I am a 16-year-old girl who just left a relationship with my boyfriend. I was in love with him and had been dating him for four months until we broke up. The break-up was caused by a phone call from my best friend who admitted that she had sex with my boyfriend two months before. Of course this devastated me because we had agreed that we were going to wait until marriage. Now I feel so betrayed not only by my ex-boyfriend, but also by my friend (I have known her since 2nd grade and she was like my sister). I do not know if I can ever forgive my ex, but I do know that I will never take him back. As for my friend, I still do not know about her. I really miss having a best friend though and I do not know how to get through this. If you could please give me some advice on how to get through this, I would really appreciate it.

Dear Struggling,

Thank you for writing. This is a real predicament for you. Not only have you lost trust in a boyfriend, but in a lifelong friend as well. That is a double stab to your heart. You are wise to seek advice instead of brooding about it. That shows a great deal of maturity on your part.

Since we are dealing with two betrayals, let’s look at your options with each one.

In regards to your boyfriend

I think that the decision you have made is the correct one. You have wanted to wait to have sex until marriage — and your boyfriend committed to this — but he broke his promise. He has shown his true character by not being forthcoming about what happened. And most likely, this is a clue that he never intended to be faithful to his promise to wait, nor to be faithful to you.

What should to do? You have several options.

1. You can go back to him

But, it will be hard to trust him and even harder to believe his promises to change, if he does promise that. You didn’t say if he has said he was sorry or not.

Even if you get back together, doubt will cloud your relationship unless you deal with this together. Couples have stayed together after one has an affair, but it takes a lot of effort, commitment, and time. If you choose this route, I’d test the waters by asking him to go into counseling with you. Until you get to the bottom of why he allowed himself to cheat on you, and with someone he knew meant a lot to you, it will be hard to move on.

In light of this, realize you are worthy to be in relationship with someone who will love you enough to protect you, respect your convictions, be concerned about your feelings, and be faithful to you. It’s important to believe that you still have dignity. You don’t deserve to be treated poorly. If you continue in the relationship without any change in his behavior, you are setting yourself up for more heartaches and deceitfulness.

2. You can cut off all communications with him and go on with your life.

This incident could be a sign that he will not remain faithful to you in the future, nor commit to sexual purity before marriage or fidelity after marriage. In marriage, sometimes couples have to abstain from sex. One may be away for an extended period of time due to a job requirement or to care for a loved one. One of you may have to be hospitalized and then be in recovery for several weeks or months. Pregnancy can require abstinence for the health of mother and baby. If he cannot control his sexual urges now, it may be a red flag as to his priorities — commitment to his own physical needs over his commitment to you. Great marriages are not built on sex, but on trust.

What about your friend?

Your choices are the same. You can continue to be her friend, but realize that if you do, there will be a wedge of mistrust that was not present before. You would do well to question her loyalty and why one night of pleasure was more important to her than honoring the years of friendship you two shared.

On the other hand, she did come forward and confess it to you, which is more than he did. You two may wish to have a serious conversation. Why did she sleep with him, knowing you two were dating? Jealousy, anger, revenge, or a lapse in judgement? Get underneath the act to the real root of the issue.

What about you?

You may want to stop dating altogether until you are older and are ready to marry because sex is such a temptation for teens and singles. Since you are only 16 and are not wanting, or maybe are even fearing the possibility of getting involved physically, you might want to stop the “dating” scene completely for a while.

Realize you are not alone. Many more teens and singles than you think are choosing to refrain from sex for several reasons, including religious convictions, fear of pregnancy, concern over disease, or other complications.

There is one thing you must do, even if it may be the most difficult thing you ever do. You need to forgive your boyfriend and your friend. Otherwise, the hurt and anger you feel will become toxic and, just like a corrosive acid, will eat a hole in your life. After a while, people who can’t forgive may block a wall around their emotions and never let anyone be close to them again. If you are beginning to have those feelings now, it is understandable. Don't let them control you, though. Be careful to not let this one incident cloud your future.

Forgiveness frees you from the emotional pain, because it is a choice. However, it takes time and effort. We have free, confidential mentors who can help you through the process. You will be stronger for it if you work through it. You can still have a wonderful life ahead of you filled with love and happiness if you can let go and forgive.

But, you don’t need to continue to be in a relationship with either of them. Forgiveness does not require that you stay close to someone who has broken your trust so deeply. Actually, once you find out about a person’s character defects, it’s important to protect yourself from them and to set boundaries so they can’t hurt you again. We can help you do that as well.

Build your self-esteem and identity. Be comfortable with who you are, and see the potential of who you are becoming. You shouldn’t “need” a boyfriend or a best friend to feel special. Low self-esteem can make you compromise your standards and values just to be liked or loved by someone. It can keep you from doing what you really want to do. You deserve to have true friends who care about you and your emotional well-being.

Written by Julie Cosgrove using notes from Lynette Hoy NCC, LCPC

This article was written by: Julie Cosgrove

Photo Credit: William Stitt