Dear Dr. Faizal,
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years now and we live together. He cheated on me once with his sister’s friend, Grace, when we first got together. We broke up but got back together a year later. We now have a one-year-old son and everything has been great, except that this weekend he went over to his mother’s house and his sister was there with Grace. Apparently, the two women are best friends again, after a long rift. He was talking to both of them! I’m beside myself with anger. What do I do?
– He Cheated With His Sister’s Friend
Dear He Cheated With His Sister’s Friend,
In reading your letter, a few questions came across my mind: Why did your partner cheat on you? What lead to you getting back together a year later? Did your partner know that Grace was going to be at his mother’s house before he went over? How do you know that he was talking to both his sister and Grace?
It’s obvious that you do not want your boyfriend to associate with Grace. You being “beside [yourself] with anger” at him talking with Grace tells me that you are still insecure about your relationship and perhaps you don’t trust him. All these factors reveal that you haven’t had closure in your relationship with your partner, something that must happen so you can move forward with him without second-guessing where he goes and whom he speaks with.
Let’s begin with my last question. Did you see your partner talking to Grace or is this a hearsay account of the incident (which, in most cases, isn’t very accurate)? If you walked in on your boyfriend speaking with Grace, did he become nervous (a reaction that could show his guilt in that he is interested in Grace, behind your back) or was he natural, welcoming you in the conversation (which would show that he’s had closure from the affair and appreciates that he is now with you and your child). Keep in mind, once someone has closure of an affair and is confronted with this old flame, being polite, nice and respectful is the norm. There is no need for toxic feelings or avoidance – in most cases.
We tend to avoid the person our partner had an affair with because of insecurities. Do you know why your boyfriend was attracted to Grace? Most affairs stem from a need not met in the primary relationship. In this case, was this need later met for your partner for him to return to you? If you don’t know the answers, you must ask your partner. If you and your partner are meeting each other’s needs, there’s no reason for him to look elsewhere, right?
It seems to me that you in being “angry” at your boyfriend for talking to Grace, have still not forgiven him. I recommend you and your partner read, and apply the strategies, from an earlier column, in which I shared how a couple can undergo a process of forgiveness and earn closure from infidelity in their relationship.