How Do You Convince Your Cheating Girlfriend That She’s Really In Love With You?

cheating girlfriend caught by boyfriend

Dear Evan,

Have had the most exciting relationship in years with a girl named Tonja. We truly have/had a wonderful relationship that was progressing magically. But Tonja had her heart broken 3 months before by a prior love named Chris. After seeing that Tonja had moved on and was apparently SO happy, he began calling, stopping by, texting, emailing, etc. Tonja told me about it but after some time she became confused and felt like she now had strong feelings for the both of us.

What’s the right thing to do in this situation? Pull back and give her space with the risk of losing her forever (or at least until this relationship fails again with Chris) or fight like hell to win/keep her in my favor? There are other dating “experts” out there that go from one extreme (i.e. NO contact for a month and make her miss you) to others that recommend the flowers, cards, phone calls, compliments, reminders of special times. Right now, Tonja is on the fence and cries everytime she sees me but seems to be gravitating toward him. What is the right thing to do? I AM MISERABLE!!!


Dear Dan,

Tonja doesn’t love you.

Hate to be the one to tell you, but, well, you did ask.

And even if she does love you — even if your relationship was as great as you said it was – you’re clearly ignoring some pretty big stuff.

Namely, that Tonja is a terrible girlfriend.

Now don’t get all defensive on me. I’m sure she’s a charmer. But it seems to me that there are a few things that are supposed to differentiate a girlfriend. Here’s a very simple list I came up with:

  • A girlfriend is committed to you.
  • A girlfriend tries to make you happy.
  • A girlfriend makes you feel special.
  • A girlfriend spends a lot of time with you.
  • A girlfriend sleeps with you.
  • A girlfriend allows you to feel vulnerable and safe at the same time.

Okay, so if that’s what a good girlfriend does, let’s look at what a bad girlfriend does. Just for the hell of it, let’s name her “Tonja.”

A bad girlfriend…

  • Responds repeatedly to emails, calls, and texts by an ex-boyfriend.
  • Maintains feelings for an ex-boyfriend while she’s supposedly in a committed relationship.
  • Makes her ex-boyfriend seem like more of an attractive option than her current boyfriend.
  • Cries every time she sees her current boyfriend.

Are you seeing it yet, Dan?

You have a bad girlfriend….

This doesn’t mean she’s an evil person. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have redeeming qualities. It doesn’t even mean that you shouldn’t love her. What it does mean is that you must STOP forgiving her for treating you like crap.

As far as how you should proceed? Well, you can’t fight for someone who doesn’t want to be fought for. As DJ EZ Rock said, “It takes two to make a thing go right,” and right now, Tonja is making a great case for going solo.

So get this straight: It’s NOT about ignoring her to make her miss you, and it’s DEFINITELY not about flowers, cards, and compliments to win her back.

It’s about one thing, and one thing only.

Walking away with your head held high, and your dignity in tact.

And when Tonja finally comes back, you’ll be able to tell her the best possible news that you probably haven’t even considered: you found yourself a real girlfriend, one who treats you the way you deserve.

Good luck.

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  1. 1

    You write really well. I really like your blog and will link one of your posts from my blog at and I’d appreciate it if you could do the same. Let me know at [email protected].

  2. 2

    Other than my personal belief that being a girlfriend or boyfriend does not require a person to have sex with each other (some really do wait), I agree with your post. Or, reworded for the person who wrote, give her space but don’t stay waiting for her. Still live your life (and you may find a “real” girlfriend). This one isn’t actually ready to move past “Chris.”

  3. 3

    Evan is right. Based on those three little words you shared: not “I love her,” but “I AM MISERABLE.” A healthy romantic relationship does not include misery and doubt and unrequited yearnings and feeling like you are being jerked around and a lot of gut churning worry ruining your day and tears on either of your parts. I know this because I’ve been in that same relationship! 7 years of roller coaster. Almost seems surreal now, that I let myself stay caught up in that nonsense for so long. I’m now (partly thanks to Evan’s superb profile advice!) married to a fantastic guy who is completely committed to me and our relationship; with whom I feel safe; who I know with all my being would never cross any lines or cheat on me. The contentment you feel in a relationship like that is such a blessing. Such a relief. Intensity and drama do not equal love! The compulsion you’re feeling to do something, ANYTHING, to hold on to a person who isn’t right for you, who has one foot (and perhaps other body parts) out the door — it might feel like love, but what it really is, is unhealthy attachment. You’re grieving the loss you see coming and it’s horribly painful, and that pain is only being heightened by this woman’s crazymaking behavior. You can’t start to sever the unhealthy attachment and start to heal, and then go out there and find that woman with whom it will be easy… where falling in love will feel like falling off a log, and “you both just know,” key word both — until you summon up the courage to cut bait and let this fishie go. 12-steppers talk about Surrendering; that’s a good word for it. Just know that someone SO MUCH BETTER is out there, just waiting for a great guy like you to show up. It may not feel like that now, I know it didn’t to me… but I thank the universe every day that I had the strength to walk away from the intense/dramatic/super passionate but horribly miserable relationship I was in so I could be free to heal and then meet the love of my life. Be good to yourself, my friend. Step one is accepting this isn’t the right woman for you and moving on.

