Inability to Forgive
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Three weeks ago, I received a text from my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend (she took my number from his cellphone). She indicated they were having sex during the first two months of my relationship with him. At first he denied it, then said, "It was only twice."
I knew him for a year before we dated. He knew I had serious trust issues because of past betrayals, yet he did this to me anyway. I feel reasonably certain he would not betray me again. He had told friends that he would like to marry me someday. I love him and I feel sad for him (he is quite despondent), but I just can't get past this. Part of this is my pride. Ugh, that woman is a beast. You should see her mug shot ... it makes Nick Nolte's look cute.
-- Inability to Forgive
That beast did you a favor.
Not because she exposed your boyfriend as a liar or cheater, though he certainly seems to have made an earnest try at both, but instead because she got you to the edge of a less black-and-white view of fidelity and trust. Can you take the last steps on your own and enter that realm?
The first thing to consider is that your boyfriend "did this to me." Without the power to read your boyfriend's mind, I still feel confident saying he didn't sleep with his ex with hurting you in mind -- or with you in mind at all. A lot of relationships trail off, versus end cleanly, kind of like addictions. Even the ones that are over over over today often got there after a relapse or two or four yesterday. Of course, people should fully disengage from one person before they tee up the next, but no decision about human beings should be built on "should."
The next thing to consider is that vilifying the ex is middle school stuff. Her texting you was, too, but she's beside the point. Besides, your boyfriend loved her once, and unless you like the idea of being the Noltebeast his next girlfriend despises, integrity demands a more charitable disposition toward her. You are angry at your boyfriend, not the messenger.
Next, pride is an even more useless distraction. What people think of you doesn't amount to a gob of spit.
Do you trust your boyfriend or not? Do you value your relationship or not? And, since you cite trust issues -- can you trust anyone? This is all that matters.
So. If you can look at your relationship and all you know about it, and say, "Count me in," then go to your boyfriend, say this isn't how you would have scripted it but you're nonetheless glad he finally told you at least part of the truth. Then ask him for the rest of it, since his initial denial and his at-gunpoint "Errrrrr only twice!" follow-up left a grimy film on your opinion of him. Then see what he does, says, admits or denies. Then see how you like the weather in Gray World.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group