How to Forgive

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-22-2007
How to Forgive
Mon, 03-10-2014 - 10:11pm


I have been dating a guy for 2 years.  He is divorced with 2 great kids, has been divorced for about 10 years now.  The problem is, he is divorced because he left his wife and kids because he fell in love with someone else.  His wife wanted to try to work things out but he decided that he didn't want to and ended up divorcing her.  He wasn't a deadbeat Dad and still would see his kids every other weekend and eventually things didn't work out with the 'other woman' because she ended up cheating on him with another married man (which I see as karma).

So 10 years later, I am dating this guy and I really do love him.  He always puts his kids first, pays child support and even extra child support when he doesn't have to.  Him and his ex-wife are cordial to each other.  I've met her and she is nice.  My problem is, I'm worried about his past behavior.  We have talked about what happened and he didn't try to hide anything about it.  He told me the truth and honestly what had happened and didn't make any excuses for it.  I honestly don't think he would ever make this mistake again and he says that he won't.  He said he thought the grass was greener on the other side and he was wrong and he learned his lesson.

I'm still worried though.  I know it was 10 years ago and a person can change a lot in 10 years.  But we are starting to talk about our future and I don't want him to repeat history again, though he says he won't.  Something that also bothers me is he has a really close childhood friend, who was almost like a mother to him and they had a falling out because of what he did 10 years ago and have hardly talked since.  That bothers me because this person was so good to him and he hasn't talked to her in 10 years.  How can someone do that?

I guess this is another side of an affair and was wondering if anyone had any advice.  I've known about this for awhile but for some reason this is really bothering me right now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 12:01am

Past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.  Sometimes a marriage falls apart.  An honorable person will end the marriage.  A person who cheats is covering his bets.  He cheated instead of just ending his marriage, and then he got it right you said, Karma!  My feeling is that if a person doesn't respect the vows of marriage, then he doesn't respect marriage.  I wouldn't trust that person.  As for the friend that he doesn't talk to anymore, well, you don't know if that person is a person who holds a grudge, or if that person knows more than you do.  Bottom line is that you don't trust him.  Maybe he has learned his lesson, but maybe he hasn't......and you have no way of knowing which it is.  Having been married to a cheater, I would never trust another cheater. Some people DO change.......but how do you know if he has?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 7:06am

Can I ask, how old are you two?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 03-11-2014 - 10:48am

I think there are 2 kinds of cheaters--there is the kind of person who just doesn't care about other people's feelings, is very self centered or may even be a sex addict--those kind of people will continually cheat.  You read about them on these boards.  The guy who got caught once, promised to be good but a few years later there he is cheating again--you just can't trust those people.  then I think that some other people will make a mistake once and never repeat it.  My exH cheated on me, felt guilty about it and to my knowledge never did it again--it wasn't the reason we got divorced and I would never have found out if he hadn't told me.  Now he's been married to his 2nd wife for over 10 yrs and I really doubt he cheats on her.  

Does your BF give you any signs that he might cheat?  Is he sneaky about things, does he flirt w/ other women or have friendships that are too close?  If he doesn't give you any reason not to trust him and the only thing you have to go on is the past affair, then I think it is possible that it was a one time thing.  People can actually learn from their mistakes.  Maybe he regrets what he did and doesn't want to repeat it as he sees that he broke up his marriage for this OW who then hurt him--or he realized how hurtful it was to be left for someone else.  I mean there are no guarantees in life either.  Everyone who cheats has a first time--like his wife went into the marriage trusting him and was probably shocked that he cheated.  Or people can get hurt in other ways or even if he doesn't cheat, there could be other reasons that your relationship won't work out.  so you just have to make a decision--can you take him at his word that he regrets what he did and won't do it again?  If not, then break up with him.  I don't think there's much chance if you are always going to be worrying and second guessing him.

As far as his friend, maybe the argument they had was something that it's very hard to get over.  sometimes people say things when they are having an argument that are very harsh and it ruins the friendship or maybe she won't ever forgive him--you have to make your own decision, not go by someone else when you don't know what went on.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-10-2009
Mon, 03-24-2014 - 11:10am

Karma is right. It is also a statistic (that affairs don't last in reality without re-offense).

A person has to be supremely selfish to have an affair. Not just selfish but massively so. Ego is also a factor, as is cowardice. The tendency to blame ones affair on the injured partner is prevalent and a sure sign of a lost cause.

That is the bad news. The good news is that your partner admits to having been wrong. Many live their entire lives thinking the grass is greener on the other side and never wake up to the realization that this is an idiot's belief. That he did not attempt to blame his behavior on someone else means he has taken responsibility for his foolish choices. It may be that he has seen the error or his ways and learned a hard lesson. There are those among us who are teachable and do not walk away from our affairs unscathed or remain as stupid as we once were.

This is not to say that your partner will not repeat his past mistakes yet it is a good sign that he likely will not. Unless he is sociopathic he is no longer ignorant to the ugly realities of fantasies or the devastating results of keeping secrets. He has the failure of a lost family to remind him of that every day. Keep communication open and demand transparency. Create intimacy with this person while keeping your eyes open. All you can do is your best in any given situation and it is the same for him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-09-2014
Fri, 05-16-2014 - 3:16pm
He's been honest with you about his past. If you've been involved with him than why not give him the benefit of the doubt? He didn't have to tell you anything and left out alot of the details. There is no telling if he'll cheat on you again. That is not a certainty with anyone but this is a different relationship and if you can't put your trust in him than what you two have is already doomed. You're putting forth negative energy and the fact that your questioning how he may treat you should be an indicator to slow down, talk to him and tell him how you feel.