However, my friend told me the next day that someone said they had seen us, possibly kissing, in the club. When I heard this, I went into panic and confusion and called the guy. He said his memory was very bad, too, but said, “I’m pretty sure we did, but whatever, just tell yourself we didn’t.” I was so devastated and confused. I am awful at trusting myself, even though my memory told me that our lips never actually touched. I am still quite clear about this and would not lie to myself, but I can’t help obsessing over the possibility that we did, in fact, have our lips touch during the inappropriate dancing. Jack knows the entire story, and, aside from initial upset, is decidedly unbothered. He says: “Please don’t worry about it; it doesn’t matter and I trust your memory over his anyway. Either way, it is insignificant. I still trust you completely and this was a just a small mistake, if it happened at all.” He never thinks about it and just wants me to stop worrying.
I have crippling guilt over something I quite possibly NEVER DID! My obsession with perfection won’t let it go. My mind goes into over-drive: “I don’t think I kissed him at all, but what if I did, what would that mean, people say you can’t cheat if you truly love someone, but I truly love him, but maybe this means I’m kidding myself?!” Incidentally, what’s your take on: “If you cheat, it means you don’t love someone.”
Our relationship and our love are indescribably important to me and Jack. I feel like this maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating has tarnished our record of full, happy fidelity and kindness. We don’t even think monogamy is essential to love (although we choose it regardless), but the idea of cheating is so disgusting to both of us when we care so much. How do I reconcile this possible (or imagined) occurrence with that? I’m not a cheater! — Obsessed with Perfection
So… this “maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating” happened a whole year ago, your boyfriend basically shrugged it off and told you not to worry about it, you yourself can’t even remember the incident and suspect it didn’t even happen and yet you can’t let it go? Am I missing something here?
Honestly, if you’re so wracked with guilt over this thing that may or may not have happened a year ago, there’s something else going on. Either you’re lying to yourself about not remembering anything, you’re lying to yourself about being in love with your boyfriend, or you’re …. bored and looking for something — anything! — to create a little drama.
I’m just confused about what the last year of your relationship has been like if you’ve been so consumed with this possible transgression that you’re crippled with guilt. If that’s true — if you’ve truly been crippled — then by definition, you’ve been unable to move forward. And if that’s the case, your relationship has been at a standstill. For a whole year. And yet, you describe it as passionate?
I don’t know what to tell you. It doesn’t add up. This letter doesn’t ring true to me. But regarding your question about whether I believe that “If you cheat, it means you don’t love someone,” the answer is no, I don’t believe that. That sounds like something a 19-year-old kid made up to give herself permission to question a relationship that on paper seems perfect but leaves her feeling less than thrilled. And if you happen to be someone who needs permission to question your relationship — if you need a “record of happy fidelity” to be tarnished in order to analyze what your true feelings are, I’ll leave you with this: perhaps your boyfriend didn’t give you any grief over your “maybe-possibly-sort-of cheating” because he’s been guilty of something similar. Or maybe he’s confident enough in your relationship that he can’t imagine anything ever threatening the bond he shares with you, and nothing would ever make him question your love and commitment to him. Which scenario is scarier?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.