Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Is He Lying About Cheating on Me?

I’ve been with my boyfriend for about three years now. He sometimes travels to festivals with the music group he works with, sometimes for weekends, sometimes for two weeks, and always with the same relatively tight community of people. I’ve never met any of them (it wouldn’t be possible as they don’t live in the area), and more specifically have never met the woman he calls his “best friend” in that community. She posts on his Facebook wall often with what seem to me flirty messages (“I miss you” and stuff like that), she’s in his timeline photo, and she didn’t know about his having a girlfriend until over a year into our relationship (as evidenced by her comment on a photo posted of us together, “Wow, you have a girlfriend? Way to go!”).

I became suspicious when, also about a year into our relationship, he acted very strange after a particularly long trip. He said that he was just grumpy and shutting me out because he’d just spent weeks camping and constantly surrounded by people and needed some time to himself, which I accepted at the time but have since come to view suspiciously. At any rate, the basic gist is that I had a bad feeling about this woman. In the past year or two our relationship has become stronger and more committed, he’s begun treating me better than I’ve ever been treated, and we’ve been getting along famously, so I stopped thinking about it so much. But this weekend, I was using his iPad (I don’t have one) while he was in the bathroom, and a message from this girl popped up. It reminded me of all those suspicions and I scratched the itch to snoop for the first time in my life, reasoning that the conversation was already open and I was just scrolling (not a good excuse, I know, I know). Because they have apparently not been talking much, it took me only seconds to see the very long message from her explaining that she had begun dating a close mutual friend of theirs and wanted to let him know so that their “three musketeers” friendship could remain stable. That part makes sense. However, she then mentions that the situation is additionally complicated by “a few romantic encounters” between herself and my boyfriend, and that he means so much to her and she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship.

When my boyfriend came back from the bathroom, I told him his friend had messaged him and that I’d accidentally seen some messages, and his face fell. My boyfriend says that she merely misconstrued one-on-one dinners as romantic encounters. I’m not sure if I believe him. I should mention that I do have some anxiety issues, so sometimes worry excessively. I don’t know what to do. Her excessive Facebook posting on his wall does seem to gel with the possibility that she would accidentally assume they were on a date, but I feel like he’s asking a lot of me to believe that the phrase “romantic encounters” means something innocent.

The worst of this is that I guess that if he had cheated on me, it would have been in that less committed part of our relationship, not recently. I don’t fear that he would cheat on me today, yet for some reason it still kills me to not know whether it happened. I want to believe him. I know he loves me and we truly have been through a lot together (his cancer, my accidental pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage), and I don’t want to break up with him. However, I don’t know how to believe him on this issue. I fear it will eat at our relationship. How can I trust him again? Should I trust him again? — iPad Snooper

What’s bothering you the most here, I suspect, is not the idea of your boyfriend “cheating” on you during the less committed part of your relationship — and I use quotation marks here because if you weren’t truly committed, then is it really “cheating”? — but that your boyfriend isn’t being clear with you about the nature of his friendship with this woman and, most importantly, isn’t being clear with her about the nature of your relationship. You want to feel so important to your boyfriend that all the other important players in his life not only respect your relationship, but understand its significance. But if this woman, someone who litters his Facebook page with “flirty” messages, didn’t even know you existed until a year into your relationship and, even now, feels the need to warn your boyfriend that she’s dating a mutual friend and basically doesn’t want things to be “weird” among the three of them, I can appreciate why you’re feeling insecure.

But from where I sit, comfortably on the outside, this friendship your boyfriend has with this other woman doesn’t sound very important. A few public posts on Facebook certainly don’t mean anything. And if their text conversation you read on the iPad had lapsed for a while, it doesn’t sound like they’re in close contact. If you don’t have any concern that your boyfriend would cheat on you now and you don’t have any reason not to trust him, I’d let this drop.

Yes, your boyfriend may not be telling the entire truth about the nature of his friendship with this woman over the course of the multiple years they’ve known each other, most likely because it doesn’t have much bearing on anything today, and, if he was intimate with her at some point after you two started dating, however non-committal you may have been, he likely doesn’t want to unnecessarily hurt you or plant any seed of doubt or worry for you. And if you did find out that “romantic encounters” does, in fact, mean more than a misconstrued dinner or two, what good will that do you? Is that going to make you feel better or worse about anything? Probably worse. So, what’s the point?

Forget about the past, and look ahead. Your boyfriend can’t change any of his past behavior. He can’t un-do anything that might have been done any more than he can go back in time and make clear to his friend whatever intentions he may or may not have had when going out to dinner with her. What he can do is clarify relationships going forward. So tell him what you need from him to feel secure about your relationship and to let go of anxiety you have about his friendship with this other woman. Would you feel better if you had a chance to meet her some time? Do you want him to be more transparent online about your relationship so no one doubts your commitment? Do you want him to tell you more about her and what their time together on the road entails? Communicate your needs and if they aren’t met, then you can worry. But worrying about something that may or may not have happened years ago, before you were even committed to your boyfriend, is a waste of energy.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

101 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Desiree February 18, 2013, 9:28 am

    My problem in the LW’s situation (this was also in the forum this weekend with more detail) is that I wouldn’t want my SO to continue contact/friendship with the person he had cheated on me with. I just don’t think I would ever be able to “get over” the cheating if the person maintained a presence in our life. But, as the LW explained in the forum, there isn’t any likelihood of the boyfriend cutting contact with this girl due to professional commitments. I just find the whole thing to be very unfortunate, and I really feel for the LW.

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  • avatar

    Sophronisba February 18, 2013, 9:42 am

    In the course of three years, why haven’t you gone with him on some of these weekends or to some of these festivals? Even if he’s working, there would be plenty for you to do at a festival and I haven’t heard that the music industry is so uptight that a girlfriend coming along every now and then would be soooo unusual. It sounds like he has another life that you are not invited into, when you easily could be, and that’s what I find questionable.

