My Girlfriend Broke Up With Me. I Slept With Someone Else. Have I Done Something Wrong?

girlfriend breaking up with boyfriend

I dated my ex for 16 months. We broke up with no hints of getting back together. 2 weeks later I had a one night stand with someone I don’t know. 1 week later, my ex calls and indicates we should try to get back together. In subsequent discussions, she asks me if I had slept with anyone. Being an honest man, I reluctantly told her yes. She is furious and hurt and is accusing me of cheating and lying to her. I want to be with her, never wanted to be without her (she pushed the breakup), and am disappointed that I hurt her, BUT, do not feel like I cheated or lied. Where do I go from here? Lay low and see if time helps or go all in again and try to win her over again?



Dear Brian,

You did nothing wrong.

You were broken up.

You had no hints of getting back together.

You did what pretty much any guy would do after a sixteen month relationship.

That doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet, but it does mean you’re technically “right”. The problem is that having truth and logic on your side matters very little when discussing emotional issues. This, by the way, is the main reason that I blog. I try to inject a little male logic into the largely feminine realm of relationship discussions. (This does NOT mean women are illogical — I’m just making a generalization here). I don’t actively hope to change the world, but I do hope to observe the world AS IT IS, as opposed to how it SHOULD be.

She probably wanted you cry your eyes out for a few weeks, paralyzed, unable to imagine yourself in the presence of any other woman.

Your girlfriend is caught up in how it SHOULD be. After a long, serious relationship — one in which she still had feelings for you – she was clearly hoping for some dating moratorium. She probably wanted you cry your eyes out for a few weeks, paralyzed, unable to imagine yourself in the presence of any other woman. And then, when she came back to reconcile with her beloved, she was shocked to discover that you had drowned your sorrows in the cleavage of another woman during – GASP! — a meaningless one-night stand. The gall! The disrespect! Did your relationship just mean NOTHING?

It feels pretty ridiculous to type those last few lines because they make no logical sense. You were broken up. You did when men do when they’re single — look for other women. When my serious girlfriend dumped me in 2004, I left her house, red-eyed, drove ten minutes home, and reactivated my JDate account instantly. Would I want to be the first woman to date me after my heart had been shattered? Hell, no. But I certainly wasn’t going to repair my wounds by sitting at home by myself for a month….

This isn’t to say that I don’t have sympathy for your ex-girlfriend. It’s just that it’s HER job to get over this bump in the road. There’s nothing you could do at this point that’s going to fix things. Especially since she asked for your honesty and you gave it to her.

This brings up a rant that I’ve always wanted to have in public forum. It stems from a conversation with a girlfriend from 4-5 years back — a girlfriend that I loved, a girlfriend who was deeply distrustful of men. It was based on her personal experience — she’d been cheated upon, and even dated a polyamorist at a time. As a result, I remember her telling me, point-blank, early in the relationship (and repeatedly thereafter):

“If you ever cheat on me, you’d better tell me. I do not tolerate cheaters and I will break up with you.”

And, me, ever the wise-ass, replied, with a twinkle in my eye, “Well, if you’d break up with me, why would I tell you that I cheated?”

And she’d reply: “Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the manly thing to do. You’d want to have integrity, right?”

And I’d reply: “Yeah, but what if I made a god-awful mistake — say, drunkenly kissing a stranger at a party in Vegas? What if I made a mistake that I instantly regretted and would never repeat? What if I knew I would never intentionally jeopardize my relationship for any other woman again? What possible incentive would I have to confess, presuming that you’re instantly going to dump me for ‘honorably’ telling you? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

I’m not defending cheating. I am saying that I was living in the real world, and she was living in the fantasy world. In the real world, when someone cheats and realizes the consequences are dire, he’s got no incentive to confess. I can spit gum on the street in Singapore and turn myself in so I can get caned, or I can deny, deny, deny. I can “borrow” lines from a book when writing a term paper, and then tell the professor that I plagiarized, but that wouldn’t be too wise.

