Should we break up over “cheating” before we were official?

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Dear Megan,

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?

-Feeling Duped

 


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.

-Megan 🙂

P.S. And if you’re interested in creating a cheat-proof relationship from here, feel free to check out this article!

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

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.

 

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Goodbye, mother who disowned me. Hello, abandonment issues…

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Dear Megan,

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Just over 8 years ago, my mother rang me up to tell me she no longer wanted me to be in her life. I had recently turned 30. We’d had a difficult relationship for many years and I believe this was an extreme maneuver to get me to beg her to keep me in her life and thus establish her as being in control of me again – that’s how she tends to like things.

I was deeply crushed but certainly did not grovel to be taken back. My pride and dignity just wouldn’t allow me. My mother is a complex mix of 20% loveliness and the other 80% is composed of aggression, volatility, unpredictability, and the list goes on. She was such a lovely mother in my early childhood, but she appeared to change and become very aggressive and violent after I turned ten.

The biggest problem in all of this is the fact that I find it really difficult to be open to having a proper relationship with a man as I fear he may not be able to fully understand my family circumstances as it’s quite unusual to be in this situation. I literally don’t know anyone else who shares my circumstances so it feels quite isolating at times. It’s also hard for me to imagine how anyone would be able to love me if my own mother isn’t able to feel proper love for me. I really want to be able to move on with my life and be part of a loving relationship, but these barriers seem to hold me back.

This is me speaking from having a lot of therapy over the years. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

-Disowned 😦


Dear “Disowned,”

Yep.  Crazy mothers…  You are soooo not alone in having to deal with one; and when it comes to the “disownment” department, I got your back in “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols.”  Been there, done that.  As your time in therapy has shown you, it’s tough to find something that can take away the feelings of pain, disappointment, alienation, and unworthiness of love that a mother who walks out on you can cause, but as someone who’s been in your shoes I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you the things that have worked for me on my journey to trust in love again.

To begin with, I want you to know that it’s important for you to allow the little girl inside of you, the girl who just wants her mommy, to grieve over her absence.  It’s like a death, and all transitions of that sort require a painful mental shift that must be given its proper respect.  The pain is a sign that you actually did value the relationship, and there’s no shame in that.  So cry.  Ugly cry.  Stay in bed.  Write a letter to your mom detailing the hopes and dreams you had for a loving mother-daughter relationship, and your disappointment in them not coming true.  Give it to her, don’t give it to her, do whatever you feel like doing during this grieving process.  All that matters is that you get it out.  And write a letter to the little girl inside of you, as well.  Let her know what you’ve got her back and will be the one taking care of her from now on.  Tell her that she’s safe, and can rely on you.

Once you’ve gotten all that out and feel ready to move forward, you and your tired-from-crying eyes can now focus on the next step.  This is where you understand that the pain, disappointment, alienation, unworthiness, etc that you’ve been feeling has less to do with your mom actually leaving, and more to do with the story you’ve told yourself about what her leaving says about you.  Whatever emotional wounds your mom had before you were born were still there after you were born.  And for all we know her staying in your life could have done more harm than good, while her leaving could have been the most loving thing she’s ever done for you, (well, outside of allowing her body to be used to bring you into this planet).

There are many parents who have stayed in their child’s life only to abuse them physically, mentally, and/or emotionally, and when you make up the story that your mom’s disownment means that she doesn’t love you, or that you’re somehow unworthy of love, you experience the pain that comes with the lie “Something is wrong with me.  I don’t deserve love.”  And no matter what your circumstances are in life, if you tell yourself that crap, AND BELIEVE IT, you’re gonna hurt like a motherf*cker, (no pun intended).

“Okay, so my mom not being around is more of an expression of love, and given her f’ed up mentality, she (consciously or subconsciously) removed herself and her toxic ways from my life in an effort to give me a chance at creating the happy life that has always eluded her.”  That becomes your new, empowering story.

Now, while that shift in perspective is a crucial step in the healing process, it most certainly isn’t the last.  Why?  Because it doesn’t change the fact that there are times in life when you still just want your frickin’ mommy, or hell, even a mommy.  So, what do you do next?  You give to others the very thing you crave.

