Ask Team Practical: Cheating and a Cancelled Engagement

I proposed in September and she said yes. Then I moved to another city for work and traveled home every weekend.

I found the distance incredibly hard, and the job was boring and lonely. My fiancée was finishing her degree, so we didn’t have full weekends together because she needed to study. I encouraged her to make new friends and tried not to be jealous when she joined a social group.  She was depressed and had started spending more time with one of our female friends. At first, I was happy she had someone there to chill out with. I trusted my fiancée; I trusted that she wouldn’t lie to me, and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.

But I did start to feel worried and jealous. I asked her about their relationship, but she said there was nothing between them. Then, I found text messages proving otherwise. I confronted her and she told me she was in love with this woman, and it had progressed from friendship to much more.

Initially we were going to work it out and use this as a catalyst to work on our problems and hope that living together over the summer would bring us back to ourselves. However a few days later she told me that she was no longer attracted to me and hadn’t been for a year, and that she wanted to sleep around and not have to work on our relationship because she was too young to have to do that.

I feel broken. I thought we were going to spend our lives together. I still think that if she were willing to work for us, then we’d have a good chance, though of course it would be hard to trust her. But how am I going to ever be able to trust anyone? I can’t focus at work and I feel guilty crying on my friends all the time, none of whom have been engaged.

I know APW is primarily a website for people in successful relationships but I need people who have that, who have been heartbroken, who are my “people,” to tell me how to survive being broken and alone. Please help me.

Heartbroken Ex Wife-to-be

Dear HEW,

I’m so sorry this happened. Your question makes me ache for you. Lady, this is a big deal. You may feel bad crying to friends or you might feel funny writing into a wedding blog (side-note: this website is NOT only about “successful relationships”), but it’s important that you see this for what it is. You’re mourning. You’re grieving the loss of an anticipated future. That’s major.

Once you’re able to recognize what’s really happening here—a sort of grief process—it won’t seem too far-fetched to think about going to a counselor (and it shouldn’t). An objective perspective, methods for coping and healing, and a small feeling of closure by talking things out are all really valuable benefits of meeting with a wise professional.

Your big plans for the future (a wedding, a life with your partner) have fallen aside (at least for now), and when that happens, it’s easy to feel aimless. It’s time to formulate a new plan. Start a big project, plan yourself a trip, set some sort of goal for the foreseeable future. Create something for yourself to look forward to with anticipation and to absorb some of your time and energy. When your thoughts turn down that repetitive path of, “why?” and “what if?” redirect them; refocus on picking out a new swimsuit for that vacation or designing a logo for your new blog.

You’re valuable. When someone doesn’t recognize your worth or treat you with respect, it does not mean you’re any less valuable. It means they aren’t wise enough to know when something is precious, or they aren’t mature enough to know how to handle it with care. The flaw isn’t in you, lady. Very often, the way people treat us tells us more about their problems than it does about our own. In this instance, you gained some real insight. I’m not talking about the lying or the cheating—people make mistakes, couples recover. But, a reluctance to work through the hard bits in order to make something better? That would have been in a problem in the future if it hadn’t come up now.

I want to avoid barraging you with all the usual platitudes. “Time heals all wounds,” and “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” These all seem flippant, of course, and don’t help in the moment. But they’re clichés for a reason. You can get through this. Slowly. With the help of some other fish swimming around you.

*****

Team Practical, what are your thoughts? How do you move past the pain of knowing that someone has betrayed you? What words of advice and comfort can we give our dear HEW?

Photo: Julie Randall Photography

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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