A couple of years ago, my boyfriend cheated on me and while I was extremely hurt, we agreed to work through it and continue our relationship. Here are 10 rules I made (and he agreed to) after he was unfaithful.
He couldn’t drink alcohol without me. Since he’d been drinking the night that it happened, we both accepted that his lack of sobriety was a contributing factor. While I agree it doesn’t excuse his behavior, I do believe it played a role. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and helps you do things you might not do if you’re sober. Since he didn’t want to give up drinking altogether, we made a simple rule: no drinking more than one drink without me present. In other words, no drinking alone or with your not-a-very-good-influence friend.
He had to text the woman he cheated with. If you’re wondering why I would want him to text her, allow me to explain: I asked him to text her one time, explaining that it was a mistake and he’s in a relationship. I also asked that he tell her to never contact him again and explain that he’s not interested in ever hearing from her. Additionally, I wanted him to do in front of me so I could see that he did it. It went pretty well on our end but she was kind of mad. Oh well!
He had to block her on everything. After the final text, I asked him to block her on every possible platform. He blocked her phone number, Facebook account, Instagram account, and e-mail. I also had him block her on PayPal, Google, and WhatsApp. There needed to be zero communication and zero temptation for communication.
We had to go to couples therapy. I told him we needed to go to couples therapy to really work through the cheating and move past it. I didn’t want us to have a relationship in which I couldn’t trust him, and I wasn’t sure how to rebuild that trust. This is where we needed an expert to help us.
He had to go to individual therapy. I also asked that he go to individual therapy to figure out the “why” of the situation—why he cheated, why he betrayed my trust, why he lied. Was it a coping mechanism? Did he do it to feel good about himself? Did he do it to act out in the relationship? Does he have self-esteem issues? Issues with lying? I needed him to find out and then work through those things on his own. I also figured he needed someone to talk to besides the person he hurt—someone a little more neutral to the situation.
I got access to his phone at any time. I was allowed to go through his phone any time, no questions asked. There was no password or code and he couldn’t hide his phone or take it with him when he left the room. He was more than happy to comply since he had nothing to hide.
He deleted all social media for a while. Since he connected with her on social media, we decided it would be easier if he just deleted all social media for a while. He didn’t delete his accounts, he just deleted the apps from his phone. That way he wouldn’t be tempted by it. He had them on his tablet and could easily check them after work, but it would be when he was with me. He ended up liking this a lot and kept it that way for a long time since he felt like it helped him have fewer distractions at work.
He had to express true remorse. This wasn’t necessarily a rule that I made for him but more for myself. I promised myself that if he didn’t express true remorse, I wouldn’t continue the relationship. Sometimes after people cheat, they make excuses or only seem sorry that they caught. Sometimes they seem more upset by how the cheating affects them and how it makes them look than how it affected you. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case with my boyfriend and we were able to work things out. One of the major reasons we were able to do this was because he was able to show me that he was truly sorry for what he’d done and wouldn’t do it again.
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