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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

To see DearSugar's answer,


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.


lingericious lingericious 9 years
Many have said whether the guy has faults or talk about the definition of cheating. They are all correct. However, what is most important is this: if the man you love has a different definition of cheating as you, and does not want to compromise to your definition, leave him. He needs a girl who can give him freedom, but you need a secure, sensitive, faithful-to-the-core type of man. I know how you feel, I am also such a person. He might not feel that he is cheating, but you do, and neither of you want to give way about your own definitions to the other. The only solution other than that is only to find your ideal guy, the guy who suits you much more than him, the type of guy who has the same definition of cheating as you.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
Whether what he did was actually cheating or not (personally I believe that it was), he broke your trust and it doesn't sound like he wasn't even honest about it the first time that he did it. Honestly, if he did not consider it cheating and thought that you would be cool with it, then why didn't he tell you right away when it happened? Exactly. He knew what he was doing was not ok and was hurtful to you. I think the bigger issue here is the fact that: he was not honest about what he did. And you cannot trust this man. Why would you even want to be with someone who did this to you, let alone the whole not admitting it part????????????????? If I were you, I would never, ever trust this man again. He has shown to you twice that he does not deserve your trust. You can never make him understand how you feel because he is selfish and unable to admit wrongdoing here and he probably never will admit any. I am sorry, but he sounds immature and selfish. Could you really see yourself marrying this man??? Would you trust him to never do this again? Of course you wouldn't, because no woman would trust a man that did this to them. Get out now, before he has a chance to do it again. Have more respect for yourself to realize that if you still don't trust him, (and he has not even admitted he has done anything wrong), then you probably will never trust him. But if you insist on staying, then get couples counselling. This situation sounds full of heartbreak to me.
emalove emalove 9 years
I would have gotten rid of the jerk after it happened the first time...
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
To me it sounds like he's not really cheating on you but that you think it's cheating. If you weren't exclusive and he was with someone else that isn't cheating. Also if you broke up and he was with someone else, that is not cheating either. If you want to be with him tell him that means that this is the last time he's going to be with another girl as long as he's with you. Make what you define as cheating clear to him and tell him that you'll not put up with any less. He doesn't seem like a guy you'd even want to be with but if you do you need to lay down ground rules for him.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
My ex did this to me, we clearly had different definitions of cheating... You need to find somebody who respects you. This guy does not respect you!!
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
not really. 3 years goes by pretty fast. and it's easy to keep riding a donkey...if the ride is good that is. (it must be your a*s, cuz it ain't your face)
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I don't know if I agree with everyone saying that "he's just not into you" or "he's waiting for something better". Three years is a long timem to stay with someone that you're not into. Unless he is currently cheating on her...
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
I feel like this: he doesn't like you. he's just screwing you until something better comes along. regardless if it's considered cheating or not. i can bet that he doesn't do much to make you feel too good otherwise either. I don't want to be mean. but what's gonna happen is, he's gonna decide he doesn't want to be with someone who doesn't "trust" him. It's going to be made out that it's all your fault. he's gonna move on with some other girl and you're gonna hear about how happy they are through mutual friends. and you're gonna feel like pure sh*t and have a hard time moving on and dating someone else because you're going to run down what you did wrong. and because your self-esteem is in the dump, you're only going to attract d*ckheads who cheat, and you're gonna be cool with it because not being cool with it is how you lost your last boyfriend. Don't be a donkey. Don't be in a relationship where there is no trust. Get a new hair cut/hobby, and move on.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I do not think anyone is necessarily siding with the boyfriend in this case but dating has changed a lot in the last 10 years. I would not think I was exclusive with someone after 2 months nor would I assume we were in a committed relationship without some kind of conversation. I do not know anyone that dates one person at time anymore. This is what happens when people do not communicate there are hurt feelings and misunderstandings. At least he had the guts to tell you that he was attracted to someone else a lot of guys would just not say anything and cheat this does not make him a prize but unless you are willing to move on from this then you need to end the relationship he has already told he doesn't feel he did anything wrong so he doesn't "owe" you anything. I am not even sure what you are expecting to be honest. You should also consider therapy to help you address your low self esteem.
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
I don't think he cheated. The first time was within 2 months of your relationship. if you hung out with him a handful of times and you considered it to be dating and he considered it to be hanging out and you never discussed exclusivity, it's not cheating. and the second time, you had broken up. Yes, they were crappy things to do and I'm not saying he's an awesome guy who only have eyes for you, but to ask him to make it up to you is off-base (and that ship sailed 2 years ago). If you stay with him, you need to move past this. Given that twice he's had his eye wander (how has he been SINCE the second time?), maybe you should rethink if you want to stay together. I don't think I could trust a guy who is so quick to disregard me.
