I’ve been hooking up with this guy all year. I’m not interested in anything serious, and we only see each other late at night after we’ve been out. I sometimes feel guilty that it’s been going on this long. Is it wrong to continue my situationship with this guy when it’s convenient? How do I find someone who I actually have feelings for?
First — no, it is not wrong. You say you have been going out with this person for the majority of the year. If your guilt comes out of concern for him, remember that he is a free agent, too. Remember that he’s also a part of this situationship and could be echoing your guilt without your knowledge.
Now, if that guilt is more directed at yourself, perhaps because you feel like you are compromising your self-worth in being with this person who you know is not right for you. Or maybe you feel guilty because it’s a relatively superficial relationship — just remember that there is no shame in doing what feels right for you.
What you may be experiencing, though, is that something may feel right for you in the moment, but not necessarily afterward. And that is where you have to look into yourself and ask yourself some tough questions. One way to do this is to envision yourself in the future. Will you look back at your time and think, “That worked out. I’m glad I did that. That was a good experience for me.” Or will you regret that this person took up your time and energy?
To your next question — unfortunately, I can’t give you a formula for finding someone who you’ll be excited about and emotionally fulfilled by.I can pass on some advice that may not be what you want to hear but is worth thinking about. I have a friend who likes to use this expression — “You can’t find Mr. Right if you’re with Mr. Wrong.”
It is scary to let go of someone knowing that you might be alone for a bit. But it is better to feel alone when you are actually on your own than feel alone with someone else, which is how you might feel if you continue down this road. Spending time alone is an opportunity to reflect on your values, expectations and energy — it will only bring you closer to attracting someone who will align with yours.
My boyfriend cheated on his previous girlfriend. How do I know I can trust him?
Maybe this question is one you should ask him. In fact, if you haven’t yet, my advice is that you do ask him. Of course, any reasonable person’s answer in that scenario would be “You can trust me,” even if that is not the case. But still, it’s worth asking so that he is aware that his past is contributing to your doubts. You need reassurance. He needs to earn that trust.
I don’t believe in the saying, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” Someone may have cheated once — and let’s be clear, I am not condoning that — but that should not become their identity. People cheat for different reasons. Often cheating is a symptom, not a cause, of a relationship’s dysfunction.
Next, even when someone was objectively in the wrong, do acknowledge that people make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. People change, and pigeonholing someone to an identity as a cheater — or any identity for that matter — precludes them from that opportunity to grow. All of this to say it isn’t entirely inconceivable to trust your partner even if they had cheated before.
It is possible to overcome a partner’s rocky past. The key to this situation is opening your heart while also using your best judgment. The solution here lies in having a tough conversation with your boyfriend and letting him earn that trust.
Ask the questions that are essential to your relationship as it stands now, not questions about his previous relationships or superfluous details. Ask what you need to know, not what you want to know. Think about what would make you feel more secure in your relationship and express that to him.
Tell him what he needs to do to build this trust, and notice whether or not he does those things. His behavior in the future, not his behavior from the past, will be your answer. Once you’ve had this honest conversation with him and feel satisfied with the way he’s responded to your needs, then you’ll know if you can trust him.
Heart to Heart is a regular column written by Life columnists Katherine Schwartz and Jenna Onetto. To submit a question, fill out this form and our columnists will do their best to address it in an upcoming issue.