MATE DEBATE: CAN YOU FORGIVE A CHEATER?
08/11/2015 Sunday, November 8, 2015; Romantic Reminders

CAN YOU FORGIVE

By Romantic Reminders

This Side

Infidelity claims the lives of successful relationships around the world every day. What we’re looking at today is whether or not the cheater should be forgiven.

Our steadfast stance on the matter is no, absolutely not – like the Swiss, we lend no quarter. Relationships are built on trust and respect, among a few other indispensable elements. These elements are the sum of a strong support foundation that can provide both guidance and backing for future challenges that couples may face. If your relationship is the kind where both parties are comfortable with the opposing person interacting intimately with other people then the ramifications of cheating do not exist. If, however, you are in a clearly determined monogamous relationship, then it is paramount to the well being of your person and to the relationship that you close that chapter in life and begin to move forward on to the next phase. By excusing your partner for having cheated, you have directly encouraged the dismantling of the sturdy foundation of which your relationship is built on, quite simply because your trust has been severed and you did nothing to stop the bleeding. In addition, there is a mega chance that once your partner has tasted the fruits of faithlessness, they will become a full blown repeat customer and cheat again. In no way shape or form will that serve any positive purpose towards the strengthening of your relationship and the love shared between the both parties. Simply put, you should not excuse your partner if they’ve engaged in infidelity, it’s a lose-lose no matter how you cut it.  

That Side

Put on your boxing gloves, folks; this one could get ugly! Can you forgive your partner for cheating on you? Oh. Fo. Sho. Unless you have some sort of predetermined agreement (in which case I believe “swinging” would be the word), cheating is not OK. But it ain’t a black and white, if/then statement (i.e. If you cheat, the relationship is over). It’s one of those “it depends” statement. You know–to exercise your brain! Here’s the deal: First off, all couples define cheating differently. Is cheating flirting? Making out? Staying over? Texting? Getting horizontal? Grinding? Becoming Facebook friends? This is an important definition, but for the purpose of the argument let’s just go with the home run. Cheating is having sex with a person who is not your partner. Ugh. Yeah, that’s a tough one to come back from, but cheating should not be the act that defines the future of your relationship. Here’s why: In some cases, cheating can basically be the cowardly way to convince you it’s over. Cheating can be the symptom of a failing relationship. Cheating can be a sticky affair, a premeditated, selfish act. In some cases, the relationship wounds caused by cheating are harder to heal, and in those cases, perhaps calling it quits is the better option. But in other cases, cheating is a short lapse in judgment. The result of a few too many gins and charm at just the right (wrong) time. An indication your relationship–or sex life–could use a little TLC. Yep, in other cases, cheating can actually be a catalyst to change and promote growth. Or, it can be the beginning of the end. See, it’s up to you how you decide to proceed if you get cheated on, and all this chitter-chatter about it being unforgivable gets in the way of making a decision that’s going to benefit you. So screw all the messages in our culture that say to end it despite the situation…that’s just gonna blur your vision. It is possible to forgive, and it is possible to heal. It doesn’t mean you have no backbone, it doesn’t mean “it’ll happen again,” and it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Humans mess up, and sometimes forgiving them is the best route. Now back away from the burning barrel filled with their clothes and call a couples’ therapist!


MATE DEBATE: FLIRTATIOUS BEHAVIOR
02/06/2015 Tuesday, June 2, 2015; Romantic Reminders

Young couple flirting in the office

By Romantic Reminders

This Side

Look, guys, we get it – you have a penis. And, somewhere along the line, you realized that flirting can facilitate using it with an actual human. And it can...

That Side

Ok gentlemen, here’s the scenario: You’re out with your significant other at a social event, catching up with friends and...


FITNESS JUNKIE
07/04/2015 Tuesday, April 7, 2015; Romantic Reminders

workout

My boyfriend has recently become obsessed with health and fitness. At first, I was excited because I found myself more attracted to him. Now, though, it’s not only annoying how much it cuts into our life (he won’t go for Italian anymore and he’s always talking about his next fitness goal), but I’m also worried he’s going to attract more women, and that he might not be as attracted to me as he once was. Help!

This is actually a very common source of conflict in romantic relationships. When one partner makes a lifestyle change — even if the result is a healthier individual — the relationship can experience stress. All of a sudden, priorities shift, one partner’s attention is focused away from the couple, and activities the couple once enjoyed no longer fit into one partner’s “lifestyle”. Feelings of hurt, disconnection, frustration, and fear surface. Luckily, so long as both partners feel supported in their lifestyle choices, and secure and connected in the relationship, sharing different interests and values around food and activity level does not have to have a detrimental effect on the relationship.

