I Cheated and I Can’t Cope

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I recently cheated on my boyfriend of three years with his friend. In hindsight, and while talking through the whole situation with Boyfriend, I realized that I was feeling neglected, and more like a friend than a girlfriend. I had been trying to talk to Boyfriend for a long time about this issue (at least a year), and nothing ever really was remedied. I was in a situation where I could get the attention I needed, and I took it, reluctantly at first. Boyfriend and I have talked over the whole issue, and we have mutually agreed to try and get past this, to fix the underlying issues that we are obviously having in our relationship.

Unfortunately, after I told Boyfriend about what had happened, Boyfriend’s friend (whom I cheated with)denied the entire thing, after I told Boyfriend about the entire situation, after I had fully disclosed, if you will, everything that had happened. In fact, he more than denies what happened between us – he is now telling anyone who will listen that I was after him, I was attracted to him for years, and I approached him with my feelings for him, and he rejected me, pushed me away. This person has his own issues, which I will not get into, only to summarize that he is bipolar and does not take his medication, has ADHD, and is a drug user, among other things.

Now, what happened is simple: I was lonely and feeling like I needed attention, and he gave me attention on several occasions. I then told him that I had had enough, that I was ending what we had, that the risk of losing my boyfriend was too much to have at stake. He said that I helped him to have better self-esteem, and that he will never forget me. It had been our agreement not to tell Boyfriend what happened between us, but over time, I could not go on in my relationship with him honestly if he did not know of what happened. This is when this person started acting strangely, and actually attempted suicide twice. I am now staying away from this person, but Boyfriend works with him.

I understand that he needs time to cope, and to get past visually thinking about what actually happened between his friend and I, and also time to cope from losing one of his friends.

I also understand that I need time to cope. I will be honest and say that I do not even know how to start. I don’t know how to cope with what I have done to this relationship, and I am having an extremely hard time dealing with how Boyfriend’s friend has responded to my ending our infidelity. He is actually blatantly lying to Boyfriend’s face about what happened between us! Why would someone lie about this, why would I lie to my Boyfriend about cheating if I had not?

Please help – I need someone to help me clear this up, so that I can move past this, and be in a happy state of mind again; so that Boyfriend and I can move on in our relationship and remedy the problems we are having and were having before any of this happened.

A: What a hard lesson you are learning! You handled feeling neglected immaturely. Instead of dealing directly with your boyfriend about how you were feeling, you cheated. I don’t know if you were secretly hoping to make the bf jealous or if you were trying out a new love for size. Either way, you weren’t being honest with anyone, including yourself.

Now you are going round and round in your own mind about what you did and didn’t do, what the lover did, what your boyfriend did and didn’t do. None of it matters. You can’t sort out an objective truth when you are dealing with the complexity of three people’s feelings. What matters is what you want to do next and whether your boyfriend, who is the victim in this situation, wants you enough to move forward. If so, both of you need to stop listening to the third party and start focussing on yourselves and each other. What does your boyfriend need from you to rebuild his trust? What do you need from the boyfriend to be truly committed to the relationship? Couples can and do manage to regain trust but only when they work honestly and openly with each other. See my article, Those Cheating Hearts.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). I Cheated and I Can’t Cope. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/01/i-cheated-and-i-cant-cope/