    1. 3.1

      Wow. Good post. So what I need to read. I I want to save it.

  4. 4

    I agree with Evan and the others, though I’m not sure I’d call her a “bad” girlfriend, since I don’t know the details of your relationship. I don’t know how she really feels and why she feels and acts the way she does. Maybe she is a bad girlfriend, but I don’t know enough to say so for sure.

    What I can say for sure is that you would be an idiot to “fight” for her. Step back, give her lots of space, give yourself lots of space. Step way back, without being vindictive or playing games. Keep the lines of communication open, but don’t stop your life for her. If she really cares for you, then perhaps she will come back and stay there for good. But, don’t bank on it.

  5. 5

    No, you did not quote DJ EZ Rock. Love your column Evan.

  6. 6

    Maybe she isn’t always a bad girlfriend in all situations, but sure seems to be a bad girlfriend to and for you, Dan. Given the reasons that Evan and others have mentioned. Whether or not she is a bad girlfriend across the board actually matters some – because if someone has a repeating pattern of the same negative behaviors, then they really need to address that on their end and make some attitude and behavior adjustments on their end – no matter who they are with (ideally before they are with anyone else again). IF she doesn’t do those things with other people, but she still does them with, or to, you – Dan, then you still have a problem. Because it doesn’t matter how she is so great with other people, if she isn’t treating YOU right. I know people who say, “But he does that with her, he was like I want him to be with me with his ex, but not me. He could do that with me.” The key here is the he my friend was talking about wanted to or felt like it or was able to, then he could have been with her like he was with his ex. She might not ever find out why he couldn’t, but the fact that he couldn’t was enough to say I’m not getting out of this what I want, need, and feel I deserve. It doesn’t suit me. SO you either put up with it and really be ok. I don’t think you should do that Dan, you deserve better. Try to change it – which you can’t because she has to recognize a need to change (on her own) and then actually do it – for herself and future relationships no matter whom they would be with. Or you can walk away, do a little regrouping and take some “Dan time” and do what you like and enjoy and remember the good things about yourself that you have to offer to someone who appreciates them more fully. Go about your business and pleasure with an eye toward nothing other than that and then either you will meet someone who sees you are special when you aren’t looking for it rather soon, or you will find her/she will find you further down the line when you are actively looking, but in a better place and frame of mind to catch a girl who is emotionally available and can’t wait to call you hers and hers alone and vice versa. Hang in there, Dan! And make sure to be with supportive friends. Not ones who necessarily badmouth Tonja, just ones who bolster you up in positive ways.

  7. 7

    i think my gf is still cheating!
    My girlfreind has cheated on me once with her best freinds brother.
    i found out by mybest freind after i got back from a wedding in Alberta. now i suspect she has done it more with him and i can’t get it off my mind. She goes there sometimes and she never calls and she says she will and now she got kicked out of her grandmas house and now shes staying wit them.. My male instinct is she is gonan do it again. She says she loves me complaments me all the time smiles when she sees me but i dont know if she can keep things from me if shes done them before. She useually tells me everything but i dunno if it would be about cheating cuz i found out without her telling me.. what do i do, is she cheating???

    p.s i was on the phone with her today and i heard her voice go all fast and pretative for a sec and i was like what are you doing and she said oh nuthing…. My mind is going all wack please help me

  8. 8


    Let me get this straight…she cheated on you once and you took her back?!?!?!?

    I understand you are tied up emotionally with this woman. I am, however, going to be blunt & crass. I only hope you take it to heart.


    Get help to figure out why you would tolerate that kind of disrespectful behavior. you should not be with ANY woman until you figure this out.

  9. 9


    well yeah she is nice all the time and i have been with her for a year, and yeah i dont take ( i was drunk) an excuse but i know i am hurting myself and it’s hard to deal with.. but i told her they if it happens again we are over but i am pretty attached cuz i practically had to win her heart cuz she couldn’t get over the last guy she broke up with.. big story.

  10. 10


    I understand there’s a big story. Love may be blind, but it need not be deaf, dumb and stupid, either. I may sound as though I lack empathy for your position, but I really do. I’m trying to save you certain inevitable pain. You wrote, “. . . i am pretty attached cuz i practically had to win her heart cuz she couldn’t get over the last guy she broke up with…” This may hurt, but she settled for you as a rebound.

