Once Unfaithful, Always Unfaithful?

Q: I just started dating an amazing woman. We connected right away, and I feel like she really "gets me". She mentioned early on that she was divorced. When I told this to a mutual (female) friend, though, I was warned to stay away from her! Apparently she had cheated on her husband and that's why her marriage ended. She admitted it was true, saying her marriage was falling apart and that she'd started seeing someone before they'd officially divorced. She says it was a mistake and she'd never do it again. It seems crazy to punish her for her past, but I'm worried I won't be able to trust her. Can we get past this?—Matthew, 36

Dr. Susan: Yes, you can get past this. A lot of marriages end in nebulous ways. Was it terrible first, or did the true terribleness start after one partner fell for a third person? Was the affair a catalyst for ending years of misery, rather than an example of untrustworthiness? Ideally, nobody should ever betray another, and we should all end one relationship before beginning another. In the real world it often doesn't work that way. I suggest you continue to get to know her so you can determine how honest and loyal she is by how she treats you. Complete trust has to be earned, and that takes time.

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