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?


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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  1. 31

    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

    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

    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.

    1. 33.1

      Er no when a woman cheats,the words whore, bitch, etc.( need I add more?)often came into the equation…in fact I don’t really see any rationalization concerning women cheating unless it comes from the cheating women themselves…also from what I observed when a man cheats,he rarely wants to leave his wife/girlfriend,heck I even heard some d-bag claiming man cheating is not as bad as a woman cheats because he never really wants to leave his partner where as a woman always move on ,this means that  whenever a man cheats,the relationships don’t seem to have any problems in the first place where as when the woman cheats,more often than not you could noticed there already a lot of crack inside the relationship.Now I’m not going to argue which one is the worse.I admit women are catching up to men in cheating rates but to suggest that somehow women are more worse or that they often let off by society when they commit sexual transgression doesn’t seem supported by the anecdotal data to me at least in my experience..

    2. 33.2

      Oh by the way.. read this comment on another page on question posed by a guy who asking for advice after he cheated on his  girlfriend

      “Hmmm, I’m not sure if men do drugs and random sex because their buds are doing that, or if they are seeking out men who do drugs and have random sex because that’s what they are into.

      It can be difficult for a man who was once a player and a partier to be the first in his group to decide to stop sowing his wild oats and settle down. If he really loves a woman tho’, he will tell his friends to back off if they rag on him for getting into a monogamous relationship.

      And men don’t just rag on men about this because they think the girl in question is a ball buster, it is just something they do. My son even told me that he and his buds are TERRIBLE that way, they give their buds a hard time when they are treating a girl well, and high fives when they treat her not so well. It does seem to be done in a joking, laughing way, and I do get the impression that they would shut the hell up, if the a guy with a new girl friend told them to do so.

      I also noticed my son (who is 23) is starting to have a little bit of a “I think I’d like that” tone in his voice, when he talks about his friends getting married and having babies.”

      I mean after reading this comment I started to think do men really had it worse than women when it comes infidelity issue?

    3. 33.3

      I’m really sorry. It sounds like you’ve met some crappy females and heard some crappy rationalizations.  I felt like I was monkey dancing for my ex too.  I’ll never understand why men who would never think of making a woman monkey dance end up with women who do that to them. On the other hand, I as a woman, would never dream of making a man monkey dance. I was faithful and loyal under horrible circumstances. After being divorced and single again, I turned down a married man that hit on me, because it’s the right thing to do. In fact, I was rather disgusted that the married guy even tried. Yet, I was cheated on, left and given an STD.  I wish all men and women were like us. The world would be a much better place.

  4. 34

    I have been cheated from my ex wife,4 years ago.
    It come like a shock to me,because I used to do more than 50% on my marriage and I always have been consider an alfa man. 
    I initiated the divorce and to be honest I didnt suffer financially.She started to use drugs,and my son is leaving with me.Now she is saying that she was depressed from the past etc etc which I dont believe one word of it.
    Thank God I have a good job otherwise I would have suffered a lot.
    But,I dont think I am going to let someone close anymore.
    I feel comfortable the way I am,and I dont want to get hurt again.
    I understand your man and I know it is not your fault but I see myself in the same position after 12 years,although I had several chances to start a relationship.

    I used to be a very open minded person and used to laugh at people who had trust issues with women,but now I dont trust any woman regardles how good she is.I know I may be wrong but I feel more comfortable this way, than being in a relationship and constantly worring that it will end up like my marriage.   

    As for your man,Good luck and I hope you are happy together.  

  5. 35

    You’ve never met this guy, you’ve only been texting, it’s been a YEAR, he has trust issues…….You have no relationship with a man you’ve never met.  You have no relationship, and he won’t even meet with you.  You have no relationship, and you are already fighting.  Based on your description, I would humbly suggest you keep looking and cut this one loose.

  6. 36

    I experienced the same problem as your boyfriend. Because a past boyfriend cheated on me, I had serious trust issues with my current boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. I would constantly pick unnecessary arguments with him about his female friends and classmates. I accused him of cheating many times, although he hasn’t done anything to prove he is not trustworthy. Most men would’ve walked away by now, but because he really loves me he stayed with me.

    But I found a way to trust him that may or may not work for your boyfriend. I asked myself this question: If my boyfriend was locked in a room with the hottest girl in the world and she was half-naked, would he still remain faithful to me? My honest answer to that question was yes.

    So because I know my boyfriend would remain faithful in such tempting circumstances, I knew I could trust him in general around other women.

    -All the best to you and you boyfriend 😀

  7. 37

    I agree that he needs help. However, he doesn’t need to feel ashamed as some who have posted here suggest. If you love him, suggest with all the love in your heart that he would benefit from counseling and that you would be happy to be part of the process with him. This is what people who love each other do. If he loves you he will agree knowing it is for the best of your relationship. His recognizing his need for help and his commitment to doing so is the least he should do for you if he loves you.

  8. 38

    i too was cheated on and abandoned by my wife of 8 years. I was/am a good, loving, attentive, hardworking husband and father. I am also tired of the double standard that implies that if a woman cheats it’s okay, she’s the victim, and that it was the guy’s fault for making her do it. If a guy cheats, it’s his fault and he’s a pig.

    1. 38.1

      Er I don’t see anyone saying a man is a pig when his wife cheated on him but I do see a lot of women being called a bitch or a whore for cheating on her ex…I mean just look at Kristen Stewart.Nothing wrong if you want to believe that women is just as bad as men but why do you want to believe that cuckolded men is somehow more victimised than the woman?

