Dear Chump Lady,
I recently found out that my boyfriend of years, who I lived with, cheated on me with his friend’s ex-girlfriend.
One day after a fight with him, I open my computer and noticed that he was still signed into his facebook account. Already mad and suspicious of cheating, I go looking for messages from a specific girl and sure enough, the proof is there in black and white. I truly can’t describe to you the flood of emotions I felt. I immediately grabbed one of his things and started bashing it to pieces. I must have blacked out for a moment because next thing I knew, my hands were raw and bleeding.
I kicked him out that night, but continued a heated back and forth of trying to get him admit to it. I already had the undeniable proof, so his continued lying felt like little jabs to an already gushing wound.
One of the major blows from all this is that I really didn’t see it coming. He was the most loving and caring boyfriend I ever had and I always thought he cared a little bit more for me than I did for him. So when I found this out, I was in an elevated level of shock and disbelief. I’m having a harder time losing my best friend and accepting that he wasn’t the person I truly thought he was. Sometimes when he’s contacting me and professing his love and regret, I feel like I’m punishing myself more by not just giving in to him to ease my pain. “Because after all I hurt so bad because I wanted to be with him right? So why not just stop being stubborn and be with him?” I know that’s bullshit, but sometime I think that maybe it’d be easier and less painful to keep him in my life as a friend to avoid the shock of losing all contact.
I’m pretty sure that all I can do is bite the bullet and hurt a lot for a really long time, but do you have any advice for when my emotions turn from anger and disgust to nostalgia and longing?
Sweetie, “anger and disgust” are your friends right now. The fact that you feel fury and disgust are indications that big warning signals are going off, trying to protect your well-being. LISTEN to yourself. Nostalgia and longing, on the other hand, are the bargaining stage of grief, as is thinking you could keep him as a friend. Anger and bargaining/denial are duking it out right now. You’re at war with yourself. I get it.
Look, cheating on you is either a deal breaker, or it’s not. I’m pretty clear here at Chump Lady which side of the fence I fall on — it’s a deal breaker. You sound young. You’re not married to him, thank goodness. That means you don’t have a lot to lose if you walk away from this investment. Yes you have shared history of some years together, you lived together, you considered him your “best friend,” but you do not have the harder ties of adult life like children, a mortgage, aging in-laws. If you had those things, I would still shout LEAVE! But I’m just trying to point out to you, if you stay with guy who cheats on you, the sunk costs just get worse.
Oh, but he’s going to change. And he’s sorry.
He’s young. Maybe. But IMO it’s still a very bad risk. As I say here you can’t unring that bell, or unfuck that whore. He has cheated on you. And as long as you stay with him, you’d have to do the mental gymnastics every day to live with that reality — and trust me on this — that is its own kind of hell. Not trusting your “best friend.” Realizing that a guy who can appear so loving, is quite capable of stabbing you in the back. You’ve got everything to gain by leaving this guy, and not much to lose other than your hurt feelings and humiliation.
But you’re losing your “best friend.” No, you’re not. Best friends don’t do this, JMR. And going forward I want you to try and be more savvy and less chumpy. (We’ve all been there. You’re among chumps, here.) It stuck out to me that you wrote — you always thought he was a bit more in love with you than you were with him. To me that could mean, you guys weren’t a good match — things were a bit lopsided in terms of attraction or interest. In which case, yeah, maybe he started sniffing around. He’s still, however, at fault here because if that were the case, he should’ve spoken up and broken up, before he cheated. He didn’t do that. He’s gutless. Gutless people don’t make good partners.
Or he could’ve cheated to get your attention and change the power dynamic, so that you’re doing the humiliating dance of “pick me” — strike again! Idiots who want you to dance for them make bad partners. Another reason to dump him.
Lesson for you? If you find yourself in a relationship that feels lopsided and unreciprocated — this is not the relationship for you. Move on!
Another way I could read your line about him being a bit more in love with you than you were with him, is that he’s always been a fake. I would’ve said that about my serial cheating ex-husband before I discovered him cheating. Here’s a red flag I didn’t pick up on when I was dating him — he was rather over the top in his affections for me. He called me all. the. frigging. time. (Why? Now, I see it was to figure out my whereabouts and keep me on the hook, so he could eat cake.) I felt a bit bad at the time that my love for him wasn’t as exuberant as his love for me. Know why? Because normal people don’t go from zero to 60 in their affections. Healthy relationships take time to develop. If you read about narcissists, there is a term for this phenomenon called “love bombing.” It feels AWESOME. But so does cocaine, apparently. Both are artificial highs, addictive, and really, really bad for you. Love bombing is to ensure your buy in, so the narcissist can later abuse you.
If your boyfriend is one of these kind of creeps, he’s going to try to get you back on the hook after the break up with more love bombing. It felt so good, don’t you miss that? Thus the nostalgia and the longing. The rational part of your head is going to remember — no, he just cheated on me with Ms. Trampypants. The reptilian part of your addicted brain is going to chase that high.
If that rings true, JMR? Kick him like a drug. (Or just kick him. Sounds like he could use a swift kick.) Either way, kiddo, you need to end this. Good people are out there — hold out for one. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, don’t waste it on this guy. ((Hugs))