Can’t Trust Cheating Boyfriend

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

About a year ago my best friend of mine and I admitted our feelings for one another. Previously, we had a long standing friends-with-benefits relationship. Shortly after, we entered a more serious relationship. During the first 5 month period I was under the impression that we were serious and exclusive.
Unfortunately, it was brought to my attention that he was with multiple other girls, including one he had had a past with who was an acquaintance of mine. At this point, most friends of mine lost faith in our relationship and advised me to leave him before it got any more serious. He apologized and promised to change.
He left for army-related obligations for 3 months and I did my best to move on. I was seriously unsuccessful. After months apart and many letters in between of promises of change, he returned and we made an effort to make things work. I truly believed he had changed. Many of my friends seemed doubtful but were routing for us to succeed. I was looking forward to proving everyone wrong.
For the past 4 months since his return, we have been making every effort to make our relationship work. He has been open with me when talking to girls who were friends, and has alerted me whenever girls from his past have contacted him. He has been working to regain my trust. We have both been jumping through hoops to make our semi-long distance relationship work. We are both open with others about our relationship, he calls me his girlfriend, and has introduced me to his extended family at the holidays as his girlfriend. I know his family well and most of his friends and feel extremely close and comfortable with them. My family loves him and wants us to succeed.
Within the past few days, several of my close friends have come forward with accusations of him either getting with other girls or talking to other girls, including the girl he had been involved with before our 3 month separation. Friends claimed there were multiple girls he had been in contact with who he may or may not have slept with. Everyone had been scared to tell me, knowing we had been doing so well.
I addressed the situation as calmly and maturely as possible with him, without providing him with time to delete any texts or hide any evidence. Although I felt foolish asking, I demanded that he prove to me he wasn’t cheating and show me his texts. He repeatedly denied cheating and told me how much he loves me and how he has been working to be a better boyfriend, but refused to show me his phone. I gave him an ultimatum — tell me the truth and show me evidence that you haven’t cheated by showing me your phone, or I am leaving. It was clear he was emotionally distraught and didn’t want to lose me, but he refused to show me his phone. I eventually left, knowing I had to follow through. It was incredibly hard.
Since this confrontation he has contacted me multiple times telling me he doesn’t know what he would do without me, denying that he has cheated, and telling me he loves me and will do anything to make it work. I told him I need space and time to decide what to do. I truly love him and want to make it work, but I don’t know what to do.
I am in an incredibly tough position:
1. if I take him back, I will have little or no support from friends. they want me happy but have no faith in him.
2. I believe he truly loves me and wants to be together, but I fear he has a serious issue beyond my control. I have worried he is a sociopath, or has multiple personality disorder, or is a compulsive liar. His history of cheating is seriously troubling. I am skeptical as to whether or not he is capable of being with one person, and have asked him this, and his answer is always yes.
3. we are somewhat long distance and I can never truly know if he is cheating or will cheat in the future.
4. my trust has been damaged multiple times by him and I am worried that this will hurt any future relationship between us.
5. he has trust issues because he has this innate fear that people will treat him how he has treated them — I have never given him a reason to not trust me but he consistently questions my actions or my relationships with others.
6. i am worried about his future in the army.

The ball is in my court and I have a feeling I know what I need to do, but I need the opinion of someone outside of this situation. Everyone seems to have a different perspective. I love him so much and hate to hurt him, but if he truly has cheated he has hurt me again. I have given him so many “last chances.” Too many people know about this situation and I am embarrassed and afraid to try again. I am dealing with a lot of stress between work, a living situation, and mild seasonal depression. I am worried about how I will cope if I cut the ties with someone I love as both a boyfriend and best friend. Any help or words of advice would truly help me at this point.

Thank you!

A: Thank you for sending your heartfelt and detailed letter. But I’m afraid your boyfriend has already shown his cards. By not showing you his phone he has broken the trust between the two of you. What could possibly have been in the phone other than evidence of his cheating? That was his opportunity and he let it slip by. The ball isn’t in your court. He made his decision and all of his pleading is very predictable, but he failed to stand up to the test when he needed to.

To be honest, there isn’t enough here to warrant going forward. Imagine how difficult it was for your friends to come to you with this information. They knew how difficult it would be if you do cope with it, but didn’t want you to be with someone who is capable of this kind of betrayal.

Move on. The insecurity he has generated in you by his behavior is not likely to go away anytime soon. When he didn’t show you the phone it was a clear signal that he can’t be trusted. You deserve more from the person you love.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Can’t Trust Cheating Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/28/cant-trust-cheating-boyfriend/