How to move forward in a relationship where both have broken trust

StefeX asks: I’ve been in an undefined relationship with someone whom I’ve fallen in love with over the past two years. Our relationship started out as strictly platonic friends but became full-on. The woman I have been seeing was separated from her husband due to him cheating on her with his colleague for seven years now. I have been her help raising her children from the age of one and five. I potty-trained her son, got him off the bottle and helped with other aspects of his development. I’ve helped her daughter since she went to school with homework and reading as well as implementing discipline when needed. Our relationship was quite fine until I got wind of her chats with an ex-boyfriend who would constantly flirt with her, and I felt she entertained this behavior. Valentines Day of 2017 I was confronted by her grabbing her phone and quickly erasing messages from him that was sent between each other. I have never liked this man or his candor for her. Recently I moved back to my hometown and found out by way of stalking her Whatsapp that they were at it again. She got super defensive saying I was lying, that I hacked her Whatsapp (which I did but I wasn’t going to tell her that because her personality is of such a nature she makes you feel bad or wrong for questioning her, even knowing you are right). She says I have insecurity issues and that in the past three years of being together physically, I was never a boyfriend. Now after the fact that she’s finally divorcing on May 28, she wants to venture out into different relationships. In the past I have also not been squeaky clean as I have lied to her about trivial things (even I don’t know why I did), and these have led to trust issues, which I believe in my heart we can work on. However I am caught up in pain so bad, as I believe I have found my soulmate and I don’t want to give her up to a booty call because she’s truly an amazing person. I know that I too am at fault in this relationship, but I need advice on what defines cheating in her instance, and what defines a relationship in mine, because I know I am in one with her – and what I should do going forward.

Hi StefeX –

You and she seem to me to be in a tough problem, and one which was pretty unavoidable. 

You began as friends, then became “friends with benefits,” while she was still legally married.  Then your relationship stayed undefined while you each did other stuff, including some lying to each other, and even moving out of town.

Now you’d like to make this relationship official, because you two are soulmates, but you’ve both hurt each other some, and she’s even getting somewhat involved with her ex, at least online.

So what can you do?

Well, I have one suggestion, and only one.  You and she need to

talk.  And the talk needs to be about whether or not you two, each, would like to try to start over.

What do I mean by starting over?  Well, you need to set some rules.  Including both of you promising to try to always tell the truth, and to absolutely never hack into each other’s private accounts.  And then to begin a real courtship.

Can you visit each other in your respective towns now?  And when you do, can you take her out to a lovely dinner, or out for a fun hike?  Just like you’re beginning dating?

Now if you were just starting to date a woman, you wouldn’t feel you had the right to look through her phone and emails, right?  So same deal, you don’t do that now either.  And if she wants to flirt with her ex, that’s her right.

But if you continue dating, at some point you’re going to look at getting more committed, right?  And then you have the right to make some demands on each other – like no more flirting with exes online! – and enter into a relationship very different from what you had before.

It’s possible, but it’s work.  And if you two can do it, you’re going to have an amazing relationship, based on deep trust and an enormous amount of knowledge and understanding of each other.

No one’s ever hurt my heart as much as Handsome, my human friend.  And I’ve hurt his heart – and his body – a lot over the years (especially as a hyperactive puppy!).  But today it’s the best relationship either of us has ever known.

You can have this, if you and she are up to the task.

If you can’t tell, I’m hoping you both agree to it!

All my best,


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