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Hoping a Cheater Will Change? Relationship Advice

Updated on July 26, 2010

Dear Veronica,

I have posted on your "Forgiving a Cheater..." Hub under the name "Wounded". You have such a great insight and have helped so many people, I was hoping you could provide some insight for me. It has been almost 6 months since I found the text messages on my husband's phone. The texts were to 3 different girls, 2 of which I met and 1 I had no idea who she was. He talked about meeting up with 2 of the girls and they were sexual texts. He said that he never met up with them and nothing ever happened. It was all talk because he was bored and curious. The last girl was flirting texts with things like "you never know we may end up together." This was not this first time I found text messages on his phone. The first time (while we were still dating) it was just fl irting nothing sexual I had seen. He did other things while we were dating that were inappropiate like looking at "casual encounter" ads on craigslist (again supposedly he was curious and wanted to see if he would find anyone he knows on there), had a picture of a girl's butt on his phone that was taken at our apartment, etc. I know it all is bad and I should have broken it off then, but I was in love and believed he could change.

When I first found out I went and stayed at a family member's house for a week or so and just couldnt handle it, I was so lonely because I work from home, so I went back home. I didn't let my husband hug me or hold my hand or any of that. Now I let him hold my hand and hug me every now and then, but its not like it was before all this. I still don't kiss him because I don't feel the urge to anymore. 

I had confided in a guy friend of mine (who I had a crush on) because I needed a guy's perspective. Well about 3 months into this, I kissed my crush. We both felt bad so now we are no longer talking because I would be a hypcorite. Even though I don't talk to him anymore (but still think about him from time to time. I don't even know how he feels about me if anything at all) I can't get back to where I was with my husband.

I went to one counseling session to try to help me figure things out,... but still have no idea.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Dear Wounded,

I've said this in many of my Hubs, applying to many different things: when you need your partner to change in order to be happy, you are in the wrong relationship. Having had evidence of his cheating and hoping he would just change, was not a smart move on your part. And you know that, but I am pointing it out for the kids at home. Marriage doesn't fix these things. Neither does having kids. When your partner has to change in order to be the partner you need them to be - not learn to compromise and not mature a little bit, but to actually change - then you are heading for disaster.

Also for the record let's review what cheating means. It means doing something that you would not be doing if your partner was standing right next to you.

For different people that means different things. Some couples mutually agree to have open relationships. Some agree that a mutual experience is OK once in a while. Some are what they consider to be monogamous but enjoy flirting, watching some erotica or talking about fantasies. And some couples are as repressed and conservative as the day is long. Who is right? Well, they all are. Whatever mutual agreement you make with your partner is no body's business but yours. And no one can tell you what's right and wrong if you and your partner are happy consenting adults that communicate clearly about these things. 

In your situation, Wounded, you had no mutual agreement that what he was doing was OK. This constitutes cheating. And it's not alright. He did alot of lying and storytelling to try to make up excuses, proving he understood this was wrong. He understood this was something that would break your heart, and he chose to do it anyway. And he chose to do it again. And again. And again. And again.

No matter how hard you think divorcing will be, it is not nearly as hard as living with and remaining married to a man that thinks that little of you. We're not talking about one mistake, one indiscretion that he feels terribly about. We're not talking about one moment where he was human and did something regrettable and is coming to you for forgiveness. We are talking about again and again and again. Chance after chance. 3 girls texting at once. And lie after lie. 

He is proving to you that he doesn't give a shit how you feel. That he thinks you are a moron. He wouldn't be telling you such idiotic lies if he thought you were smart enough to see through them. He is disrespecting you, again and again and again.

And to make it worse, you are letting him. By staying, you are reinforcing for him that yes he is completely allowed to behave this way with no consequence. Yes, he can have you and his home and his job and the life he wants, and never has to treat you with respect. Withholding physical contact is hardly a punishment. It's nothing. He's obviously getting the physical contact he wants. If he wanted yours, he would have treated you a lot differently, wouldn't he. 

Wounded, your indiscretion should be the best lesson of all this. You were aching and hurting, disrespected and feeling rejected and lost, and you had one kiss. Just one kiss. And you felt terrible, and ended it. You did that because you have a conscience. You did the right thing because you understand respect, and trust, and right from wrong. That moment that you had that understanding is exactly what I'm talking about. Your husband never has that moment. He is a self indulgent liar who does anything he wants to, without ever a thought about you. And you know now first hand what that is all about. How can you even entertain the idea of staying with someone that valueless?

Start gathering evidence. if you see a pic on his phone, set it down and take a pic of the phone with your phone. Write down for yourself a factual log of all these incidents. Beginning with the first ones when you were dating, the Craiglists and the texts. Take photos of everything. Put dates or as close to dates as you can recall on this list. And go to a lawyer. 

We're well passed counseling here, Wounded. Your husband needs help, but help is not going to work unless he wants to get help. And he does not. He wants to lie, and get away with it. You need to let go.

I'm glad you had your incident with your friend, even though nothing really happened. At least hopefully it reminds you that there can be real love for you out there. You can be desirable and you can find a better relationship where there is respect and communication. 

My advice to you is to end this. Go to a lawyer and begin. Get that first jump on it. Move anything in the house of real value to you like family heirlooms, photographs, your evidence, old computers, and personal items like jewelry to a family member's home. He's proven again and again and again that he doesn't care how you feel or how badly he hurts you. He's proven over and over and over that he has no conscience. Someone like that, a possible sociopath, is capable of anything. Don't underestimate it. Being your smart journey to a place of self respect and divorce this assclown.

AFTER you've filed the papers, tell your father. I'm sorry but sometimes past generations just don't want to see that divorce is the right answer when someone treats you like garbage. Especially if your father has a working relationship with your husband, he may try to talk you out of leaving. It would be wrong for him to do that. The best thing to do is not to give him the chance to be in that wrong position. Do what you have to do. And then tell him about it. Don't ask him, tell him.

If you lose money, your house, some things, so be it. Fight the good fight, hopefully you will be victorious in the material things, but really they don't matter the way your heart does. You need to do this for yourself even if it means starting all over financially. New doors can't open for you until old ones close. You can do this. Namaste. 


Submit a Comment

  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 7 years ago from NY


    Thanks so much for your comment.

  • profile image

    Wounded 7 years ago


    Thanks for commenting on my situation. Your advice is what several people have told me, yet I can not find the courage to move out and be seperated. I don't know if its because he is trying to change or that he is all I've ever known. Or maybe its because all my life I've just wanted to be loved and I thought I had finally found that.

    No matter how many times my girl friend tells me that I am just dragging this on and it is not fair to either of us, I can't seem to pull the trigger.

  • profile image

    Robert 7 years ago

    When I read the first part I felt uncomfortable. Veronica's advice is what we all want to say to that poor girl but most people beat around the bush. This is really good advice. I hope this girl can move on with her life. Life is short. She should be with someone that really loves her.