DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of four years recently admitted that he cheated on me six months ago. I was blindsided. Until the day he told me, I thought we shared everything. The hollowness and betrayal I feel is sometimes overwhelming.
He explained that at the time, he was dealing with substance issues and depression, which I was also unaware of. Both have worsened in recent months. How could I have been so blind?
To complicate things further, I have a 6-year-old son who has grown to love this man as a father because my ex-husband walked out on us when he was born. He has been an amazing role model for my son, and overall, a wonderful partner -- or so I thought.
He says he's heartbroken over the pain he's caused me. He recently started receiving treatment for his depression through medication and therapy, and he has begged me to go to couples therapy to rebuild the trust that's been lost.
I was taught to believe that cheating is the end of a relationship, no ifs, ands or buts. I don't want to end the relationship, but I'm struggling with the decision because of what I was taught, especially when I confide in friends and they tell me to dump him.
I wish I knew what to do. I need an objective opinion. Can a relationship survive such a betrayal? Can we be happy again? -- HOLLOW IN NEW YORK
DEAR HOLLOW: The answers to your questions are yes and yes -- especially if both partners are fully committed and prepared to get couples therapy from a licensed professional. If you love this man and want to give this relationship a chance, quit confiding in your friends and start talking with the therapist. Your boyfriend is remorseful, he is also in treatment, and he is trying his best to get better and work things out. Please give him the opportunity to do that because, if you do, your story may have a happy ending.