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My boyfriend said he cheated three years ago

what do I do with that?

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Warning: advice may be brutal and sassy

The Dilemma

Matt (he/him) l 34 l Gay l Manchester

Last week my boyfriend said he cheated on me three years ago. He was half drunk while telling me, and said it so casually like it isn’t even a thing?

It happened a few months into us dating when he wasn’t yet sure he wanted a long-term relationship.

He said he’s never done it since because he realised he did want a relationship, and that he would now never cheat as ‘it goes against what he stands for‘ (which makes no sense since he’s already cheated!).

He was almost laughing as he told me, like it’s funny. Like it’s some stupid prank I’m meant to laugh about too.

But it’s not funny – it’s really hurt me.

My boyfriend just said he cheated three years ago l LGBTQ+ Advice Column l LGBTQ Wellness

I haven’t told my friends or family because I’m feeling ashamed of it. Like all this time I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes.

My friends and family adore him! They’re going to be so disappointed.

What am I meant to do with this – forgive it because so much time has passed?

The Response

Firstly, Matt, I want to acknowledge your pain. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this.

It isn’t a laughing matter, and you deserve to feel whichever and all emotions that come up for you right now.

I’m glad you’ve reached out.

I do though, however, think this might be a short one.

I’ve toyed with various responses and solutions, but I keep coming back to the same conclusion:

Cheating is cheating.

But is cheating wrong?

This is the age old question, in particularly in our community.

Cheating is so commonplace, isn’t it? 

cheating is cheating

Gay culture would have us believe relationships aren’t possible without a little cheating.

Well I don’t subscribe to that.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that we have to permit cheating ‘if it happens the odd time‘.

However, I am not your relationship. I am not the rule maker of your relationship. 

That is solely you two.

And you need to determine what your rules are, Matt.

Don’t be thinking of your family or friends right now, their disappointment is irrelevant. What matters is how you feel and how the relationship works for you.

You should reach out to them for support though, it does help.

But do not let your mind be swayed by what you think your family will say.

What will you say?

That’s the important question to ask.

He was laughing because he's had time to process it

I want to address the laughter because I can tell it’s been salt in the wound for you. It would be for me, too.

I expect he’s laughing because he’s had three years to process the issue.

After three years, his guilt has likely subsided and the scale of the issue somewhat lessened to him.

This doesn’t make it right, but it hopefully offers you an explanation for how laughter may have been in the exchange.

However, he’s wrongfully forgotten that you haven’t had three years to process it, and that this is a fresh piece of information to you.

He should have been more delicate.

Determine how you feel

You need to now take time for you, Matt.

You need to determine how you feel.

He has had three years to process this information which has softened his view on the severity of it. However, time doesn’t make it any less severe.

Some partners can forgive cheating, forget, and move on to live happy fulfilling relationships.

For some people, cheating is a red line.

You need to determine your red line.

My final thoughts

You need some space to collect your thoughts now, Matt. Your boyfriend needs to respect that.

Remember that length of time has no bearing on the hurt we feel when someone has wronged us. 

Allow yourself to feel the hurt – we only get clarity by leaning in to explore it.

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