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    • avatar

      Desiree February 18, 2013, 9:58 am

      I wondered about this, too. Part of me feels the boyfriend wants to keep the girlfriend away from this music world of his so that he can play the field. That is consistent with the bit about the female friend not knowing about the girlfriend until pretty far into the relationship. With as much time as the boyfriend spends with this group of people, if they don’t know he has a girlfriend it is because he is taking pains to hide it.

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  • katie

    katie February 18, 2013, 9:42 am

    i just disagree with the whole “its in the past, forget about it, do you actually want to know something that will cause you sorrow” attitude. not that i think its wrong, but i could *never* operate that way, especially in this situation. you cant just un-see those facebook messages. you know that something went on, some type of “romantic encounters” (whatever that means…?). you cant just forget about that kind of stuff. i mean, i dont know exactly how to re-build the trust in this particular relationship… but i dont think this is something that can just be swept under a rug and forgotten.

    random DW poll: would you rather just not know, be blissfully unaware, or would you like to know the truth, no matter how sad it would make you?

    i would always want to know the truth.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 18, 2013, 9:49 am

      To know the truth.

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    • avatar

      Desiree February 18, 2013, 9:54 am

      I definitely say “know the truth.” One of the biggest reasons I prefer truth is that I personally believe these things WILL come out at some point sooner or later, so it’s best to know it sooner. I feel so bad for the widow grieving a beloved husband who then gets a call from the mistress that shatters her understanding of her marriage. This situation is obviously not that dramatic, but I think the LW needs honesty before moving forward. The seeds of doubt will grow in her head no matter what, so she may as well have the truth. Given “seeds of doubt” versus cold hard truth, I definitely prefer the truth (speaking as someone who has been cheated on).

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    • LK7889

      LK7889 February 18, 2013, 9:58 am

      You know, I think people think that they want to know the truth but I’m not sure that they really do (as evidenced by the aftermath I’ve seen from cheating exposed).

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson February 18, 2013, 10:10 am

        As much as I overshare on DW I have never mentioned before that I had a relationship end because of (his) cheating. I don’t really mention it because then I think it biases my comments on cheating – and frankly I wasn’t that scarred by the cheating – and I don’t want other people to feel like they’re not allowed to be traumatized by it. But I found out and it was over and I moved on like all other classy 20 year olds and sucked face with his friend in front of him. And it was over. I really did want to know – because it showed how much of a mess our relationship was anyway – and it wasn’t that dramatic or anything. Not all cheating has to be dramatic. You just take that as your sign the relationship is over.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 18, 2013, 12:38 pm

        You do have a good point. Sometimes it’s what is needed to give someone the strength to finally MOA. I was in a similar situation myself about 8 years ago where the guy’s cheating finally made me leave him. Without that, would I have stayed in that dead relationship even longer? The answer is “probably.”

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson February 18, 2013, 9:59 am

      I would want to know the truth – but if I was the boyfriend I would lie. What does that say about me? Free therapy – GO!

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray February 18, 2013, 10:25 am

      but she wouldn’t *really* be ignoring the past. by focusing on conveying to him what she expects of him moving forward – that he respects their relationship and clarifies relationships moving forward – he’ll acknowledge he did a bad job at that in the early years of her relationship. but she just won’t get to find out specifically if they kissed or held hands or boned. … though fuck if they boned that would really piss me off. Who am I kidding, the whole thing would piss me off, and I would probably focus on the past. But honestly? I’m single for a reason. So obviously i have not handled things well.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar February 18, 2013, 10:26 am

      In this situation how can you know the truth? You either accept what your boyfriend has said – or you believe this other person, with no connection to you, who may or may not have a different story. Or you let your imagination run wild and believe whatever fantasy you created. Unless you plan on hooking your boyfriend up to a lie detector – you are ultimately going to have to believe someone.

      To answer your question – If my husband cheated on me I would want to know. If my husband had romantic encounters before he was exclusively committed to me – I don’t particularly need to know.

      I think the most important part of a relationship is how he treats you now – how he treats you going forward. Not if he was distant once two years ago. If you need your boyfriend to have boundaries in place with respect to this particular girl then tell him it’s what you need.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady February 18, 2013, 10:57 am

      Well, but if you don’t know that you, um, don’t know…how does that affect things? I think of it more like, would I rather have a faithful partner or someone who slept with someone else once or twice a few years ago? Obviously, a faithful partner is preferable. Just by asking, “Would you rather know he was cheating?” you’re removing the ability to make that choice because the question implies he was cheating. And it’s absolutely human nature that if we only have partial information, we’re going to pursue the full story, even though not knowing means you’re happy, and knowing means heartbreak.

      The truth is, her boyfriend loves her. He loves her now. Maybe he didn’t then. And I feel like what they’ve been through together more than compensates for a few bad decisions two and a half years ago. I think it would be so, so foolish to pursue a truth that doesn’t even apply now.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 11:57 am

        Okay, so I take this back only as it applies to this situation. I read the forums. This guy is clearly a lying liar.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. February 18, 2013, 11:42 am

      I would want to know.

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    • avatar

      glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:26 pm

      I wish I didn’t know the truth. I wish I had never looked.

      Doing so opened a can of worms where I feel like I pushed him into lying. And the way he lies and manipulates is concerning to me.

      Perhaps it’s a blessing to know that I have a boyfriend who gaslights, but I feel that its ended our relationship and that I have little other choice now. Am I wrong here?

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      • avatar

        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 2:41 pm

        I think, in this case, the gaslighting would present more of an issue for me than the story about the other girl as he told it. And the gaslighting probably would have surfaced at some point about something else. So don’t blame yourself too much.

