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Two Sense: Cheating. To Tell or Not To Tell?

Photo via Cayusa on Flickr.com

Three months ago, I started dating someone I care for deeply and can see nothing stopping me from fully committing to her. But my ex came by a few days ago, upset about our breakup, and we had sex. I honestly think it helped both of us close this chapter, but I’m afraid to tell my new partner about the incident. I’m also afraid not to tell her in case this comes out later.

He Said: Having hiked the infidelity trail more than once and tried both disclosure and nondisclosure, I can tell you with absolute certainty that this is a lose-lose situation. Take solace in the fact that whatever choice you make, you will more than pay for your pity sex with the ex. My advice: Don’t tell your girlfriend. That way you’ll rightly feel guilty and continually nervous of someday being found out. If you have any sense, this also means that you’ll avoid your ex-girlfriend like the plague. These are all good actions to curb your outside appetites. If, on the other hand, you tell your current sweetie about the ex-sex, she’ll be hurt, likely demand that you never communicate with the ex again, and, if your relationship survives, maybe eventually forgive you. That’s OK, but your goal is to be a better man and partner, and the best way to do this is by taking responsibility for changing yourself, not by handing your girlfriend a stick to beat you into submission.

Lastly, this isn’t a pass to repeat the mistake. Just like you know which of your long-term friends is trustworthy, which family member is responsible, which coworker is competent, so this girlfriend or any future ones will eventually know if you are trying to be honest or whether you make a habit of lying and cheating. Learn from this mistake.

She Said: I think half the questions covered in this column have been some variation of “Do I tell that I cheated?” In this case, mum’s the word. You’ve only been with your girlfriend a few months and haven’t yet declared your intention to fully commit. At the beginning of a relationship, other closures of various sorts are often still in play. If you know you’re done with your ex and you won’t repeat the slip (with her or anyone else), just move on. And if your girlfriend does indeed find out someday, your apology will be: “That was when you and I were just starting out. All it did was make me realize all the more how much I wanted to be with you.” Then keep your fingers crossed, and hope for the best.

*Published in the March 2011 issue of 7x7. Subscribe to 7x7 magazine here.