Woe Is Me! “I Cheated on My Boyfriend Once, and I’m Scared I’ll Do It Again. Am I Unfit for Monogamy?”


Jun 4, 2023


Image Credit: Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.

“I’m in my early 20s, and have been dating my boyfriend for years now. Some time back, I was pregnant with his kid. He traveled days to be with me during the abortion, after which he stayed by my side through the depression and anxiety that followed. Still, things didn’t go well between us. 

We tried individual therapy. Just when I thought I was fine, I went to my first ever concert with a stranger who I ended up making out with, which is so unlike me. I did confess to my boyfriend, but he excused me saying it was “situational.” I did hint that I don’t know what comes next, but we are still hanging by a thread — continuing to “date” somehow. I feel guilty for hurting him. Am I not meant for monogamous relationships? Is abortion normal for someone else to accept me?”

— Questions galore

DR: Wow, there’s much to unpack. First things first, abortion is normal, yes. Second, your boyfriend didn’t do you some huge favor by being by your side while you aborted a fetus that both you had an equal part in creating. Granted, I know that not every man in your boyfriend’s position would’ve done the same, but that’s on them. Let’s not put men on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum.

As for whether you’re meant for monogamy, I have nothing to base my judgment on. You don’t seem to be too into your boyfriend and your relationship sounds unhappy. I don’t know why you’re together, but I feel like you’ve stayed as long as you have because you feel like you owe it to him. I disagree, though. I think you’d be doing him a bigger favor by breaking up with him, and giving him a chance to be with someone who does want to be with him. It sounds like he knows it too, but is too scared to let go of a relationship he’s been in for years; either it’s the sunk cost fallacy or a fear of change — both perfectly natural.

Just to reiterate, I don’t fault either of you. And I don’t think ending this relationship would reflect poorly on your ability to commit either. People evolve with time, and grow apart because their interests and values might not align with each other anymore. And at your age, you’ve both probably grown a lot in the years you’ve been together — maybe, you’re a different person now than you were when the two of you entered this relationship. Also, since you’re questioning whether you’re monogamous, I think you should take some time to figure that out. So, in my humble opinion, I think you need a break from each other, explore your sexual leanings, assess what you want in a partner and value in a relationship, and then commit again — either to each other or to different people — if that’s where your journey leads you.

HK: I hope you are doing okay, I think too many things have happened to you in a short span of time, and you need a while to process it all. Although your partner sounds like a good person, you may need some space to figure things out for yourself — and for the relationship going forward. Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome can look different for different people, and can also cause you to question your own feelings — it is only natural. 

First, I hope the abortion was consensual. And second, you aren’t under any obligation to be in the relationship simply because the two of you went through this event together. If things aren’t getting better, it might be time for a re-evaluation. Whether you’re monogamous or not, is something you’ll have to discover on your own, but if you are not able to reciprocate your partner’s feelings, it’s in both of your best interests to take a step back. And if you’re in your early twenties, you have your entire life waiting ahead of you — don’t let it be defined by your abortion!

AB: This isn’t an issue about you being monogamous; your boyfriend supported you through your abortion and stayed with you in the aftermath, but then you cheated on him. This is less about him and more about you, since there’s no guarantee that your current emotional state won’t affect any other relationships you’ll have, if decide you’re non-monogamous. I don’t think he’s able to accept that something is vitally wrong, either. My advice? Take a break from the relationship until you are able to clearly think about things and go to therapy. Also, while I’m not sure what you mean by “abortion normal for someone else to accept me” but it seems like he did and was there for you through it. Clearly, there are still things left to unpack personally and while it might hurt now, taking a break will avoid even more hurt in the future. Make sure your boyfriend knows that this is something you need to go through and that you’re working on yourself. I wish you luck. 

AS: Sounds to me like the relationship has run its course. I’m glad your boyfriend was there to support you through the abortion, but he did what any partner should do. If the question of whether you are monogamous or not is popping up frequently in your mind, you should definitely take the time to figure that out for yourself. Before that, though, you might want to figure out what that thread is that’s holding you both together still. If you find that it has to do with your feelings of obligation towards each other after years of dating and having gone through an unwanted pregnancy, or the guilt of having hurt him once already and not wanting to repeat that, it might be time to sever that thread for both your sakes. 

Also, in case your paths diverge and you come across someone in the future who has a problem with the fact that you once had an abortion, that’s probably not a person you would want to be in a long-term relationship with.


Written By The Swaddle Team


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