About five years ago, I ended a bad long-term relationship with a woman who cheated on me. We stayed in touch for a while, but I eventually realized contact with her was delaying the healing process and we stopped talking altogether.
I've been in at least five or six short-term relationships since then, but with each one, I've found my mind wandering to the possibility of cheating on them. I haven't actually gone through with it, but the appeal is always there. I never had feelings like this until I was cheated on.
Did my ex mess up my ability to have a normal relationship? How can I stop these cheating feelings?
--Trying To Be Loyal
Thinking about cheating does not constitute cheating. In fact, it's perfectly normal for one's mind to wander when you're in a relationship, especially when you've been with the same person for a long time. But it's important to maintain the barrier between fantasy and actually cheating.
It sounds like your cheating thoughts are causing you emotional grief. They possible could stem from a need to exact revenge on your ex, even though she's been out of the picture for years.
The answer may lie in the new people you're dating. Are you really interested in them? You mentioned that most of the new girlfriends were short-term, so obviously those matches weren't meant to be.
When you meet the right person, I think you'll find that your need for revenge on an old relationship will fade. If it doesn't, I'd say you have some deep-seated trust issues that could require professional help.
For now, the key is self-control. The next time your mind wanders, remind yourself that the new girlfriend hasn't done anything to deserve betrayal. If the thoughts continue, seek out a counselor, and you probably ought to share your problem with the significant other.
You might even consider being single for a while, allowing yourself more time to heal emotionally.
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