        I don’t know if I could be with a man who would rather I doubt my own intelligence than admit to his own shortcomings. I don’t know if it’s fixable. I think if he were to own up to all of this, to stop trying to manipulate you (and own up to that) and to agree to really truly work on this…maybe. If you think you can trust him (not to not cheat, though I would hope he wouldn’t, but all the other stuff, at least for me) or at least trust that you can at some point trust him…give it a shot, I suppose. But just because you found something you ought not to, that doesn’t make this your fault. If he had said right off, “You’re right, I had a fling at Burning Man with her, and we’ve since become friends, but I promise nothing else has happened. What can I do to make this better?” would that change how you feel? It sounds like it would. It would to me. So it’s not about what you found snooping.

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    • avatar

      BreezyAM February 20, 2013, 3:31 pm

      I wish to hell I had never ever known. I am also friends with many wives who were betrayed and NONE of us feel better for knowing. All it did was cause a lot of mistrust. The only way we were wanting to know was if it was continuing. If it was OVER and not happening again, we see no reason why we should know. People keep saying “well you should have full information to make decisions about your marriage” you know what? It was really unnecessary information. All it did was make us cry and ache and howl and not trust for years, causing more trauma to the marriage than the actual cheating ever did.

      I used to think I wanted to know. I was wrong.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle February 18, 2013, 9:50 am

    Ah, so this was in the forums & I just read the update… there are just so many elements involved at this point. LW, since he definitely cheated on you in some capacity, I think your main question now is: can I ever trust him again? Will these issues just keep cropping up in our relationship, even if we manage to get past this incident?

    And I think the answer is yes. First of all, while I admittedly don’t know much about brain cancer, it’s usually pretty obvious when somebody is using an excuse just because it’s convenient. Since in your own words, he doesn’t show memory lapses in any other, more everyday, situations, I think it’s safe to say that he’s fudging the facts here. This could be a pattern—are you prepared to deal with that? In ~addition~ to your own guilt at your suspicions of him (even when you are rightly skeptical)?

    This guy wants to keep you no matter what, it seems—he’s lying, engaging in behavioral turnabouts, etc. But these read (to me) as acts of desperation. Do you think he’ll continue in this vein? or revert back to his sneaking, gaslighting, forgetful ways once he doesn’t think the relationship is in imminent danger anymore?

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    • katie

      katie February 18, 2013, 9:59 am

      whoa whoa whoa- brain cancer???

      i need to go read this forum again…

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      • katie

        katie February 18, 2013, 10:22 am

        ok, re: brain cancer… the LW writes “I never noticed him having memory lapses in other situations other than those where he was being thoughtless towards me” –if something only happens when its convenient, its an excuse, not a condition. period. i dont care what you have wrong with you… that is just so obnoxious.

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    • avatar

      MissyC February 18, 2013, 11:18 am

      I’ve also been in the unfortunate situation of finding out that my then-boyfriend had been cheating (twice–oy) and I was glad to have found out. The first time it was fairly obvious, but the second time not even his closest friends knew. I had a bad feeling in my gut that something was wrong (granted, I didn’t think the what-was-wrong was something that big), and I think that’s something to think about, perhaps. LW, do you really have no reservations about your relationship? If he really is as committed to you and to your relationship to the point that you have no hesitation or pause, that says a lot. But if there is something you feel truly isn’t right, that also speaks volumes. Whether or not you can get past *if* he did cheat on you in the first year of your relationship is something you have to decide for yourself.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson February 18, 2013, 9:56 am

    I want to talk about the advice we would give if this boyfriend wrote in. “My girlfriend saw a message between a close female friend and myself on my ipad. She now has the impression that we might have been romantic during the early stages of our relationship. What should I do?”

    Wouldn’t we encourage him to use discretion to avoid unnecessarily hurting her? I guess I don’t know what he could have done here to help her feel secure. Because the actual conversation with the girl wasn’t that damning, and the facebook posts seem to be one sided. So say they did do some romantic things while the LW and the boyfriend were just casually seeing each other. Say he did hook up with this girl for a while. And say it wasn’t cheating because they weren’t exclusive. Wouldn’t we all tell him to be vague and not hurt her feelings?

    I guess I’m just wondering if this is one of those situations where honesty isn’t the best policy.

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    • avatar

      Desiree February 18, 2013, 10:01 am

      The thing is, the LW and her boyfriend weren’t “casually dating” when these romantic encounters happened. The boyfriend didn’t even meet the female friend until six months into his relationship with the LW (and the LW is guessing the cheating happened at maybe the one year mark of their relationship, if I remember correctly from the forums). So to me, that’s flat-out cheating, not just fudging the boundaries at the beginning of a relationship, which would be a different story.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson February 18, 2013, 10:07 am

        Yeah I guess it is. I don’t know I’m in a weird mood today and I’m just wondering – does 2 years ago cheating matter that much? (Yup I just said it – I’m sure I’ll read this another day and wonder what the hell I was saying). I mean if their relationship is great now and she WANTS to stay with him – why shouldn’t she? I guess like what Addie Pray said below she needs to figure out what she wants before wondering if she can forgive him. Because if she’s not thinking marriage or the next step with this guy anyway this can be an easy nail in the coffin.

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      • avatar

        Desiree February 18, 2013, 10:17 am

        I definitely think you have good points. For some reason this particular situation just really got under my skin. I think it’s because I feel the boyfriend was pulling a “have his cake and eat it too” by keeping the girlfriend away from his music scene. I am wondering if he SET UP the opportunity to cheat. Maybe not, of course. My dad was in the music business, and I have heard 1000 shady stories, so I’m biased that way.

