How can I get over my boyfriend cheating on me. I love him, but I'm massively struggling to forgive

So I found on his phone he had been intimately speaking to multiple girls. He apologised. But I'm struggling to get the images and thoughts of betrayal out of my head. I'm mentally struggling, I think on a daily basis who is he talking to, is he talking to girls again, why did he do this to me, why am I not enough. So now I really struggle with self worth. I don't know what to do. His excuse was because we argued a lot, we argued because I had a feeling he was being unfaithful and i was right. There are other things that our relationship struggles with but this is putting the most pressure on me and us.
Asked by Julia

Hi Julia, 

Trust is such an important part of a relationship, and it can be incredibly difficult to re-build trust after it has been broken. After a partner cheats, it is so common to have feelings like the ones that you have described of not feeling good enough for them. However, it is important to remember that more often than not, infidelity is much more about the cheating partner themselves than the one being cheated on. 

It is also important to bear in mind that you have been deeply hurt by this situation, and such hurt cannot be healed overnight. Therefore, it could take a long time to come to a place of forgiveness (if at all). Not every apology requires forgiveness and it is your decision to make whether you feel like you are able to forgive your partner or not. It is so painful because you can still feel a deep sense of love for your partner whilst also struggling to overcome the hurt that you feel, which can feel very conflicting. 

For trust to be re-built, there has to be a sense of safety within the relationship for you, and this is where you and your partner would need to work together and communicate throughout. Forgiveness is not simply the responsibility of the one doing the forgiving, there also has to be heavy involvement from the one apologising too. He is the one that broke the trust by cheating, and therefore the responsibility lies with him to provide you with that sense of safety again and for you to feel that he is fully committed to his relationship with you. However, in order to do so, it is important for you to communicate your needs to him. 

You will likely need to take some time to reflect on this, but try and have a think about what you need from him for you to feel safe in the relationship again. Would you like him to communicate more with you? Spend more time with you? Is there anything that you feel has been lost from the relationship and that you miss? What is it about the relationship that you feel is worth fighting for? What would the 'ideal' relationship with your partner look like? 

When you have some answers to these questions, the next step would be to communicate them to your partner. This step is key, as it gives you both the chance to communicate how you are feeling and it gives you both an indication of where you each are with your feelings in regards to the relationship. It also gives your partner the chance to express his needs, and what he feels he may want from the relationship. 

From there, the two of you would need to work together to meet each other's needs. The word 'work' is key here: re-building trust in a relationship takes time and a lot of emotional investment from both parties, and it may not always be easy. Especially because it requires lots of communication too - checking in regularly on each other's thoughts and feelings is key to making sure that your needs continue to be met in the relationship. Over time and with the work being put into the relationship, your sense of confidence in the relationship can return.

Throughout all of this, remember that it is okay for you to still be hurting over this, and it is okay and normal for you to be struggling to forgive him for what has happened. It sounds like you are experiencing so much pain from what has happened, and it is great that you have reached out for help to try and work through this pain. If at any point you do feel that you need support with your emotions, or a place to talk through what you are going through and what has happened, therapy can be such a beneficial tool to explore all of these things. If your partner would be willing to do so, couples therapy may also be of benefit to aid you both in communicating and working together as a team. Please do not hesitate to reach out for further support if you feel that it would be helpful for you. 

I wish you all the best.