Teen Talk

When a boyfriend cheats, focus on yourself, not him

By Kelly Richardson

DEAR KELLY: My boyfriend cheated on me and I don’t understand why, and neither does he. He said he loves me and he always will, but he doesn’t know if he wants to be in a relationship. He cheated with a girl who he has told me drives him crazy before because she’s liked him for a long time, and he never did anything to get with her. Then he goes to a kick-back at his friend’s house and she comes over and they hook up, but he still says he doesn’t like her. He said he loves me but he’s unsure of “us.”

I don’t know what to do. I love him and I know he loves me, so why would he cheat on me when he says I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to him? Even his stepmom loves me and she’s so mad at him for cheating. I feel so sad and I can’t even talk to my boyfriend without losing it. I feel sick every time I think of him kissing her and I freak out whenever he doesn’t text me back right away now because I worry he’s with her. Do we throw away 11 months of being together and in love? I’m so confused.

How can I get over this? I can’t eat, sleep, think or even focus on anything but this. I’ve never been in love like this before, so how do I walk away on someone who is my first true love? Explain to me why someone cheats when they claim to be in love with you? I would never cheat on him and I can’t understand how he could do that to me.

Broken Brooke

DEAR BROOKE: Heartbreak stinks. No, it’s worse than stinks. It’s painful, frustrating, confusing and upsetting. We know that emotional pain also causes physical pain, and that’s why our heart actually hurts, our stomach is in knots and we feel terrible.

Trying to understand why someone would cheat is difficult. There are many reasons and many excuses people give for making bad decisions. To understand cheating, you need to look beyond what he did and try to see what he may have been feeling that led him to make the decision.

People cheat for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they cheat because they don’t know how to get out of a situation or relationship. Other times people cheat because the risk of getting caught isn’t scary enough to prevent it from happening. Cheating gives people attention and it can reinforce people’s insecurities if they are feeling down or unattractive. For some people, cheating is a way to deal with feeling bored and restless in a relationship. People can be self-destructive and push the limits to see what they can get away with, or some are just impulsive and don’t think beyond the moment about what they are doing and who they are hurting. Remind yourself that most people don’t cheat because there is something wrong with you, they cheat because there is something wrong with them.

But before you invest a lot of time into figuring out why he cheated and how you are going to forgive him to move on with the relationship, you need to stop and listen closely to what he is saying. He said he doesn’t know if he wants to be in a relationship right now, which is code for I don’t want to be in a relationship right now. He might feel too young to be so tied down. Maybe he wants to sow his oats, whatever that looks like for him. Perhaps he feels like he’s missing out on hanging out with his friends or being a normal guy when he’s in a relationship. Your boyfriend sounds confused and conflicted. And when people are confused, they make mistakes and take risks.

Instead of focusing on getting back together, redirect your focus to taking care of yourself and helping you to move forward in a way that is healthy. Trying to understand his motives, when he doesn’t want to still be in this relationship, isn’t beneficial to helping you move ahead. The reality is that he cheated and he doesn’t feel ready to be in a relationship anymore. As painful as that is, you have to accept what he is feeling and focus on you.

Gather your girlfriends (I hope you maintained those friendships when you had a boyfriend) and put together a rally night. Have them come over for friendship, facials, food and fun. Don’t sulk and sob over him. Dance or make fun videos. Laugh and enjoy being with people who care about you. Don’t talk about your ex all night or the other girl – talk about things coming up like upcoming dances, movies or funny stories.

When you are feeling down, make yourself do positive things like exercising, drawing or writing, walking your dog, riding your bike, baking cookies, etc. If you sit around and continue to pine for him or fixate on what he did with the other girl, you will be stuck and unable to move forward.

Put your chin up, girl. Hold your head high. Show class and grace. Realize that in the end, he is the one losing out and you will be just fine.

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@ sacbee.com.