.