My ex-girlfriend emotionally cheated on me and I can’t get over it

From Alex:

My girlfriend of 4.5 years recently broke up with me and it has really screwed me up.

I am someone who is ready to settle down and she was also the same. I met her when she was studying to be a nurse while I already have a career. We met in Summer of 2013. I knew that dating a student would entail paying for a lot of things but I was ok with it, if it was the right girl. She also told me that she is looking for someone who is not looking to still get wild and “spread seeds” and just devote themselves to one girl. I told her that is me and she does not have to worry.

We were so in love but a few friends and family warned me about dating a nurse. And that once she is done with school, you will see her less and that her job will be her new family. And nurses do date within their work alot especially when they spend so much time with their co-workers and doctors. I told them I’m not worried and she said that she would never do that to me.

One day we had a disagreement and she was worried that I would break up with her over that and I told her that I would NEVER break up with her UNLESS she hurt me or betrayed my trust. Those are the only 2 reasons why I would break up with her. If we have issues, it can be fixed but intentional harming and unfaithfulness could not be fixed as it is very damaging. So now she completely understands that I would never leave her over petty arguments.

Fast forward to December 2016. She has been doing her work experience at a hospital and she is starting to get to know her co-workers. We get into an argument about something and she confesses to me that she said this to a co-worker “I’m having problems with my boyfriend and I want to let you know that I find you attractive”. Even though she said that his response was that “I’m flattered but I don’t date co-workers.” My heart sank. It was an indescribable feeling as I’ve never been cheated on before. Keep in mind, this is what you call “Emotional Cheating”. It is when a partner shares secrets with someone they are attracted to and acts upon the idea of being with someone else. Learning about her actions, destroyed me. We fought about it and she admitted she made a mistake but in the end and she moved out.

I missed her so much I broke my own rule. I said that I would only break up with someone if they cheated on me. She did cheat on me but I still wanted to be with her. But we lived separately and continued dating. Fast forward to July 2017, 7 months after the first act of unfaithfulness, I finally found the strength within myself to forgive her and to forget the past. Once I have decided to forgive her, I made a promise to myself to never bring up the cheating situation with her. We would never talk about it as if it never happened.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, I finally tell her that I forgave her about the cheating in December last year but then she reveals this new bit of news. “I have been avoiding the guy I told you about who I work with but I recently saw him at a birthday party and I find that I’m still attracted to him.” Basically, she wanted us to break up so that she can have a chance with him. I died again. We finally broke up.

But I still miss the hell out of her. I know that I can no longer forgive her for this 2nd offense (with the same guy). In fact, I am taking back the first time I forgave her. I should have listened to my friend’s warning about dating nurses. I could say that it was my own fault but she even said to me that I don’t have to worry. Her only excuse is that, it just happened, I can’t control my feelings. YES YOU CAN. I work in video production, I work with attractive models and beautiful actresses all the time. I interact with them and give them direction but I don’t allow myself to pursue anything because I can stay loyal and I thought I had an awesome and faithful girl. Yes those people I work with are attractive but that’s it. It doesn’t mean that I allow myself to become attracted to them. That’s part of what makes up a loyal partner.

Anyways, this is what happened to me for dating a nursing student. I installed Tinder and deleted it instantly after I couldn’t believe how many nurses were on there. Maybe it is hard for them to keep relationships because of the tough schedules and the “options”. I have nothing against nurses in general but from this point on, I would never date one ever again.

We are still friends and unfortunately, I’m so weak that I still think we could have a chance together. I actually am completely aware that it is over but I can’t seem to get her out of my system. It is not easy letting go.

Hey Alex,

Thanks for sharing.

Before I give you my take on your situation let me preface with what I understand on the topics of cheating and finding other people attractive.

Cheating to me means betraying your partner’s trust. Doing something that you promised you wouldn’t do or something that they would not approve of you doing. What that is depends on where you draw the line TOGETHER. If you both agree that kissing other people is okay, then kissing does not constitute cheating. If you both agree that telling someone you’re attracted to them is going too far, then that constitutes cheating.

