Advice

My boyfriend and best friend were keeping a past hookup a secret from me. I’m not sure I can get over it.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for several months now. We met online. When we first matched and I showed his photo to my friend, she definitely had a reaction to the picture and I asked if she knew him. She said he looked familiar but she didn’t think she’d met him before. End of story.

Because of COVID and everyone still kind of lying low, it was several weeks before they met. Everyone seemed to get along really well and there was no sign of anything amiss.

This past weekend, my friend and I had a girls night and got pretty tipsy, and as I was saying how much I really like my boyfriend, she blurted out that they hooked up. She said they met a year ago, met up one time, spent the night together, but after the fact decided they were really acting out of quarantine craziness and loneliness and they were better as friends.

I’m furious that they both kept this from me. After my friend’s confession, I confronted my boyfriend and he not only admitted that he recognized my friend but that they also agreed not to tell me. Now he’s mad at her for saying anything in the first place, and I’m mad at both of them for lying to me. I really like this guy but I feel like I can’t forgive this. He says I’m overreacting. I need advice.

Wanda says:

Let’s play a game of “Put Yourself In Her Shoes.” Your girlfriend has a big first date looming. We’ve all gone through COVID and it’s sucked and been super lonely. She shows you his picture. Dang it. You recognize him: you slept with him! But it was just once, during COVID. And she’s happy! And what’s the chance of the date leading to anything? So you keep quiet — not because you’re a bad friend, but because you’re a good one. Or you’re trying to be. And then, darn it, she and the guy really hit it off; and when the two of you are introduced, you both realize now it’s kind of too late to say anything. And here we are.

You see, your friend and boyfriend didn’t do this from a place of cruelty. She kept quiet because without a doubt, she didn’t want to dim your glow; and he likely didn’t pipe up when he realized the reality because he really likes you and didn’t want to ruin things.

Whether it’s ever OK to tell a lie is a whole different topic of debate, and irrelevant here because they did lie by omission and even agreed to keep it rolling. Rather than focus on that — because it happened and can’t be undone — look forward. Do you care about this guy enough to try to put this behind you? Can you accept that their bad behavior was rooted in good intentions?

Wayne says:

Well, you did write that you already glanced into your future, and that you don’t feel like you can forgive him or her, or move past this whole sticky situation. And I don’t blame you. That’s one hell of a curveball.

The only positive is that the truth came out early in your relationship. Imagine how hurt — and angry — you’d be if you found out after you and the BF started talking about moving in together, adopted a pandemic pet with him, met the respective parents, made any other big commitments or hit any major milestones.

What I didn’t see in your note was either of them expressing any contrition or offering apologies. Instead, your girlfriend seems relieved to be freed of her secret and guilt, while your boyfriend sounds angrier than you.

Yes, ultimately you get to decide whether you forgive and forget, or even extend either or both of them a second chance. But dang, if they loved you like you love them, and if they were hurting like you are right now, they would be trying really really hard to make things right with you. Rebuilding trust. Saying sorry. Not saying that you’re overreacting. Explaining why it was dumb of them to believe that lying to you individually and in a coordinated effort was better than just being honest at any point along the way, even if it would have made things awkward. If you aren’t getting that from them now, they probably aren’t the kind of friends you’ll want to invest in or rely on in the future.

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