I read your advice columns frequently and think you give wonderful advice and commend you for taking your time to do so!Here’s my problem. I am a 19yr old female who for the past 4 years was going out with a 26yr old. We started going out when I was 16 and he was 22. We were engaged for the past year, and we have lived together for 3 and a hlaf years. The past year was a time of fighting, guilt trips and getting treated like crap!(Can I say that on here?-sorry)So, after trying everything from councelling to’talk time’, to walks and romantic dinners, I decided to go away for two weeks to visit family. Everyone has said I should have broken up with him a long time ago because of all the mean and horrible things he did to me.Here’s the problem: I just got back today from my trip only to find out that during our 2 week break, he slept with me bestfriend. Being older he’s had his share of women. I, on the otherhand, have only slept with him. It’s over, I would never be with someone who cheated on me. He knew before I left that it was just a ‘ break’ not breaking up. It was a time for both of us to thinkI have no idea what to do. I am so hurt and I feel so betrayed. You might get this question alot, but I’d really appreciate it if you answer it once more. What do I do?! This was my first serious boyfriend. The only man I have ever slept with! All I have know for 4 years! I’ve been staying at my parents for about a month. (For 2 weeks before I left to visit family). So, I am not living with him or planning on getting back together.My question being: how do I get over this great betrayal? I am so, so hurt. All I did throughout the last year was get hurt, but kept trying to make the relationship work. How do I stop my depression? I know it will get worse. What do I do? PLEASE help me! I can’t deal with this.
I am very sorry to hear how mistreated you have been. Your question to me is how can you get over the hurt and depression that has resulted from your boyfriend’s betrayal of you. In order to get a handle on your depression, you must access the one feeling that you haven’t mentioned–anger. Anger that is swallowed transforms into hurt, self-attack, guilt, anxiety and depression. So, find your anger, and once you own it, the other feelings should subside.I suspect that this won’t be easy for you to do because you seem to be locked in a pattern of putting up with mistreatment and swallowing your anger. As you yourself said, you have tolerated all kinds of abuse during this past year, while at the same time, you continued to try to make the relationship work.The pattern that you are locked in commonly occurs among people who were abused as children. When children are abused, they think that they deserve the abuse and they try harder to be ‘good.’ This way of responding to abuse continues into adulthood. The secret fantasy of both the child and the adult is the following: ‘If I am patient and tolerate the abuse, and try hard to be ‘good,’ I will eventually win my partner’s love and kindness.’ Unfortunately, this tolerant attitude is never rewarded with love; it merely teaches the abuser that he or she can get away with the misbehavior, and this causes the abuse to get worse.In order for you to heal fully–and protect yourself from future abuse, betrayal, hurt and depression–you will need to recognize that you are trapped in the pattern described above. When you do, you can then choose whether or not you wish to continue to live under the fantasy that tolerating mistreatment will bring you rewards. Once you choose to stop this pattern, you will have a permanent way of protecting yourself from being mistreated, hurt and betrayed.My best to you. You deserve to be treated with love and respect.