You want a guy to tell you the truth about cheating? You better be prepared to forgive him and painfully accept his apology. Otherwise, you’re asking for him to lie to you.

So while I’m not encouraging cheaters, let’s understand what logical behavior follows after infidelity: lies to cover up. You want a guy to tell you the truth about cheating? You better be prepared to forgive him and painfully accept his apology. Otherwise, you’re asking for him to lie to you.

To wrap up, I want to offer a quote from Ramana Hamarshi, “Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.”

If you’re frustrated with the dialogue here and expect to change men or women, make no mistake about it, you’re trying to cover the world with leather.


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  1. 41

    I’ll say one more thing about this subject (I’d like to put it in big bold 18 size font if I could):

    If someone breaks up with you, it is none of their damn business how long it takes you to get “over them.” It’s none of your business if it takes them 5 minutes (whith a shrug of the shoulder whenever they think of you) or 5 years.

    This is the main argument here over Brian’s letter. I say, if this woman broke up with Brian, Brian is free to sleep with another woman 5 minutes after the breakup (or sooner if he has a booty call on speed dial).

    Women (or men) that have a problem with that are just letting their own egos and insecurities get in the way of it. This is not a sexist issue at all. Same rules apply to men who break up with the woman.

    The offended party (Brian’s ex in this case) just want to know that the man (or woman) is suffering for X amount of time after the break up. That makes them feel better. It makes them feel like they were truly loved.

    Give me a break. These people don’t know what love is. Love is wanting the best for the other person, not hoping they suffer for weeks after the breakup just to satisfy their own petty egos.

    I’ll say it again. If you break up with someone, that person is a free agent, and can sleep with anyone or do anything they please with the opposite sex. If you give such a rat’s ass about them, then don’t break up with them to begin with.

    If you don’t like how “suddenly” they get over you, or decide to get intimate with another soul, it’s your problem, not theirs.

    May sound cold, but it’s the bitter reality. If you have a problem with it, it’s your own selfishness, you’re own insecurity.

    Every person who gets dumped when they were giving the relationship 100% effort and honesty deserves to get over that relationship 1 flat second after they get their walking papers.

    Whew! God I feel better now.

    1. 41.1
      Mrs Happy

      I absolutely agree with Ron at #41.

  2. 42
    Evan Marc Katz

    (And with your position, I have to admit I could see myself having done the same if I were her.)

    Why? Because I said that it’s wholly illogical for someone to commit relationship suicide?

    Nobody is defending cheating.
    Everybody knows it’s wrong.
    No one is even saying it should be forgiven.

    All I’m saying is that it makes no sense for a guy who made an unforgivable mistake to ask for forgiveness if he knows he’ll never be forgiven. Why is this so hard to understand?

    This is not a moral argument. It’s a logical argument. Reread the thread. All I said is that if you’re hoping for a confession, you’d better be willing to forgive him, or you ain’t gonna get a confession. Thus, the original question:

    If a man stands to lose his entire relationship by confessing to a mistake, what is his incentive to confess?

    If your answer is “doing the right thing” or “integrity”, I think we can make the case that self-preservation is almost always going to win out. I’m not arguing that this is a GOOD thing. I’m saying that it HAPPENS. This is ONLY point I was trying to make.

    Have a great weekend, y’all. Thanks for your stimulating comments.

  3. 43





  4. 44


  5. 45

    Sorry. I really and truly didn’t mean at as an implication of being wrong anyway, although looking back, I can see that it was a poor choice of words. I meant that being right sometimes takes a back seat for other things.

    FWIW – It is worth. Yes, logic can and does affect emotions in the way you explained it, but I know whenever I’ve used that approach, it is conscious and deliberate. It is not something I think of in the heat of the moment when I’m angry or hurt or upset. Instead, it takes time and conscious effort after I’ve cooled down to do this work. All I’m saying is that if he is interested in renewing the relationship, time can help. If he isn’t interested, the point is moot.

  6. 46

    Gee Ron,
    You are such an empathetic soul. How’s that working for ya?

