The Sex Column: ‘My husband had an affair – so did my new guy. How can I trust him?’

‘He says he regrets it and would never cheat again. Can I trust him?’ (Picture: Neil Webb)

‘My husband had an affair.

‘Although I was devastated, I was willing to forgive him but he didn’t want to salvage our marriage and now lives with his girlfriend.

‘I moved in with my parents, found a therapist and recovered.

‘At 43 years old, I now rent a small flat and have got close to a neighbour, who has expressed feelings for me. He is intelligent and kind, and when I confessed my experience, he was supportive.

‘He then told me his marriage ended because he had an affair.

‘He says he regrets it and would never cheat again. Can I trust him?’

It’s no surprise you’re reluctant to hand your trust over once again.

‘It’s as if you’ve been stung by a hornet and your system is still flooded with histamine,’ says James McConnachie. ‘Now you don’t want to get too close to something that looks like a wasp. That’s natural.’

You weren’t just betrayed by your husband, your entire life was shaken to its core.

‘Your home circumstances changed, you experienced a different relationship with your parents — your adult self has taken a hell of a beating,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘Regular readers will know I like to start with “take a look at your earliest relationships” but I think this is a case of finding your feet after someone has wronged you.’

Trust is something we give — a leap of faith. No one can promise to never hurt us.

‘We can never entirely be assured the person we are with will remain true to us forever,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘You have done much to recover and now find yourself in a new phase with the prospect of a kind and honest man. Try not to write him off as an untrustworthy Lothario.’

While there are individuals who are more inclined towards affairs, the truth is we all have the potential to cheat.

‘The fact that he has already been honest with you suggests he is a person of integrity,’ says Smith.

You say you were willing to forgive your husband but it sounds, understandably, as if you haven’t entirely.

‘Forgiving someone doesn’t mean excusing them, it means letting go so you can move forward,’ says McConnachie. ‘Acknowledging we are all flawed can soften the pain.’

We can’t change the past but we can change the context we see it in.

‘Keep your friends and therapist’s number close and give it a go,’ says Smith.

‘Right now, your husband’s mistake is still holding you back and so is this new man’s past,’ says McConnachie. ‘You are like a hot-air balloon with two huge sandbags holding it to the ground. Cut the rope! Let them go. Don’t let two men’s pasts determine your future.’

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

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