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray February 18, 2013, 10:03 am

      Well, we might point out that he hasn’t really been introducing her, or even the fact of her, to his friends, that he keeps his lives separate, and we’d ask him why, and we’d tell him clearly he’s conflicted about what he wants, or at least he’s acting like it. And here he has this great girl that he’s stringing along… and then maybe we’d tell him to go fuck off beause all men suck! (<—- ok, not realy, relax). Ha.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle February 18, 2013, 10:05 am

      I do think they WERE exclusive, but you’re right— if the boyfriend wrote in, saying he had a fling while away for a few weeks & should he come clean? I might say no, he shouldn’t. However, she did find some suspicious things, so…with that information, I also might tell him he should (to avoid further deception?) It’s a tricky situation.

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    • katie

      katie February 18, 2013, 10:10 am

      to me it would make a difference if the LW and the boyfriend were just casually, non-exclusively dating or not, and then the extent of the boyfriends potential lies.

      “my girlfriend saw an old message from a girl i was seeing before we were exclusive with each other, what do i do” and “my girlfriend found the messages about my cheating on her early in our relationship that i have lied about since” would get very different responses, i think..

      honestly though- from what i remember of the forum post, he is backtracking and calling the LW crazy, isnt he? so if it really was just as simple as, oh well before we were exclusive i was casually dating her as well- why wouldnt he just say that?

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      • avatar

        Desiree February 18, 2013, 10:19 am

        “so if it really was just as simple as, oh well before we were exclusive i was casually dating her as well- why wouldnt he just say that?”

        He can’t say that because he met the female friend after he was in a relationship with the LW. That is part of why the LW was so upset on the forum, because she *knows* any romantic encounters had to happen after she and her boyfriend were exclusive.

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      • katie

        katie February 18, 2013, 10:24 am

        ok, so then its cheating. period. …right? why is there even a question of it, LW? either he cheated or not- there really isnt grey area there…

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle February 18, 2013, 10:34 am

        The gray area is— to what EXTENT did he cheat (which would then determine to what extent he lied/is still lying). I’m not saying that’s the right thing to fixate on, but I think that’s where the LW’s head is at right now.

        Also, she seems to be asking whether or not they can effectively move on from this whole debacle…which, is kind of dependent on how much he deceived her/how willing he is to change the behavior that got him here in the first place.

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      • katie

        katie February 18, 2013, 10:38 am

        hmm, interesting point. so you mean did he kiss her? did they sleep together? was it emotional? ect?

        LW, what would make *you* think it was cheating? where are your lines in the sand about this? you allowed to formulate the rules in this instance…

        i guess to me, its just all cheating. extent matters a little, i guess, but cheating is cheating. so this would be a huge problem for me.

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    • avatar

      lemongrass February 18, 2013, 11:06 am

      I would advise him to be open and honest with his girlfriend. Withholding info at this stage just seems shady and to say that it was to spare her feelings would seem like the biggest line of BS. sometimes feelings need to be hurt.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray February 18, 2013, 10:07 am

    I loved Wendy’s advice. I think it’s really constructive – and the route to go to get you both were you want to go. I mean, you could fixate on what “romantic encounters” means and ask him if he kissed her and make him admit this or that, but where does that get you? I really so no win-win if you go that route. But by focusing on how you want to be treated, how you want him to acknowledge your relationship moving forward, etc. it will be very clear what you expect from him, and in way you are not ignoring the past, because you’ll simultaneously be discussing what was missing in the past. …. You just might never get to know if they kissed or not, or whatnot. … But, again, take everything I say with a grain of salt because I AM A RELATIONSHIP IDIOT FOR LIFE!

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray February 18, 2013, 10:13 am

      God, sometimes my fingers just type the wrong words. I’m not sure I can call it a typo per se, but meh, whatever, what I really meant to say above was WWS.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady February 18, 2013, 11:13 am

      No, I agree. I think we as humans/women/younger people tend to focus SO much on “the truth” like it’s this solid, constant, unchanging thing, and that it is of great value to have it all in every situation. But what if the truth – in this example, the boyfriend was seeing someone else in the dark ages of their relationship – stops applying after a certain point? Kind of like GPAs. My grad school GPA was awesome. Undergrad? Not so much. When I’m asked for my GPA on teaching applications, I put my grad school GPA, because by the time I got there, I had grown up enough that I knew my grades mattered, that learning mattered, that making an impression on people of conscientiousness mattered. In undergrad, I wasn’t mature enough to internalize that. Who I was in grad school is much more who I am now, and being held accountable for the mistakes I made as a 19, 20, 21 year old is something I suppose someone *could* do, and it would be true that ten years ago I was kind of a fuckup. However, who is it benefitting to hold that up for scrutiny? I’m not that person. I’m a hard worker, and a dedicated employee, and I make good choices for myself and my students, so paying more attention to an old, outdated reflection of the kind of worker I am will deprive me of a job, the district of a great employee, and the students of a really awesome teacher.

      My point is, the boyfriend is a good partner now. Whether he was always or not, doesn’t really matter anymore. She could dig in, force him to admit to something he wouldn’t do now, and never forgive him, or she could judge him on decisions he’s made since.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 11:58 am

        I take this entire thing back ONLY as it applies to this case. This guy is a douchecanoe. See my comment below.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs February 18, 2013, 10:08 am

    this explains it all: “the very long message from her explaining that she had begun dating a close mutual friend of theirs and wanted to let him know so that their “three musketeers” friendship could remain stable. That part makes sense. However, she then mentions that the situation is additionally complicated by “a few romantic encounters” between herself and my boyfriend, and that he means so much to her and she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship”…
    based on this quote it is obvious that they have had a friends with benefits type relationship…there is no other reason why she would have any need to explain that she was beginning to see the other man…and no women know what “romantic encounters” are…your boyfriend has been cheating on you…now it is up to you to take this evidence and decide whether or not you want to continue to date someone who can lie to you

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 18, 2013, 10:22 am

      I think you’ve got it here with the friends with benefits. She wasn’t a girlfriend but he made sure she didn’t know he did have a girlfriend. I don’t know how someone could go out with you for a year and never post anything about the two of you on Facebook. You would consciously have to make sure you never mentioned what you were doing with your girlfriend and make sure to not post pictures. That is a lot of effort to hide a girlfriend unless he hardly used Facebook.