You want to feel love, guidance, and support?  Find a kid out there who can use it and give it to him or her; or if you have children give it to them.  That way you not only can participate in the loving exchange you’ve always wanted, but you give meaning to the pain you’ve felt over your mother’s absence.  You see, the key to overcoming these challenging situations in life is not to try and get rid of the pain, but to transform it into love.  Notice how your mom walking out has allowed you to value things like reliability and unconditional love more than you might have otherwise?  Well, bring that gain from the situation, not the pain from whatever you think you lost, to your current relationships.  And appreciate the loving relationships you create.  Be present with them.  

Then appreciate the loving, compassionate woman you’ve become as a result of having a mother who could only love you from a distance.  When you do that, the guy you meet and like won’t be turned off by your distant relationship with your mom, but rather inspired by what you’ve done with the tough cards life dealt you, (not to mention grateful to be the beneficiary of the depth of love you developed as a result).

So, to sum it up, (#CheatSheet), my advice is to: (1) let yourself grieve the loss of your ideal mother-daughter relationship, (2) change your abandonment story to one that empowers you, (3) give away whatever you feel you didn’t get and appreciate the exchange while it’s happening, and (4) focus on what you gained in terms of sensitivity and values from your mother’s absence so that the disownment becomes an asset to your future relationships instead of a liability.

Lastly, remember that this is a process.  Some days will be better than others, but before you know it you’ll not only have made peace with your relationship with your mother, but realize that you’re able to do kick-ass stuff like respond to letters from strangers asking you for help on overcoming some of life’s biggest challenges. And all because your mother never fully left you.  Only the 80% dysfunctional side of her did.  The rest of her – the best of her – she left inside of you.  Even if she only had 20% ;).  Best of luck!

-Megan 🙂

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

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.

Is true love easy and effortless?

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Dear Megan,

This question is in my head a lot at the moment. I’m struggling to decide if my ex just wasn’t the one, or if we both put walls up and didn’t try hard enough to push through them, (I know I certainly did). 

One month after the breakup, I know where I went wrong, I just wouldn’t “let him in.”  He tried to help me with this, but I was way too careful about protecting myself.  Now that I’ve got nothing left to lose I realize that I should have trusted him and opened up. Maybe things would be different. He was also careful to guard himself, though, but in a different way. There was clearly a lack of communication. I think he was more aware of this than me, at the time anyway.  

When I last spoke to my ex just after the breakup I said, “I know I didn’t try hard enough but I was scared.” He replied, “You shouldn’t have to try.”  Do you agree? 

Does true love just happen?  Should it be easy and effortless, or do you still have to work through some issues?  And if you do, how do you know if the relationship’s one to work on, or one to walk away from? 

-Deep in Thought

 


Dear Deep in Thought,

Good questions!  And given your introspective, what-do-I-need-to-learn-from-this-breakup way of thinking I’d say you’re definitely on track to experiencing the “true love” you seek.  All I hope to do now is help you separate fact from fiction so you can recognize that quality relationship when it’s in front of you. Does true love just happen?  Should the relationship be easy and effortless?  And if relationships do require work, how do you know which one to work on, and which one to walk away from?

To begin with, I feel your pain.  In “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” I mention the many “you’re cute and all, but not worth the trouble” wolves – (that’s guys for all you newcomers) – that came in and out of my life.   They’re there for a fun ride, but can’t handle the speed bumps that inevitably occur during the “intimacy freak-out” stage – (that’s when you start to get close, become uncomfortable when more vulnerability and trust is required, and then do something dramatic to create a bit of distance between the two of you in an effort to feel safe and secure again).  “It should be easy,” is usually one of the last things those guys say when everything’s over; and, left feeling like damaged goods from childhood wounds and past relationships, you wonder, “Should it?”

Well, to answer your first question, is true love effortless? YES.  Are relationships? NO.  Now stick with me while I go deep for a second.  (Tee hee, “that’s what he said.”  Okay, serious face.)  “True love,” to be clear, is a force, or energy, or whatever you want to call it, that naturally exists in the universe.  You don’t have to do anything to gain access to it just as you don’t have to do anything for the sun to rise in the morning.  It’s your birthright.  You did nothing to deserve it.  It’s just there.  Enjoy.  One day you’re born, and boom, you can feel love for whatever, and whomever, (including yourself), whenever you’re open to it.  If you’re like most of us you may have developed beliefs about yourself and your fellow human beings that often block your ability to perceive love, but it’s still there.  And the second you let your guard down, forget your hindering story of unworthiness, and accidentally look your pet, child, or dying parent in the eye, bam! You feel it.      

