My Boyfriend Was Cheated On and Has Trouble Trusting Women. What Should I Do?

My Boyfriend Was Cheated On and Has Trouble Trusting Women.  What Should I Do?

I have been dating a guy I met online for about 3 months now. He has been divorced for 16 years. I have never been married. He’s 42, and I am 40. Unfortunately, his ex-wife cheated on him, and married her lover the day after their divorce was final. My boyfriend seems to be VERY obsessed with never allowing anything like that to happen to him again, and is easily upset by any talk of men I dated before him, even though all of those relationships were extremely superficial and I maintain absolutely no contact whatsoever with any man I ever dated before him. My boyfriend has many good qualities, and I really like him a lot (I’m starting to love him). I just wanted to know, in a general way, what does it take for a man to get over being cheated on by an ex-wife, particularly if it has been many years now, and he still seems to be putting up walls? Most of the information I have found on the internet dealing with divorced men pertains to issues surrounding the recently divorced, and most of the information about cheating has to do with divorced men who cheat, not men who were the cheatees rather than the cheaters. Do you have any general advice for a (never married) woman dating a long-divorced man who has trust issues going back 16 years to an unfaithful first wife? I REALLY want my relationship with him to work out. What should I do?

Vicki

If you were ever cheated upon, what would your partner have to do to convince you that he’s safe?

Dear Vicki,

Great question. Straightforward answer. All you have to do is look at it from another angle.

If you were ever cheated upon, what would your partner have to do to convince you that he’s safe?

In a lot of circumstances, there’s not much someone can do explicitly to instill trust. I think back to a girlfriend of mine who had a boyfriend who was polyamorous. This arrangement pretty much meant that he openly cheated on her while she remained faithful to him, hoping that he’d change. She was free to do the same, except she didn’t want to. This experience scarred her and all of her trust issues came to surface when she started dating a very flirty burgeoning dating coach. She could never believe that a man like me who appreciated other women wouldn’t cheat on her, and she broke up with me (about three times, to be exact.)

I only share that story as an example of how you can have your heart in the right place, but still not do anything to assuage someone with deep seated issues.

On the other hand, my wife was cheated on by her ex-husband and other long-term ex-boyfriends. How she managed to trust me, even when she found a pair of panties in our new hamper after a business trip, is beyond me. But the main reason, I’m guessing, is that I haven’t given her any reasons to doubt my integrity.

And ultimately, Vicki, that’s really all you can do. You can’t erase his past, his hurt, or his shame. All you can do is make him feel safe and loved and lucky.

You can’t erase his past, his hurt, or his shame. All you can do is make him feel safe and loved and lucky.

He may never “get over” the experience of having blind faith in a partner; I know my wife hasn’t. But, if he’s emotionally available – and thereby, a suitable partner – he’ll realize that you have nothing to do with his ex-wife. To keep you at bay because of an awful mistake made by another woman 16 years ago, would effectively mean the end of your relationship. He’s gotta let you in.

The woman who let me in, despite her trust issues, became my wife. The woman who didn’t is just another ex. Which is just a longwinded way of saying: do your best, but it’s not really up to you.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    CLD

    Also, I would like to add that in regard to the cheating issues raised here, from what I can gather, cheating isn’t about a partner, rather about the person doing the cheating.  The remarks about women getting bored I’m not certain I agree with in entirety.  Another idea to add to that post is that for both men and women, what many of us are discovering is that it’s about ego sometimes.  A down ego needing a boost, an up ego needing more control over more people and so on, while a partner is simply living their life thinking that they are living in parallel with the cheating partner, when in reality…they aren’t.

  2. 32
    Kirt

    We are not produced on assembly lines. Each one of us are hand crafted with different personalities and abilities. Never try to mesure some one elses pain by your own capacity to love. The deeper the love, the deeper the wound.

    Only love patients and understanding can mend the pain.

  3. 33
    guitardude

    I love how these responses rationalize female cheating but when men do it they are pigs. Or the wonderfully flippant excuse of  “we just aren’t meant to be or “we weren’t right for each other”.

    When men cheat or leave, they are at fault, when women do it, it’s still the man’s fault for something he did or didn’t do lol. Many surveys are now showing that women in fact cheat more than men. Given the fact that they poses a lot more sexual currency, this isn’t surprising.

    Women often do not let go of one branch until firmly holding into another (ie another guy). Men can’t do this because we do place trust in women, and aren’t as cynical as females, or we can just call  it “blind trust”. T Hat’s ridiculous, you either trust someone or not.

    Women rationalize cheating or “leaving” men when  their needs are not being met, or they perceive it as being so. Women are inherently selfish creatures with immensely unrealistic expectations of themselves, life, and especially men. Sometimes, in fact more oftne that not it’s not “gee the guy did some stuff wrong too”, sometimes women really just do suck. But let’s call it emotional fluidity instead of lack of integrity or honor.

    Women looks at all these men and go gee why so bitter, can’t you let go? It’s infinitely harder for men to find mates. A number of people have pointed out how tough it is for guys in this cultural and economic climate where women are more self interested and obsessed with things, careerism, and security than ever before.

    Social psychologists  have noted that for example, and this has biological roots, that men earning more have no problem with women making 9 bucks an hour, but the opposite is true for women . The question is, is she sweet? attractive? nurturing? (spare me the “i am not hi mommy crap”) this is about all around feminine energy, and yes moms have it too. We don’t go oh shit he doesn’t have a degree, or “ambition” or this or that. Most women do, even as there sexual currency drops like a stone as they age. (nature’s way of balancing out how much power young women have I guess?).

    Women can’t simply tolerate supporting there spouses, period. Not in the long run. “strong, independent, career driven, etc etc” just translates too “I can leave whenever the hell I want buddy, so you better measure up to me every moment of every day, dance monkey dance”.  Plenty of men have pointed out how men make up the majority of the homeless, and the majority of the unemployed as we all fight for an ever decreasing slice of the pie, that women now largely gobble up.

    What does all of this and more have to do with cheating? The truth is men ARE fragile, and we ARE cynical, and paranoid, and everything else because of the damage done to them by our modern culture and economic climate. Women have the power disproportionately now. They have all the same advantages as men did, and now still retain all the advantages that women have always had and men have not. Please believe this does play into the dynamic we now see of women acting as heinously as the men they once decried. Men are sick and tired of it.

    When people are near death, regardless of gender, they always say at the top of their list “i wish i hadn’t worked so hard, or focused on careers, and stuff, and drive, and ambition, and all the rest”.  Why? Because it’s so meaningless, even in this newly committment phobic and aggressive female generation we’ve found ourselves in. Men are valued for that they do and their utility, women are valued for who they are. Society bends over backwards for females, but men? We are told to man up. That we are just whiners :).

    But here’s the thing about people saying that stuff at the end of there life. The vast majority of suicides are by men, and they are increasing. Why? Number 1 reason is because of loneliness or being left/cheated/divorced/deserted. Women’s number 1 reason? Money and unemployment. That’s a big time indicator of what sex values what. Who is really losing out these days more so than the other, i’d say the evidence suggests men. There are anecdotes and exceptions for any data, but it doesn’t make it the rule.

    Men have every reason to be cynical and worry about women cheating or leaving or any other frivolous self interested reason women rationalize up to fulfill there never ending and expanding list of selfish needs. Now we have proof for it too. At some point the data proves the observations and experiences, rather than people simply citing data to prove a bias.

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