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Love Letters

Facebook questions after a cheat

Q. My girlfriend and I had been dating for about five years when I found out that she had cheated on me. Needless to say, the news came as a huge shock, but at the end of the day I decided to stick it out with her. She promises it only happened one time, and after more than half a decade together, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

It’s been a few months now, and things have been pretty great. We’re communicating better than ever, and while we still have some issues to work out, I generally don’t have any major complaints about the relationship.

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Except one. The person she was unfaithful with was a close friend of hers. She has not been in contact with him as far as I know, but the other day we got into an argument when she told me she planned on wishing him a happy birthday on Facebook.

She says it’s hard to imagine not ever being friends with him again. For my part, the thought of them hanging out or communicating, even if only on Facebook, brings back some pretty unpleasant memories. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to not want her to have any sort of relationship with him.

We’ve gone back and forth on this a lot, but neither of us seems to understand where the other person is coming from. Is there a right answer here?

Somerville

A. I have a hard time believing that she doesn’t understand where you’re coming from, Confused. I mean, she betrayed you with this man. If she didn’t think that the Facebook post would hurt you, she probably wouldn’t have brought it up for discussion.

This is what happens when you cheat. You almost always wind up losing something. In her case, it’s a friendship — or the love and trust of her boyfriend of five years. She put herself in this position.

Technically, there’s no right answer here. This is just about what feels right to you. You’ve decided (I think) that in order to keep this relationship going, you need her to cut ties with her friend, at least for right now. She’s attempting to negotiate different terms, but you’re not willing to budge.

If that’s the case, all you can do is explain your needs and see if she can meet them. Remind her that the cheat is recent news, at least to you. Your needs might change in another six months. Hers might too.

For now, during this vulnerable time, you just can’t deal with her communicating with this guy, not even on Facebook. Seems fair to me. She can’t have it all.

READERS RESPOND:

Generally, I’m not a fan of ultimatums. I think they can be very manipulative. However, I think in this situation, it’s warranted. How can she not understand how this could hurt the LW? As far as the “friend” is concerned, he’s culpable, too. . . . I’d disconnect completely from the friend, and tell her that she’s gotta make a choice. You’ve forgiven her, and tried to get back on track. It’s her turn to do her part.

I hate recommending people break up, when they’ve been together for a significant amount of time, but you should. You chose to stay with her after she cheated on you, but now you’re trying to get her to make changes in her life because you’re uncomfortable with her choices. I’m assuming it boils down to that you don’t really trust her anymore, even if you forgave her. I wouldn’t either. And a relationship without trust is shaky, at best.

I’m sorry but she still wants to be friends with the dude she cheated on you with? She’s putting her “friendship” with him above your feelings and your relationship. There’s your answer.

You shouldn’t be “negotiating” with the person who wronged you. The person who wronged you should be bending over backward to show behavioral change.

Personally, I would have asked her to move out and ended it right then and there. It seems to me that if she wishes this man happy birthday she is only twisting the knife even further on a very painful wound.

For a silver lining, the fact that she’s open about it and asking you shows she’s committed to no secrets.

Playing devil’s advocate . . . was the cheat a drunken kiss one late night or was it a secret affair that dragged out in multiple sleazy hotels? If the former, you might want to consider if you are being insecure.

Is he Facebook friends with this guy, too? That’s the burning question here.

You said you forgave her and now you’re taking it back because she still wants to have contact with him. It’s kind of a double standard on your part. If you say you forgive somebody you must give them the benefit of doubt. You can’t cry wolf every time she even looks or thinks about someone that is or was a big part of her life. If she can’t be true to her word after knowingly accepting ownership of her mistake then you have a different story here but like you said, you forgave her. Now give her the opportunity to gain your trust.

This was a trial balloon to see how much you will put up with. The next thing will be a quick cup of coffee to catch up. Then it will be dinner. Rinse, repeat.

Wow. I cannot believe your girlfriend would make an issue of this. You forgave her. That is beyond what she had any right to expect. You deserve peace of mind and she is not willing to give you that. She is extraordinarily selfish. I don’t like her.

Meredith didn’t even give the guy advice. She just said that their needs might change in six months. In other words, wait and see what happens.

According to your letter, “[s]he says it’s hard to imagine not ever being friends with him again.” I wonder why? She may not know the answer herself, and if she doesn’t, she needs to figure it out. Once she does, it may put some clarity around all this back and forth.

Column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.com. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
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