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Should I Tell My Girlfriend About a Meaningless, Drunk Kiss?

Illustration by Caitlin Kuhwald

My long-distance girlfriend lives in England, and I’ll be rejoining her there in nine months. Last night, I kissed another girl (whom I don’t even remotely like) for a second or two, after which I realized what I was doing and explained that I had a girlfriend. Though it’s no excuse, it’s worth noting that I was mega-drunk. I know I’ve cheated. Do I tell my girlfriend and possibly ruin our relationship or keep it to myself and live with the guilt?

He Said: Unless it’s one of your girlfriend’s blood relatives or BFs, a two-second kiss while drunk is a relatively mild betrayal. And luckily, guilt is an ugly, blunt, but effective tool we use to corral our own bad behavior. It sounds like this was a one-time slip on your part, so maybe you don’t need to beat yourself bloody. Instead, ask yourself why you feel the need to tell your girlfriend. If it’s to give her a clearer understanding of the kind of man-whore you really are, then you should certainly warn her. If, on the other hand, the primary reason is to unburden yourself so you can feel less guilt, stay out of the confessional box. Live with the guilt long enough to verify that you won’t repeat your transgression, and then let it go over time. Finally, if you feel you need to tell her because a minor infraction like this could cause her to break up with you, you may want to check your neck for leash marks.

She Said: I, too, am going to give you a pass on this one. You’re living thousands of miles away from each other, you were drunk, you pulled back from the kiss before things got out of control, and you feel an amount of guilt that tells me you’re very attached to your girlfriend. Plus, it’s highly unlikely your girlfriend would find out about this by, say, running into the woman on the street. Let it go, and stay vigilant next time you’re out having cocktails. But I’m giving you this pass on two conditions: (1) If you ever, by chance, find out your girlfriend had a stray drunken kiss while you two were living apart, you must forgive her (2) If you find yourself repeating this behavior, then you must fess up. Here’s why: Your girlfriend may be tempted to kiss men all the time and rein herself in only to honor your relationship. Cheating is a literal term: It means that one person has abandoned agreed-upon rules that another still adheres to, and the guilt it generates is completely appropriate.

 

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