'I cheated, I’m sorry, I want my boyfriend back'

Her long-term relationship is falling apart with infidelity and arguments. She wonders what to do next.

"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.

Dear Thelma

I had been dating my boyfriend for 10 months and we were very much in love. For our two-month summer break, we went back to our respective home cities.

There, I got in contact with my ex-boyfriend and he was really nice. At the time, my boyfriend and I were having multiple arguments. This pushed me over the edge and I went to meet my ex, which led to physical intimacy but just once.

After that, I stopped meeting my ex and felt sick over what I had done. I was afraid that my boyfriend would find out, which he eventually did. He was furious and hurt. We both cried about it.

I apologised profusely and begged his forgiveness. I told him it was the first and last time I would ever cheat.

But he wouldn't accept my apology. He stayed angry and tried to reduce contact with me. I spent the rest of the summer holidays at home feeling sad and guilty. During that period I didn't talk to many people at all. But I kept on apologising to him.

We met after one month and were glad to see each other. We drank a bit, and he confessed that his heart told him that he should give me another chance, but his logical mind did not want to. He said he loved me a lot and had invested a lot in our relationship and was sad that this is what I gave him back in return.

I feel so guilty and not one day goes by that I don't cry. I don't have many friends and he was my best friend.

I am still trying to pursue him. To some extent, I know I hurt his ego which is unbearable to him.

Will he ever forgive me for the blunder I made? Or will we just stay heartbroken like this forever and never get back together? And how long until I get redemption and peace in our relationship? - Broken Soul

Dear Broken Soul

Oh my dear, what a sad story. You've learned a very hard lesson, that cheating hurts everyone involved.

If you were married, I would suggest counselling with a view to reconciliation. However, from your letter it seems you are students - and possibly rather young?

I'm afraid you must accept your ex's decision that your relationship is over. If he doesn't want to work this out, that is his privilege. You see, when one person cheats, the victim decides what happens next.

My dear, you must also step back and stop contacting him. Look at it from his point of view: a girl he liked, loved perhaps, broke his heart. Every time he sees you, you remind him of this pain. So to be kind to him, you must stop seeking him out.

He's young and he has friends, you say, so he'll have support. Let him go and find his own healing from this.

Now let's talk about you. You made an awful mistake but I can see that you're a good person. Why do I say that? Because bad people always blame others for their errors. You are honest and take the full blame. That tells me that this was a one-off, a misstep.

You are suffering, and that is the price of a conscience. However, I think it's time now that you forgive yourself. You have admitted your fault, apologised and tried to fix it. That is all you can do.

Consider this as a life experience. Now you have had it, you're going to move on and be a wiser person. We all make mistakes; accept that you're human. Be as kind to yourself as you would to another.

You say you don't have many friends and that your ex's friends were yours. Building friendships is a life skill that you must have. We are social creatures and we suffer when we are lonely. While you are a student, you have lots of opportunity to make friends because everyone is in the same boat.

Join a club, take up a sport, work on the college newspaper and connect with new people. Good friends are rare in life but you should make plenty of fun connections.

Tip: stay away from serious charity work. You are currently upset and you are not in a frame of mind to deal with other people's problems. Focus on upbeat activities.

Also, please don't date for six months. You see, you don't like yourself very much at the moment. If you start dating now, you're very likely to make a horrible choice. So stay away from romantic love for a while, okay?

Finally, as you are crying every day and feeling guilty, do consider talking to a college counsellor who is licensed to screen for depression. She can help you sleep better, get you over the guilt and talk you through strategies that will help you through this difficult time.

You made a mistake, but now's the time to move on. I'll be thinking of you and wishing you well.