Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have been with my boyfriend for almost a year, and in many ways he is the best guy I’ve ever been with, but there is one recurring issue we’ve had. To make a long story short, we work for the same organization but different offices. We met during a three-day work trip and hooked up after spending a night at the bar. Two days later, he told me he was married but it was complicated; he didn’t wear a ring so I didn’t know. We went back home and didn’t talk again for almost a month.
During that month, he left his wife. During that month, an old “friend with benefits” had also come to town for a couple days that I hooked up with.
Now he is divorced and we’ve gotten pretty serious, but he can’t get past that I hooked up with someone else after he and I hooked up. I’ve apologized approximately 1.3 million times, cut off all contact with the “friend” (and every other male in my life), changed my phone number, changed my email address, etc., but he still doesn’t trust me and brings this mistake up on an almost daily basis. I’ve offered to go to counseling with him but he doesn’t want to.
In every other way, we have a great relationship, and I feel like if we can just get past this issue, everything else would be perfect. Do you have any advice for us?
If I can just get past the unremitting smell of raw sewage from the treatment plant next door, this would be my dream house.
If I can just get past my car being on fire on the side of the road, this would be the best road trip of my life.
If I can just get past his daily reminder that he thinks I’m a bad person just waiting for my chance to cheat on him, this would be the best guy I’ve ever been with.
Please revoke your consent to be treated like dirt.
You don’t have a great relationship. You can’t, not when someone is fixated on your perceived deficit(s).
For the sake of argument, let’s say your leaving him is the jolt he needs to become permanently untroubled by your seeing someone else before you actually got into a relationship with him (ahem). You, then, will still have to reckon with his hypocrisy: His messing around with you motivated him to get out of his marriage to date you. Your messing around with benefits-guy motivated you to end that arrangement to date Mr. Ex-Married. Same thing, except that his was orders of magnitude worse.
Yet he not only carried this hypocrisy around with him for almost a year, but also beat you over the head with it daily. And HE’s the one claiming the high ground? HE doesn’t TRUST you? “Perfect” my chair-bound butt.
It’s such an obvious outrage that your lack of outrage concerns me. Why wasn’t it your first reaction to say, “You are judging me? Bye.” No one, no one is more valuable to us than basic decency. To internalize that is the best emotional safeguard there is.
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