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You Asked: My Boyfriend Has a Different Definition of Cheating

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend of three years has cheated twice during the time we've been together. Both incidents happened within six months of our relationship starting. The first time, we had been dating for two months when he decided to start hooking up with another girl. I had to find out through a mutual friend, and when I confronted him, he said that he didn't think we were "officially together." Apparently at that point he wasn't sure whether I was worth missing out on something else. Obviously he ended up breaking it off with her and committing to me. The second time, just a few months later, he admitted that he might have feelings for another girl. We broke up and he ended up hooking up with her but again, he came back to me.

I don't consider myself a bad girlfriend, and I haven't done anything to deserve being cheated on. It's now years later but I still become upset when remembering the past. My boyfriend continues to say that neither of those incidences constituted cheating. Sometimes I ask him to do something to make it up to me, but he refuses because he doesn't think he did anything wrong. Am I wrong to be upset? How else can I reach out to him to make him understand how I feel?

— Stuck in the Past Pareene

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Dear Stuck in the Past Pareene,

Regardless of whose definition of cheating you're following, it's just not healthy to continue battling over something that happened two and half years ago. You let your boyfriend back in to your life after each incident, but it doesn't sound as if either of you have made actual attempts to let go of the past. There's no rule that says you have to forgive him, but if you can't or don't want to then why bother trying to make this relationship work?

Furthermore, you and your boyfriend can discuss, argue, and rediscuss whose idea of cheating is more accurate, but if you haven't come to a conclusion in over two years, I doubt you ever will so stop trying! Instead focus on the real issue: he, on more than one occasion, chose another girl over you. Whether it was a moment of infidelity or not, being left by your crush so he can spend time with another girl does not help to create an atmosphere of love and mutual respect. If he can't at least acknowledge that or if you can't let go of those feelings, your relationship will never be a happy one. It's time to break this pattern of back and forth and really delve into what kind of future you want together.


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