My name is Nellie, I’m a 23 year old from South Africa and am now also a chump. Honestly, I’ve been a chump for little over 3 months now when I found out my boyfriend of 5 years has been cheating on me for months, and before that regularly with other girls too. It broke my heart… (It’s still broken). I didn’t expect him to do this to me. Problem is when I found out, I tried to sort through everything very quickly and work things out. So I “forgave” him as he acted out the part of being remorseful and we even went on a holiday to try work things through.
Needless to say, nothing I did or tried has worked because I realise now that he doesn’t care. I’ve decided I don’t want to live like this anymore, but I also fear my life will be empty without him. (He took up a big part of my world). I DON’T want to backslide either, because I know now that he can never love me fully because he’s busy loving himself.
Any concise advice on how I can stay the course?
Your life won’t be empty without him. Your life will be SANE without him.
What you’ve got here is the classic “Trust that they suck” issue. You’re only three months in. You’ve been with this jerk since you were 18. You are grieving who you thought he was and what you thought your life was going to be with him. Grief just has to be slogged through. I’m sorry. As I say here a lot, infidelity hurts like a motherfucker — but the pain is finite.
Think with your business brain. Do the cost/benefit analysis, Nellie. If you take him back, you’re in for MORE pain. You can either believe his baseless apology or believe his actions — he’s been cheating “regularly.”
He didn’t have a character transplant — he was caught. So, your choices are to pretend he’s a different person and carry on with soul-killing superficiality, (see “Holidays with Cheaters”), or dump him.
I vote dump him.
If you take him back, or go snorkeling in Aruba with him, or pretend you’re “friends” (with or without benefits) you’re sending him the message that you’ll continue to be his chump. Your actions are saying what he didn’t wasn’t That Bad that you won’t continue to have him in your life.
So Nellie, this is about you and YOUR values. When you flounder and miss him, ask yourself — who are you? What does Nellie stand for?
For starters, don’t confer your forgiveness so easily, especially when he has done nothing whatsoever to make amends. Aren’t you worth more than a holiday?
If you want to forgive him, regardless of whether he’s done the work to earn it, forgive him at a great distance, after years of no contact, when your heart has healed. (We call that “meh” around here, and you can achieve meh just fine without forgiving him. The point is simply to be indifferent to him and not wish him dead.)
But that’s all for the advanced class, Nellie. You’re in the just found out stage. Your job now is to stay NO CONTACT and take good care of yourself.
Let’s start with that “empty” life. You’re 23. Your life is bursting with possibilities. If it isn’t? Get on that. Finish a degree, work a job, have fun with your friends, travel, read, volunteer, adopt a puppy, go see more of that beautiful country you live in (say hi to Cape Town for me, and Hillbrow, and the ocean, and the protea). Go figure out who Nellie is and what Nellie enjoys doing.
Honey, I’m old enough to be your mom, and if you were my daughter, I’d give you a big hug and tell you that this man-child doesn’t deserve your heart. He doesn’t deserve the best of you. There are a billion people on this planet and a bunch of them are GOOD people. Devote yourself to people who are are worthy of you, folks who do reciprocity and respect. The minute a potential mate doesn’t prove himself worthy, don’t be afraid to dump him, because remember there are a BILLION other people.
And you’re a very busy young woman with a very full life. No time for losers.
((Hugs)) Nellie. Know your worth.