Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Tell My Fiancé I Cheated?”

I have been in a fully committed relationship with my fiancé for three years. We are due to get married this December and are parents to a beautiful little girl. Well, things sort of hit the wall and I was vulnerable. I kissed my ex on two accounts. This “mini affair” happened over a span of three weeks, off and on. I have NEVER done this before, and I felt extremely guilty while doing it. My fiancé and I have had the talk about cheating in the past and he said he would never tolerate it — that it would be the end of the relationship if I ever cheated (he comes from a family where adultery has destroyed the family.) If it weren’t for this past conversation I would just tell him because I know honesty is key, especially in a relationship. Not to mention I feel guilty every single time he does something sweet. The guilt is eating at me alive; I have a hard time enjoying things with him because it constantly pops up in my mind.

What do I do? I feel like the guilt alone is enough punishment, but, at the same time, I feel like I’ll never feel “ok” unless I tell him. — Feeling Guilty

You don’t want to tell him because you believe “honesty is key”; you want to tell him because the guilt is keeping you from enjoying life. Well, too fucking bad. “Guilt” is the price you pay for cheating. You don’t get to just unload the burden of your guilt because it’s no fun. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell your fiancé what happened. I might suggest keeping it to yourself if anything in your letter indicated that this was a one-time thing that wasn’t a symptom of a relationship in trouble and that you felt strongly you would never cheat again. But you don’t say anything like that. You suggest that relationship issues are what drove you to cheat and that the cheating wasn’t an isolated occasion but happened multiple times, over the span of three weeks, “off and on.”

I’m not even sure what “off and on” means when you’re talking about two kisses unless there was emotional cheating as well, which I assume there was. You were” vulnerable,” after all. I suspect your ex picked up on the vulnerability and offered to provide you with something you felt you weren’t getting from your fiancé. And THAT is why you need to tell your fiancé — not to relieve your guilt but to address the issues between you so that the next time “things sort of hit a wall” your response won’t be to find comfort in another man but instead will be to turn to your partner and work through your problems.

Yes, you fiancé may leave you because you cheated. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell him. It means you should evaluate why you pursued cheating — over the span of weeks — when you knew how devastating it would be to your relationship. Is it possible you were trying to sabotage your relationship? To look for a way out — a reason for your fiancé to end things? That’s something to think about. At any rate, I think you know that the cheating isn’t the only issue here and that it is merely a symptom of something deeper that needs to be addressed before you can move forward (either with your partner or not…).

My boyfriend, “Jack,” has a friend who introduced him to a business venture, and Jack seems really into it. I don’t think it sounds as promising as he does and I told him so. We argued about it, and he told me he felt like I was throwing him overboard and putting him down. He said he was so excited to tell me about it and didn’t expect that I would throw all his expectations away so quickly. My only intention was to get my point across strongly because I wanted him to really think about the risks, but now he’s telling me that I think he’s being stupid and that I’ve basically given up on him. I know I’m very opinionated and maybe judgmental. Was I being too controlling and disrespectful? Should I have just suggested stuff without giving my opinions against the business idea so strongly? — A Little Opinionated

It’s understandable that you’re concerned about the risks involved for your boyfriend if he invests in this business. You’ve now made those concerns apparent. Are there risks for you? Financial or otherwise? If so, you need to make those concerns clear, too, and consider opting out of the relationship and protecting your assets if he risks your financial or emotional well-being despite your expressed concerns. If there are no risks for you beyond being an emotional support system to your boyfriend, you should let your boyfriend pursue whatever he wants to pursue now that you’ve shared your opinion.

Express whatever faith you have in him, and wait to see what happens. If the business venture is as risky as you think it is, your boyfriend may learn quickly that your concerns were warranted and he may listen to you more readily the next time. And if he succeeds, despite your concerns, your faith and respect in him may grow as a result. Either way, your relationship is more likely to move forward by giving your boyfriend the space to figure things out on his own (including making and learning from mistakes).

