Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three 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:
I caught my boyfriend, “Mike,” cheating on me.
He wrote the letter below to apologize. My friends say I should take him back; most men don’t apologize daw. But there is something about his letter that turns me off.
Am I being too judgmental? Can you help me figure this out?
Here’s his letter:
I know I have messed up lately and now I am trying to clean up my act. I realized long ago that my relationship with Clara was wrong. I have definitely made up my mind to stop seeing her.
Well, I’m going through these days with a lot of guilt and hatred. I hate her for what she did. I hate myself for allowing myself fall into that mess. And most of all, I hate myself for hurting you. I know I’ve already lost your trust in me. I do not blame you at all.
I’ve put myself into a situation where I can no longer become absolutely truthful to you. You will always have doubts about what I say and what I have done. I know you are mad at me, and you are possibly considering that it is now time to part ways.
I am very sorry and I wish I never did what I did. But the reality is, I did it, and at this point I do not know what to do.
What I know though is what you are to me. You are my best, best friend, you are the one who knows me in and out, you know my weaknesses and my strengths, and most importantly you know the simple things I wish for for my future.
I know that I love you and I have no doubt you love me too. But my misdeed has severely weakened it. And I have only myself to blame for it.
And so, may I ask you to help me get through with this? Please do not crucify me, but rather give me good counsel. May I ask you not to take the role of a hurt lover, and I know this may be difficult to do. Take it easy on me; I am at the stage of my life where I am allergic to discussions. You know me already; just try to understand me rather than judge me.
Here is my breakdown of Mike’s letter:
He declares that his relationship with Clara is finished, gives his view of the current status and basis of your relationship, accepts that your anger, hurt, and lack of trust are justified. He clearly states his dislike of any sort of confrontation, effectively closing the door to any display of anger, hurt, etc. on your part. He makes a feeble declaration that he has weakened your relationship and that he is to blame, then requests that you be a “best friend,” not hurt lover, in your reaction to his misdeed because he is “allergic to discussion.”
What is missing is an explanation of why he committed a misdeed guaranteed to negate everything he says about your relationship, any willingness to discuss the reasons for his misdeed and its effect on your present and future relationship, any indication of how he expects any reconciliation to be achieved, particularly since he expects you to react as a best friend to an injury he himself inflicted on someone who is supposedly his best friend and lover. Finally, there is no real sense he accepts responsibility for his actions.
This letter contains the barest minimum of apology for the misdeed, no explanation of it, and makes no positive contribution to reconciliation. His list of allergies is designed to preempt any discussion of his misdeed, and he totally fails to address your legitimate concerns as a hurt lover by expecting you to counsel him regardless of your own feelings.
In summary, it is 99% about him.
Ask him to make a genuine comprehensive apology before even considering taking him back.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. I agree 100% with not only with Mr. Baer’s breakdown of Mike’s letter, but also with Mr. Baer’s suggestion. That he has to do, say, and /or commit more before you think about taking him back.
I would like you to focus on the things he’s written that do not predict a happy future:
Mike says: “I’ve put myself into a situation where I can no longer become absolutely truthful to you. You will always have doubts about what I say.”
You could say: “That’s it?!!? To merely admit you’ve been a bad boy means nothing. What you plan to do so this doesn’t happen again is what counts.”
Mike adds: “(You’ve) already lost your trust in me. I do not blame you at all.
You could say (again):That’s it?!!? (Again.) How very kind of you to not blame me for no longer trusting you, but that doesn’t cut it. What are you going to do so that trust is restored?
Mike adds: “Please do not crucify me, but rather give me good counsel. (Don’t) take the role of a hurt lover.”
You could say: You seem to mistake giving good counsel for giving you a free ride, no matter how you misbehaved. Giving good counsel includes your realizing the hurt and anger you caused and our working through this.
And, finally, his most chilling sentence of all:
Mike uses these words to describe himself: “I am at the stage of my life where I am allergic to discussions…. You know me already, just try to understand me rather than judge me.”
And I now warn you: Mike is telling you in no uncertain terms that talking about important issues – infidelity, what to do about his (or your parents’) expectations or diminishing health – is not on the table. He eschews deep conversations where motives are revealed, logic is examined, mistakes are admitted to, explanations for such mistakes are sought, and feelings are shared.
Oh, Anna. We have tried to articulate the possible reasons Mike’s letter was not acceptable to you. If any of this resonates, please be careful…be very careful. And decide whether you want a man like this for a long-term partner or even for a short-term fling.
All the best,
MG Holmes – Rappler.com
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.