However, when it comes to love relationships, well that’s another story.  Consistently staying open to love and directing it, (through loving actions), towards someone with their own unique set of needs, expectations, and desires requires not only work, but a lot of it.  While you can love anybody, in order to have a mutually loving relationship with someone – involving things like sight, sound, and touch – you both need to come to understand each other in an out, learn what makes the other tick, and develop a game plan on healing whatever wounds you both bring to the table that block the flow of love between the two of you.  So yeah, work, or as you put it “effort,” is involved.  As well as time, understanding, compassion, patience, pain, dedication, some trials by fire, trust, vulnerability…

If you’re wondering how much work, well, the amount of effort involved is directly correlated to how prepared and experienced each person is in the process of cultivating love.  The more experience both people have at loving themselves and others before they enter the relationship the smoother things will be. (And as “practice makes progress” most past and – gulp – current relationships serve as that experience.)  But no pain, no gain.  So no matter how good at “loving” either party is coming in, if anyone is to grow from their current state and experience the deeper love your specific union offers, both people can expect to encounter some “growing pains” as conflicting beliefs or habits are exposed and shed. 

And now for your other brilliant question, “How do you know if you’re in a relationship that’s worth working on, or one you should walk away from?” Well, you stay when what’s being asked of you is something that will allow you to experience love in a deeper way, and you go when there’s no more room for growth.  

If staying means that you have the opportunity to practice letting go of a behavior and/or belief that has previously prevented you from experiencing intimacy and love in a safe environment, unpack your bags, put on some tea, and get to talkin’.  Conversely, it’s time to go when staying feels like stagnation or regression.  When the solution to whatever issue you two are having won’t help you to experience love in a deeper and fuller way, go.  Even if it just feels like something’s off.  Go.  Deep down you know what’s good for you.  And since there will always be another opportunity to grow in love you risk nothing when trusting yourself.  Your gut will never steer you wrong.

Lastly, on the journey to your amazing love affair, it’s important to remember that “Everything that has left you couldn’t stay, and everything that has stayed couldn’t leave you.”  You’ve lost nothing and no one necessary to fulfill your purpose and live the life of your dreams.  You’ve only gained things, like clarity.  Stay open to love.  And stay committed to loving yourself.  When you do that you’ll attract someone who will also love you, and he will stick.  No amount of trouble you give him will be able to drive him away – (trust me, I know).  He’ll be well-equipped for it.  Winston Churchill said, “I like a man who grins when he fights,” and it is that man, NOT the one who says, “it’s supposed to be easy,” who will stick it out with you, fight past you guys’ demons with you, and help co-create a loving relationship with you.  So chin up, girl.  True love is on its way.

-Megan 🙂

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

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.

She’s got trust issues and wants to be “just friends.” Will I get stuck in the friend zone?

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Dear Megan,

I met this girl 3 months ago at my buddies wedding. We slept together the first night and had a “fling” for about 10 days. Spent a lot of time together and connected emotionally.  I went back home to my country and we kept in touch daily for the last 3 months. Sharing stories, photos, I love you’s.

She is an attractive model with her own dating site as a dating coach and gets hit on constantly, but she chose to give me a chance.  However, I was acting aloof and mysterious and fun when I met her.  Over time, I became too needy, “fell for her”, sent her too many gifts and professed my love to her too soon, too much. She recently backed off the last month. Less texting on her part.

A few days ago, I went back to see her in her country, to see if there was anything left. My best friend lives in the same country so it’s a dual-purpose visit. She and I spent the night together at my hotel, but no sexual intercourse together. We just talked all night long.

She said she couldn’t trust me and men, because they all seem to just want to sleep with her and not really care about her.  Plus, she’s been adopted and never had a father in her life.

So she felt even more distant towards me/men. She said she really likes me. Wants us to be close and friends.

Since I was acting needy too, she told me she wants a Strong man in her life. But just not right now, as she is focused on her career and doesn’t want any relationships right now.  She kept saying that she is very attracted to me when I act strong, though. It felt like she was giving me instructions on how to win her over, in time. She even told me she told her brother about me, who she is very close to.