    Actually, I agree that once you break up you don’t owe each other anything in terms of loyalty or how long someone else should take to “get over it”. But the problem comes in if you find the two of you are “just not done yet” and want to try to get back together. What happened during the short breakup perhaps logically shouldn’t matter, but emotionally it often does. Tough, but there it is nontheless. And the kind of vehemence you espouse is not conducive to starting over with kindness and understanding and a willingness to move forward.

    Since letters to this blog seem to run a month after the writer sent them, it would be interesting to hear from Brian as to how things worked out in the last month.

  7. 47

    @EMK: I hear you on the integrity vs. self-preservation argument. I’ve gone the self-preservation route (I’m sure nearly everyone has) MANY times; some of them I regretted deeply, some of them I truly thought I was doing the right thing. Nowadays, I’m actively trying to stay on the integrity side as of this year. If I make a mistake, I’ll be honest about it and suffer the consequences, even if it means losing the relationship. I can envision tons of scenarios though where I would compromise that value, although they’re fairly extreme. The influence of survival is very powerful.

    @everyone else: I find Brian sympathetic for some reason, and no it’s not because I’m a guy. My best advice is for him to NOT try to get the girl back; instead be single and let her cool off. If he’s capable of a ONS, then he’s likely attractive and can find dates. If she really likes him, they might find each other down the road. If they get back together the ONS will be a splinter that never goes away, and no amount of logic or debate will change that.

    Hope everyone has a good weekend also, including m who called me out on another thread (btw are you a chick or dude?). This blog is getting addictive, and I mean that in a good way.

  8. 48

    “You keep on focusing the idea that women should forgive men for cheating.”

    Gonna quote you here, Evan, with the suggestion you directed to the woman in the relationship:

    “You better be prepared to forgive him and painfully accept his apology.”

    So perhaps that’s why we’re so focused on that. (I’m guessing, of course. Plus it sounds a philosophy that would give a man a massive entitlement complex. Which I don’t think is what was intended.)

    “All I’m saying is that it makes no sense for a guy who made an unforgivable mistake to ask for forgiveness if he knows he’ll never be forgiven. Why is this so hard to understand?”

    Because, as you say yourself, it’s an UNFORGIVEABLE mistake.

    Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect that a logical, rational man (please note adjectives utilized, particularly in the face of your own reliance thereon :D) might need to entertain the notion that if he makes an UNFORGIVEABLE mistake, there’s a chance — and notice, none of us say how big the chance is or is not — that he might NOT be forgiven??

    What you seem to be saying is that men want a prospective guarantee of forgiveness for something that by your own definition is unforgiveable.


    You might be talking about something else.

    If the hypothetical you’re setting up here is:

    Woman Says at Beginning/Middle of Relationship: “If you cheat on me, I’ll never forgive you.”
    Man Thinks to Himself: “Well, then, I’ll never tell you if I do cheat,”

    then that’s something different. A subtle distinction, but an important one.

    In THAT instance, IMHO (and I can’t believe I’m about to reveal this in front of men, but half of you probably aren’t listening anyway, ’cause a woman’s talking) then the woman is making a tactical relationship management mistake.

    Because IMO a man shouldn’t know whether his woman is going to forgive him or not if he cheats.

    He can consider the risk — BEFORE he cheats.

    And if he’s a good risk manager and he cares about his primary relationship (assuming that it’s normal, and not one of those Hamptons or Malibu things where everyone fools around with everyone else’s spouse), then he’s NOT going to cheat.

    And this isn’t really just about men either. This applies irrespective of who the prospective cheating party is.

    Speaking of party, it’s time to go do it. Have a nice weekend, everyone. 😀

  9. 49
    Evan Marc Katz

    I swore I wasn’t going to do this, but:

    The question isn’t whether a man should cheat. We’re all in agreement on that one. It’s why he should confess if he does. And no one has given a good answer as to how HE benefits from confessing HIS error. To put it another way, stop thinking of this as a man/woman thing. Stop thinking of yourself as the victim.