From your question, I’m hearing there are three things going on for you: 1) frustration around the logistics of your relationship now that there are new rules around how time (and meals) are spent; 2) fear around your partner attracting women; and 3) insecurity around whether or not you are still attractive enough, and that perhaps he might not approve of your lifestyle. I’ll speak to all of these points, but I encourage you to really explore each of these areas (journaling or therapy are always great ways), to determine what’s most distressful to you.

Oftentimes, when our partner becomes quite “into” something, it can feel as though we’re being cheated on. Our mind starts to wander (Is there a pretty girl at the gym? Am I not as important as a workout? Is he no longer attracted to me?) Ask yourself what happens for you when he orders salad instead of pasta: What do you feel? What’s the message it sends you? That you’re not good enough? Fear? Believe he might leave you? Talk about it. Ask how he feels about you not choosing to join him in his diet and exercise changes.

A health-focused lifestyle change can be beneficial to a certain extent, but if it’s preventing you from being able to spend time together or enjoy a meal out, it can begin to have a negative effect on the relationship. With regards to the logistics of activities and meals in the relationship, discuss how you can support him in his lifestyle change without letting it take away from your quality time. For example, can he adopt a gym schedule that doesn’t interfere with your time together? Can he substitute a day or two a week with a cycle or walk with you? If he’s given up bread, can you still go to your favorite Italian spot, but you’ll order the pasta and he can get chicken salad? Can you structure date night/day where he gives you his full attention? Get creative and brainstorm how you can “make it work”. Compromise.

Next, we go a bit deeper: Fear around your partner attracting other women and insecurity around your attractiveness as a mate go hand in hand. In some ways, these feelings are positive, as they show you value the relationship and its continuation. However, fear and insecurity often breed jealousy, resentment, and manipulative behaviors. Without getting too in-depth theoretically, our romantic relationships often mirror our attachment styles with our parents from growing up. When we feel anxious or insecure in our relationship, some women respond to such anxiety with a “tend and befriend” style, where upon they require closeness and reassurance. Others respond by withdrawing, particularly men. Express how you are feeling to your partner, and clarify any assumptions you’ve made, or mind-reading you’ve done. For example, if you believe that his lifestyle shift now means he believes you’re lazy, or that he’s no longer attracted to you, or that he’s preparing to re-enter the single world. Clarifying such assumptions may help alleviate your feelings of fear and/or insecurity.

Now, this all being said, is there any part of the lifestyle shift that attracts you? Sometimes defensiveness, pride and stubbornness get in the way of trying something different. Could you see yourself enjoying eating this way or accompanying him to the gym? Is it something you could do together? If your partner has expressed desire for you to join him in making changes, being open to the possibility of enjoying it shows flexibility and support, something that he will likely appreciate. Furthermore, if you try it out, you can more legitimately state that you’ve tried it and prefer to go about things as you had been previously.

Warmly,
Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC

Although many individuals share similar concerns relating to their romantic relationships, no two persons or couples are the same. Romantic Reminders’ Registered Clinical Counsellor, Megan Bruneau, provides professional advice that some might find helpful influencing how they consider approaching their concern; however, her advice is by no means a substitute for couple’s therapy or one-on-one professional help. Megan advises all of her clients to seek relationship support in the form of a trained professional if their situation grants them the opportunity to do so. Additionally, if physical or emotional abuse, addictions, or mental illness are present in your relationship, this advice likely will not be suitable or sufficient for you. Instead, individual and couple therapy are strongly recommended.


MATE DEBATE: DRESSED TO KILL
08/03/2015 Sunday, March 8, 2015; Romantic Reminders


By Romantic Reminders

This Side

Ladies, did you know that when you get dressed up like a Siberian streetwalker with an accompaniment of friends looking like a bunch of lusty harlots, we can’t...

That Side

Guys, firstly, if your woman wants to dress “sexy,” you’re a lucky man. Enjoy it. A lot of us are too insecure to show our bodies off.  Secondly, have you ever been...


WANDERING EYE…
31/10/2014 Friday, October 31, 2014; Romantic Reminders

WANDERING EYE

My boyfriend is constantly commenting on attractive women in front of me. I get that he’s going to find other people attractive, but it pisses me off, and, even more embarrassingly so, he does it in front of our friends. Is this some sort of weird way of putting me down? Or am I just being a jealous psycho? How do I get him to stop?

