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

About Jesse

I’ve been helping guys recover from their breakups since 2012. Work with me to fast-track your recovery.

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