    Let’s say YOU cheated.
    Let’s say YOU feel terribly guilty.
    Let’s say YOU know your boyfriend has been burned by cheating women before and will NOT tolerate your transgression.
    Why would you tell him the awful truth? Just to make things right? To absolve your guilt? To ensure that you break up and that you’re both miserable? The LOGICAL action would be to swallow hard until you choke on your guilt and vow not to fuck up again.

    So if you’re one of those people who would voluntarily destroy her relationship by confessing (M? Selena? Lorelei?), please explain to me: how does acting with integrity AFTER the fact amount to a win/win, when it clearly seems to be a lose/lose?

  10. 50

    Why would I cheat on my partner? I’m the kind of person who would breakup if I wanted to dally with someone else. And I’d like to think anyone I was involved with would do the same.

    They haven’t though. I’ve been cheated on by more than one bf–and they didn’t ‘confess’, I just managed to find out. Yes, it’s devestating, and yes I’ve tried forgiving. It’s easier said than done BTW and one thing is sure–even if you do forgive, you NEVER forget.

    In the last case, I’ve sometimes wondered if I would have been better off not knowing. Would the outcome have been different? Or the same? (We broke up, then spent 8 mos. in a very rocky reconciliation attempt only to go our separate ways anyway). I’d certainly have been spared alot of pain by not finding out, but it’s questionable whether that is a good thing or not.

    Some people want to know if their partner is cheating even if it means unequivocably the relationship ends. By warning them of this in advance, so to speak, they hope it will make their partner stop and think hard, before crossing the cheating line. Is it REALLY worth losing the relationship over a fling? And you’d have to be really stupid to not consider that your partner might end the r’ship over cheating, even if nothing was ever said in advance at all. How many people are out there do you think, who are confident their partner would forgive them for cheating? A slip? A slip My Aunt Fannie. Cheating doesn’t “just happen”– it happens to people who are willing to cheat.

    As far as confessing goes, I’d guess that is a way to clear your conscience whatever the outcome may be. A desire to have no secrets and/or perhaps a release from the fear your partner will find out some other way. A legitimate fear BTW, a cheater may not have been as discreet as s/he thought s/he was and secrets have a way of coming out regardless. There will never be a win/win outcome when it comes to cheating even without a confession. To confess or not, will always be a personal decision.

    Instead of telling partners you would leave them if they cheated, perhaps people should start telling their partners that if they cheated, then THEY would feel free to go out and cheat as well. Give ’em something to chew on before they take off their clothes.

    That would probably just give us more paranoid, insecure people running around than we already have now. Aye.

  11. 51

    If you put it that way there doesn’t seem to be a win-win, except only in the abstract for the one partner. You feel somewhat good about yourself for maintaining your integrity post-fuckup even though you risk/lost the relationship. I’m all about that though. Who here wouldn’t take the lose/lose occasionally if it meant being honest and principled in the end?

  12. 52

    “Unless men feel that they will be forgiven for cheating, they have NO INCENTIVE to tell the truth.”

    Are people accountable or not accountable for their actions then? Because this obliterates a person accountablity by making excuses to justify a behavior.

    Maybe the answer is to make him feel like there will be a positive incentive to telling the truth, even when there won’t be. That way you maintain your own personal survival and incentive while he is trying to do the same. Fight fire with fire. Create a dialogue that makes it appear there will be an incentive in telling the truth, but underneath it isn’t really the incentive he wants, which is maintaining the relationship. It would be a survival move for the person that was cheated on and needs to know the truth and knows they can’t be with a person that cheated on them. Statiscally, MOST people that have been cheated on, don’t over come it. Not all, but most.

