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I Was in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship, and I Didn't Even Realize It

You Asked: We Both Cheated

Dear Sugar,

I've been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. When we first started dating, we were both beginning graduate school at different universities, though they were only a few minutes away from each other. As a result, even though we were dating, we spent a lot of time socializing apart from each other. During the first five months, I cheated on him repeatedly. I made out with a bunch of different guys until I finally woke up to how shameful and inconsiderate of a person I was, and I broke up with him. I spent some time on my own, examined myself long and hard, and got my act together. Eventually we got back together and I haven't cheated on him since. We're stronger than ever now, but I know it's only because he has no idea what I did to him.

So, keeping my history in mind, can you advise me on a situation that has just come up between us? Last night he got drunk at a party and kissed a random girl. He called and left me a message about it right away. He was extremely remorseful and begged me for forgiveness. My friends who were at the party as well told me that the girl was all over him, he was being egged on by some of his friends, and when it happened, he pulled away quickly and was mortified. I forgive him, of course — how can I not considering all the times when I behaved just like that girl? — but I don't know what to say to him about it. If I tell him it's not a big deal, that these things happen, I know he'll question my morals because he believes I don't stand for cheating. But if I say to him that that sort of situation can't happen again, I'll be a hypocrite. I know in my heart that I could never claim to be above that kind of behavior, so what do I do? Tell him the truth? I feel that I've changed, but does that give me the right to expect better from him? — Double Standard Debbie

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Double Standard Debbie,

While I'm not an advocate of lying, I think you're better off staying mum about what you did in the past — what he doesn't know won't hurt him, as long as it's no longer playing a part in your relationship or weighing heavily on your conscience. Now, I can completely understand why you're leaning toward letting him off the hook here, but instead of doing so because of what you've done in the past, forgive him because he has been forthcoming and honest.

