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Forgiving a Dark Past

By: The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way
,
I am dating a man I am very much in love with. We have been seeing each other for nearly four years. Recently, we were having a talk about our childhoods and he revealed something to me that bothers me tremendously. He told me that when he was younger, he molested a boy who was younger than he was. He was obviously filled with sorrow, shame, and regret and I certainly understand that this revelation must be cathartic for him, but now I feel like I don’t know him at all. We all do bad things—and he was a troubled child himself at the time—but I can’t help but feel this crosses a line. Now, I am distancing myself from him and feel very uncomfortable around him. I am so upset; I feel like leaving him, but I love him dearly. But what if we have kids? Is this something I can “forgive”? I’m at a loss here. Please help.—TW, Tacoma, Washington

  The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

Whoa. That must’ve felt like having a massive ticking bomb dropped right in your lap. When I first read this, I was at a loss for words as to what to say to you, so I can barely imagine how you must’ve felt hearing that information for the first time.

Once upon a time, I had to make a difficult decision (nothing like yours, though) when I found out that my future landlord—who was also going to be a part-time roommate—had molested a child. I learned then that child molesters have a very high rate of repeating the same or similar behavior, and based on that information, I ultimately decided not to move in. But it was a brutal decision-making process for me because I truly believe that people deserve forgiveness and second chances … I just wasn’t ready to gamble my peace of mind and the sanctity of my home on the second chance of a man I barely knew.

But your situation is much more complicated. The fact that he told you is a good thing—he trusts you and he’s being honest. But you can’t minimize the feelings and doubts you’re having. Your happiness and peace of mind—and potentially that of some future little people, too—hinge on how thoroughly you work through every single issue and question right now. I recommend finding a therapist to help talk you through what you’re feeling, because you’re probably not only confused as to how to react, but probably feeling a little guilty for not being able to immediately get past this. Once you find a therapist, perhaps the two of you could meet together with him or her so that your boyfriend can fully understand the questions and feelings you have. You also need to get a better grasp on how he dealt with this at the time. Did he talk with a therapist back then? Has he ever forgiven himself? Work hard and dig deep to find the answers both of your hearts need. Once you have them, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision.

Check back tomorrow for the gay man’s perspective by Darren Maddox.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at rbrown@realgirlsmedia.com. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.