Dear Cheryl: I've been dating Bryce for four years. We'd planned to get married after we finished a brief return to school for advanced educational degrees. We're both in our late 20s and are supposed to graduate in June.
My problem began eight months ago when Bryce began to get lots of text messages from someone. He also began to go out till all hours of the night. Sometimes he would stay out till 4:30 a.m. And he stopped paying his bills on time.
Right before Christmas break, we had a huge research project due. Bryce never worked on it, and I ended up pulling an all-nighter to finish it while he stayed out till 3 a.m. partying. I confronted him about the text messages, his irresponsibility and his lack of respect for me. He denied anything was going on. Over Christmas, I found more text messages. Then he started deleting them.
In January, with a particularly hard semester ahead of me, I tried to overlook the situation and work on my professional future. I received a job offer in another state, where my parents live, and I can move right after graduation.
When Bryce heard about this, he did a complete turnaround. Now he wants to make things better. "Just like they were," he says. He's sending me flowers, telling me he loves me and how beautiful I am.
I'm not sure if I can believe all this. In fact, I'm finding this very hard to deal with. I recently found out the person texting him was an ex-girlfriend. This revelation has made me realize how hurt and angry I've been.
I was in denial over the whole situation, but I can no longer avoid dealing with it. I hear that he's planning to propose. If he did, I would say no. I'm very hurt that our relationship has been reduced to this. I'm very tempted to take the job offer. It's comparable to jobs that are available here and it's much closer to my family.
Part of me hates to throw away three good years of a relationship that had plans for a future, but the other part of me is mad and resentful and scared that I won't ever be able to trust him again. I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering when the other shoe will drop. Lying is the one thing that I'm not sure I can get over. — Confused
Dear Confused: You're never going to be able to get past this until you know what really happened. Tell Bryce that if he has any hopes of having a future with you, he has to come clean. Who is this ex-girlfriend? What is it about her that made him ditch his schoolwork and his bills? If he was sleeping with her (and what else would they be doing until 4:30 in the morning?), now is the time to tell you. How deeply was he involved with her? Why has he stopped seeing her? Or has he?
Explain to him that there's a chance you can forgive him and go on — if he's honest. But if he holds back and there are holes in his story, you'll never be able to trust him again and the relationship is doomed.
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