Am I the problem in our relationship? (Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez)
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
Hello, I'm a 34-year-old woman. Lately, I've been having problems with my emotions that have just made my boyfriend lose it — not physically but mentally.
We have known each other since we were 14 and partied at my best friend’s house all throughout high school. I hadn't seen him in over ten years, and when I did, he was married and expecting a child. Seeing him again brought back emotions I had when I was younger, but I didn't think much of it until I found out he was having issues with his wife at the time.
We started hanging out more, and at the time he was into just himself really — doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and just not giving a sh*t about life. I was falling in love with someone who was completely different from anyone I had ever dated.
We made it official back in 2014. Our relationship was exciting. We went to concerts together and just had an amazing time.
Until it happened... Yes, the nightmare of every girl — finding out the one person you love has cheated on you.
The thing that hurt me the most was the way I found out. This troll-looking girl was a no one, but he had her around because it was "free pussy.” I had a gut feeling one night, and he was acting weird. It pushed me to do what I did. I went on to his phone and realized he had been seeing this POS girl for six months!!
I was livid. I felt that everything I ever did for him was lost, was overlooked, and didn't mean anything. I felt shattered inside — lost, overwhelmed with emotions. At one point, I wanted to do the impossible.
This happened in December 2016, and ever since then, I have just been an emotional wreck. Even though he says, he would never cheat on me again — because of the damage and way he made me feel — I just don't know.
He kept that a secret for me for so long, how do I know he won't do it again!??
“Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Isn't that what they say?
I find my self reading articles like “How do you know you are a passive-aggressive person?" or "Are you a manipulator in a relationship?" only because he seems to always say that I take things way out of context, that I exaggerate everything, that I need help mentally, and that I should stop worrying if he's going to cheat on me or not.
It's extremely exhausting feeling like this, but I don't know what to do. I love him so much, but I don't know how to communicate with anyone without them thinking I'm over-exaggerating. I feel that I'm that one out of a million people who say something a certain way but doesn't mean it the way everyone else thinks it means, only because "society" has made you think that basically black is going to be black and it can never be grey... Ugh! Please help!
Am I the problem in our relationship?
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There is a lot here in your email that is being glossed over. And that makes sense. It’s pretty much what he’s asking you to do — to gloss over or overlook the fact that he cheated and lied because you’re supposed to just get over it.
One side note: It doesn’t matter what the other girl looked like or that she was giving it up for him. You’re not mad at her. You’re mad at him. He betrayed you. Not her.
Keep the anger directed at the right target. And you DO have a right to be angry.
You mentioned that when you got together, he was “doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and just not giving a sh*t about life.” I assume this was while he was expecting a child or shortly after his child was born. I mean… THIS IS AN ENORMOUS RED FLAG, for a multitude of reasons.
But, we can’t go back in time. Are you having trouble processing the betrayal and moving forward? Yes. Does he bear some of the responsibility? Absolutely.
Your question is familiar territory for me. My first marriage was not dissimilar. I was married to someone who chronically lied and cheated. Throughout our relationship, he would deny, deflect, and make comments that indicated that I was making it all up in my head, that I was delusional. But, I wasn’t.
It is a special form of torture to know in your gut that someone is betraying you and all the while they deny it, making you think you dreamt the whole thing up, leading you to question your intuition.
Am I 100% sure that’s what your boyfriend is doing? No. But, I think that when we repeatedly have those nagging feelings inside of us that something is off, it usually is.
If you were my friend IRL, I would tell you to get out. This relationship does not sound like it was a healthy one from the get-go.
I can tell you from my experience that when I finally had the self-worth and trust in myself to leave — it was a relief.
I highly recommend seeing a therapist. These relationship patterns are often deep-rooted from years of dysfunctional relationships (both romantic and platonic). For me, it took work on my part so that I wouldn’t fall into the same sort of toxic partnership again. Another resource would be a support group, such as CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous). Their website has a lot of useful information, as well as a directory of meetings around the world. Rather than investing any more time in this person, invest some time in yourself.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I'm not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I've gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, recovery, friendship, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Almandine Garnet, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo