Before my boyfriend and I “officially” became a couple, we spent a year getting to know each other. During this period we were intimate, so I wasn’t dating any other guys and was pretty serious about building a relationship with him. During most of this period, however, I ended up finding out that he was dating several girls, being intimate with all of them, and deceiving all of them by not telling any of us he was also hooking up with other girls. Basically, he was a Player.
However, as time went on, him and I became very, very close; and I was sure that he had stopped talking to all the other girls because he told me “he wasn’t pursuing anyone else,” and a couple months later he asked me to be his girlfriend. And we have had the most wonderful, loyal, perfect relationship for the last year and a half.
So, yesterday I found out that during the couple months right before we officially became a couple, he in fact WAS still seeing other girls. “Not pursuing anyone” meant that he wasn’t hooking up with anyone new, just the same old lineup. What’s worse, I found out he was hooking up with his best friend’s girlfriend, who is my friend too!
Here is my dilemma: We have had the most wonderful relationship since we became a couple. He wants to marry me, and I know he would never cheat on me. But constantly finding out about more and more girls that he hooked up with while we were dating really bothers me and has put a strain on the relationship. Especially recently finding out about him hooking up with other girls during the period I thought we were exclusive.
It hurts me because I didn’t know he was the type of person that would do that, especially with his best friend’s girlfriend. He apologizes endlessly, but says that since we weren’t “official,” it’s irrelevant. However, I feel that if I knew about all his deceitful actions at the time, I would have ended it then and we wouldn’t be in this great relationship we have today.
So, should I break up with him over things he did before we were officially a couple? It REALLY bothers me, and I feel like I don’t want to be with someone that could have done that to me, even though things are so much different now. I feel like enough is enough. There have been plenty of opportunities during our relationship to tell me everything, but I still keep finding out more and more. I don’t really trust him anymore, and feel like our relationship was built on lies and deceit. I feel like I want to end the relationship over this, but is that unfair?
Dear “Feeling Duped,”
Excuse me as I place a stethoscope around my neck, shine a small flashlight into your ear, hold your tongue, and make you say “Ahhh…” Yep, see this all the time… What we have here is a classic case of “Girl who wanted real exclusivity, settled for a vague expression of one, and got hurt when she later found out that she, in fact, wasn’t her one-and-only’s one-and-only.” Okay, you can put your tongue back in.
Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way before getting to the nitty gritty of your dilemma. As your question suggests, you already know that unless a guy specifically asks for exclusivity, or for you to be his gIrLfRiEnD, (tee hee), you both are free to entertain other lads and lasses as you please. (And if you want things to be extra clear, it’s always nice to even state that expectation – you know, that he’ll have to ask for exclusivity – upfront, once you two realize you’re starting to like each other.)
So, since we here at sex symbol central know to NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING, you know this wolf technically didn’t do anything wrong. Hell, he may have even done something RIGHT, as, according to you, your ignorance of what he was doing allowed you two to have “the most wonderful, loyal, perfect relationship” for the last year and a half.
However, fact remains that now you’re not only not-so-ignorant of his past behavior, you’re even repulsed by it. And to answer your question, I can confidently say, no, it is not unfair to want to break up with him over things he’s done in the past.
Just because someone technically didn’t do something wrong doesn’t mean that you have to like what they did. And given what you know today, it’s totally okay for you to question if this is someone you want to be with.
Do you want to be with someone who sleeps with his best friend’s girlfriend?
Do you want to be with someone who uses lawyer-like tactics to get out of being completely open and honest with you about what he’s doing?
Do you want to be with someone who doesn’t view sexual intimacy as sacredly as you do?
You’re totally entitled to re-evaluate the relationship based on what you now know.
However, since you already have a relationship you enjoy, and none are perfect, (despite your earlier claim), you may want to just use what you now know to create some new agreements and clarify expectations that were never articulated up until this point.
If you choose that route, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear to him that you want him to be open and upfront about what he’s doing, and that withholding information will not suffice as a form of truth in your book.
When it comes to addressing his promiscuity in the months post-“vague” exclusivity, pre-“official” exclusivity, you’re first going to have to accept it as the price you have to pay for allowing a vague expression of exclusivity to get past you – I know, bummer – and second, learn from it. Reiterate your new agreement for a clear, “full-disclosure” form of communicating that honors the “intent of the law,” not the letter of it, and be prepared to stand by whatever consequence you two agree on for violation of your agreement.
Lastly, when it comes to sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, well, you’ll want to further pick his brain there. If his best friend gave him the thumbs up, then, while many loyal wolves would have probably still steered clear, he’s once again only guilty of having an approach to sex that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. If, however, this was a betrayal on his part, you’ll want to hear him out so you gain insight into his views on loyalty and see if they align with your own.
I say all this to not only remind you that you have legitimate options, but to help you to realize that ultimately the right choice is dependent on how you feel. Consequently, the only decision you have to make is to simply do what feels better. If staying with him, creating new agreements, and learning to accept a less than picture-perfect past feels good, do that. If walking away and holding out for someone you believe you can co-create a more open and honest foundation with, and whose approach to sex and relationships/friendships is one that aligns more with your own values feels better, do that.
At the end of the day, it’s important to trust your intuition, even if you can’t rationalize it. After all, unlike lovers, it doesn’t need an “official” agreement to always have your back ;). Best of luck.
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.