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Broken Trust is What Kills a Relationship

Dear Harlan: I’ve been in a relationship for the past five years. We started dating in high school and have been together ever since. My girlfriend is a part of my family. My parents and sisters love her. We are spending the summer apart because she had to stay at school and work. I thought our relationship was rock-solid, until last weekend. She confessed to kissing another guy the night before. This is someone she told me was just a friend, although I’ve never felt good about their friendship. She reassured me that it was just a friendship, and she cried on the phone, explaining that she had been drinking and it didn’t mean anything. I reacted by wanting to break up with her; however, it’s now been a week, and I miss her. I want to give her a second chance, but I’ll always wonder what she’s doing with her “friend.” Is there any way to still make this work? — Broken

Dear Broken:  Of course you miss her. She’s been your best friend your entire adult life. But if you can’t trust her, you can’t date her. Trust is the glue that holds you together. When she violates that trust, the foundation that has kept you together becomes weak. Don’t make this about the kiss; make this about trust. That will help you to see whether the relationship can be fixed. Before you have any conversations, trust and believe that you have options. You must believe that you have other women to date. When you have options, you can listen to the truth. When you don’t believe you have options, it’s hard to listen because you’re too scared of being alone. Talk to her from a place of curiosity and concern (not just hurt). The time apart will help you to be less emotional and confrontational). Why did she do this? Does she need a break? Does she want to experience something else? How long has she been feeling like this? Once she can explain why she got drunk and kissed another guy, you can decide to either stay with her or move on. If alcohol and this guy are the issue, feel free to ask her to give up both. If she can’t, then you can’t trust her.

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