Serial Unfaithfulness

30 Apr

Letterbalm Serial CheaterDear LetterBalm: Two years ago, I ended a long relationship with a difficult man who was chronically unfaithful to me. It took me a long time to find the strength to leave him once and for all, and I feel much better with counseling. I understand why I stayed with him for so long, even though he wasn’t good for me. I’m back in the dating world, but I’ve had real problems trusting men not to cheat on me. I deliberately pushed away two decent guys when I felt they were getting too close, and I never risked getting involved with anyone beyond three or four dates and sex just for fun. Now, I’ve met someone I really like, and he likes me. I’ve been working through my issues with my therapist – I’m feeling calmer and stronger. She says I should discuss my fears with my new boyfriend to set a new precedent for honesty. What can I say to him so he won’t run screaming into the night or think I’m judging him?

–Insecure

Serial cheaters inflict horrifying damage, as you well know. A good many of them skate away unrepentant or unaware of just what reprehensible human beings they are. It’s good that you’re trying to understand what happened to you and put yourself out there again. You need to say something reassuring yet honest to your current man, if for nothing else to start your relationship with good communication. Ms. L.B. thinks you should remember that your previous relationship has made you more aware of who you are and what you want. Keep your conversation light and brief. Don’t over-explain or criticize your ex. Regard your talk as a litmus test of your guy’s maturity: 

Warren, I’m so glad we’re getting along so well. I really enjoy being with you, and I think you’re a good person. I want you to know something that’s important to me. Lies and serial cheating by a previous boyfriend destroyed a long-term relationship and gave me great pain. I don’t want that to happen again. It’s made me realize that I want good communication, and I hope you feel the same. Even if it hurts, I hope we always can be honest with each other.

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