HayleyStark HayleyStark 9 years
This board overwhelmingly defends the guys. Just sayin.
fantome14 fantome14 9 years
Liss, I would need to have the talk just as much as a guy would. While it's nice that you and your man fell into sync without a problem, that does not happen to most other people. I don't see why we need to expect the men we date to be mind readers. Not everyone (women too) feels like one or two dates equals a committed relationship, so I think it's dangerous to expect that it does in every case.
joesbabygirl joesbabygirl 9 years
I would leave. I couldn't live with fact that he chose someone over me. I know you love him...I mean you've been with him for 3 years! But that doesn't change anything..The truth is the truth..He left you 2 times for another girl. What if you end up married to this guy and he does it while you are married? Girl you need to get some SELF RESPECT and leave! There is another guy out there that would NEVER do that to you!!! No one deserves what he has done..And if he wont even own up to it...errr, just please leave him!
ilikeatea ilikeatea 9 years
I would have just left him after hte first time. You are with someone who isn't sure if they are into you enough or isn't sure if you were worth it to give up on someone else?! And then they go likes someone else and hooks up with them?! Are you listeningto yourself?! Dear god woman I want to shake some sense into you! You are worth way more than a man like that. Sounds like a loser you can do without! Kick him to the curb and find someone that will apperciate you for all that you are and love you for all thatyou are not!
geebers geebers 9 years
He's just not that into you.
bluestar bluestar 9 years
Dump him! Trust me, my ex did this. Broke up with me to be with someone else and then I LET HIM COME BACK! Stupidest thing I've ever done. I could never fully trust him again...thinking he was going to leave me as soon as something he thought was better came around. It's not worth it. You (and I) deserve not to be the people they can fall back on! Don't let yourself be that, regardless of if it was "real" cheating or not!
Fallen85 Fallen85 9 years
I wouldnt be suprised if he was still cheating, just hiding it better. He learned from his "mistakes" at the beginning of the relationship... the mistake that he got caught, not that he banged another chick. Dump this loser. You're not over now, you'll never be and he obviously has no remorse whatsoever. What a waste of two years.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I don't understand this whole "the talk" thing. When my husband and i first got together we never have a "talk" it was just understood that we were together and would not be with anyone else. I don't think if you are dating you have to say "Hey, don't cheat on me" it should just be known. But thats just me and we have been together 14 years and no cheating. I never realized i had to tell him not to cheat on me.
K-is-For-Kait K-is-For-Kait 9 years
Dump him! This guy sounds like a complete scumbag! I wouldn't be shocked at all if he were the type who was still cheating behind your back. He's probably just gotten better at hiding it. You deserve better! You should ever have to be his back-up option, which is what seemed to have happened in both cases.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 9 years
You're not wrong to be upset by the cheating and no one deserves to be lied to and cheated on. However, we teach men how to treat us through our actions. Unfortunately you took him back which let him know that it was ok that he cheated the first time. It doesn't seem like he's going to stop completely. Save yourself the heartache and tears and find someone who respects and honors you. Good luck.
Lanfear Lanfear 9 years
First of all I agree with tidalwave that his behavious is not necessarily cheating. For the first one it sounds like you did not discuss commitment yet and the second instance he told you, broke up with you and only afterwards did the other girl. You were the one who took him back and asking TWO YEARS later that he should make it up to you is incredibly childish. If you are unhappy with him say it out loud and face the consequence of a possible breakup - don't hide behind "I do not like what he did last summer ..."
Marni7 Marni7 9 years
Ok, so he has a different view of what cheating really is but in ur heart you view it as a betrayal..your first sentence says it all, "My boyfriend of three years has cheated twice during the time we've been together." If it hurts you that he is doing these kind of things, that is enough reason to leave, you do not need to sit here and figure out the correct term for what it may have been, your feelings alone should be enough..also, what makes u think he wont do things in the future that he wouldnt take as cheating but u will?
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 9 years
Everyone's definition of cheating is definitely different.
mnp mnp 9 years
Two girls within the first half of the year when you've "started a relationship" is a big red flag there. I don't think any women can forgive a man who has ever "cheated" whether or not it was real cheating or some obscure technicality. I think the best way to deal with this is to dump the loser. He had TWO flings; it's bad enough to deal with one but TWO?! You deserve a guy who is head over heels with you and one who will only wait for you and not jump into bed with another girl.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
Why did you even take him back if this has bothered you for so long? You ask him to make it up to you? After two years? Did you try doing this before you took him back?! Were you two exclusive when he cheated on you the first time after two months? If not, then he didn't cheat on you. I'm sorry to say but if there was no official exclusivity mentioned (yes, i mean discussed) then he did nothing in the wrong. At all. The second time, he told you that he had feelings for someone else. It was only after you two had broken up that he had sex, oh wait, i mean "hooked up" (grow up - if it was sex just say that) with this other girl. Sounds like he didn't really cheat then either. And it doesn't even matter because you accepted him back into your life!
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