My fiancé and I have been having problems for years now. The first year of dating was great, and then we moved in together. It was then that I noticed him hiding things and lying to me. He watched porn at least once a day but hid it when he did it (it was obvious though), never initiated any sex with me, and stared at every other woman when we went out while talking to me like I was a roommate. Before him, I never had an issue with a little porn watching, or if a guy glanced at another woman, or even if he admitted that another woman was attractive Now, I hate it, and it’s gotten to the point that I hate going out in public with him, but I hate leaving him alone too. It’s driving me insane.We started working on this last year and I wanted proof that he wasn’t hiding anything additional from me, and I found out that he had been talking to his ex for two years without mentioning it, and he had been messaging “friends” on Facebook privately at 2 a.m. to tell them how beautiful he thought they were. We’ve had lots of talks, and I explained the damage that was done, and I understand why he lied and hid things, but I can’t seem to shake the hurt.

It’s been about a year now of working on it, and over the course of the year he has become more honest and open with me, I think he’s stopped watching porn, and I haven’t seen him checking out other women around me, but I can’t seem to move past the hurt and I find it difficult to trust him after so many lies. Any advice or tips on how I can move past the hurt and learn to trust him again? — Trying to Trust Again

No. Sometimes we simply can’t move past hurt in a relationship enough to stay with someone, and I think this is a perfect example. You sound like you’re working really hard for this relationship and why? You don’t even want to go out in public with him. The last time things were really good between you was your first year of dating, years ago, before you moved in together. That was the honeymoon period. Actually, moving in together is a honeymoon period, too, and things weren’t even good then. This is not a relationship worth working on. The trust isn’t there, it’s never going to be there, it’s time to move on. Why did you even agree to marry him? Why would anyone get engaged to someone she hates going out in public with and hates leaving alone because she’s so worried he’s constantly checking out and thinking about other women? That’s not husband material for you. Aim higher.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

14 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie August 14, 2017, 9:52 am

    LW #1 – WWS. You want to confess because you feel guilty, not because you want to actually clear the air. You want either forgiveness or to blow up your relationship. Figure out why when things were difficult, you chose a highly self-sabotaging route. I say, don’t tell your fiancee but let that guilt be your conscience.

    LW #2 – Maybe you were harsh but it sounds like there are risks that either your bf hasn’t considered or has decided to ignore. See if you can better articulate that you’re more risk averse and your questions / concerns can only improve the overall plan if they’re taken into consideration. If ignored, you have a higher chance of saying “I told you so”

    LW #3 – sounds like you you’re in this relationship not because you like this person but because breaking up would be seen as a failure. Let him go. You can’t go through life waiting for him to revert back to his old non-communicative behavior. Even if it never happens, you’d always be on the look out and that gets tiring.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Ron August 14, 2017, 11:06 am

    LW #1 — I can’t agree with Wendy’s advice to confess and likely blow up your relationship. You have a young daughter with this guy. That should be your top priority. Yes, you need joint counseling for whatever your relationship issues are, but your description says your fiancé is a good guy whom you want to marry. If the guilt is too much for you, then talk it out with a therapist. If you want out of this relationship, as Wendy suspects, then just do it. It’s unfair to drop the two kisses on him so he’ll be inspired to do the dirty work of breaking up.

    LW #2 — impossible to judge from your letter whether you are just extremely risk averse with finances or your bf’s friend is sucking him into a stupid pyramid scheme and taking advantage of him. You say nothing about why you are spooked by this ‘business opportunity’. Sign nothing and put none of your money into this, despite how much your bf may accuse you of not having faith in him, because you refuse to put your $ where his mouth is. A friend with a business opportunity could be extremely sketchy or it could be Microsoft.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    It'sgonnabok August 14, 2017, 11:22 am

    Letter writer 3, you might want to consider attending an SAnon meeting or phone meeting. There you will find women who will be able to relate with you, possibly, on some issues. Check out the check list for SAnon and see if it resonates. Best of luck, you are worth it.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    carolann August 14, 2017, 12:15 pm

    LW #1 NEVER tell your fiancé about this. Like Ron said you have a little girl to think about. Why sabotage your family because you acted out and did something stupid? Thank god you didn’t sleep with the ex or get pregnant by him. GTFU! Honestly I think you need to see a therapist and work through why you feel “vulnerable” and can’t stay faithful.
    LW #3 Most guys watch porn. That is something you have to accept. Don’t ever ask anyone not to watch porn because you will be wasting your time.
    Your relationship has run its course. Learn from it and move on. This guy is not for you. Be thankful you dodged a bullet. Be on your own for a minute, don’t focus on a man or rush into another relationship and concern yourself with getting your own life/head together.

