Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My girlfriend and I met through an extended group of friends. We messed around a couple times, and then we went on a few real dates. After a month or so, we became exclusive. Things have generally been great since, and a year later, we are talking about moving in together.
Yesterday, she said she needed to tell me something: When we first started dating, but before we became exclusive, she made out with one of our friends, a buddy of mine. It happened a few times. She slept at his house once. She doesn’t feel like this was cheating — because we weren’t official. But she wanted me to know before we moved in together.
I’m pissed neither of them told me. I feel like she cheated. We might not have said we were exclusive, but we were heading that way. I had stopped pursuing other people. Also, this guy — he’s always with a different girl, a total player, and I don’t know why she would have given him the time of day. It makes me question her character. Also she’s never had an exclusive relationship before me. I didn’t think about that much before but with this new information, maybe her messing around with this guy while we were just starting out is a sign that she still isn’t ready and likes leaving her options open?
Bottom line, I don’t know if I can trust her. And I don’t know if we should move in together. Advice?
It’s understandable you’re questioning the validity of the last year that you’ve spent in a committed relationship, as I’m sure it’s completely weird to look at your lady and imagine her lip-locking with your buddy, a close-kept secret all this time. But in the context of today’s hook-up/dating culture, it isn’t surprising that this happened. In fact, the only surprising thing here is she told you and I think you should give her some credit.
It’s hard, these days, to lock down a real relationship. Inundated with options, apps and swiping, too many singles keep their options deliriously open, hitting up the romance salad bar rather than commit to a single entrée. Even if you were signaling seriousness, it’s not surprising your girlfriend was keeping her options open until she knew for sure you were all in. Does that make it easier for you to envision and stomach? For sure no. But respect the fact that until she knew you were all in, neither was she.
And arguably, we’re talking minor offenses here. They kissed, she fell asleep at his place — that’s a solid PG rating! And now she’s coming clean about something that I’d wager wasn’t even that significant to her. They didn’t have sex and then never went on any outing resembling a proper date. This was clearly a smattering of interludes that were merely physical, convenient and situational. Then she committed to you. And it’s been great ever since! Give her the benefit of the doubt and focus on the future, not the past.
I can’t believe that Wanda and I have to hold your adult hand and walk you through all of the ways that you are reading this situation wrong and totally overreacting. But here we are.
First, you’ve got the timelines and intentions all twisted. She didn’t cheat on you because you weren’t in a relationship. In fact, you were both testing the waters — yes, you were, too — with the world, with one another. Tell me that you would have turned down a make-out session with a different flirty female during those single, mingle days. And would you have told your now-girlfriend about it — shortly after you two became official or even today before moving in — if it did happen?
And you’re mad that neither of them told you earlier? How would you have responded? Stopped seeing her entirely, ending a potentially great relationship before it could even gain momentum? Freaked out on both of them? Shortsighted and selfish. You’d be kicking yourself today.
Finally, if she truly wasn’t trustworthy and ready for a serious relationship, would she have stuck it out with you for a year and made plans to move in together?
Straight-up: if you take your insecurities and delusions out on her about this, you’re a jerk and you don’t deserve her. Instead of sulking, you should thank her for being honest, and being the kind of partner who is willing to have tough conversations so you both can continue forward with a clean slate, clear conscious and open dialogue. You should also use this as an opportunity to apologize to her for your dark turn, and use her as inspiration to commit to the same level of communication and calm.