I'm a 27 year old straight male possibly at the end of a great 4 year relationship.

I went back to school to become an engineer so my girlfriend and I could build a better life together. Naturally its a difficult program and eats up a good chunk of my time. This past December during finals I didn't have much time for my girlfriend and she had an emotional affair with another man. I found evidence on her cell phone—she was taking it with her to shower which made me suspicious. I confronted her, she confessed. At the same time she got a great job out of town and had to move. With all that had happened we decided to break up. We got back together a couple weeks later and the long distance relationship has worked out well as it gives us both the time we need to get work done through the week so we can spend time together on weekends.

She recently confessed that while we were broken up she fooled around with that guy, and he's been texting her since (I confronted her for being secretive and changing her cell phone password—she said its because she deserved her privacy). She claims it wasn't cheating, because we were broken up. I contend that since this guy is the reason we broke up, it only makes it worse (a heat of the moment thing would be easier to forgive). Also, the guy is a real deadbeat, which is even harder on my ego. I mean if he was a George Clooney look-a-like brain surgeon that would be one thing, but a thugged out crack head looking career server in his thirties with a child? I thought she had standards.

She claims it was the biggest mistake of her life and she can't live without me. She brings up all the great times we had—and we really did have a great relationship, we were the envy of everybody else. She says she was depressed and lonely because I was so busy which made her not herself and she can't understand how she did what she did and would never do it again. Questions:

1. Is what she did cheating?

2. Can a relationship survive something like this?

3. Was I wrong to invade her privacy? I believe to rebuild trust the transgressor has to accept a loss of privacy, and the injured party will eventually stop being suspicious over time after confirming that there is nothing going on.

4. How the hell do I rebuild my life when everything I've done for the past four years has been for us? The best part—this all came to a head just as this semesters exams were starting and I can't get my head in the game.

Can't Handle Unfaithful Mrs' Promiscuity

My response after the jump.



1. Nope, not cheating. You were broken up, remember?

2. Yes. Relationships survive this sort of thing—notcheatings, estrangements, temporary breakups, fucking up and around—all the time. Relationships have survived far worse betrayals, CHUMP, but forgiveness has to be sought and granted, trust has to be re-earned and re-rewarded.

3. Yes, you were wrong to invade her privacy. But she was much wronger to initiate an emotional affair with another man... if, indeed, that's as far as the affair went prior to snooping/breakingup/fuckingtheotherdude.

The privacy Nazis will insist that your transgression was just as bad or worse. (You invaded her privacy like it was poor, defenseless Poland! And they know all about invading poor, defenseless Poland because they're Nazis!) But the cold, hard facts are these: ceding a little chunk of our privacy is one of the prices of admission we pay when we enter a relationship—think of privacy as Danzig—and we can expect to cede more of our precious privacy when legitimately suspicious behavior invites active snooping. And if taking a quick look at a partner's text history to confirm a suspicion or lay it to rest is a mortal sin, well, we're all going to relationship hell.

And, yes, when a partner has messed up/around—and I'm not saying she did (see Answer #1) and I'm not saying she didn't (see Answer #3, first paragraph)—the transgressor should be anxious to avoid engaging in behaviors that salt the transgressee's wounds. Your girlfriend's ill-advised relationship with this dude is the source of this conflict and drama and she should, at the very least, be willing to—she should be anxious to—cut all ties with the other dude and maintain a password-free-phone policy for the time being. Maintaining contact with theotherfuckingdude, changing passwords, generally acting squirrelly: not the way to earn back a buttsore boyfriend's trust.

4. Oh, please. You can't tell me that she's the only reason you're studying engi-fucking-neering, CHUMP. You were motivated to get an education to build a future. If she's part of your future, your education benefits her too. If she isn't, it will benefit whatever woman you wind up with. Your hurt and feelings of insecurity are understandable, CHUMP, and you have my sympathy. But this I-went-to-college-for-her stuff is pure drama queenery. Knock it off, hit the books, ace your exams.