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      • avatar

        cdobbs February 18, 2013, 12:03 pm

        yes…that’s exactly the impression i got from the letter

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  • avatar

    Suzy February 18, 2013, 10:18 am

    I agree that there’s something odd about the LW not accompanying her bf to the music festivals. Go already! See how he acts, hiw he introduces you to others, how he interacts with them… it will be very telling if his bandmates and friends say “how great to finally meet you” vs. Acting like you’re the flavor of the month. Also it’s critical to see how hr and this girl are together. It’ll be obvious whether their friendship is innocent or not.

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  • avatar

    Tats February 18, 2013, 10:30 am

    I completely understand this LW. I suffer from Anxiety/Panic disorder & I am constantly fighting against my overdramatizied thought process. Any little thing gets turned into a wild race in my head. LW, I struggled for years with my now bf, trying to differntiate what is reality & what is my very vivid imagination.
    I have come a long way, with the help of therapy & my own choices to make myself better. I can honestly say that your partner has to meet you half way. If you don’t have that, it’s a recipe for disaster. My bf doesn’t always understand my anxiety, but he always helps me out. If I have a thought about something, I ask him about it & he very willingly, explains things for me.
    You have to be upfront with your boyfriend & tell him what things may cause anxiety & what you need from him to help you though. Of course, this isn’t license to go crazy on him whenever, you gotta work on yourself, which I think from your letter, you may already be doing.
    It doesn’t seem like your bf is cheating on you. Wendy’s advice on putting in the past sounds about right. Just try your hardest to let it go & def. explain to your bf what you need from him. That will not only bring you closer together, but it will def. be an aide in you overcoming your anxiety!

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  • avatar

    Taylor February 18, 2013, 10:44 am

    This –> “So tell him what you need from him to feel secure about your relationship”.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 18, 2013, 10:47 am

    Unless he tells you the truth and then works to make his life transparent and he supports you when you have doubts this won’t work. The way that the two of you handle this situation establishes how you solve serious problems and doubts in your relationship. If you let this slide and say it was two years ago so it doesn’t matter what he learns is that if he calls you crazy and the other woman crazy and pretends to forget and makes you feel guilty enough that you will let things slide. That will never work in the long term. I think it is time to tell him that this is it, he can sit down and confess all and be totally and brutally honest and then deal with the repercussions or the two of you are done because you can’t live your life this way.

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    lemongrass February 18, 2013, 10:48 am

    I disagree, history tends to repeat itself. Not only that but if he did cheat would you really want to stay with someone who would treat you with such little respect?

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    Amber February 18, 2013, 11:09 am

    This letter gives a way different impression than the letter/followups posted in the forum.

    For THIS letter, I agree with Wendy’s advice. But for the original post and follow ups? no way.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar February 18, 2013, 11:16 am

      Totally agree with you. My answers were completely different after reading the post…

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      Desiree February 18, 2013, 11:18 am

      That was definitely my thought as well. I feel like the forum tells a more complete (and very different!) story.

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      • katie

        katie February 18, 2013, 11:23 am

        well, she got to update in real time in the forums… i assume that she wrote this into wendy the same day as the first forum post…?

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        Desiree February 18, 2013, 11:28 am

        Probably, it makes sense. It’s just really interesting to compare the two.

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        Amber February 18, 2013, 11:41 am

        Yah but even if you forget the followups, this letter is so different from her original post.

        the forum post was more specific in it’s time frames, ie “he would have HAD to have done this when we were in a committed relationship”. this letter was much murkier on that detail.

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        LW/glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:08 pm

        I posted the original letter very soon after the incident, before having thought out the details myself.

        I hadn’t realized, at the time of the letter writing, that this was the case.

        All of the other stuff (which other posters identify as, and I agree upon examination, gaslighting) happened in real time.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar February 18, 2013, 11:14 am

    After reading the forum I think this isn’t a question of a bf stepping out before commitment and you just putting it all behind you because he is great today. The transgression may have been some time ago but it seems the lying about it is current. And that’s problematic. It isn’t the most truthful path to go from oh she’s just a little crazy …to it was some dinners she misconstrued …to oh yeah I just remembered I kissed her. All of a sudden she isn’t so crazy anymore.

    I think when one partner introduces distrust into a relationship – like your bf has done – its incumbent on him to fix it. Not for you to hunt him down over it, not for him to lie or call you insecure and sweep it under a rug – but for him to take the steps to remedy the issue. So look to his actions. What is he doing to make this right? Because truly that is the only way to rebuild trust. Someone takes responsibility for breaking it and then they take steps to repair it. It isn’t on you to believe and forgive – its on him to tell the truth and repair.

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    painted_lady February 18, 2013, 11:55 am

    Oh holy hell, I just read the post in the forums. I take back everything I said. This guy sucks.

    As someone who was in the other girl’s position, this guy is lying and gaslighting the shit out of both of you (or whatever it’s called when you undermine someone’s sanity to another person). I slept with this guy at summer stock, and of course everyone knew because you live with all your co-workers. I didn’t feel like I needed to be ashamed of it, so when I got good-naturedly teased about it, I laughed it off and moved on with my life. I left and went home to finish grad school soon after, but I stayed in touch with quite a few of the friends I’d made. This guy started dating another actress, who had been a really good friend of mine, and he started telling her how I’d lied about us sleeping together, how embarrassing it all was because I was SO clingy. It had happened that I’d had another legit fling with a different guy that summer, who never told me he was done, I was young and stupid and didn’t get the hint and made an ass of myself, so he used that to make me look desperate and pathetic. I was gone, so I moved on with my real life, but it sucked balls I couldn’t even defend myself properly.

