I took my girlfriend back after she cheated, but I’m struggling to move on and rebuild trust.

Hi Evie. My girlfriend (32) and I (35) have been together for nearly 8 years. She ended up having an affair with a colleague last year and admitted it to me straight after it happened. According to her, they had a drunken night after a work get-together and then once more before she cut it off completely. I appreciated her honesty and I thought it was something we could work through since she seemed genuinely remorseful and sorry. But I’m struggling to get the image of her and him out of my head, and the fact that he still works there really annoys me. She sees him every day so how do I know it won’t happen again? Sometimes I think it’d be easier if she or he changed workplace and that way I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. I don’t know whether I can move on from this and rebuild the trust with her or if it’s best to call it quits (even though I don’t want to, she’s the only woman I’ve ever loved). What do you suggest? – Anonymous 

Dear Anonymous, 

It’s commendable that she was honest with you and that you decided to try and work things through rather than abandon ship straight away, but it’s natural that your feelings of doubt still linger. Being cheated on is incredibly hurtful and can shake even the strongest relationship to its core. 

There are two ways to look at this:

She could change her workplace. This is not about running from the problem but removing a recurrent trigger from your life as you work on healing. But there’s still the risk that you won’t trust her no matter what environment she’s in – what’s to say she doesn’t meet someone else at her new workplace? 

Alternatively, she stays at her current workplace and you work to get back to a point of trusting her regardless of who she’s around. 

That’s a conversation you’ll need to have together as asking her to give up her work isn’t a small thing. At the same time, she needs to understand how working with this individual could get in the way of the healing process. Ultimately, this will have to come down to what’s best for both of you. 

Now, I mentioned it was commendable that she was honest with you, and it’s great that she’s showing genuine remorse. But that alone isn’t enough to rebuild trust. It’s going to take time, a lot of understanding and communication, and a deep delve into your relationship. Ask the uncomfortable questions, such as:

  • Was she lacking something in the relationship that made her look elsewhere? This is not necessarily to say you were doing anything wrong, but perhaps she had unmet needs and expectations that weren’t being communicated properly. 

And finally, this really comes down to whether you can find forgiveness in your heart. You clearly want to. But forgiving someone doesn’t always happen overnight, it’s something you’ll both have to work at. 

I often advise readers to seek professional help as there’s only so much I can do in one response, but in your case, I’d strongly suggest reaching out to a therapist. Trust is incredibly complex and recovering from infidelity requires support, tools for healing, and a safe environment where you can both discuss your concerns. 

Wishing you all the best, 

Evie 

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Ask Evie

Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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