Q: I was dating a girl while interning in a company where she worked, and she made me feel special by even cooking for me and looking after me when I was ill. We did not have sex as I wanted it to be special and we discussed marriage a number of times. We would go out a lot and I would ask her to drink within certain limits as she would often get tipsy. Then I went off for my M.B.A. and would call her whenever I had time despite my hectic schedule. She started sounding distant and unresponsive to my excitement of meeting her during my breaks. When I met her, she told me that she has had sex on several occasions with a colleague in my absence and has often been out drinking with him and others from the office. I was devastated and cried for days. She asked me to move on, but her parents insisted that she break up with the other guy and get back with me again. She recently said she wants to be with me if I will have her. I want her back because I imagined a future with her. I’m not sure if I will be able to forget what she did with the other guy. I feel hurt and angry as well as needy and desperate. What should I do?
A: There are several emotions at play here. You felt emotionally cheated out of a future you had imagined with her for some time. This is called the ‘loss of a fantasy’. The fantasy life! The fantasy wife! You also feel betrayed by her act of infidelity where she slept with another man. You also have emotional needs that are tied to her presence in your life. First up, it is vital for you to first understand a few things about your situation at the outset –
– Statistically speaking, a person who cheats on his/her partner is likely to repeat the act of cheating if he/she isn’t held accountable for his/her infidelity.
– Her history of getting tipsy after consuming alcohol could lower her inhibitions which could make her go ‘off the handle’ and perhaps feel open to get sexual with people outside her relationship. This could very well become a habitual practice with her.
– Her decision to get back with you could be compelled by her need to please her parents who see merit in her getting back together with you again. People thrive in the familiar and you may just be a more of a ‘safe bet’ for their daughter.
– Sometimes girls also get together with ‘the guy who dotes on them’ to alleviate their own boredom with their circumstances and to show to themselves ‘that they’ve still got it!’
– There are cases where women ‘shop for the best relationship option’ between several suitors based on which man fulfils her needs the best. Often, these suitors are unknown to each other and they vie for the winning spot in her life.
For you to feel hurt and angry is natural. The neediness and desperation is probably based on a fear of abandonment that you experienced when she cheated on you and become emotionally distant.
Based on what you’ve shared; it would seem that you’ve taken several efforts to make yourself available for this relationship. You have gone through many emotions and you’ve been hurt. You need to come to terms with these feelings first.
Emotions can cloud one’s thinking but can also be revelatory about one’s innermost needs. Do you need this to work with her? Or do you need to be in a relationship (with or without her in it as a participant)?
Self-respecting men usually make sure that they express their needs succinctly and with honesty and don’t always find themselves making compromises because they’re trying to maintain an image of ‘niceness and normalcy’.
Assertiveness is a learned art form that all your relationships could benefit a great deal from. Anything that doesn’t stem from an authentic place of clarity will make for an unsustainable effort on your part.
Your decision to be with her or not be with her needs to be a practical one. Being in a state of emotional duress (like you currently are) is likely to start affecting other areas of your life that are important to you. It’s not good for your physical health to be in a state of constant stress.
The body cannot live without the mind. Ask yourself if being with this woman is worth all the effort you’ve had to take or are willing to take to make it work with her and also closely examine if she is willing to grow or change for the sustained health of this relationship. This is surely an important decision for you – so take your time and make it count if you wish to be absolutely clear about this in the long run.
(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)