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I Think My Boyfriend Is Cheating on Me 

Dear Athena,

I think my boyfriend is cheating on me. When we first got together, he cheated and I found out. When I did, he ended it with the other guy right away. Lately he is really distant and busy and seems not that interested in me. He is working a lot, and I think he's lying. I asked him about it, and he said I was being paranoid. How can I find out the truth?

Signed,

Cheated

Dear Cheated,

I'm sure you've heard the expression "once a cheater, always a cheater." And for some people that's true. Maybe the ones who keep cheating have an affinity for risky sexual behavior, or maybe it's a way of avoiding commitment. Maybe they're afraid to admit when the love is gone. But just because your guy cheated before doesn't necessarily mean he's doing it again. Some couples can move past an infidelity and enjoy a lasting monogamous relationship.

You say you had just gotten together when he cheated on you. What were his reasons for straying then? Sometimes, when the initial giddy excitement of a relationship wears off, cheating is a way to enjoy that adrenaline rush again. But you two had just started dating, so I'm curious what led him to wander. Did he already have a history of cheating?

You've asked him if he's cheating on you now, and maybe he's telling you the truth when he says no. Perhaps he is just busy at work, or something else could be going on that he's struggling to articulate. What other signs are there? Is he taking care of his appearance with newfound enthusiasm? Is he moody or picking fights with you? Has your sex life changed? Is he physically distant?

There's no surefire way to find out what's going on unless he admits it or you catch him in the act. But your gut is telling you something's wrong. Is it possible that you have unresolved feelings regarding his first affair? If so, it's time to dig deep and forgive him — you chose to stay with him, after all, and I'm sure you had your reasons. But I also think it's time to confront him again.

Talk out those feelings from the past and tell him you're feeling disconnected. The fact that he called you paranoid doesn't sit well with me. Being defensive or making accusations is an indication that there's something to hide. After talking, if you still don't see a change, then, cheating or no cheating, this relationship might be headed downhill. If you have to work so hard to believe your boyfriend, sticking with him just ain't worth it.

Yours,

Athena

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