    Anyway, a few months after I left, I get a call from the actress girlfriend apologizing like crazy – turns out he had not only lied about me but also his “crazy” girlfriend back home who just wouldn’t let go – they had been dating the whole time, and because he made her out to be nuts, he even brought her out to visit under the actress’ nose and used it as evidence of how she just wouldn’t let go. Then HE sent ME an email (cc’ed to his actual home girlfriend, so hey, I wonder why that happened), explaining how sorry he was that he hadn’t told me he was in a relationship, and how sorry he was he’d told everyone we’d had sex, because that was a lie, too, and I probably didn’t remember it right and just went with what he said because I was so drunk. He had lied, for months and months and months to two girls who thought they were in an exclusive relationship with him, and about me as some crazy clingy psycho, and he was STILL lying, just to get back into his girlfriend’s good graces.

    Beware the man who calls women crazy, clingy, and paranoid. Chances are he’s saying something just as bad about you.

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      painted_lady February 18, 2013, 12:03 pm

      Sorry, to clarify: I’d had a fling with M earlier that summer. M never officially bothered to tell me we were done and he was dating another designer, and I looked like an idiot and acted like a fool because I didn’t get the hint. C was the guy I slept with later, and he used the situation with M to make it look like I was a clingy psycho who clearly was not to be trusted.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle February 18, 2013, 12:14 pm

      Holy. Shit.

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      iseeshiny February 18, 2013, 12:33 pm

      I’m with PL and Turtledove on this one. If it were just the “did he cheat on me” question, fine, whatever, but this guy is a gaslighting manipulator.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl February 18, 2013, 11:56 am

    LW, take a step back and rather than mulling this one instance, mull your entire relationship and see what else is bothering you because something else is bothering you.

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    You Go Girl February 18, 2013, 12:07 pm

    The LW says she has anxiety issues, and in this situation she is trying very hard to be more objective and not let her anxiety get in the way of thinking clearly about this situation. I can relate to her dilemma because I have post-traumatic stress disorder, which can make me very anxious in certain situations such as church. I attributed the severe anxiety I felt attending church to my ptsd, but in reality I was being treated rudely and disrespected. Finally I decided to leave that church, and now my anxiety greatly diminished.

    In the LW’s situation, I think her anxiety is justified and she is not over-reacting. Her boyfriend has been very evasive about his other life with the music group, and even if he is not “really” cheating he has lied to her. He also has another life that he is not willing to let her be a part of. She needs to have candid conversations with her boyfriend, and she cannot let him divert her by attributing her concerns to her anxiety issues. If he is willing to let her be a part of his music life and is more forthcoming, they may not need to MOA although I am skeptical since he seems to be a practiced liar. I know the LW loves him and treats her well, but she deserves to be with someone she can trust so that she can relax. Now she is very insecure because he is so evasive, and she has to resort to gathering clues from his Facebook page.

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    MsMisery February 18, 2013, 1:04 pm

    So you’re his GF and she’s supposedly his best friend, yet you’re “paranoid” and she’s “crazy and weird.” Mm hmm. He must love dramatic women!

    Isn’t this always how it goes? Men get caught with their pants down and it’s 1) deflect 2) gaslight 3) lie. Sorry, LW. Whatever DID happen is probably not good, and this guy is probably not the guy you thought.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Women would do well to NOT expect monogamy when they are NOT actually in committed relationships. NEWSFLASH — if you haven’t talked specifically about being committed to one another and being forever faithful? Then you are not! (Surprise, surprise…) Look, seriously. Just because you start seeing somebody doesn’t mean that you somehow suddenly own their dick. Frankly, it’s unhealthy to settle down with one person simply because you just started dating… It’s called dating. It’s not called, you know, say, marriage.

    And I am sick of whiny people with anxiety issues expecting the entire world to cater to them and their problems. Go on meds or something. Deal with it.

    PS: Very few people I know that cheat are fucking dumb enough to allow their illicit lovers to post all over their facebook page. This sounds like much ado about nothing. But do the guy a serious favor and cut him loose already. See my advice on your “anxiety issues…” Then start dating, casually, somebody new.

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      painted_lady February 18, 2013, 1:46 pm

      If it were just about the timeline of the cheating – or whatever you want to call it, I agree that depending on the timeline it might not be – then I would say yeah, you’re right, handle your insecurity before dating anyone. But this guy is trying really hard to make her feel crazy and make this other girl look it, and there’s where I think the shady behavior is happening (read the forums, I was saying the se thing till I read that).

      But as far as the “People don’t post all over their illicit lover’s Facebook page.” I think, honestly, there are some people who get off on being able to get away with shit in a really obvious way. Like the guy in my story above – his girlfriend was so crazy and unhinged and wouldn’t “let” him break up with her that he *had* to host her for a weekend at the theatre property. That’s what he told his girlfriend who was actually living there, and what actually happened was the two of them had a really romantic weekend, and the new girlfriend watched it all happening, convinced that it would just be difficult for her boyfriend if she brought it up.

      And the reason she bought it? People don’t just parade the person they’re actually dating around in front of the girl they’re cheating with.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 1:56 pm

        Maybe guys would stop feeling the need to lie so much if girls stopped behaving as if every kiss three years ago when they were “barely” dating was some big indiscretion. I mean, people who go around proclaiming loudly to the world at large how “fragile” they are… i.e. anxiety issues… probably shouldn’t be surprised when people lie and keep thing from them, in theory to protect them because of this loudly, and repeatedly announced, alleged fragility. I’m sorry — but it’s all very absurd to me.

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        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 2:02 pm

        …You’re right. You’re absolutely right, Mark. Women are awful, awful creatures who all do the exact same thing and nothing could ever possbly be nuanced or different because women are always in the wrong.

