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regaining trust after cheating/ “cheating”


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I have never had a great relationship with romantic relationships and trust. Long story short, the culmination of this is being sexually assaulted by my best friend in 2017. That destroyed my trust, obviously, he was my best friend. I have been through counseling to work on that and forgive myself for the assault, but I feel like I have not made as much progress with trust and love in general.

The challenge I am facing revolves around this issue I still have with myself. To recap, I met a guy in August, Bob. Bob and I are two peas in a pod. Extremely similar, but different enough to have fun and keep it interesting. Back in August, we decided not to date because he didn't see himself "settling down" with anyone. He was the first person I had consensual sex with. So, we made an agreement: keep doing what we were doing (spending nights together, being there for each other),  but agree to tell each other if we were going to hook up with someone else. 

In September, he broke that rule. He brought a girl from home to our college and hooked up with her. I was obviously upset, heartbroken. He apologized profusely, said he didn't think I meant beforehand, and he told me after. So we clarified the deal: beforehand, we would tell each other. He also told me then that he thought he could date me, and being with someone else made him realize it. 

In October, we talked about it again and he said he did not want to date me. He didn't see himself settling down. We still never hooked up with others, only each other.  We still continued to spend the night together and everything stayed the same. 

In January, Bob told me that he had treated me terribly and he wanted to do better. Not much changed. In February, I kind of thought there was no chance, so I would look elsewhere, but not go too crazy because I didn't think I wanted a relationship with anyone else. I met a nice guy named joe, and we were talking a little bit, so he invited me to go out with his friends for his birthday on Wednesday. My feelings all culminated in a Tuesday night, the day before I was asked to go out with Joe one night, I left bobs room to go to the bathroom and when I came back, his door was locked. I asked to come in, and he said he had work to do. So, I asked if I could do work with him, and he said no. That hurt me, so I left. I told joe I would go out with him and his friends, and I had a great time. 

The next week, February 25, joe asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. On February 27, bob asked to talk. He told me he had feelings for me and he's sure its too late, but he wanted to let me know. I should have told him I was dating joe, but I didn't. So I told joe about it on Sunday, and told him he had nothing to worry about. 

bob then became open and vulnerable with me: I had never seen him cry before. He told me one of his biggest regrets were about me: he wished he had never hooked up with someone else because it hurt me, he hated that he didn't appreciate me because now he felt like I was gone. I told him I wasn't, and I was still here, but I was trying to make a decision between him and joe. Internally I was, but externally I was dating joe. 


I can't count how many times Bob asked me if I had a boyfriend. I always said no. About three weeks into dating Joe, Bob and I had sex. Throughout the time joe and I dated, Bob and I continued to hook up. He asked me if I had sex with Joe and I said no. But soon after I did. joe and I had sex twice, but Bob and I were still hooking up. 

On March 22, Bob told me that he loved me. I told him that I love him too. At that time, we've started making plans for next semester. I told him that right now, it's Joe, but after that, it's him. So bob and I continued as we were: he was very lovey, appreciative, would randomly tell me I look good, and would make sure to kiss me at every chance he could. And I loved it all. But I was still dating joe. 

joe asked me if I should worry about Bob, and I told him no. I lied to him every time he asked me. I lied to both of them so many times to keep happiness for myself. 

Bob still felt like I was lying, and he was right. But I told him that I wasn't. Throughout this whole time, I have been having panic attacks as I struggled with all of the lies I told. 

This past Friday, he and I went out together and had a great time. Bob is friends with one of Joes employees, and he snapchatted a picture of us together to her. She asked, "is that (me)? That's joe's girlfriend." bob asked her if she was certain, and she said yes and that he talks about me all the time. bob messaged joe on Instagram and said they needed to talk, and joe never responded. 

bob went into joe’s work and asked to talk to him. He said he was busy. So Bob asked, "hey, is (me) your girlfriend?" And joe told him yes. So they talked everything out: Joe said we were dating the whole time, and Bob said that I told him we weren't and that I was still trying to choose. Joe called me, called me a *** multiple times (something I take very personally, as people called me that after I  was assaulted and Joe knew that), and we broke up. I called bob and he came over to be with me. I told him I love him, and he told me he has shut back down emotionally and he hasn't thought about it. However, him being there should tell me a lot about how he feels about me. 

