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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 44
    kim richter

    I feel bad for men who put their trust in their wives/girlfriends and get cheated on, equally the same for this happening to women. However, if they want to enter another healthy relationship and have where it works they need to do the necessary work to help them with their trust issues. As these trust issues become serious and even to the point abusive. I have seen it happen. A text message will trigger them and then anger results from it. Either the person gets professional help, or you should walk away from the relationship for safety reason. If you have done nothing wrong or given them reason to distrust you, then quit being their co-dependent and let them figure it out.


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