        I knew better than to reply to you. I did. I’m not sure why I did it. But I don’t think it’ll happen again anytime soon.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 2:09 pm

        Oh, I give up. But hey, thanks for proving my other theory, that many of you are all so thin skinned, too. 😉

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        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 2:19 pm

        Oh, you think it’s because you hurt my feelings? That’s cute.

        It’s because it is impossible to actually have a conversation with you. When someone disagrees, they are stupid or blind or naive or female or WHATEVER. I can’t remember a time when you’ve ever said that you might have misjudged something. I can’t remember a time when you’ve ever considered someone’s opinion whose experiences differ from yours as valid – not right or wrong, just a valid way to see things. You’re too busy trying to prove why you’re so much smarter and we’re all stupid – you’re offering everyone some of your infinite wisdom because…what? You’re older? You’re a man? You don’t have any stake in it? Your life is so well-figured-out?

        I knew I shouldn’t have replied because I knew it wouldn’t actually result in anything other than your slinging insults again. I’m sorry I did.

        And sorry, everyone else, for threadjacking. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 2:49 pm

        Oh, good grief. The only person doing the personal insulting around here is you, painted_lady. Seriously. You made this personal — not me.

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        Taylor February 18, 2013, 3:40 pm

        Dude. I call BS. You snark and rant, poke people’s tender bits, and then seem surprised when you get a reaction from said pointy works. Come on BGM, it’s either deliberate, in which case you don’t get to be surprised when someone reacts, or it isn’t, in which case dilute your posts with a little compassion before you hit submit.

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        iseeshiny February 18, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Yeah, pl, he doesn’t think you personally are stupid. Just every member of the group you belong to. Why would you take that personally?

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        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 3:45 pm

        Because I’m thin-skinned, duh.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl February 18, 2013, 5:04 pm

        If we weren’t females then we’d be able to see it clearly but obviously our vaginas are getting in the way.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl February 18, 2013, 3:22 pm

        Conclusive scientific studies conducted by the He Man Woman Hater’s Club (no affiliation with Hair Club for Men) have proven that women should just put up with men’s crap, allow them to sleep around, and be happy they are even dating you. I’m sorry you didn’t get the memo.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 3:26 pm

        Actually, most women I know would do well to sleep around a bit more as well. It seems nobody I know (who is married) is happy or fulfilled sexually. All they do is come and bitch to me about their shitty sex lives… It’s getting quite boring, I must say.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl February 18, 2013, 3:33 pm

        Of course if they did sleep around and got pregnant them they’d be stupid sluts. We just can’t win with you so there is no point in trying.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 6:24 pm

        Um… Or they could all just use condoms correctly and intelligently… Funny, my sluttiest friends have never accidently gotten pregnant. And it’s no great big miracle either. It’s called living in the modern world and being fucking responsible.

        When have I ever slut shamed anyone?

        Please. With me it’s all just about stupidity shaming. Take a reading comprehension class and stop put bogus words into my mouth…

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      • landygirl

        landygirl February 18, 2013, 6:51 pm

        Yet you fail to see your own stupidity. As always, it’s been a waste of time trying to explain my point of view.

        Thank goodness you never make mistakes. I guess that comes with having a penis.

        xoxoxo

        A member of the inferior gender

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 6:56 pm

        Perhaps if you… explained it better? Look, go ahead and call me stupid, I don’t fucking give a rip. Just don’t put bullshit into my mouth that I didn’t say. Thank you very much. Hey, penis not withstanding, I make plenty of mistakes… One of which (CLEARLY!) is expecting people on here to be calm and rational and to be able to argue without taking cheap pot shots at one another.

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        iseeshiny February 18, 2013, 7:05 pm

        Women, amirite? Can’t have a rational conversation with any of them. No wonder they all are sexually unsatisfied and are disappointed with their lives. It’s all the estrogen, man.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 7:11 pm

        Not all. Not even many. Just… some. I challenge any one on here to find an instance where I personally attacked another poster on here by calling them specifically stupid and/or worse.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl February 18, 2013, 7:21 pm

        Mark, you’re panties are in a wad, you should unbunch them.

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        iseeshiny February 18, 2013, 8:27 pm

        Hey. Every time you say shit about women, even most women? That’s a personal attack. Just like if I said shit about men, or the gays, you could feel free to take that personally. Because it would be directed at you. Because you’re a man. And you’re gay. Like, if I said “Blue sweaters are stupid,” every blue sweater out there could be insulted. If they were, you know. Anthropomorphic. I’d say you get my drift, but I know you don’t, because we’ve had this discussion before.

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        glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:32 pm

        I’d also like to say that I think it’s clear from this letter how hard I was trying to be objective about it.

        I sought outside advice because I wanted to listen to a source other than my anxiety.

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        Taylor February 18, 2013, 3:41 pm

        It was clear!

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      glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:14 pm

      I am the LW. I ought to have been more explicit about what more/less committed meant.

      We ‘hung out’/dated casually for about 6 months before he (HIM, not me) had the idea of us being exclusive.

      This incident occurred a year after the point of exclusivity.

      If it were only as simple as was written here, in my letter, I’d be ok with it. Check my forum posts if you’re interested.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom February 19, 2013, 8:34 am

        It turns out that what he wanted was for you to be exclusive while he had a friend with benefits. If she is sending him a message to warn him that she is now dating someone else I have to wonder if the benefits haven’t been continuing until very recently so she is making sure that he doesn’t expect anything the next time they see each other.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle February 18, 2013, 2:20 pm

      …did you read the letter, & the forum posts as well? It’s cool if you didn’t, & just wanted to go on a general rant, but seriously—all the points you’re making in this rant have NOTHING to do with the LW & this particular situation.

