Dear Dr. Locker: My boyfriend and I are 18, and have been together for 4 years. He cheated on me twice and we broke up. In the past 6 months, he has regained my trust, and treats me like gold. However, he just left the country for three months. I am constantly worried I will get hurt again. I'm also concerned it is an indicator of how he will be in the future. I don't think relationships are supposed to have this much doubt. Is it worth it?
Answer from Dr. Locker
It sounds like you already have a lot of insight into your relationship. You know that it might not be worth all of your worry and work if he's just going to cheat again. But the fact is you can not predict the future. Surely, you have some indication that he could cheat again -- since he cheated twice, and now he's putting himself into a potentially risky situation by being away for a few months. But since he didn't cheat, say, 10 times (like the guest on the Tyra show that you saw me on), and since he has shown you for the past six months that he is willing to work hard to have you trust him, he may be able to change now and not cheat again. It all depends on how ready he is for a real commitment. I want to be sure that you understand that I am not saying that cheating twice is nothing. It is really serious, and I usually tell women who are your age that if the guy cheats once, it's not worth wasting your time on him. But what I am also saying is that there is a chance that he was not ready to be exclusive before, and maybe now he is. Because he's not even around for a few months, there is nothing you can really do to figure out whether or not he is ready to commit to you. So... I think that you should spend the next few months when he is away trying to NOT obsess about him or about your relationship issues. Spend this time on yourself. Focus on school, work, friends, family. Enjoy yourself without him around or in your mind at all. If you start thinking too much about your relationship with him, tell yourself "STOP" and switch to thinking about something else. These months are your time! You do not need to make a decision about him now. When he gets back in the country, then see how you feel. When he is back, ask him to be honest about what he did when he was away. See how you feel. When you see him again, you will find out if you still see him as the man you love, and if you can put the past behind you and be willing to work hard. If you stay together, then you'd need to trust him, so only stay with him if you feel that you can trust him. If you are together and he cheats again, then that will be your tip that it is really over for good. If you would rather move on, break up, and date other guys, then you can feel free to make that choice anytime. Since you are only 18, you can be sure that if you decide to move on and not be with him any more, you will find a new man when you are ready. Remember: You deserve to be with a man who does not cheat on you. When a man treats you really well and talks openly with you that is the best.
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