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Sex + Relationships

Real Live College Guy: Will He Ever Forgive Me for Cheating?

We all need a little guidance now and then, so whether you’re stressed about a fling gone wrong, a recently wrecked relationship or how to handle a stage-five clinger, Real Live College Guy Dale is here to help you navigate the college dating scene.

Last year, I cheated on my boyfriend of two years—it was a one-time mistake that will never happen again. After months of talking, he’s decided to give me a second chance—but I can’t figure out if we’re working on something that’s already over or if we’ll really be able to get over this. Things feel normal when we’re alone together, but he isn’t affectionate in public like he used to be and I feel like I’m initiating everything in our relationship, whether we’re just hanging out or going on dates. How long is “normal” for a guy to get over a mistake like mine? And at what point should I accept that the relationship won’t recover and that we should just move on? —Rebuilding at Rutgers


Rutgers,

The problem here is that you think that there’s some standard time for getting over someone cheating on you—that there’s some kind of statute of limitations on getting over something like that. Simply put, that’s not true.

Trust isn’t something that is easily gained, though it can surely be easily lost. The unfortunate fact here is that you cheated on him, even once, and it seems like you believe he should have to forgive you at some point.

In reality, his trust in you—along with his ability to be as intimate with you as he used to be—might be forever damaged. That’s just how it is for some people. There isn’t a specific timeline for recovery when it comes to these things.

So where does that leave you two? At some point, you’re going to need to sit down and talk about the changes that you feel are occurring and where you think they’re stemming from. Confront the fact that you feel this way and address whatever feelings he might be suppressing. Maybe he does want to be with you, but maybe he can’t exactly forgive you just yet. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to break up with you because you’ve been together for two years and, even if he knows it’s over, bringing himself to leave you would still be painful.

The thing with cheating is that we—the people who get cheated on—don’t just lose feelings for the cheater overnight. We were with you for a reason, we loved you for a reason and for whatever reason you decided to forgo that trust. As mad as we might be, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place because we want to hate you, but we fell for you for a reason. That reason usually doesn’t just disappear… at least it didn’t when I found out my ex cheated on me.

His trust may not be able to be regained. That isn’t to say that he isn’t trying to trust you, but it isn’t an easy battle. How long you wait for his trust to be rebuilt is entirely up to you. Are you comfortable waiting for him? Is your dedication to the relationship that strong? Before he can fully trust you again, he may need to hear that you understand why he might be pulling away. You have to decide if this guy is someone you’re willing to wait for.

Rutgers, I think you already know what the answer really is. From what I’m seeing here I think it’s time for you two to take a break. Some time apart might do both of you some good, but before you make that decision, I firmly believe you need to sit him down and have an honest discussion.

I can’t give you an estimate because I’m not him. We all have varying recovery times. Just because you’re sorry it happened doesn’t mean he has to forgive you, and I don’t think he’s reached that point yet.

Fill out my online form.

Dale Lavine is a 21-year-old college junior majoring in Media Studies & Political Science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Outside of Her Campus, his words have been featured in publications such as USA Today College, Esquire, Fearless Men, CoolAppsMan.com, and The Commonwealth Times. When not penning his weekly columns, he enjoys hot showers, naps, Starbucks, and Jameson (neat). Want to know more? Need real-time relationship help? Readers are more than welcome to follow Dale on Twitter (@misterlavine).
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