      Also, yeah. I’ve known plenty of cheaters & have been one myself. You’d be surprised what people do when they’re cheating—how often they actually let their mister/mistress (for lack of a better term) bleed into their “real” relationship/domestic life.

      Plus, telling someone “hey, don’t post on my wall, okay?” lets them know you still care enough about your primary relationship to attempt to erase any evidence of infidelity. And some cheaters don’t want to seem (to the side-piece) like they still care at all.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 2:25 pm

        You know what? No, I didn’t. I didn’t even read the other comments before I posted. I just read the letter itself alone. Honestly, I still don’t understand how what’s in the letter can be so inaccurate versus the what somebody posts in the forums… It’d help if people actually, you know, made their problem clear in the letter without having to add to it somewhere else. It makes it all very confusing..

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        glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:35 pm

        The forum has real-time updates. The situation developed between the time I wrote in and now. I also have never written in before and assumed Wendy doesn’t get around to most of the letters.

        I wrote the letter pretty much immediately after the events occurred.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom February 19, 2013, 8:36 am

      So he asked for monogamy but didn’t remain monogamous so he’s the one that brought misery into this relationship. The sneaking around and lying are the things destroying this relationship. If he had been monogamous like he said he wanted then this wouldn’t be a problem.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 1:54 pm

    whoops, multiple post. deleted by bittergaymark.

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    glowbug February 18, 2013, 2:23 pm

    I am the LW.

    I guess I wasn’t specific enough about what I meant by less committed.

    We DID have a non-official dating sort of period during our relationship. This was not it. We had been exclusive for a year at the point of the incident (which he now admits to suddenly remembering, on the basis of memory problems that don’t seem to exist outside of this and similar situations).

    ‘more committed’ means committed to the point of living together in this case, whereas ‘less committed’ means exclusive but not yet combining lives.

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      painted_lady February 18, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Re: the memory problems, I would suggest either going to the doctor and getting checked for regrowth of the brain tumor, or that you go to the doctor with him and see what exercises you can do with him to help improve his memory. Just see what he says. Or do some research as to what areas were affected by the surgery and then call him on it.

      The whole “I’m not really a jerk, it’s my brain tumor!” bit sounds exhausting. Because how do you call him out without being an asshole, and yet the memory loss seems oddly specific.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark February 18, 2013, 2:53 pm

        There could be tons of things he has also forgotten that simply haven’t come up. Seriously. He kissed her years ago, it seems. BEFORE he had part of his brain removed. It’s not uncommon for people who have undergone major brain surgery to lose memories… It really, truly isn’t. (Look it up.) At any rate, I still think this is mountains out of a molehill. But then, I don’t believe much in monogamy… So I am probably biased. Hey, monogamy just doesn’t seem to make many people happy. Hey, how happy are you, LW? I rest my case.

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        Desiree February 18, 2013, 3:27 pm

        “Hey, monogamy just doesn’t seem to make many people happy.” A lot of things in life that have value don’t make people happy all of the time. Some things worth having require work. Monogamy is certainly one of them. If someone says “Monogamy isn’t for me,” that’s fine, but just because it requires work for those who choose it doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile for them.

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        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 3:32 pm

        Well, and if the boyfriend does decide monogamy isn’t for him, that’s totally fine. It’s not for everyone. But isn’t he obligated to tell his girlfriend this? This is not something you can decide for your relationship unilaterally. Maybe she’d be okay with it, and maybe she wouldn’t, in which case they’d break up. Going around lying and manipulating isn’t nonmonogamy, it’s cheating.

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        glowbug February 18, 2013, 3:29 pm

        I know a fair amount about memory loss due to brain injury/surgery…probably more than anyone else on this forum.
        You’re right: memory loss is QUITE common and even expected. What ISN’T expected is for a memory to turn up the way this one did: after being asked about many times and when most needed. It just doesn’t work that way, 99% of the time.
        But I will admit, your stance on monogamy is starting to look more appealing. It’s the manipulative deception that’s getting to me now, not the cheating, but would the deception have even been needed if not for the pressure I put on him about the cheating? I don’t know…

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        painted_lady February 18, 2013, 3:41 pm

        I’m curious, what kind of pressure did you put on him about cheating? From my understanding, you only said, “Um, hey, what the hell, man? What does she mean by ‘romantic encounters?'” Which you’re within your rights to ask. But if you were freaking out every time he spoke to her, for example, then yeah, I think maybe he might be in a situation where he felt like he needed to lie.

        Maybe this will actually open up the conversation about monogamy? Obviously, that would mean he would have to be honest and open about the whole thing with this other girl, which I’m not convinced he is…but if that happens, and you open things up, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

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        glowbug February 18, 2013, 3:51 pm

        It was, “what the hell man?”
        I’d asked about her before but never freaked out or told him he was being inappropriate or insinuated he was cheating.

        Thing is, I don’t REALLY want to be non monogamous. I just wish there were some way that all of this could have been avoided. I don’t want to be with anyone else and don’t want him to be either. I just hate how hard that is!

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        Matcha February 18, 2013, 4:58 pm

        It could have been avoided if he was honest with you.

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    Oldie February 18, 2013, 6:06 pm

    Re-reading the original letter, it seems the romantic part of his association with his friend is over, because she has a bf and that e-mail was basically dumping him, with a ‘let’s be friends’. The e-mail doesn’t suggest distant past for the romance. Nor does it suggest a crazy woman. It is a very sensible e-mail and quite level emotionally. Your bf has been lying big time. He wants to make up now, and put this woman behind you, because he has lost his alternative, so really nothing to fight over from his standpoint. I’m betting it was more than a kiss while he was drunk. The e-mail suggests more than that. He will cheat again, if not with this woman than with someone else. He seems the sort of guy who is unable to be on the road for two to three weeks around other women and not cheat if he has the chance. Decide if that is what you want.

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