Q: My boyfriend of 4 years and I agreed that we wanted to try a new sexual experience. We had a threesome and when I left early the next morning for work, the two of them were still sleeping. My boyfriend was honest with me later that day and told me that some things happened between him and the other girl after I left. I was shocked because this was not what we had agreed to. He felt like it was okay because he saw it as an “extension from the night before.” I feel betrayed and am still so angry with him 9 months later. He has apologized and swore it will never happen again, but I can’t let it go. He does not seem to understand why I’m still upset. Everytime I try to bring it up now, he just shuts down and says he already apologized a million times. I keep obsessing about it and wondering if I should break up with him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive and forget.
A: Here is the thing about apologies-If someone does something minor and says sorry, that usually is enough for us to feel validated. Something major like betrayal requires much more than, “Sorry, it won’t happen again.” Sure, your boyfriend would love it if it were that easy, but this cuts much deeper. He saw this as a free pass because of the night before, but like you said–This was not what you agreed to. You agreed to an experience that you were a part of. What he chose to engage in was cheating. He took advantage of the situation and is now trying to justify it. In order for you to feel heard, he will need to acknowledge that or try to understand why you feel the way you do. It’s not easy for people to admit when they’re wrong and they tend to get defensive, make excuses or stay in denial.
A true apology has 3 parts
♥The person at fault apologizes.
♥They takes accountability for what they did that hurt you.
♥They reassure you that it will not happen again.
Your guy got 2 out of 3 right, but he is missing the most important part. If he doesn’t admit that he cheated and acknowledge how you feel, then you will never feel that he really “gets” why you’re still carrying this anger with you 9 months later. You may fear he will do it again since he was able to justify it so easily. Can you make him see your side? Maybe, maybe not. You’re not powerless though, there are steps you can take to release the hold this anger has on you.
Anger is usually the surface emotion that is fueled by many other feelings that are swirling underneath-Sadness, hurt, disappointment, fear, shame, embarrassment. Can a couple come back from cheating? Absolutely, but it requires that both people are emotionally invested in working on the relationship. You said your BF shuts down and acts like there is nothing more he can do. He’s emotionally cut off. You have to get real and have a sit down with him. Let him know there is more he can do. It’s time for you to be honest, too and tell him you’re at your breaking point and contemplating leaving him. He needs to understand how serious this is. Then you have to set your boundaries for what is required for you to stay in this relationship. You may need him to be open to hearing you process your feelings and you may need him to work on acknowledging his part in this. No more excuses, just raw honesty if this relationship is going to move forward. This will allow you to work on forgiving him, rebuilding your trust and creating a stronger, healthier relationship. You may even want to see a counselor to help mediate.
If he’s not willing to try or if you go through these steps and still don’t feel any closure about the situation, then it’s on you to make your decision. Don’t stay in this limbo any longer. I heard a really great relationship tip from The Ladies Coach, Christal Fuentes. Forget your expectations and raise your standards. Expecting something from someone else leads to disappointment. I think what she’s saying is we can’t make other people change or be what we need them to be. Standards are what you value and the quality of life you wish to lead. Will you let go of your expectations of your BF and stay with him? Or will you raise your standards and walk away?