My boyfriend emotionally cheated on me

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years now. We had a good start but then my boyfriend started complaining that I wasn’t giving him his emotional needs. I first didn’t realize what he needed and he kept complaining and fighting for the past 2 years and I only understood and matured lately. I’ve been trying to give him what he needs for the past 2 months but he won’t open up. A few days ago, he admitted to me that he was emotionally cheating on me and that he just figured it out and he kept apologizing and crying, begging for my forgiveness and telling me he’d give me whatever I needed but that he didn’t want us to break up because he couldn’t bare losing me. He admitted he was totally wrong and that he had no excuses but the reason it happened was that he wasn’t getting what he needed from me and he swore he never went looking for his needs elsewhere and he kept pushing the girl away but he got weak after a while. My boyfriend has never been unfaithful and I know he loves me insanely, he’s just over friendly with girls and I honestly find it really difficult to deal with, because I’m very insecure, because I find his behavior exceeding “limits”, and especially that he wouldn’t accept me to behave this way around guys.

He said he needed some time apart in order to open up again and I gave him the space but he didn’t take it and kept calling as usual. Since he’s admitted infidelity, he’s been supportive and trying to cheer me up and he has stopped blaming me for my mistakes and is ‘trying’ to be more affectionate. I know he isn’t doing much because he can’t open up and is still upset.

I need help figuring out what to do about the relationship. I used to be very insecure about myself and about his fidelity but now I can’t trust him at ALL. I know I was wrong in not giving him what he needs and I feel extremely guilty, but I also feel like I can’t trust him or forgive him anymore and I don’t know whether I should break it off or not. Please help me make my choice because I’ve had enough of this emotional roller coaster, of insecurities and of feeling so lonely and disconnected because we don’t fulfill each other’s needs anymore. We both are extremely attached to each other and we want to fix it but we don’t know how. Is he worth trusting again? Is this relationship worth it?

A: Of course only you can make your choice, but I can tell you what I hear in your letter. It is interesting to note your description of this relationship. Both of you are trying to respond to each other, but it isn’t working.

You have been with him for two years (since you were 17) and it may be time for a break. You may simply have been helping each other through a tumultuous time in your life. At this point trusting him is difficult, and his efforts at trying to be affectionate haven’t worked.

Being attached doesn’t mean being in love.

This may simply be a habit. His instinct was to turn to someone else rather than put the effort in with you to make it work. Perhaps that tells the tale. Take a break you can both stick with and see if your feelings change. That will give you time to decide if you want to work on the relationship. If you do decide to make a go of it you may want to try some brief couples therapy. Your college is likely to have some good people on the counseling staff that can help.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). My boyfriend emotionally cheated on me. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/22/my-boyfriend-emotionally-cheated-on-me/