[Two Pronged] Should I save my ex-girlfriend from the guy she cheated with?
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
My girlfriend “Anna” cheated on me. She got assigned to Singapore. We had problems before, but they got worse when she went there.
She shoves things under the carpet. When I try to discuss our issues she just shuts down and cries. She hinted I had to move to SingaporeI tried to make her understand it would take time but again she just shut down.
She seemed indifferent so I booked a flight to surprise her. When I arrived at her place there was a small gathering. Her housemates were more ecstatic at my gesture than she was. When the evening concluded, Rick, a coworker, the guy she cheated on me with, even shook my hand but couldn't look me in the eye. The rest of my visit I asked her what I should do to save our relationship but she said she needed space to figure out whether she still loved me.
When I got back to Cebu we broke up.
A week ago, a friend (Joel) said Anna acknowledged she cheated on me. Anna says she can't believe that she threw away her 8 year relationship for a fling. Joel confirms these were her exact words.
I made my peace with things in the new year, even when none of my friends believed that I had been cheated on. I don't feel differently despite Joel’s revelations. The only thing that changed is my friends saw the transformation I had to underwent to stay alive. I even thought of suicide.
I asked a new girl out on a date just to feel something. She was an amazing person and I clung to her for dear life.
Joel said Rick is an asshole and pursued her even when she was in a relationship with me. Joel says that he and her housemates had tried to reason with her to stop seeing the guy because he's only taking advantage of her situation. She acknowledged this, yet she still continued seeing Rick.
I want to help her. I want her to acknowledge what she did so that I can tell her that I had forgiven her long ago and magically release her from this spell she's under. But I don't think it works that way.
I don't think me meddling in her situation would help her. I fear that me re-entering the picture in any manner would just push her further into herself or the guy. So I don't know what to do.
So Anna cheated on you, you broke up, you made your peace with things, you have a new girlfriend and now you want to “help” Anna by meddling in her life?
You say “I want her to acknowledge what she did so that I can tell her that I had forgiven her long ago and magically release her from this spell she’s under. But I don’t think it works that way” and you are absolutely right.
You have forgiven her, you have moved on and you need to recognize that if she didn’t even heed you in the death throes of your relationship, how much less likely is it that she will now that that relationship is dead and buried? Forget about magic spells and romantic notions of saving damsels from themselves; leave that to Mills & Boon writers.
Concentrate instead on a little self-analysis. For example, why, if you have already forgiven her, do you want Anna to acknowledge what she did? Is it for her benefit or yours? Does this mean that your forgiveness is actually incomplete without her acknowledgement?
And why do you want to release her from this spell? Is it the act of a distant friend interested merely in her wellbeing or in fact an attempt to re-engage and resurrect your relationship? Your answers to these questions will help you find the way forward.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. It is a difficult one to answer. There is your manifest focus: to help Anna. Then there is the latent need for us as columnists to help you get over Anna’s cheating on you. Happily, Mr Baer has responded to both your manifest focus and your latent need.
You seem not to have moved on from Anna’s cheating on you: You had suicidal thoughts, initially your Cebu-based friends couldn’t believe Anna cheated on you, Anna’s housemates in Singapore considered the guy Anna cheated on you with was an asshole, your fear that if you meddled it might push Anna further into the guy, etc.
In addition to Mr Baer’s suggestions for further self analysis please include why you seem to feel her infidelity says more about you than about her. I am not faulting you for feeling devastated when you first found out; many men would.
But can you also think of what you could do to stop your obsessing about it? Once you do, it will be easier for you not to go out with other women simply to “feel something.” Doing this can be healthy when getting over Anna, but if you have, then it is time to see your dates for who they really are and not just as panakip butas (consolation prize).
I hope this helps, Pete, if even only in an itty bitty way. Good luck!
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