Filled with Regret


Dear Dharma,

I have a secret… one in which is the worst secret you can have, especially when you are in a long term relationship. I’ve been with my partner for just over 3 years now and things are starting to get really serious – or so I believe.

At the very beginning in honeymoon phase we had the conversation regarding past relationships. The deep question of “have you ever cheated?” – only in this instance it was “I would never be with someone that cheated, have you done it?”

Well…here is where my problem starts. I have done this unspeakable thing to a past boyfriend.  However at the time this question was asked, I was unprepared and had stuffed it so far down into my memory that I wasn’t ready to acknowledge it had even happened.  It was nope, that wasn’t me, just some girl that lost control of her life at one point. I replied with “No, I haven’t.” (I hang my head in shame as I type).

As much as I hate to say it, this is a part of my past.  After all the damage it did to previous people and to my soul, I can wholeheartedly say that something like this will NEVER happen again.

Now I have this lie and am at the realization that I have taken away his right to accept me for who I am, which affects his decision to stay or leave. I also realize this is something I need to accept as part of my past, but that’s a whole other bag of marbles to open.

Every time I think about telling him, I go through the argument that again: nope this wasn’t me and it is not something that is worth wrecking your future over vs: well, you still lied about it. I know I cannot keep this secret; it is not fair to him. But how do I bear the pain in telling him and face my fear of losing him forever? Am I confirmed that this is the right thing to do?

Unspeakable Secret

Dear Secret,

My heart hurts a little bit as I contemplate your question – the angst you are feeling literally oozes right out of my computer screen and splashes all over me.

I honestly don’t know if I can tell you the right thing to do, but I think we need to start by gaining some perspective in attempt to ease your obviously troubled soul.

Just so you know, this is not the worst secret you could have kept from your spouse.  Your last boyfriend could be wrapped in a blue tarp in your cellar.  You could have embezzled money from a pension fund and run off to live the high life on the Mediterranean. You could have voted for Mitt Romney in the last election.

But you didn’t do any of those things, hopefully.  You said it yourself – you were at a place in your life where you lost control and made a bad decision.  That’s it.  Be assured the boat in which you sit is jam packed.

I have never understood the need for new couples to divulge every sexual secret from their past.  Frankly, it’s no one’s business unless there’s a health risk to consider.  I suppose the question your spouse asked at the beginning of the relationship was more to determine character, but the person you are now is so much more important than who you once were, non?

Your spouse sounds like a very black and white kind of guy, so it doesn’t surprise me that your reflex was to respond with what he was looking for.  While I understand the angst about your dishonest knee jerk answer, I do think you need to do a cost benefit analysis here. If the price of your coming clean is that your spouse leaves, is that a greater cost than the benefit of your clear conscience?

If this is truly a two choice system (as in, there are no other possible outcomes) you need to decide what is worse – living without him, but with a clear conscience, or living with him but feeling dirty all the time.  Unless, or course, you can find a way to forgive yourself before the shame eats you alive like a nippy little piranha.

What I’m hoping is that you are not giving your spouse enough credit to be forgiving and that 3 years into the relationship he’s a big enough man to take this information in stride and to see that it really makes no difference at all.

Or maybe I’m hoping that you find a way to exercise your demons.  What you have done is not unforgivable, my friend, but only you know what you are capable of living with.


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  • Come on... says:

    Why do you need to tell him? That was in the past and you are not planning on cheating on him, so who cares? It’s none of his business. Seriously, there are real problems out there like… I have 3 kids I forgot to tell ya about or I used to be a dude…

  • cronk says:

    Just get over it and move on. If it is such a big problem then, move on from the relationship.

  • Anastasia says:

    If you have learned from your past mistakes, and judging from your guilt you seem like you have, you will likely not re-offend. So I say let it go!

    Unhappy relationships can make reasonable people do things they normally wouldn’t do. I think telling him at this point is silly. Keep the past in the past. I’m sure he’s not proud of EVERYTHING in his past either.

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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