    Evan, as for your statements of being “logical”. It’s great to be logical. Women infact can be just as logical as men but in different way I believe just as men can be emotional. But if relationships could be figured out with just logical statements, they wouldn’t be relationships at all. They would be math problems. That is your flaw Evan, after reading your postings. Being logical helps and is a plus, but as a man, you only have one side of the story. And you can only give advice from one side of the story. One perspective as a man. But you completely miss the other side. And to dismiss the importance of emotions in relationships and relationship problems, would be just as bad as to dismiss the logical side of it. You can’t solve a problem with only one side, you need to look at both.

  13. 53

    What probably happened was this:

    She dumps him because she isn’t satified with him and has the hots for another guy/potential guy.

    During the course of the breakup the “other guy” decides he doesn’t want her (probably because of the Ben and Jerry’s stains on all of her shirts)
    Goes out and gets drunk with her friends thinking she’s going to pick someone else up and finds out it’s not as much fun than she thought (and no one at the bar wants her).

    Rejected, she wants her old boyfreind back and tries to project the anger from being rejected onto him by setting him up with the cheating question.

    Either way she feels bad/guilty about something…….and she’s taking out on him.


  14. 54
    Evan Marc Katz

    Actually, Jersey, you’re missing one side of the story. You keep on looking at this from the victim’s perspective instead of saying, “If I cheated, would I confess? And if so, why?” That was the entire point of my post. Anything else you’re reading into this about me glossing over the pain and emotion of infidelity is simply not on the page.

    By the way, “I would never cheat!” doesn’t actually provide any insight as to why someone who cheated would voluntarily confess.

  15. 55
    Hot Alpha Female

    I think that you have given some great advice. Firstly Brain was broken up. So he did not cheat on his girlfriend. Why is there even a debate about that?

    If she didn’t want him to see other girls, then she shouldn’t have broken up with him. But when you say its over. That pretty much means you can see anyone you want to…

    However i think honesty is the basis to a good and healthy relationship, so you SHOULD be upfront to your partner, should you want to get back with them after a short breakup.

    Does it benefit the guy by telling the truth? yes he does because then its not eating him up inside and the relationship can start from new ground.

    With that said, if the girlfriend is a little psycho then its harder for the guy to tell the truth. Because she could have a big hissy fit, which results in arguements and door slamming. N well this makes it harder for the guy to tell the girl.

    Remember, people will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. That why its a hard but necessay step …

    Hot Alpha Female

  16. 56

    Re: the threads about cheating: If you cheat on someone you might want to tell the other person for a whole lot of reasons that benefit you — tops of the list being so that you can be in integrity with yourself. How awful it would be to be in an initimate relationship if you have to keep such a big secret, espcially knowing that it might come out one day. (Maybe in a similar moment of “hey what the hell” as leads to ONSs.) Integrity is about knowing yourself and making decisions in accordance with your beliefs, values, and life goals. If you cheat there is a reason. Maybe the relationship isn’t right for you. Maybe you have an inappropriate way of expressing your anger at your partner. Maybe you are afraid the other person is going to cheat on you or leave you and you want to beat that person to the punch. There is important information in the act of cheating. And it isn’t about male entitlement–plenty of women cheat and plenty of men don’t–it’s about breaking an agreement or acting out for some reason. And it is a power play, no question about it — so the other person is going to be pissed. Be prepared to lose your relationship if you cheat, whether you tell or whether you hide it. You can hide cheating, but you can’t hide the power play. The other person is going to push back in some way whether they know about the cheating consciously or not.

    The fellow in our story here, however, did not cheat, as there was no relationship agreement to break. It does sound though like he is the type of person to act out his feelings rather than be aware of them and make conscious decisions about his behavior. Because either he was finished with the relationship emotionally or he wasn’t. If he were then why go back? If he weren’t then why sleep with someone else? And what about that someone else — doesn’t she have feelings and hopes and expectations, too? When “negotiating” the ONS did he tell her “I just finished what has been a long and serious relationship for me and I just want to get laid to blot out whatever I am feeling at the moment and then never see you again.” I very sincerely doubt it. But I suspect that if the guy were REALLY into the truth, that is what he would have said. But it probably “just happened” and he probably really believes that “nobody got hurt” — because HE didn’t get feel bad about it. Like other posters on here, I find the empathy factor to be missing from this guy’s story. And maybe after 16 months of this kind of lack in the relationship his partner had enough and left him — only to be reminded of it when they reconciled. Or maybe she is emotionally manipulative and punishes him by breaking up, thinking that will change him, and his ONS was HIS way of pushing back. Maybe they BOTH have behaviors that are intended to hurt the other. Can this relationship be saved? I doubt it. Not as long as she thinks that by punishing him with a break up or anger that he’s going to become more aware of himself and of others (if that is what she’s doing), and not as long as he thinks that feelings and sex exist on two different planets (if that is what he thinks).

