Trust Issues, Unavailable Men and Too Much Self-Help

Dear Loveawake,

I had the most wonderful, thoughtful, caring girlfriend. Everything was perfect until she moved to Las Vegas for a job last year and we tried a long-distance relationship. After a few months, we began having problems. We both slept with other people, but I only admitted to kissing another woman. After we got back together and became engaged, the truth came out. Now my girlfriend doesn’t trust me at all, and we’ve been apart for two months because she says she needs space. I’m heartbroken and worried I’m going to lose the best thing that ever happened to me. What can I do to get her back?

  • Aris D.

Dear Aris,

It might feel as though your world is crashing down, but take heart: You’re not the first man to lie about a relationship with another woman. If you marry your girlfriend, your marital bond will endure many trials. Think of this situation as a test to see how you will cope with future troubles in your relationship. No matter what the results are, there’s potential for growth here.

The most important thing to do right now is give your girlfriend the space she has requested. It’s unclear from your letter how frequently you are in touch, who is initiating the contact and whether you are putting pressure on her.

If you are the one always calling and trying to persuade her to come back to you, stop. This approach is likely to have the opposite effect. Truly honest people don't need to talk about their trustworthiness. They show, rather than tell, people that they have integrity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t call her. Just be sure what you say doesn’t make her uncomfortable, and don’t be a pest.

One way you can show your girlfriend that your feelings are genuine is to write her a letter – not an email – confessing what happened and sincerely apologizing. Yes, she already knows what happened, but making the extra effort to write it down and mail it will probably be appreciated. And let’s be honest: One more “I’m sorry” is probably not too many. In the letter, tell her all the reasons you love her and the reasons you regret what you did. Do not beg or cajole her to return. Simply tell your girlfriend what she means to you, and express your wish that she give your relationship another chance.

While your girlfriend is off thinking, you might find it helpful to do the same. It sounds as though once she moved away you both started experimenting with other people fairly quickly. It could be that you were simply looking for solace in the arms of the other woman. However, there may also be some deeper, unresolved issues at play here that warrant investigating

Ask yourself these questions and consider writing the answers down in a journal:

  • Is my girlfriend my first serious love?
  • How many other women have I dated?
  • What’s so great about this relationship?
  • What would I like to change?
  • What will it mean to me if my girlfriend decides not to take me back?
  • What will I do if that happens?

These questions may be difficult to answer. But journaling about them may make it easier for you to see what went wrong and come up with ways to avoid future problems. It might also prepare you to calmly accept your girlfriend’s decision – regardless of which way it goes.

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