Dear Dr. Love,I have been with my girlfriend for almost a year now. She has made many mistakes in the past. I thought her lifestyle of smoking and drinking was very bad and asked her to change for me. She willingly said she would.I had also asked her to stay away from one guy in particular becuase he really liked her and hit on her all the time, she also said she would. Not alone, i have also agreed to change some aspects of my life for her and to stay away from just about every other girl except for her.About five months later, i find out from one of my close friends that my girlfriend was in fact smoking and has been. This means she lied right to my face numerous times when i asked her because i was suspicious. when i asked her about it she lied and lied until i just caught her with everything and she slowly admitted the truth.If that wasn’t enough, then i asked her about a particular night when she was with her friend, and her friend’s brother and the individual guy i asked her to stay away from. She told me they were there for a minute. Come to find out they were there for hours and she went to the guy’s house alone with him for a short period of time to get a camera. i also found out she had been smoking with him behined my back for about five months and hugging him even though she forbid me to hug anyone that wasn’t her. and after i found out most of the truth.its been about three months now since then and she recently told me that she also danced in her bathing suit top for him with her friend. She says it was innocent dancing. . How am i ever supposed to first of all just believe she didn’t cheat on me and second believe her ever again?
You do have a problem. What I see is that this relationship was built on the promise that she would make changes for you. The requests for change that you made sounded to me as though you were testing her love for you. If she loved you enough, she’d quit smoking and drinking for you.In reality, a person needs to change for herself. She needed to want to quit smoking and drinking, because she wanted to, not because you asked her to. I think she made promises because she wanted to please you and was perhaps afraid to lose you if she didn’t make the promises.Once she realized that she wasn’t capable of keeping her word to you (about not smoking and drinking), she didn’t have the strength of character to tell you the truth. On top of it all, she continued to see her ex. after having promised she wouldn’t.So once she had broken her promises she was stuck. She could either tell you the truth and risk angering or disappointing you or losing the relationship outright or lie. To avoid all these terrible outcomes, she lied. Of course, the lie blew up in her face.The problem as I see it is that your girlfriend isn’t capable of asserting herself and saying what she is and isn’t willing to do. If she had told you from the start, I don’t want to quit smoking, drinking or seeing my ex. , then you could have decided whether you were willing to see her under those circumstances or not. She wasn’t strong enough to speak her truth, so she yessed you and then did as she wished. Her not keeping her word is what’s left you feeling very mistrustful of her.I think you need to see her not keeping her word as a sign of weakness–an inability to assert herself and say no to you–rather than a sign that she’s untrustworthy. The question now becomes where do you go from here?A good start is to do some self examination and then have a heart to heart talk with her. When you examine yourself, you want to study why you chose a girlfriend who smoked and drank when you didn’t like these behaviors.Did you unconsciously arrange to test her to see if she liked you enough to change for you? Did you unconsciously arrange to be disappointed when your girlfriend let you down by not meeting her promises to you? How does this scenario relate to your childhood experiences? Did your parents make promises and not keep them? Were you continually let down by your parent or parents? Did you choose a girl with flaws and then ask her to change, thereby echoing your wish to see your parents change what they were doing and be better parents for you?As you study yourself, you will see that it is no accident that you chose a flawed girlfriend and then put such expectations on her. As for her, she needs to own why she agreed to your requests. Was she trying to please you? Was she afraid to lose you? Is she too weak to assert herself and say, ‘No, I’m not ready to stop smoking, drinking, or seeing my ex. ‘After you both talk, you’ll have a much better sense of where each of you is coming from. If you find out that she only agreed to your requests in order to please you, not because she wanted to make changes, then she will need to work on learning to assert herself better. When she does, you will know that she will no longer make promises that she can’t or won’t keep.When she stops making such promises, you won’t feel that your trust has been betrayed. At the same time, you are going to have to watch out for how you could easily set her up to fail you, by trying to extract promises from her.I’ve given you a lot to work on. Let me know how you do.