We talked about it a little more later, and he asked me why all of this was hitting me now. I told him it wasn't I've wrestled with this the whole time, that's why I've had so many panic attacks. He told me at this point, he doesn't trust me at all, and I was the person I trusted most outside of his best friend but I broke that. 

So now he's back to not being lovey, appreciative, etc. which I understand, but it still hurts. Every time I leave him, I hug him and tell him I love him, and he answers with "I sure hope so." So that gives me hope. I wrote him a letter telling him how sorry I was and how much we've been through together and I hope we can get through this too. 

He told me he is concerned that if we date, I would do this to him too. I told him that this is a vastly different situation, I got into a relationship with someone I didn't want and didn't break it off for the person I wanted. Had I never known about his feelings, I would have been content with Joe for a time and not ended up with him anyways, but we would have broken up for other reasons. I told him I don't ever see this happen, as this is one of my biggest regrets and I hate that I did this to him. I hate I did it to joe too, but I feel less bad because of how he reacted after.

I hug joe and tell him I love him, we've held hands a little, but we don't kiss or spend the night together (it's only been two days, I know). 

So, all of this is to say, how do I rebuild this? It's hard because we are leaving in a week for summer, and we won't see each other until August. I want to kiss him and spend the night with him again at least once more before then, but I know I can't push that. But he's the person I love, and I want to rebuild this and gain his trust back and reassure him that this will never happen again. I know that will take a lot of work from me, and he has to be accepting and open to it, but I know that it will also take a lot of work together.

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I'm really not sure what Bob expected, as he kept telling you that he was not into settling down - into a relationship.

That's a good way of pushing someone away, which I feel he had done.

But, you had feelings for him, no matter what was going on.

But, you chose to move onto Joe, with all this going on with Bob, (and knew in time you two would fall apart?).  

So, seems like, in the end, you ran back to Bob - who has been hurt with all of this And YOU have caused your own self a lot of stress!

Now, how you work on fixing this? maybe be a bit hard, since you two will be separate for a while- thru summer break.

I am really not sure IF the trust can be built up again...Unless you get him to understand your point of view and explain to him that he should know you as 'not a cheater', but faithful.

Just, give it time & hope, he can get over this.  if not, you will know.

40 minutes ago, hatson22 said:

I have been through counseling to work on that and forgive myself for the assault, but I feel like I have not made as much progress with trust and love in general.

In the meanwhile... how about you turn your focus more onto yourself for a while, with this problem?

No harm in sticking it out 'single mode' as we continue to work on ourselves - and try to get better.

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i plan on focusing on myself a lot and going to counseling and working more on myself. over the summer, i just have to show Bob that i love him. i can’t push the blame onto him because i lied to him about it so many times, and all he wanted was honesty. I just have to show him that it won’t happen again by only wanting him, not even looking elsewhere.

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Sorry to hear this. Is there counselling on campus? Having multiple FWB relationships with these types of losers is not helping you. 

Talk to a therapist about these bad choices and what you would  like out of a dating situation.

All these nebulous situationships revolving around lying, verbal abuse, distrust, etc. is only going to further your poor self esteem.

Also get to a clinic for STD testing. Living a high risk lifestyle both physically and emotionally has consequences. 

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49 minutes ago, hatson22 said:

In October, we talked about it again and he said he did not want to date me. He didn't see himself settling down. We still never hooked up with others, only each other. 

Okay, but what about all of this?

What does he expect, when HE is the one who keeps saying this?

Yet, you keep going back.. to this. 😕   This isn't good... and sadly, you got caught up between 2 men.

What happens if he says something like this, again?  You feel you should just keep pleasing him?  I really don't get what he expects here...

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Just now, Wiseman2 said:

Sorry to hear this. Is there counselling on campus? Having multiple FWB relationships with these types of losers is not helping you. 

Talk to a therapist about these bad choices and what you would  like out of a dating situation.

All these nebulous situationships revolving around lying, verbal abuse, distrust, etc. is only going to further your poor self esteem.

Also get to a clinic for STD testing. Living a high risk lifestyle both physically and emotionally has consequences. 

we have all been tested, bob and i got tested together in october and he was my only sexual partner in history. jim was tested shortly before we started dating so he is clean. 

