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LoveFAQ is a weekly advice column for geeks, by geeks about love, life and maxing out your romance meter. Got questions for LoveFAQs? Send them to advice@escapistmag.com.

Dear Love FAQ,

I had too much to drink one night and cheated on my girlfriend of one year. I felt terrible and hoped it would never come out, but eventually of course it did. We didn’t talk for a while, and we broke up.

Eventually I rang her up and begged for forgiveness. She was wary at first, but eventually accepted. I was over the moon; I had gotten back the woman I loved after making the worst mistake.

Here comes the problem: Whilst we weren’t going out, she had seen someone else. I can’t claim to be happy about it, but I deserved it. We’re back together now, but every now and again, she’ll start talking about him just to annoy me, especially when I’m out of the country for work. She says it’s all I deserve, and that she could be seeing him behind my back and I would never know.

Today I rang her up, and she said she had a friend round and couldn’t talk. Am I going mad? Am I just jealous? Or is this normal?

Please help me,
Wish I Had A Save File To Go Back To

Dear Save File,

Apologies are nice, necessary even; but they don’t actually fix anything. Just because you said you were sorry once doesn’t mean all was forgiven – or forgotten.

Right now, it sounds like the two of you don’t trust each other, you don’t respect each other, and you’re only together because it’s easier to hurt one other this way. Do you still love her? Or are you staying with her out of guilt, and the need to feel punished for what you’ve done?

If you don’t know which it is, ask yourself this: When you say you committed “the worst mistake”, do you mean cheating on her? Or not coming clean about it at once?

Because while cheating sucks, I guarantee it was your deception about it that left the lasting mark-slip-ups happen, but lies are what destroy trust, not mistakes. Love can move past this, but masochism will keep you obsessing over that sin forever.

If you want to save this relationship, you and your girlfriend need to have a long talk-many of them, most likely-about the root causes of your original break-up. Saying sorry doesn’t fix it. Both of you need to acknowledge and accept your roles in contributing to this disaster, and start working together to rebuild the trust that you’ve lost. Else, just cut your losses, save yourself the heartache, and call it quits for good.

One final point: You don’t get to be in a huff over whatever she did while the two of you were broken up, unless you’ve gotten herpes as a result. It isn’t your business. Let it be.

Dear Love FAQ,

I am on the brink of engagement with my long-distance boyfriend. However, I find his family unloving and unlovable. They make me feel awkward, loud, goofy, and pitiable.

His mother is the worst. My boyfriend tells me she comes from a long line of Southern ladies who grew up treating their mothers’-in-law with respect, and I will be expected to do the same. But I don’t find her worthy of respect. She treats him like a child, and she keeps him under her thumb at age 22 with rules, anger, and belittlement.

He doesn’t enjoy his family’s company either; he has told me as much several times. Yet he just doesn’t seem motivated to get out of it. He even went so far as to suggest we move in with them after we finish college and get married.

Please help me out here: Am I wrong to think he should put his foot down with his family and insist they treat him like an adult?

Sincerely,
Marrying the Companion Cube

Dear MtCC,

You’re not wrong for wanting your boyfriend to show some spine. But you can’t make him do it, either. She’s his mother, and that means *he* needs to decide to put his foot down, not you by proxy. And for whatever reason, he has chosen not to do so. You can’t change that. Only he can, and only if he wants.

Marriage is a package deal. You don’t just get a husband; you also gain a mother, a father, siblings; maybe some cats, or a crazy Bavarian uncle, or a goldfish named Dogmeat that knows how to play fetch. In short, you gain a family. So you better be damn sure it’s one you want to be part of.
You may hate your boyfriend’s relatives, but that’s the stock he came from, and while exceptions to the rule always exist, the truth is the Korok rarely falls far from the Deku Tree.

So keep that in mind before you leap headfirst into marriage. Chances are, he’s more like his family than you yet know-not unlikely, considering you two are still long-distance.

Yes, his mom sounds like a bit of a pill, but you’re not the first woman to clash with her future mother-in-law, and you certainly won’t be the last. And that fact doesn’t excuse you from culpability in this continuing standoff.

Whether you like this woman or not is irrelevant. As the mother of your future husband, she deserves your respect. So put your big girl pants on, and treat her with class and civility, no matter how rude she is to you. If nothing else, you might discover that when you give respect, respect is returned in kind.

Besides, no woman ever gained brownie points with a man by insulting his mother.

Overall, from what you’ve written, I worry that neither you nor your boyfriend are ready yet for marriage. You might love each other, but a lifelong commitment needs more than love to thrive: It also requires maturity, determination, and the ability to stand together on problems just like this one.

Holding off on your engagement for awhile wouldn’t hurt. Resolve your issues with Mommy Dearest and finish school first, then see where the two of you are in a few years. If he’s the right guy, then you’ll both be glad you worked this stuff out before getting married-because it only gets harder from here on.

Disclaimer: LoveFAQ is written by Lara Crigger, who is by no means a trained psychiatrist or therapist or even a middle school guidance counselor – just a smart gal who wants to help out her fellow geek. LoveFAQ is meant for entertainment purposes only, so don’t take it as a substitute for professional advice. If you have real problems, consult your physician.

Got a burning question (or a question about burning) for LoveFAQ? Send your emails to advice@escapistmag.com. All submissions are confidential and anonymous.

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