Q: Dear Meredith,
I'm 30 and I have two kids. I was in a relationship with this man for approximately three-and-a-half years before finding out that he cheated on me for several months. We found out that I was pregnant with our first child only few months into our relationship. That sort of forced us to live our relationship on fast-forward. We didn't have a lot of courting or alone time before the kids came along. Approximately a year ago, he started texting this married woman that he works with. He insisted that it was platonic -- that nothing was going on -- that they were just friends.
Last summer, I went on Facebook and saw a little endearing message (I did not snoop. He forgot to log out and it was right there on the computer screen for me to see). I confronted him about this and again, he claimed that it was just a friendship. I felt sick, I was devastated, and I knew something was going on. I asked him not to speak to this woman outside of work.
A few months later he drops the bomb on me and tells me that he has not been happy with me and that I expect a lot from him (because we have children together et cetera). I ask him if there was someone else. He, again, said that there was no one else.
Recently, I found out he had a secret email address. I snooped and found hundreds of emails back and forth with this married woman from work spanning for at least the last few months professing love for each other, plans to leave their significant others and to live together, to find an apartment together, and they also spoke of marriage. I showed up at his work and asked for house keys and car keys and I left. I moved out of state within 48 hours with our two young children. Currently living with my parents and basically I had to start all over again.
A few days after leaving him, he texts me and tells me he made a mistake. That he wants me. That losing everything made him realize what he really wanted all along. Losing all of this, our home, our family, me and the kids made him gain some insight. He tells me that they never went as far as sleeping together (which I do have a hard time believing). I do still love him but I have a hard time believing anything he says. Currently, he is living in a friend's basement and basically he was left with nothing. And the married woman? I confronted her by text and she claimed she was happily married with her husband. The married woman no longer wants anything to do with him.
I often find myself wondering if he says he misses me because he lost the comforts of having a home. Every day I struggle with self-esteem issues stemming out of this whole affair. I have trust issues now. He and I have talked a lot these past few weeks. He wants to prove me wrong. He wants to do couples counseling. He says he is actively seeking a job that will put him close to the kids and I again. He says he hates himself and wants to atone for what he did. He wants to make all these wrongs right again. He says he wants to marry me now.
I am devastated, not only because he actually cheated on me but because he had been lying to me for all these months. He kept insisting that I was being paranoid by having all these suspicions about him and this married woman from work. Now I beat myself up because I should have trusted my gut instincts.
So Meredith, what do you think? Do you have any advice for this girl here with some major trust issues? What do your readers think?
– Trust Issues
A: It's natural to want to beat yourself up for letting this go on for so long, but you shouldn't, TI. Because your gut was right. You read him well. That means you can also trust your gut as you make decisions about his intentions and how much you want him in your life.
Right now, your gut says that you're not sure if he misses you or if he's just uncomfortable in his new living situation. So trust your gut. Wait and find out. And if your gut eventually says, "Let him back in," know that you're taking advice from the same gut that led you in the right direction about his affair. And if your gut says, "I just can't trust this guy," that means you should move on.
No matter what, you have to take your time with this. Marrying him right now is out of the question. He wants couples counseling? Fine. But let him come to you. Do what makes you comfortable, which at the moment is staying with your parents and giving your brain a rest. You're allowed to take deep breaths and take your time. I'm sure your gut is telling you that, too.
Readers? Should she even consider taking him back? How can she deal with her trust issues? What happened with this guy and the affair? Is this just about his discomfort? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.