Dear Tippy Maple,
My boyfriend and I broke up after he cheated on me, but he left her and now wants me back. I still have feelings for him, and we’ve started hanging out again and have even had sex several times, but I don’t feel like I can trust him enough to be his girlfriend again. I know I’m being ridiculous, but I don’t know what to do … Help!
Dear Feels Torn,
The short and sassy response I could give would be to just listen to “I Will Survive,” because Gloria definitely has some strong opinions on what you should do in this situation. But since I recognize the problem of having feelings for someone even after they have treated you badly, I’ll try to be a little less cynical and give some helpful advice. Before I go any further, I have to admit that I’m a lot better at sex advice than I am at relationship advice, but I’ll try to do what I can.
From personal and friends’ experiences, I can give you a few reasons why people cheat. The first is that cheating happens when people enter a relationship they shouldn’t be in in the first place, either because they are insecure or because they want to be in a relationship just for the sake of having a relationship. So cheating happens in those relationships because one of the partners was never committed or enthusiastic enough about the original relationship. A second explanation is that when there are problems in a relationship, one of the partners might cheat to get attention or to spite their partner, and even if the partner never finds out, there is still a twisted sense of satisfaction. A final theory is that humans aren’t naturally monogamous, so exclusive relationships are likely to fail.
That being said, I don’t know which, if any, of the above reasons explains why your boyfriend cheated on you. But regardless of his motivation, he broke your trust, which will be hard to work through. That being said, I think you and your boyfriend could get back together if you’re both committed to working on building a better foundation in the second round of your relationship.
It sounds like you’re in a good place right now: Spending time with and hooking up with your ex without being exclusive or too serious is a good place to start. Ease into things to see if this relationship is still what both of you really want. It might just be that it’s easy and comfortable to revert back into an already established relationship, but your old relationship isn’t something you want to repeat because of the problems that come along with it. Take some time for yourself. You may find that you enjoy being single more than you remembered.
If your boyfriend brings up getting back together (exclusively), and if this is something you want as well, you need to have a serious conversation about what went wrong before. Ask him what problems he had with the relationship, and let him know what things you would like to be improved (besides the cheating). I hate the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” because I don’t think this always has to be true, and in your case, if you two can establish what the conditions were that made him cheat (besides the possibility that he is just a douchebag), then you will both know what to change in the future. But above all else, don’t let him pressure you into getting back together. You don’t owe him anything, so if you do get back together, make sure you aren’t doing it out of a sense of obligation but because it’s really what you want.
Questions, concerns, positions to try? Submit input anonymously to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/372C298.