      Even in EvanMarckKatz blog,you would see a lot of question posed by men who regrets cheating on their girlfriend and asking for advice from him on how to won her back,this means there was nothing wrong in their relationship in the first place but a woman always left their ex after she cheated on them as evidenced by your own ex?

      Why is that?

      Could it be the difference in the the biological states of women and men?

      Hyper gamy and polygamy?

      I don’t know which is the worst but to suggest that somehow men are more affected by this than women pretty much making an attempt to minimise the pain of women while exaggerating the pain of men.I mean if some people can’t even empathize with the feelings of others what makes you think that other people would empathize with you?

  9. 39

    My husband has been married and divorced now 3 times. I am number 4. We have known each other for over 20 yrs. as friends. We recently got married last November. He has a major trust issue too. He worries even if I just have a conversation with another man. He freaks out thinking I’m talking to men on the phone or Facebook. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells anymore. I almost left him twice now. But he always says he will change but he’s not. I live day to day worried he is going to accuse me of something I’m not doing. I have to tell him who I talk to and everywhere I go. It’s really getting out of hand. I love him with all my heart and don’t want to love him. That is not an option. He refuses to get help. He doesn’t like to go to church. So I am on my own to work this out.

  10. 40

    Give up. That is not gonna happen. I am afraid the day he can trust someone again will never come.

  11. 41

    I’m tired of hearing people always blaming the other person cheating, but maybe we don’t know whats the reason why they done it in the first place.. I’m dating someone I knew  back in school. He was married before and he’s been divorce since 2011 due to he’s wife cheated on him!! For him to say that and he blames her for cheating I’m thinking he was the cheater himself!! Come on he has a system in he’s car even tho his  car is old, he’s very controlling, he’s very jealous and he never wants to be wrong or him to be the blame for anything. He shuts me down when where arguing and he put he’s hands on me. So I can see why he’s wife cheated on him! Sometimes we don’t know what people do to their boyfriend, wife, girlfriend or spouse, but I can tell you this very few honest people in this world. The old saying said don’t do something you don’t want to be done back to you. I can tell when someone is a cheater. Sometimes God always shows us in our eyes to see when that person is not right! So my thing is you need to leave him it’s been a longtime and he still letting the past in your relationship.. you can’t have a relationship with someone that consists of thinking your going to hurt them or you have to prove yourself to them it’s a no no. And as for me I’m definitely leaving him and because there are a lot of things in he’s life that I can’t deal with anymore. He needs to be alone to find happiness himself and to love himself first.

  12. 42
    Joshua Tilghman

    My advice…

    If you really like him and see long-term potential in all the other areas, this really isn’t a big deal. Any man who was married and their ex left them to marry someone else the day after the divorce is final is gonna throw up some walls. You’ve only known him for three months. From this point forward, allow him to express his views and just prove to him that you aren’t that woman through patience. He’ll come to trust you in time if you allow him to be and give him the space to express what’s important to him. Remember, your relationship with him is very young.

  13. 43

    So what brought me to this thread in the first place is that I was divorced over 3 years ago to basically the first woman I ever loved because she was cheating. We were married for about 3 years and together over 5. In the last year of the marriage I began to catch on to hints and signs that something wasn’t right. I would question her in the best way I could and I was called crazy and she denied it every step of the way until one day she just left and we went through a very difficult custody battle. Almost a year after the divorce she finally admitted to the cheating and I found out it was going on since the start of our relationship. I worked 12 hour days to be able to afford the house and take care of our child and it was usually a graveyard shift so there were lot of nights she was at home and free to do whatever. I even changed jobs to a less demanding one hoping it would fix things but it only made things more obvious because I was around more. It took me over two years to make an attempt at love again and I found the most beautiful, wonderful woman and we have now been dating for about a year. I was very open in the beginning to my situation and my trust issues. The last thing I want is my failed marriage and past to interfere with my present and future, but I am noticing that it is. She has never given me any signs that she is cheating or unhappy in any way with me but I still have many doubts and insecurities that are starting to affect our relationship. I want us to work out because I love her and care for her and I think that is the scariest part of all, giving my heart to someone and being vulnerable to feeling that pain I did from my divorce and what I seen as losing my family and everything I cared and worked so hard to create. The two years it took for me to start again were very long and difficult and I never thought I would recover until the woman I am with now came into my life and I seen hope and started to feel love for another again. I am as open as I can be about how I feel and trying to not let my past have any bearing on our relationship but unfortunately the pain and insecurities are still there and it has lead to me second guessing myself and more importantly her and what she is doing. I joke about stalking her profiles when she isn’t around (my ex did a lot of her cheating through social media and pretending to go  places that  she wasn’t) but knowing where she is at and what she is doing when she isn’t with me does help put my mind at ease. I wonder if I can ever fully trust anyone ever again and I know that isn’t fair for her. I love this girl and can see us starting our own family one day but I fear im allowing my past experiences to get in the way of that. I can’t help but to always check her location on Facebook when she isn’t around and ask her about guys on her profiles and hate when she is on her phone on social media too much. Sometimes it feels as if I’m too broken and there is no fix to my problem. It’s not fair to her to have to deal with the mistakes from my past and I understand that. That’s why I am here to try because I also know that she does love me too and I want us to be happy. I want to try counseling or something. Everything I look for online is usually for woman who were cheated on and that just makes it worse.

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