Dear Mary: My girlfriend cheated on me with my friend
My girlfriend, whom I've been together with for the last six years, has cheated on me. She had sworn all through our whole relationship that she would never do that because I have had problems in all my previous relationships with my partner cheating on me, even though I've been a loyal partner to all of them.
I have not confronted her yet because it was with one of my childhood friends and because we have an apartment, a car and a dog together.
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I'm not sure whether I want to end this relationship or continue, but I have been so distant with her for the last 10 months that it has been affecting our sex life.
I can barely touch her any more and we haven't had sex in the last six months. She wants to but I can't bring myself to perform in bed with her.
I have no one to talk out this situation with and I'm not sure what to do. I hope you can help me out.
A It often strikes me that women are luckier than men in that they usually have a trusted girlfriend with whom they can discuss any issue that is causing them distress. Men, however, generally stick to non-emotional topics when chatting, such as sports or current affairs, and you are no exception. You have kept all of this to yourself for far too long and I'm glad that you have finally taken the first step by writing to me.
You certainly haven't had much luck with girlfriends cheating on you, and you must have been entirely gutted when you discovered that your current partner had done the same.
The fact that it was with a childhood friend of yours makes it even more unbearable. I have to ask if this was a one-off event or if it was an actual affair.
I ask because even though cheating is bad, if she had an affair it would mean that she had become emotionally involved with this guy which is even worse.
Ten months is a long, long time to be distant with your girlfriend, and I'm surprised she hasn't raised the topic with you herself.
Now the time has come when you must talk it over with her, and remember that you don't necessarily have to break up with her just because the truth will have come out. It depends whether or not you are prepared to forgive her - not forget because that would be impossible - but forgiveness is up to you.
It takes a lot to break up a life that two people have built up together.
You speak of your apartment and other belongings but these are just possessions (apart from the dog which presumably you both love to bits) and are of no consequence if you are truly unhappy with your life.
When you talk about all of this with your girlfriend, you will have to be ready to hear her side of the story and not be too judgemental. In particular, you need to know why exactly she felt the need to cheat on you, particularly given that she knew your past history and how much it would hurt you.
Your girlfriend didn't act alone - your childhood friend was the other half of the deception.
You probably don't want to continue the friendship with him but you will have to decide what to do when your paths next cross. This, of course, is dependent on how often you see him but you will have to be prepared for the feeling of anger that will well up when you meet, if that hasn't already happened.
I can fully understand that you don't feel like being sexual with your girlfriend, but until you do something, such as having a conversation with her about it all, you will not have closure and therefore will be unable to move on with your life.
Go ahead and speak to her, listen to her story and then decide what you want to do.
Mary O'Conor is a sex therapist and relationship counsellor.
You can contact Mary anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O'Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately
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