I have been in a committed relationship with my girlfriend for over two years. I’m in the U.S. Navy, and have been stationed in Guam for three years now. Prior to going here, I had to attend a 6-month school in Virginia that also had civilians in it who were going to be doing the same job as us, but in the civilian sector. This was where I met my girlfriend (she’s a civilian). She’s a really wonderful girl, and we hit it off immediately. We both moved to Guam after that, and continued to stay together. After about 9 months, she moved in with me. Our relationship was great, although I did have to go out to sea for extended periods of time (the longest was for about two months).
Anyway, after a little over a year of her being here, our relationship started to get into a rut. It wasn’t like it used to be. She has a couple of friends out here, but mostly, my friends are her friends as well. So, about a month ago, I was out to sea, and I started to hear things. Nothing specific, just that she had been hanging out with one of my friends often. When I asked her if anything was going on, she told me nothing was wrong. During that whole week, though, she seemed distant and withdrawn, like something was wrong. One night after that, I got up for some water and saw her phone on the dining room table. It was blinking, saying she had a text message waiting. Still wondering what was going on, I read the text and it was from my friend saying “good night and wishing you could come over tonight.” I asked her again what was going on, and told her that I already knew something was. Well, she confessed that my friend started to kiss her. She said that she stopped it and told him it wasn’t right. She said she didn’t have any feelings for this guy. She said she told him she didn’t want to see him anymore, and that she was going to try to make our relationship work.
After thinking about all this, I decided to take her back and to try to make it work. I told her that I forgave her, but the pain and broken trust were going to take some time to heal. So she has been back for about four days and everything seems like it was, when we first started to date. Except for my feelings on trust. I’m scared it’s going to happen again. Can you please give me some advice on the situation?
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. After reading your email, I was deeply struck by your courage and willingness to work things out. It seems to me that the core of your question is whether or not you made the right decision.
Here are my insights:
Remember the old acronym, H.A.L.T. (hungry, angry, lonely and tired)? Well, the rule of thumb is to never let yourself get too lonely, too angry, or too tired. Why? Because in these states of mind, our egos tend to be more vulnerable to temptation.
It seems to me that your GF has been lonely. This made her more vulnerable to outside attention (this can happen to anyone of us). So, what can you learn from this?
Well, I believe this is a pointer, that your GF has some growing up to do. So, part of what would be helpful to her is to learn how to be “alone” without being “lonely.” How to be her own best friend, create a positive social network, and become more involved in more things that make her happy — outside of you and your relationship. All of this would add to her self-esteem and help her handle your time apart better.
Something else to consider:
When betrayal happens in a love relationship, the pain is indescribable. I know you’re a tough guy, so maybe you’ve been able to sweep most of it under the rug. But you can’t deny there’s heaviness in your heart and a cloud of uncertainty that surrounds even the tiniest things you do right now.
This is all very normal. Getting over this kind of betrayal, disappointment, and “let-down” is a process. So please go easy on yourself. You love her. You know you do, and at the same time, you’re not fully able to let go and love her with the same kind of trust and innocence you used to.
Why is that? Because the “indiscretion” changed everything. The “bad” news is… there’s no going back to the way things “used to be”. But then again, maybe this isn’t actually “bad” — because in your scenario, the “bad news” is also the “good news”.
What does this mean?
So, things are never going to be the same again, but if you think about it, you don’t really want them to be the same again anyway. The reason? If you go back to the way things were, all that will do is get you exactly what you got before… and that’s exactly what you’re afraid of.
Begin couples’ counseling for both of you, and maybe life coaching for her. There are underlying issues that led to the “rut” in the first place. She needs to learn some coping skills to help her tolerate loneliness if she’s going to be with a Navy man.
The bottom line: Your relationship needs a new road map. You have to learn from your mistakes so as not to repeat them.
That’s the only way to ensure your future does NOT recreate the past. For more help on this, read my article My Roadmap for Affair Recovery for Couples. I believe you’ll find it very helpful.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!