    Premise – real love has at its core respect for the person you are with. Cheating on someone is the ultimate disrespect. You actually tolerating it only worsens things. Trust me, when she does it again (and she will), she’ll actually blame you for being so stupid to stick around and tolerate her.

    There may be a big story, but do yourself a favor and bring it to a swift conclusion. Give your understanding to someone who deserves it. You also may want to consider going to a codependents anonymous meeting. It may help.

  11. 12
    Cheating Girlfriend

    She thought she could get away with cheating? No way in hell, this is bittersweet revenge.

  12. 13

    It makes me feel so good to realize that I’m not the only one who finds it difficult to extricate themselves from a toxic, bad relationship. Thank you, all!

  13. 14
    Seductress Within

    The popular reasons for why it’s difficult to extricate oneself from a toxic relationship:

    1.) There is history, major stuff you’ve gone through together, been together a long time. You don’t want to walk away and start all over with someone else after you’ve invested so much.

    2.) Sometimes it’s easier to put up with the crap you know than find someone else and wonder if the crap will be worse.

    3.) It’s too hard to accept that this person doesn’t love you. You feel compelled to make it right so you can feel worthy instead of a fool.

    None of these reasons are romantic. The REAL reasons people do this to themselves are fear and insecurity.
    To anyone who is in this situation, stop trying to change reality, face your fears and move on. Life it too darn short.

    1. 14.1

      SW… You have hit the nail  squarely on the head.  
      I was in a 2 year relationship that ended with her cheating on me and lying to me about where she was all the time.
      But she was my BEST FRIEND and companion for soo long and we had been through so much that I just couldn’t let go of the relationship even though it was now a source of hurt rather than the bliss I use to feel.
      The bottom line is I was scared and I was insecure. My confidence took a MAJOR blow when I found out about the infidelity. This caused some major insecurity and I began to think that even though things were damaged, I would probably never find someone like her again… she was as good as I could get.
      Thank God I got past it and moved on… Best decision of my life.

  14. 15

    What I noticed was the fact that girlfriend had broken up with Chris three months earlier. It sounds to me like Dan is/was the rebound guy. If Tonja is that emotional over her Chris, I’m not sure that dating is such a good idea until she dismantles the emotional connection to him. If a person is ever in the unfortunate position of being involved with someone who still has unfinished business with the ex, the best thing to do is take yourself out of the equation.

  15. 16

    got same problem. keeps telling me shes done with her ex and just today at work (we work together) i saw a pic of him in her car when i walked her to her car. im done with her thats the second time she does this to me and all it does it stress me out and make me cry…………. im done

  16. 17

    I would like to defend Tonja. She was honest when she said that she loved both of you and I believe that it is possible to have more than one relationship at the same time (polyamory). My wife and I have a very good relationship and we want to stay with each other, but since a year she is dating another man. She asked me permission to express her feeling for him. Now, she is sleeping with him for time to time and we are still in love.

    1. 17.1

      O,what a Crap – real BS..and no sorry for what I say. No commitment,no fidelity ,no trust ,no nothing.. You people are getting crazier and crazier..married to you,in love with someone else,sleeping with someone else…bla, love with you.. get your head straight – No such a bloody thing.
      That Tonja is to be kicked out of Dan’s life and so is your “loving” wife…bhaaa…

  17. 18
    Victor Lorentzo

    This is a hard situation, you were the rebound guy, she got dumped by the guy she was really in love with and now he wants her back.
    Really I think your the winner because she stayed, however she could just keep going back. I would leave if I were you I could see this heading in the direction of heart break.

  18. 19

    @Peter #17,
    Polyamory works but only if all people are in agreement.   In this article Dan is not in agreement with it.   And Tonja has not yet gotten over Chris and wants to have both of them as buffers until she decides who she wants.

    Dan’s best bet would be to drop her like a stolen diamond.   He is most likely the rebound guy and no real positive will come of this if he stays.

    @guy65 #7,9
    Get rid of her.
    From what you say it will not be easy but get rid of her.
    It is the principle of the matter.
    I do know that feelings can change but as adults we should be able to let our partners know if we have a lull in attraction for them.
    It is not an easy thing to do but cheating is not a mistake. It is a culmination of bad decisions based on lack of disclipline.

    And cheating is the one thing that is a deal breaker for me.
    No second chances, no getting back together, no nothing.
    Unless she has a psychological disorder which gives her lack of impulse control, there is no excuse for it.

    And she will keep doing it to you as long as you stay because she interprets sthat all she can do is apologize and be nice and you will accept.

    Of course Evan was on point with this one.

  19. 20

    Blowed if I’d stay.   There are women out there who DESERVE the flowers and Men who deserve good treatment.
    Why bother with her?

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