Ask Dr Louise

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Write to Dr Louise, PO Box 39410, Morele­ta­park 0044, or email info@dr­

I’m 24 and have been with my boyfriend since 2013. We got en­gaged in De­cem­ber. But I did some­thing I se­ri­ously re­gret – I cheated on him a month be­fore our en­gage­ment. I wish I could turn back time and change what I did.

What I did broke him and I feel as if I’ve bro­ken my­self too. He’s giv­ing me a chance to see if he’ll be able to move on from it. But he took back my ring and no longer tells me he loves me or calls me cute names.

It’s been two months since he found out and he still hasn’t given the ring back. He says I should give him time but how much time am I sup­posed to give? Is the way he’s han­dling it even fair? Tyla, email

Your boyfriend (fi­ancé) is us­ing the en­gage­ment ring to pun­ish you in the same way that a par­ent would take away a teen’s cell­phone for a while as pun­ish­ment for dis­obe­di­ence. It’s not re­ally an adult way of deal­ing with things – it’s sim­ply how he’s vent­ing his anger about what hap­pened.

He needs time to work through your be­trayal, his fear that you might cheat on him again and his dis­ap­point­ment in you. He needs to fig­ure out if he’s will­ing to trust you again. He might not be able to do it on his own and if he’s re­ally strug­gling with it he might need to con­sult with a psy­chol­o­gist to help him fig­ure it out.

Per­haps you should take a step back. Sug­gest that the two of you start dat­ing all over again and for­get about the en­gage­ment for a while. Stop ob­sess­ing about get­ting the en­gage­ment ring back and think­ing that will solve the prob­lem.

Such wounds can’t heal in two months – it’s likely to take a year or two. The rift be­tween you must be healed be­fore you can move on. He has to come to a point where he can for­give with­out want­ing to pun­ish you all the time. Your be­trayal cut deep and you’ll have to work hard to win his trust again. If you re­ally love him, you’ll be will­ing to do that.

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