Some folks in Dating 101 missed the lesson about how telling their partner how hot someone else is usually doesn’t fly well. Feeling hurt, offended, annoyed, etc. in response to your partner’s comments, particularly in front of others, are completely natural and understandable reactions. However, our society tends to place the blame on women when they express their feelings (i.e. calling them “crazy” or “jealous”), leaving them feeling invalidated and hesitant to bring up their concerns.

Like you said, it’s natural that your partner is going to find other women attractive—just as you probably find other men attractive. This is human nature and doesn’t mean he intends to pursue the hot girl at the gym or the server on your dinner date. Still, it sounds like his acknowledgment of this attraction understandably leaves you feeling disrespected and inadequate, and thus asking for a change in his behaviour seems like a valid request.

Let’s look at why he might be commenting on other women. In order to do this, let’s explore things further: You mentioned he comments in front of others — does he comment when it’s just the two of you, as well? If so, does it leave you feeling the same way? My guess is that the humiliation and anger you feel are a reaction to the public violation of the “I only have eyes for you” rule that we hold in our society. Of course, there’s pressure not to get jealous or to express discontent in response to his interest in other women. Now, this very well may be a product of insecurity either in himself or in the relationship. The implicit message in these comments might be “I find other women attractive and believe I have other options,” and underneath that might be “I worry that you might leave me, so by commenting on other women I hope you’ll feel less secure and will choose to stay with me.” It might be that he has witnessed his parents interacting in such ways, or that his father/brother/role model did this, and so he believes it is a normal and acceptable behaviour in a relationship. Or, maybe he has done it with past partners and had the behaviour reinforced (for example, a past partner might have reacted to comments by dressing more attractively or becoming more sexual). Or, maybe he just appreciates human beauty and feels a need to point that out. Maybe.

But of course, knowing the “why” won’t get him to keep his attraction to himself. Sure, it can be helpful to know, because it might provide more insight into his intentions and change how you feel; but, what’s most important is that a behaviour is occurring that leaves you feeling disrespected, and you desire change.

My suggestion would be to address the issue with him directly (you’re not surprised). Be specific about the behaviour, and use “I” statements (for example, “When you make comments about finding other women attractive, it leaves me feeling annoyed/disconnected/confused/inadequate/etc. Can you see why I might feel that way?”)

Then, ask how he thinks mentioning these things out loud would benefit the relationship and what he gets out of it, or if there is something else he is trying to tell you by stating such things. Not in a sarcastic or accusatory way, but in a truly curious way about the intentions of his behaviour (.e.g “I’m wondering if you can help me understand better what’s happening for you when you tell me that you find other women attractive.”) Focus on intention and potential benefits/growth in the relationship rather than harm.

Depending on his reaction, you can then move to the next step of asking for change and defining realistic expectations together. For example, you are not asking him not to find other women attractive, as that is an unrealistic expectation. Rather, you are asking him to be more considerate in how he reacts to this feeling of attraction in front of you and in front of others, by not stating it out loud. Because he likely will not be able to completely extinguish the behaviour right off the bat, explore together a firm but compassionate response that you can have prepared for if he “slips up.” (e.g. “I’m noticing you’re commenting on other women. I know it’s a habit that is likely difficult to change, but I just want to remind you that I find it creates a disconnection between us.”) Theories of behaviour suggest that immediacy is important in successful change, so don’t wait until you go to bed that evening to bring it up. Try to do it as soon after the behaviour occurs as possible (ideally with as few curse words as possible). Finally, remember that change is not an immediate or linear process, so try to practice patience and compassion in the process. Good luck!

Warmly,
Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC

Although many individuals share similar concerns relating to their relationship advice, no two persons or couples are the same. Romantic Reminders’ Registered Clinical Counsellor, Megan Bruneau, provides professional advice that some might find helpful influencing how they consider approaching their concern; however, her advice is by no means a substitute for couple’s therapy or one-on-one professional help. Megan advises all of her clients to seek relationship support in the form of a trained professional if their situation grants them the opportunity to do so. Additionally, if physical or emotional abuse, addictions, or mental illness are present in your relationship, this advice likely will not be suitable or sufficient for you. Instead, individual and couple therapy are strongly recommended.


MATE DEBATE: Eye on the Prize
30/06/2014 Monday, June 30, 2014; Romantic Reminders

Man-and-woman-flirting-2502782

By Romantic Reminders

This Side

Ok, so crushes happen. At the office, the gym, during a night out with the girls – at some point in our relationship, we’re probably going to feel attracted...

That Side

Honesty is king. The strongest foundation for a long lasting relationship is honesty. You need to be honest with yourself and with your partner, because...

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