  17. 57

    Also — about men having more sex than do women. This seems to me to be something of a myth and not logical (since we invoke logic so often on this thread). With whom are these men having sex? With each other? I don’t think so, since the focus seems to be on men v. women. If we aren’t talking about homosexual activity, men are having sex with women, and since the population is pretty much 50% men, 50% women, when it comes to heterosexual liaisons, on average the genders are pretty much divided equally when it comes to frequency of engagement.

  18. 58

    Should clarify the above since it seems a non sequitor — instead of “having more sex” I should have said “desiring,” “wanting,” or “pursuing” sex more often, the idea here being to refute the idea that ONSs or NSA liaisons are the exclusive province of men and emotional, relationship-based sex is the exclusive province of women. No matter what people say (which might be based on societal expectations of the respective genders), look at their actions. All sorts of men are exclusive and don’t cheat and have emotional sex, and all sorts of women engage in ONSs and NSA sex and think nothing of it. The idea that the former are pussy-whipped and the latter are whorish is a bit outmoded, don’t you think? So to reduce Brian’s situation or a cheating scenario to “women just don’t get it” or “men are just dogs” (this isn’t a verbatim quote from a post, just paraphrasing and exaggerating to make the point) is too simplistic, I think. People have sex, people want to be loved, and therein lies the challenge.

  19. 59

    “By the way, I would never cheat! doesn’t actually provide any insight as to why someone who cheated would voluntarily confess.”

    EMK, I think what some of us may be saying is that it doesn’t matter whether the exclamation provides any insight or not.

    Here’s an analogy that came to me:

    Man and woman are going from NYC to Paris. Both agree that they want to get there fast.

    Man is arguing with woman over what incentives there are to take one of several ocean liners from NYC to Paris.

    Woman says that it doesn’t matter which boat they would take because the Concorde (or whatever the name of the plane is that they’re building now to supersede it) will take them faster than ANY boat — and they’ve already agreed that they need to get there fast.

    (Some of us) are Woman trying to take the plane.

    You seem to be the Man still trying to engage us in the argument about which boat!!

    “Don’t cheat! Or risk suffering the consequences (IF you haven’t been explicitly TOLD you will be left if you do)!” is the plane.

    “What are the disincentives to confess once you cheat?” are the boats.

    We need to get to Paris. You have agreed that you want to get there the fastest way possible. We are boarding the plane.

    Why are you still trying to make us talk about the boats??

  20. 60
    Kat Wilder

    The thing about cheating is this: it changes the original agreement of the relationship if you enter into a committed monogamous relationship.

    If one partner decides he or she wants to screw around on the side, it directly impacts the other person’s ability to make a choice about whether he or she wants to be part of that. That partner’s choice is taken away, and that is never OK.

    I know from experience (as cheater and, um cheatee?) that it’s very, very easy to cheat if one wants to. But, you always have to lie. One easy lie begets another easy lie and, well, where does it stop? To me, the most important thing is to tell the truth; what matters is what happens AFTER you tell the truth, as in how you help your partner whom you betrayed learn to trust you again. Forgiveness, yes, is essential, but that doesn’t mean the relationship goes back to what it was. And if she can’t trust you again, well, that is part of the deal the cheater entered into when he decided to act on a desire when he shouldn’t have.

    The Quakers say, “Let your life speak.” That pretty much sums it up.

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