1. Communication is everything.
When you’ve had someone go behind your back in this kind of way, it makes you need to know what’s going on and communicate about everything moving forward. The only way to have a healthy relationship with her is to show her that you will not hide things from her or lie to her. Her instinct will probably be to hide behind walls and protect herself, but there’s no way to really move forward and heal without doing the opposite. You’ll need to help bring that out of her, and it may take some time. But she’ll be forever thankful for it.
2. Trust is a privilege, not a right.
She isn’t going to trust you right away, that’s just a simple fact. And it’s not meant to be insulting — it just is. When your trust has been broken you’re not super willing to just give it away again. Trust takes time, but it will come.
3. Calling her ‘paranoid’ or ‘crazy’ is incredibly degrading.
There are fears that come after being cheated on that are really hard to forget and shake. There will be times where they show themselves and no, they’re not pretty. But belittling them doesn’t make them go away, it simply makes them worse. Not taking those fears seriously and making her feel stupid for having them will just create more worries and keep her inside her own head. Even when she’s being irrational or it seems like she’s unfair, listen. Make her feel heard. Reassure her.
4. When she talks about things that happened, it’s a sign that she’s getting better.
Talking about her past is probably really hard for her because it’s basically like reliving those terrible moments over and over and over again. When she trusts you enough to talk about them, even in passing, it’s a sign that it’s becoming less terrible, less scalding to remember. It’s a sign that it’s no longer haunting her.
5. Admitting she’s been cheated on is ridiculously humiliating. Be gentle.
Finding out you’ve been cheated on makes you feel embarrassed, deceived, broken, and stabbed in the gut all at the same time. It makes you feel dirty and no shower gets rid of the feeling that you’ve been violated. Admitting that she feels that way, that’s she had that hurt in her life is horrible. It probably made her question a lot about herself, what she should have done differently, what she could have done. When she opens up to you about it you have to respect that pain. It’s crucial to helping her heal.
6. You have to respect her boundaries and her fears.
Maybe it’s as simple as needing to know you’re telling the truth, or maybe it’s explaining how you’re still close with your ex. But she’s going to have fears, and it is going to be your responsibility to help ease them. They won’t be there forever.
7. She’s not comparing you to anyone from the past, she’s hoping that you’re different.
The stereotype that girls who have been cheated are constantly comparing people to their ex isn’t actually accurate. She probably is just bracing herself to get hurt as a defense mechanism. But deep down, she’s really just hoping that you’re not going to hurt her and prove her wrong.
8. But there will always be a part of her that jumps to comparing HERSELF to other people.
More often she’s probably comparing herself to other people. How could she be more like them, what do they have that she doesn’t? How can she copy them in every single way so that there is nothing they have to offer that she doesn’t already posses? And frankly, that constant comparing is exhausting. But she can’t help it. So you need to show her and tell her all of the ways that she’s special already. Show her how she’s different and wonderful and doesn’t need to try and be anyone else.
9. She needs to you to reaffirm that you aren’t going anywhere.
There is probably always a little fear in the back of her mind that she’s going to lose you. That no matter what she does, how she acts, how she is, you’ll leave. It stems from the absolutely paralyzing fear that she is not good enough. So tell her she is. Tell her you’re staying. And then stay.
10. She probably blames herself for every little thing.
Even if she picks a fight she’s probably counting the ways in her head why really, it’s all her fault. Because she’s probably told herself that she needs to be some unobtainable level of perfect to keep you. Again, it’s exhausting.
11. Being angry for her is super flattering, but also not very productive.
When she’s told you what happened with her previous relationships, it’s really sweet when you get mad for her, when your instinct is to protect her. But that anger isn’t actually that helpful. It’s more helpful to think of how to move forward. How to show her and prove to her that what happened in the past doesn’t have to affect her future. How to show her that it doesn’t have to matter anymore. That’s what’s helpful; that’s what matters.
12. For a while she will always kind of be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The fear that someone is going to hurt you is a really hard one to shake. So it will take time for her to not be on edge, to not be afraid of it, to not be waiting to be hurt again. But with patience and reassurance, it will go away.
13. Some things will always hurt. No matter how much time has gone by.
Being cheated on is a specific kind of hurt that lingers, that stays. Even after years you still remember what that betrayal felt like. There will be good days and bad days, ups and downs. There will still be times where out of nowhere, she’ll be hurt by something that happened to her. It’s okay, it will pass.
14. Sometimes the absolute best, and most powerful thing you can do? It’s just be there.
Be there. Be present, be open, be understanding, just be there. And show her you’re not going anywhere. Because that? Well that’s absolutely everything.