/u/throwawayioou on /r/relationship_advice writes…
“A little over a week ago I [22M] couldn’t resist the temptation to check her [21F] phone because I could just sense that something weird was going on. When I looked I saw that she had been occasionally texting at least 2 guys that go to the same uni as us. I was pretty blown away because I had a lot of faith in this girl and was pretty confident of myself in the relationship. The next day we went on a long car ride and she broke down and cried. When I asked if she slept with either one she said that a kiss was the extent of it and that the dude wanted to take it further but she said that they would have to be in a relationship first. This is the first time she’s betrayed my trust and it cut me pretty deep. I still question if she’s telling the truth or is just too afraid to tell me anything else. I’ve asked again but she hasn’t changed her stance.
While I won’t take responsibility for her actions, I do think that with us being together for so long and being so young, I had begun to take her for granted and I could have been a better man for her. On top of that, we live together and since we don’t do much outside of college we see each other ALL of the time. I do think I neglected her needs and if a kiss was all that happened, I could forgive her. So we’ve been working on repairing our relationship and everything has been pretty good so far. I’ve really stepped up my game for her and have started to show her more affection privately and in public (an area I was lacking in before). We also had a really romantic night a couple of nights ago, and the sex has been phenomenal tbh (where it had been pretty stale before).
To focus on myself I’ve started lifting again which also gives us some time apart. But even with everything that I’ve done I still feel like I’m being taken for granted at this point. A few years ago when she wanted to break up over something dumb I was able to call her bluff and say fine and just leave; a few hours later she called back begging for me and apologizing. In this situation, I don’t feel like I have that power because we live in the same apartment and home for me is a few hours away. I really love this girl and would like an outside opinion on how to go about saving this relationship. How can I be a better and more attentive man for her while also not becoming a doormat? I’ve been expressing more dominant behavior which she does seem to appreciate, but I also don’t want to be controlling and push her away more.
Dear Throwaway Ioou,
What is a relationship but people agreeing that the connection is worth the effort you put in to stay together? In Korean, we call that word 정 (pronounced jung). It is used to indicate the connection we feel with our partners, the “stickiness” that develop between long-term friends or lovers who continue to put in the effort to remain connected.
Five years is a long time in any relationship. You were seventeen and her sixteen when you two got together for the first time. Both you and your partner have grown and changed a lot in that time. And as such, you two have certainly grown apart from each other. Consider that you have been inputting a lot of effort and energy into maintaining this relationship with your partner. Also consider that she too has been putting a lot of effort and energy into maintaining this relationship with you. But you two speak slightly different languages, and some of that effort is lost in translation. For whatever reason, you two have let that disconnect grow and grow.
It is evident in your language that you’ve also been turning more inwardly (focusing more on working out) but also refocusing some of that energy into your relationship as well by going on dates and taking on new sexual adventures together. That is all really great to see. My question is, do you have to call those efforts out for yourself or does your partner independently recognize the efforts that you’ve been putting in? Does your partner have to call her own efforts out for herself or do you independently recognize the efforts she too have been putting in?
There is no magical recipe to save or cure your relationship. Those texting and kissing were very visible symptoms of the underlying sinkhole that has been growing and growing beneath your relationship. So recognize that your trust has been broken, grieve over what has been lost, and focus on mindfully reconnecting with your partner. It sounds like you are well on your way to recovery, and you’ve been doing a great job so far. You two are different people now. So learn to fall in love with her again. And help her learn to fall in love with you again. It’ll be fun. I promise.
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