What I felt she was telling me was, basically, man up, don’t act too needy, don’t over-pursue her, give her time, be patient, be her friend… Then we could possibly pursue something in the future.

She said a ton of guys hit on her daily but I “won” her over. I was different. She saw potential in me to be great. She had posted a dating video on her site and in 3 days, received over 100,000 views. Plus, she showed me her phone and how many guys messaged her daily. It was overwhelming.

The last communication I had with her was I texted her a few hours after she left.  I told her I’m going to take a break from her and us. Go work on my insecurities, and re-connect with her in the future. She said, “Yes, definitely. Thank you for all your love.”

My question is: If I just be her friend, and not try to pursue her romantically, will that help me in the long run? I really do care about her. She has had a rough upbringing and I respect the hell out of her and do wish that we can be together in the future… Even if it does take time.

I can see why she doesn’t trust men, so I can agree to just being friends for now, but on the flip side, I don’t want to be friend-zoned forever.

Thanks for reading.

-Mr. Friend-zoned

 


Dear “Mr. Friend-zoned,”

Ahhh, sex symbols and the men who love them…  God bless ya.  Now on to your question: “If I just be her friend, and not try to pursue her romantically, will that help me in the long run?”

I hate to tell you this, Mr. Friend-zoned, but friends don’t have hidden agendas, so what you’re really asking is, “How far will pretending that I don’t have a romantic interest in this girl get me?”  And that I can answer.  In “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” this sort of unintentional, yet long-term deceit – which plays right into her trust issues, by the way – would classify you as a gentleman wolf.  (Don’t worry, there are worse.)  I’ve been in this situation many ‘a times, and it always reminds me of one of the baddest boys I ever dated.  His catch phrase to me was, “But you like that, don’t you?”  Anytime I complained about his behavior he let me know that my sticking around was a vote for more of the same.  The way he saw it was that if I didn’t leave I must like it.  I had no better teacher in weaning myself off of bad boys than him.  (If only we could all be so lucky!)

And now, the girl you believe you have fallen in love with, is asking you to become one of the “bad guys,” or be doomed to the dreaded friend zone…  “Act aloof,” she encourages you, (and undoubtedly her dating site pupils), in your quest to gain the heart of an emotionally unavailable woman.  “Be distant – like my father.”  Her instructions on how you get past her trust issues and into a relationship with her are the result of her trying to have a relationship with her father, not you.  So the real thing you have to figure out is this:  Do I want to learn to act like a man who left his little girl and scarred her emotionally, or do I want to continue to be the outwardly expressive, loving guy I am, and hope that she comes around.  (Only slightly rhetorical, right?)

You two are both nice, semi-self-aware people, (like the best of us), you just got a shitty situation to deal with.  In relationships, many people want what they have yet to figure out how to create.  Yes, she may have spotted your good heart and intentions, and want a loving relationship with you, but asking you to act less loving only shows that she is not yet capable of creating one.   So in the meantime she’s asked you to be her friend.  If you can’t act like the bad boy she thought you were in the beginning, then you can at least stick around for when she hopefully tires of them and can better receive you.  And you want to know the chances of her coming back around and settling down with you? (Drumroll, please.)   33%…  Hope that helps!

For one, you’d have to wait a while as the fact that her asking you to tone down your love, (opposed to her rising up to it), shows that she’s still a ways off from being able to receive you.  And given how many men she’ll eat in the meantime, your flame has little chance of surviving.  Furthermore, in the end if she did choose you the whole thing would reek of settling, so she’ll probably do you both a solid and just get some fresh meat to avoid the stench. There is a slight chance that she’ll ultimately pick you, though, as anything is possible when – like a high-profile industry – you’ve got your foot in the door.

It’s amazingly insightful of you to gather that you may want to work on your insecurities from your interaction with her.  Most wolves, er, guys, I’ve dealt with get so caught up in flattery that they fail to examine why they’re willing to do so much for it.  “There’s a lid for every pot,” and if I’m being totally honest I’d encourage you to choose someone who’s fueled by your love, not someone who finds it draining.  And since you’ve got a taste for “bad girl blood” now, feel free to ignore anything we say and just watch what we do.  You’ve found The One when you have no need to consult others on your chances of things working out ;).

-Megan 🙂

For my story check out “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols” here

To submit your question to “Dear Megan” click here!

“Dear Megan” Home Page

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.