I cheated, and want him back

Q. I recently cheated on my boyfriend of 4 years. I don't know why I did what I did, but I did it. I told my boyfriend what I had done and he kicked me and my son out. He says he forgives me but he doesn't want to be with me anymore. Is there anything I can do to show him how sorry I feel and prove how much I love him?

A. In order for you to have any chance at salvaging this broken relationship, you need to start being honest - if not with others, then at least with yourself. You said you don't know why you betrayed your man. Seriously? Where was all the love you proclaim to have for him when you were wrapped around another fella? How about boundaries, commitment?

The fact that you admitted your wrongdoing is commendable, though your principles seem extremely disjointed. Why have such sound scruples in one situation and not in another? If it was so important to you to be up front and honest with him about your behavior, you could have applied that integrity to prevent the affair from ever happening.

So let's get down to it. If you ever want to find peace in your love life, you're going to have to do a lot better than "I don't why I did what I did". If you're not in touch enough with your emotions to identify what motivated you to cheat, then you ought to consider doing some serious personal reflection, rather than focusing all of your effort on getting him back. Having him back will not solve the problem that led you to stray in the first place.

You probably do care for him and are sorry for what you did, but it probably really hurts him to hear you say that. Because you chose to have an illicit sexual relationship, to him, hearing, "I love you" sounds like a contradiction in terms; an outright lie. Instead, focus on acting and communicating in a way that is more genuine. Express regret, but do it in a way that doesn't insult his intelligence. Show that you accept his decision to distance from you. Most importantly, take responsibility for your actions.

If you really, really want him to forgive you and take you back, give him the courtesy of knowing why you were unfaithful. Listen, people cheat for a million reasons. Sometimes it's because they're unwilling to raise an issue with their partner; other times it's because they’ve given up on something and don't believe saying anything will make a difference. If a part of the relationship is bad enough to compel you to cheat, don't kid yourself: it needs to be addressed. By denying the real issues, you'll be doomed to repeat this cycle.