How Do I Make It Right After Cheating on my Boyfriend?
Dear Annie: My boyfriend and I have been together for six years now. Two years ago, I cheated on him, and he found out shortly after when he looked at my phone and saw that I was texting the other guy. At the time, I panicked and said that my best friend, "Deb," had been using my phone. I then reached out to Deb and begged her to cover for me and lie if my boyfriend asked her about it. She did, and he bought the excuse. But a few weeks later, I confessed the truth to him, including the fact that Deb had covered up for me. We've been trying to work past this ever since. I feel awful about my infidelity. It has affected me in ways I never thought it would, just as I know it's affected him very deeply, too. It worsened my depression and anxiety.
On top of the shame I feel for cheating, I have been unable to spend as much time as I'd like with Deb. My boyfriend wants nothing to do with her. Anytime she comes up in conversation, he says that she's fake or a liar. He refuses to hang out with her. This woman has been my best friend for 23 years, and she's very important to me. But he hates it when I spend time with her.
I know that this is all my fault. Annie, what can I do to make it right? -- Regretful Girlfriend
Dear Regretful: It sounds as though your boyfriend has some unresolved feelings over your cheating and he's taking them out on your friend. If you really care about each other, enlist the help of a couples therapist to work through these issues in a healthy way. Otherwise, you'll forever feel guilty; he'll forever feel angry; and the two of you will rack up toxic levels of resentment.
Dear Annie: Your advice to "Believe in Love" was spot on as far as "being single is better than being with someone who doesn't want you."
When on the receiving end of a breakup, it can be hard to understand how your ex can move on so quickly, and we start to overanalyze every little thing that may or may not have contributed to the breakup. "Believe in Love" said, "He's turned to stone and has no remorse." She also asks, "How did this man forget me so quickly?"
It's important to realize the process, for him, started long before he actually spoke the words. It could have been something he'd been thinking about for months, planning the how and where he would break up with her. And all that while, he's been disengaging emotionally and mentally. That is why he has moved on quickly, because the process for him started a long time ago. -- Stuart I.
Dear Stuart: Astute point. And having that context might make it just a little bit easier for the one broken up with to accept.
Dear Annie: Using the word "lost" for someone who has died is a word that we learned not to use in our bereavement group. Our loved ones are not lost. It makes a grieving family member have a very negative emotion. -- Daphne K., Vancouver, Washington
Dear Daphne: The phrasing is so automatic that I'd never given much consideration to its connotations. I really appreciate your bringing it to my attention, and it's something I'll be more cognizant of in the future.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.