Richard from Tempe, writes:
I am in a relationship where I hurt my partner very badly. I told her I would leave if she couldn’t forgive me. Red, I have never been more sorry for anything in my life. She says she wants me to stay, but I worry that she eventually will tire of me. Our relationship has not been the same since. She says, “give it time?” What do you say?
People have an amazing capacity for love, and for forgiveness. Your girlfriend is no exception. But, things are different now.
Yes, you screwed up, and you’re sorry. You have to live with that, and so does she. She’s hurt, angry, and a bit un-trusting of you and the relationship. There is a lot of aftermath that is coloring the relationship, which is to be expected. But, even though she doesn’t quite know how to handle things, she does still love you and doesn’t want you to go.
You’ve got a lot guilt and remorse, which is pretty natural. You’re owning your mistakes, which is good, but now you’ve got to try and quit letting those mistakes define you. You’ve served your penance, and you now know what matters and what not to do. Accept it, and take yourself out of limbo. What’s done is done. Even though it may feel like you are being punished at times, that’s not your girlfriend’s intent. If you keep walking on eggshells, there is a chance that your girl will grow tired of the carefulness that has entered the relationship, and that could continue to complicate things.
Your relationship has changed, and it really isn’t going to go back to how things were before. Too much has happened. But that doesn’t mean that you two can’t rebuild it into something that is just as good, if not better, than it was before. You need to talk with her, about how you are feeling, how you see the relationship, what you fear, and what you want. It’s about this point forward, not the past. Tell her you are willing to “give it time”, but in such a way that gently points out that both of you need to work on yourselves and the relationship, which will help with some of the intimacy issues. It’s all connected.
Both of you can heal from the past and turn this relationship into something strong and beautiful. It’s what you both want. It’s just going to take some hard conversations, conscious work and effort, and a little more time.