 

there is counseling on campus, and i have an appointment on tuesday! 

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1 minute ago, SooSad33 said:

Okay, but what about all of this?

What does he expect, when HE is the one who keeps saying this?

Yet, you keep going back.. to this. 😕   This isn't good... and sadly, you got caught up between 2 men.

What happens if he says something like this, again?  You feel you should just keep pleasing him?  I really don't get what he expects here...

I don’t really know what he expects here either, but he told me that he loved me and feelings changed and he proved it every day for the time i was dating jim. after he found out i lied, he closed off again.

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Do you mind me asking what's the appeal of Bob? Do you both share the same love of things or interests? Most of the time you've known him it's like he's got a spell on you and you keep chasing after something unattainable and unavailable. 

As soon as you pull away, Bob starts to want you. I mean.. really? I wouldn't buy it even if someone paid me. 

There are people like this who only realize what they have/had when it's gone. Bob never treated you well. He only started to match your interest in him when he sensed that you were becoming emotionally unavailable. Then you got sucked in again by Bob smooth talking. 

You should have got rid of him way back when and not agreed to a NSA type of relationship. That was your first mistake in having low self-esteem.

The second was dating two men at once without being honest that you were seeing others. 

And the third is still chasing after Bob. 

The cycle keeps repeating itself. I think the bridge is burnt with this one and your self-esteem needs work. Take a time out. Spend time with friends. Give dating a break and don't hand your heart out on a platter for anyone so easily. 

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1 hour ago, hatson22 said:

we have all been tested, bob and i got tested together in october and he was my only sexual partner in history. jim was tested shortly before we started dating so he is clean. 

 

there is counseling on campus, and i have an appointment on tuesday! 

Are you not using condoms with people?

I believe that HIV can take months to show on a test.  Get tested again.  

Your behavior is dangerous, both mentally and physically.   

Bob never really wanted you, he simply didn't want someone taking his available sex away.  Girl, don't settle for FWBs and stop lying to people. You are not a trustworthy individual.    Very messy!

Edited by Hollyj
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Bob is not really into you. He's just greedy and he was jealous that you found another guy. While you had nobody else, he didn't want to date you. He told you that many times and he just wanted sex. Then he realised something was going on with another guy, so he got jealous and possessive and he went and ruined your thing with Joe. Bob had no place to go into Joe's work and confront him because Bob was NOT your boyfriend. He didn't want to be your boyfriend, he told you so himself. He wanted to be free to hook up with other girls too. He actually did hook up with another girl, so he was seeing other people too. Bob sounds like a total self-absorbed a-hole. What he did was wrong because that wasn't his place to say anything to Joe. Seriously, get rid of Bob. He is a total jerk and he doesn't really care about you anyway. Then once you're well and truly rid of Bob, you can try dating someone new.

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What you did to Joe was terrible and I hope if you ever run into him you sincerely apologize.  

Bob is using you for sex and companionship and nothing else.  He keeps you on a string and when you wonder to far off he tells you what you want to hear and he reels you back in.  You are being used and deceived. 

Use the time away from Bob to open your eyes at what is really going on here.  He is not a good person and he certainly doesn't love you and never has. 

Don't waste your time trying to rebuild trust with Bob, spend that energy on yourself and how you were so easily manipulated by Bob.

Lost

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9 hours ago, hatson22 said:

There is counseling on campus, and i have an appointment on tuesday! 

Excellent. Start there. It will help tremendously to unpack and sort some of this stuff out.

It will help with your self respect and self esteem.

It can also help you replace self-defeating thoughts and behaviors with productive thoughts and behaviors.

Certainly, being the campus pincushion is not the road to happiness for you, when what you want is a loving respectful relationship.

Edited by Wiseman2
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Decide whether you are casual material or relationship material.

Then behave accordingly, and make choices accordingly.

It makes no sense to conflate the two areas. It just makes a mess.

If you want FWB, then anything someone does outside the scope of your hookups is off limits to even know about, much less judge.

If you want a relationship, then messing round with anyone who is not ALSO relationship material makes no sense.

Pick a path, stay clear on it, and stay true to your SELF and your foundational choice.

Pretzel your standards for NO ONE, and you won't get confused.

Head high.

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