Your boyfriend lied to you and broke promises. This hurts. While you care about him, you also care about honesty. It's confusing to know how to respond to his behavior. You wonder if you should end the relationship or give him another chance. Dr. Robert Feldman, author of "The Liar in Your Life," recommends that liars be confronted, because to pretend the lie never happened makes the victim a liar too.
Avoid Personalizing His Actions
Before you confront your boyfriend about his dishonesty, it's important to realize that his betrayal says a great deal about his character, not yours. You value honesty, or else his lies wouldn't hurt you. While you acknowledge the hurt caused by his behavior, be mindful not to personalize it. Personalizing the betrayal of a significant other may likely make the situation worse. Your boyfriend's deception isn't about you. Rather, this is a window into how he protects his ego and handles stress.
After the gut-wrenching discovery of your boyfriend's lies, you may find yourself questioning all that is good in this world. Psychologist Joshua Coleman notes that one of the most common results of discovering a betrayal is "hyper-vigilance." In other words, the betrayed partner begins to look for lies everywhere in an effort to avoid future pain. The betrayed may lose trust in the world and feel very alone. Yet, you need to trust to live a healthy life. It's vital to seek out support from friends and loved ones. Don't keep this pain private.
As you speak with trusted loved ones, take the time to examine the patterns of the story. Is this the first time your boyfriend lied to you? Does he lie to other people? Does he have a habit of breaking promises? The answers to these questions are important. Trust is the foundation of a healthy friendship or romantic relationship. Once violated, it can be repaired. However, if the pattern of lying is continuous, it's very difficult to build a healthy future. Noticing the pattern is central to determining how -- or if -- you want to move forward in your relationship.
Set Clear Expectations
When you confront your boyfriend, be sure to have clear expectations. Determine what you require from him going forward. Marriage therapists Linda and Charlie Bloom, coauthors of "101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last," note that the capacity for healing after a betrayal primarily has to do with the response of the betrayer. Your boyfriend will need to make amends for his wrongs and -- if you decide to continue the relationship -- you will need to find a way to move beyond your current hurt. Having clear expectations about his future behavior is key to reestablishing trust. Certainly, he must meet these expectations if he is hoping for a second chance.
- Author Robert Feldman: Q & A With Robert Feldman
- The Lies We Tell Ourselves: Overcome Lies and Experience the Emotional Health, Intimate Relationships, and Spiritual Fulfillment You've Been Seeking; Dr. Chris Thurman
- Greater Good: Surviving Betrayal
- Psychology Today: Betrayal: It's Not Just About Infidelity
- Surviving Disclosure: A Partner's Guide for Healing the Betrayal of Intimate Trust; Jennifer P. Schnieder and M. Deborah Corley
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