Her actions in and of themselves do not constitute cheating. There is no objective label “emotional cheating”. If her actions can be considered cheating it’s because she violated an agreement both of you made not to cross a certain line.

Having said that, her initial actions sounds like the actions of someone trying to push an interaction forwards towards more intimacy & more sexual tension and signaling sexual availability. I think it’s fair to be alarmed by that. Not so much because it’s a transgression of some line but because it’s an indication that this person wants to create intimacy and sexual tension with someone else.

The second “offense” I would not classify as an offense at all.

She’s (still) attracted to this guy and she wants to give that a shot. It sounds like she was open, honest and respectful about this to you. I respect that.

I tend to agree with her that you can’t control how you feel and I’m not sure why you think that you are able to control who you’re attracted to. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be posting here now would you? You would just turn off your attraction to her. Clearly that’s not how attraction works.

That being said, the one thing we do tend to have some control over is our actions. We can feel one thing, but then choose not to act on it.

In her case, however, it sounds like she chose to act on her feelings for this man by disclosing them to him as well as disclosing her relationship troubles to him. If there’s anything on her part that you can bemoan, it’s that.

All in all it sounds like she feels so strongly for this guy that she’s willing to sacrifice what you have together for a chance with him. (There could be more going on with her, but that’s what we know).

I think the way you’re framing this whole thing is making you suffer excessively.

You say you can “never forgive” her, yet in the same breath you say you’re “weak” and think you can “still have a chance together.” That to me sounds like you want to be tough but you’re not acknowledging that you’re in pain.

Underneath anger invariably there is pain

Then, regarding forgiveness. Not forgiving her, and rolling back your first forgiveness (which is nonsense btw man), that only affects you. That only makes you bitter. That only makes you hold on to this like a painful experience that’s going to cloud your days. There’s no benefit to you.

Just let yourself be hurt. You’re losing someone you love. That hurts. But your anger is just masked pain. It’s creating different forms of suffering for you.

Bottom line is you still love her, but she doesn’t want to be with you. That hurts. But almost everyone reading this has also been there.

Stop being friends, it’s not going to be possible. Go no contact. Open a new chapter in your life. Get in touch with your pain. Learn the lessons that are here for you.

All the best.

Jesse

My finacé broke up with me

Hi Jesse.

A month ago my fiancé dropped the bomb on me that she’s not ready for marriage and wants to be single and independent. We’d been together for exactly two years and two months and shared the most amazing memories of my life. She was always completely loyal and I thought she was always honest with me. Before her I was never able to commit to someone 100% but with her I was sure from day one. She had a few flaws as do we all such as not easily able to accept criticism or being responsible enough to look after a job (went through 5 jobs in two years and obviously I shared her stresses). I loved her and accepted her although sometimes stressful and frustrating I gave everything I had to always support her to the best of my ability.

A month before the breakup she began to spend a lot of alone time with a mutual friend of ours. Going for night drives and always talking non stop. They have a lot in common. It’s the first time I’ve ever told her (and him) I was uncomfortable with the friendship and want them to stop spending time together alone. He said no worries he respects that but she was continuously defensive saying she’s done nothing to ever break my trust. After a week they were at it again. This caused huge fights between us as I felt she wasn’t putting me or our relationship first and I felt blatantly disrespected by both. But still she’d put up fb photos on fb saying she can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together and how lucky she is.

Within a week of having ‘doubts’ and me trying everything humanly possible to let her see how good we were together and the amazing future we can still have, she gave me back my ring. I told her I’ll give her two weeks space to see what single life is like in a final attempt to save us but one week in, he seized the opportunity to ask her out and she said yes. We have all the same friends so it’s impossible to avoid them. I’m shattered, broken, angry and miserable. I smiled in tears and told her I just want her to be safe and happy and that I’ll always love her. She cried and said I was her first love and first of so many things and that will never change.

The wedding was supposed to be in one month. Booked and paid for and so was the honeymoon. I’m trying to stay positive but it feels like my life slipped through my fingers along with her.. I’ve lost 10 kg and have dreamt about her every night so obviously I’m struggling badly with sleep.. nothing I’m trying is helping me feel better.
Thank you

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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?”.