I don't stand for cheating either, Debbie, so perhaps this is a good time to talk about your relationship and make sure you're on the same page. Since you've both had slip-ups, be sure this relationship is in fact what you both want. Of course people make mistakes, but when you love someone, I don't think mistakes like these should happen. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
patent-leather patent-leather 8 years
o and i forgot to mention... holding over his head was terrible... it hurt him more and more everytime i brought it up... he was honest reward the honesty scold the kiss an move on.
patent-leather patent-leather 8 years
SO... I cheated on my boyfriend within the first couple months like 3 times... I slowly told him about each tie over the next three years... everytime he forgave me BUT then he started getting super insecure... he felt like I could go out and get whoever and he couldnt... (this was high school by the way) then at a party he was sooo drunk and we got in a fight so I left... on of the sluttiest girls in our school sat down next to him on the couch... i guess they talked about nothing for a bit then kissed... (open mouthed but no tounge) He called be in the morning and told me how it happened his voice was shaking then he sarted crying then i cried and broke up with him UGH terrible stuff... we went back out i held it over his head for a year POINT BEING: We are having out five year anniversery this novemeber... young people make stupid decisions and sometime true love can overcome that. Neither of us ever cheated again. We have made it through 3 years of college and we are more in love than ever. The problem with not telling your man is that it affects your relationship because you WILL act diff. without knowing... the problem with telling is that he wont be able to trust you NOT because you made mistakes but bc you lied... the decision is yours... I told and forgave and we are great for now... look at your relationship and see what you need to do for your future together or apart. I have found that honesty helps build trust eventually and a stronger relationship in the long run.
thelorax thelorax 8 years
I'm with Dear 100% - don't tell him what you did in the past (just don't do it again!!!) because this won't help matters at all; it will probably push him away and validate what he did. It sounds like he realized right away that he was being an idiot, so he probably genuinely regrets the indiscretion and won't be a repeat offender. And also, what Seka said is very important - if you're truly committed to making this work you HAVE to forgive and move on, and DO NOT bring this up later to use as ammunition in future fights. There is NOTHING more hurtful than being hit with something you were already "forgiven" for and felt terrible about, only to be raked over the coals again.
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
I think you can definitely say that it's not ok to have this happen again and forgive him. You don't have to explain why you are feeling this way, and really it's not about your past guilt. It seems like you understand that he is truly sorry and as long as he doesn't plan to do anything of this nature again it would be perfectly natural to forgive him even if you hadn't done it yourself
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Just say you forgive him and move on. That is, unless you are feeling horribly guilty about your cheating in which case now is the time to get it off your chest.
ajennilynrushhh ajennilynrushhh 8 years
I agree with Dear and TidalWave. Don't say anything & forgive him and yeah I'd be more mad at the friends too.
Seka21 Seka21 8 years
Im with dear sugar But if you forgive him FORGIVE HIM and move on. Never make him feel guilt for his actions. I strongly believe in Karma..maybe him doing this was yours... just dont make him feel bad!
goldengirl23 goldengirl23 8 years
If you feel guilty about not telling him - a way to assuage this is to think that confessing to him would be selfish on your part - because it would get rid of YOUR won't help anything. Unless you are persuing a relationship with any of the guys you made out with, he is better off not knowing. You can still have a trusting and honest relationship. If it happens again, you might want to re-think the relationship. But if you really and truly want to be with him, and forgive him for what he did, then it's just in the past. Leave the past where it is.
jenwils jenwils 8 years
"The whole situation just makes me think that he's a bit immature to be in a committed relationship." Agreed. In my opinion you both sound too immature to be in an adult relationship. If both people feel such a strong need to makeout with others, perhaps your break wasn't quite long enough. "Of course people make mistakes, but when you love someone, I don't think mistakes like these should happen." Well put Dear.
0danielle0 0danielle0 8 years
Cheating in the beginning month or so of a relationship is VERY different from cheating a year and a half into things. That's great that he was honest and "remorseful," but come on... Any guy who would go out, get drunk, let some chick rub up on him, and then give in to his friend's encouragement to hook up with her is not the kind of guy I would be with! Are his friends your friends too? The whole situation just makes me think that he's a bit immature to be in a committed relationship. If a person is focused on being faithful, he or she doesn't go out and behave that way.
Berlin Berlin 8 years
It also depends on you guys' age! If you are both young (which it sounds) you're much more likely to stray and do very stupid things when you're drunk. Let him know that this is not OK with you and allow him to make it up to you. And then move past it. If you want to continue the relationship, you never ever say anything about the mistakes so long ago in your past. It was kissing and it won't do anything to help out. Remember we're all human and make mistakes, and let this be his one big one, that is if you see him in your life in the future. If you don't see him as a lifelong partner then it's all a moot point and end it. But if you do, then let him really make it up to you, but don't freak out and go all over-dramatic b/c it isn't worth it and it will strain the relationship. And don't bring it up again afterwards either:) Let sleeping dogs lie and forgive. I think it's super cute that he felt so horrible that he called you asap! Factor in age and the faults of human nature and even think back to how you used to do it as well...and how you weren't egged on, nor how you called to redeem yourself. Things always seem greener and he realized quickly that the option was not one for him.
RaCheer RaCheer 8 years
I'm so over cheaters! RUN!
RustyAngel73 RustyAngel73 8 years
i wouldn't tell him about what you did in the past, it will only cause more problems...of course, this is a comment based on the perception that you really have changed and wont do it again.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i think you should talk to him, explaining that it can't happen again, and you're relieved that he told you right away and communicated what happened to you, but that cheating isn't right, and you will forgive him, but you both need to commit to never doing this again in the future. and don't, under any circumstances, tell him what you did in the past. i think you can stay together, if thats what you really want, you just need to let him know that his friends were wrong and he was wrong, and you really need to be more responsible in the future.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
his friends egged him to kiss a girl fully knowing he has a girlfriend? sounds like crappy friends. i would be more mad at them.
TheMissus TheMissus 8 years
i agree with Dear.. If you tell him, you guys will likely not be a couple anymore. Just let the past relationship you had with him stay in the past. Since you began your new relationship with him, things have been good. Also, I don't think he'll question your morals if you forgive him easily. And if he does, well then "screw him." After all, in this relationship, he's the one who cheated.
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