Hello Dr. Buckingham,
I just read a few of your articles and thought God must’ve sent me in your direction. I am currently dealing with infidelity in my relationship and am having a hard time getting through it.
Here’s my story:
I’ve been dating my now fiancé for 2 1/2 years now. We became exclusive a year ago. I just recently found out that he had been cheating on me throughout our whole relationship (exclusive and dating). Not only had he been cheating but he fathered a child who will soon be a year old. He never told me about this, she reached out to me recently, she also told me that she believes she is currently pregnant by him as well. Well I just had a child by him and we recently became engaged. I’m completely heart broken and shattered. He came clean, apologized and swears he does not love her, care for her or want to be with her. He has never seen the child, which she confirmed and he only continued to have sex with her because she threatened to make his life miserable. He went to see a counselor, we then went to counseling together but stopped because I recently had our child. We have been trying to work things out since. (I found all of this out the end of August 2015). He vowed to never see her again and to be truthful and honest from now on.
So here we are still working on us 3 months later and bam, now I just recently found out he’s been flirting with a woman (and other women) via social media throughout this whole ordeal. This one particular woman was one of the women he was seeing while we were dating. I am so hurt and confused all over again. I confronted him, he admitted he flirts but only because she had low self esteem and he was trying to make her feel better about herself smdh. He’s had no recent physical contact with her but he has gone out with her in the past and he claims they never had sex. I knew he was a flirt because that’s how we started talking but I didn’t think he flirted with others especially once we became serious. I love him, I know he loves me but I now have all of this constantly on my mind. I want to work it out for the sake of our child but I have no trust for him at all. I can’t live with this feeling of not being good enough, him possibly having 2 kids on the side, and now emotional infidelity via social media. I’m so confused and hurt, I don’t know what to do. What would you suggest? Can he be trusted in the future? Should I Give My Fiancé his Ring Back and Move On?
Sleepless in Charm City
Dear Sleepless in Charm City,
I understand your desire to work on your relationship because of your children. However, you should definitely think twice about marrying your fiancé. While none of us are perfect, your fiancé has some serious character flaws. He lies and engages in deceptive behavior. Also, he has birthed children and does not have a relationship with them. Lastly, he does not accept accountability for his behavior and pretends to be a victim (the women will make his life miserable).
In reading your story, I am thinking to myself, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. While love is essential to having a good relationship, it has little meaning if core values are not compatible. Also, be mindful that emotional abuse is typically a precursor to physical abuse. If a person abuses you emotionally it probably will not be long before physical abuse begins.
Love without trust will keep you up at night and feeling miserable. Trust is an essential part of having a healthy relationship because it sets the stage for love to prosper. Believing in and honoring your partner is the greatest gift that you can give in a relationship. Trust allows love to flourish in a relationship because it gives us a feeling of security and confidence. Your fiancé broke trust by lying to you. In all my years of doing therapy, I have never seen a healthy relationship work or last without trust. Understand that trust must be present and mutually expressed in order to have a healthy relationship.
My initial thought would be tell you to give the ring back and move on. You have to think about what is best for you and your children. Things such as integrity, honest and loyalty should not be comprised in a relationship. Also, please seek professional counseling to deal with your emotional pain and ambivalence.