My boyfriend and I broke up just over a year ago because he admitted that he’d cheated on me after being together for 4 years. We’d been going through a rough patch in our relationship due to various things, but it was still the worst thing that has ever happened to me. He promised it was only a one time mistake and I know he hates himself for it, especially as I decided to end things and move out. Since then, neither of us have been with anyone else, we stay in constant contact, and I miss him like crazy. Is it stupid that I’m considering forgiving him for his indiscretion? I really want us to be together again but I’m not sure if I can fully trust him again. What do you think I should do?
A relationship such as you and your boyfriend have enjoyed has its good side and its bad side. On the one hand, you two have been together long enough to know each other in ways that only time allows. You have a history, you have developed habits and behaviors with each other, you have a knowledge of each other that takes experience and patience to develop. On the other hand, that same experience has resulted in a situation that is painful for you and probably for him, if your assessment of his feelings is on the mark. The period of what you would consider to be the good part of your relationship seems to have been nearly canceled out by his infidelity, and trust that has been broken is very difficult to mend, as you know.
It sounds like you have some guilty feelings for moving out after his indiscretion. You probably see your actions as a punishment of sorts, and you naturally feel an aversion to causing another person – especially someone you love – pain of any kind. And yet it was something that you had to do under the circumstances, and something you should in no way feel regret about doing.
Your description of the present state of affairs between you is interesting – you say, for example, that he hates himself for what he did, and the resulting consequences. Does he demonstrate that he is concerned as much or more about the effect of his actions on you? Is his self-loathing the only result of his breaking the bond of trust, or does he show that he understands how deeply you were damaged, and how far away the goal of making everything better between you lies in the future? These are important considerations, and only you know the real answers to these questions.
And of course it is your response to questions like these that will lead you to doing the right thing for yourself. You say that you are not certain that you can repair the broken trust that you once had in him, and that is a crucial statement. You need to think about why that is the case, and about how he can change and make progress towards a future – not only you. You can only do so much to fix your relationship, and he has to understand that his part in this consists of more than just hating himself. He has to do some real work and put in a lot of effort if things are ever going to get back on track. As they say, to make a mistake is only human, but to forgive is divine. See if he can prove that he is sincere and is willing to do whatever it takes to make you feel confidence in him, and then you can forgive him and move forward.