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Q. I have been in a six-year relationship with my boyfriend. Much of our relationship was long-distance because he’s in the military. Despite the distance, my trust was strong and our relationship was good. But in 2015, I discovered he had a fake Facebook account for sex chats, and that he was a member of numerous online hookup groups. Shocked and angry, I confronted him. He was defensive at first, but later he apologized and promised he wouldn’t do it ever again. I accepted him back and we continued our long-distance relationship.
But my trust was not as strong. I was insecure and my probing nature resulted in many arguments. He was patient and understood that his past actions were the reason I distrusted him so much. But — during this difficult time — I was vulnerable and had an intimate moment with an ex-boyfriend. I know it was very wrong on my part, but I was not myself after my boyfriend broke my trust.
Last fall, we finally moved to the same city for graduate school. During this time, my boyfriend found out that I had a weak moment with my ex. Though he was extremely angry, he forgave me and we decided to begin again. Our relationship was much better and we were planning on getting married after graduation.
Then, last month, I took a vacation, and when I returned, I found Tinder downloaded on his phone. I did not find any conversations, but it broke my heart just to see that app. It brought back painful memories and I broke up with him. It’s been nearly two weeks and we’ve not spoken. But I want to know: Is it worth giving him another chance and maybe going to counseling? Or was it best to end it?
A. Long-distance relationships are complicated and can involve a lot of heartache. But everything is supposed to get easier in the same city. If a partnership requires just as much work — and causes the same problems — without the distance, it’s time to walk away.
You asked about couples counseling, but I have to wonder whether that’s something your ex wants to do. Did he protest on the breakup? Did he say he wants to work on these issues together? If he was comfortable letting you walk away, that says a lot.
Try to get through the first months of singleness without undoing any of your decisions. Distract yourself with friends, family, and work. Take space to figure out what makes you happy outside of your relationship. Whenever you find yourself second-guessing, remember that you were guided by your gut. Your gut is something to be trusted.
A final thought: The Tinder download bothers me more than the sex chat stuff. Many people look for (and find) real relationships on Tinder. Using a dating app (without disclosing his relationship status) means he’s willing to betray not just you, but many others.
He wanted to cheat on you, which sent you into a crazy control and self-doubt spiral . . . but you got peeved and cheated on him . . . then you got back together in a very dysfunctional way . . . and found out he wants to cheat on you again . . . . you broke up now and it’s been a few weeks where you haven’t talked to each other and . . . and I’m sorry, what’s the question again?
You can’t be in a long-distance relationship with someone you don’t trust. And now you’re in the same area, and you both can’t trust each other. This relationship is toast.
I would have stayed broken up in 2015. After the trust is gone, your relationship will never be the same. Don’t get back together.
You didn’t describe two people who are happy, in love with each other, and treating each other well in your letter. What you may be feeling right now is fear of being alone, which is natural when someone ends a long relationship. You’ve been used to a lot of unhappiness and drama, don’t you want to see if life can be better? Some counseling sessions might be a helpful support in making this change.
As much as he’s going to miss someone else checking his phone every day. It sounds like he’s moving on.