    Reply Link
  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster August 14, 2017, 12:36 pm

    LW1, I also do not think you should tell your fiancé about this—at least not yet. Wendy is right that in your case it sounds like the cheating arose from some deeper issues in your relationship/with you personally. So get yourself into therapy and figure out if this is something you can work through on your own first. I think you owe it to your husband and daughter to see if you can do the hard work to get your head on straight rather than sending a torpedo through your family because you want to assuage your guilt. Therapy ought to give you a clearer idea about why you did what you did and whether or not you can tackle this by yourself. If not, then you can tell your fiancé what happened and deal with the consequences, i.e. the end of your relationship and/or couples counseling. It really depends on you.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Northern Star August 14, 2017, 12:38 pm

    LW 3, you’ve been “working” on your relationship for most of the duration of your relationship. It just shouldn’t be that hard. Cut your losses and find someone better suited to you.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Bree August 14, 2017, 3:01 pm

      I totally agree. With my ex, the relationship was so hard, and I felt like I was doing all the work. A few years later (after breaking up with him), I met my now-husband. My husband and I have our issues on occasion, but our marriage doesn’t feel like work.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Ashley August 14, 2017, 1:37 pm

    LW2. You admit yourself you are very opinionated, you don’t say this is going to affect you in any real way, so I’m going to lean towards you were too harsh. If there has been some time to cool down, just say it wasn’t your intention to make him feel stupid. Let him know you were concerned but ultimately you will support whatever decision he makes. Maybe he will lose his shirt, maybe he’ll make some money. Either way, if it’s all his money, you aren’t married, then you have no business pressing the matter.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    dinoceros August 14, 2017, 2:51 pm

    LW1: I think if you can address your issues and ensure this won’t happen again, you don’t necessarily need to tell. I think this is something that if you resolve the underlying issue, time will help you feel better about it. Being a good, honest person in your relationship will help you get over your guilt, I think.

    LW2: Just based on your description, it sounds like you were way too negative. The issue here is that you felt like if you were aggressive and loud enough, your boyfriend would understand this was a bad idea and not do it. But that’s not your place. You can express your opinion, but in the end, the opinion that truly matters in this is his. The fact that you felt so strongly that your opinion mattered more than his and you are smarter than him about this is something that would make most people upset. You can bring up issues that you see, but learn how to read a room — if someone is excited, be excited with them. As the idea becomes more concrete, you can gently volunteer your opinion until it’s not longer asked for.

    LW3: How do you know he’s more honest, though? How do you know he just hasn’t gotten better at hiding his behaviors?

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Trying to trust again August 14, 2017, 6:27 pm

    Hi, I’m LW 3. I feel I should add something. We have 2 young children which is what makes things difficult. That is why I agreed to marry him. And I believe he’s been more open and honest with me because after talking and catching him in further lies, he came forward and clean with something that I didn’t know or suspect, and in doing so saw that I didn’t react as badly as he thought I would have. Plus he gave me access to his accounts. It was stuff like that which made me feel he was being more open and honest.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite August 15, 2017, 7:49 am

      Is this the type of relationship you want your children to believe is desirable? Aim higher and make a parenting plan that works.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Morecoffeeplease August 15, 2017, 8:37 am

    LW1 – Do not confess to your fiance. You deserve the guilt for being such a *** and acting that way with your ex. Time to mature up. You have a CHILD. Your very first priority in life should be your child right now and focusing on your family. If things are not going well between you and your fiance don’t go talking to your ex. That is the time to act like a mature person and work with your fiance on your problems. Your child needs her mom and dad in her life and needs a stable home environment. Start going to one on one therapy ASAP. Work on your issues….work hard. I have been married 23 years and have two kids…and there are times when marriage SUCKS and things are bad. But you know what you do? You work really hard on it and guess what? You make it better. There will always be ups and downs…it is a part of marriage. My husband and I work hard at it when needed and we love each other more than ever…it’s a part of being a team with someone and growing old together. Please think of your child and stop being so immature. Start therapy as soon as you can.

    Reply Link
  • Copa

    Copa August 15, 2017, 10:04 am

    LW1: I’d tell your fiance. Not to relieve your guilt, but because as someone who has been cheated on, I’d always want to know the truth about something like that before marrying someone. I think he should have the right to decide if he’s okay with working through this in therapy. The time to think about your family was BEFORE you went running to your ex.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    carolann August 15, 2017, 2:37 pm

    LW 3- I know I may come off as rude and old fashioned, but why have TWO kids with someone before marrying them?

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment