Woe Is Me! “My Boyfriend Lied About Seeing His Ex. Should I Forgive Him?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
My boyfriend lied to me about his meeting with his ex and now I’m not able to forgive and forget. He checked into a hotel with her when we were on a break, and he says they didn’t have sex, but worked together on a photoshoot. Now, even he is feeling sorry and keeps asking for apologies. Should I get back with him?
— Betrayed Lover
KB: Yikes, this is a tough one. On the one hand, I tend to instinctively not trust the guy who had the poor judgment to meet his ex in a hotel room and then lie about it. Even if you take him at his word, and believe his version of events, this is pretty shady behavior. That said, it is possible for people to make mistakes and honestly feel terrible about them and want to repair the damage they’ve done. If you believe what he’s telling you now, and think you will be able to trust him again (with some work on his part), then it is worth considering. But if you have any doubts about his story, or you feel your trust in him is broken beyond repair, then it’s probably better for both of you if you move on quickly.
SM: I’m sorry you’re in this situation, and I can imagine it being very painful and conflicting at the moment. This situation stems from an inherent lack of trust in the relationship I’d say, and I think to be able to make a concrete decision, you should look back and think about some things which would help you decide better. Has something similar happened before, where your boyfriend has similarly lied to you and then later expressed a lot of regret and guilt? Have you ever put him in a similar situation?
And lastly and perhaps most importantly, how did you find out about this? Did he come clean to you or did you accidentally find out and confront him? If it’s the latter, I strongly suggest considering not getting back with him. Since y’all felt the need to take a break, I imagine things must have been troubled or difficult to begin with. Adding the strain of something like this would only make it much more painful and hurtful. So, it’s better to end things and move on.
AS: Oof. Okay, there are a whole lot of “ifs” and “buts” to smooth out here. As that infamous episode from Friends has shown us all, breaks are complicated and communication about ground rules is key. Was this the kind of break where you “allowed” each other to sleep with other people? If yes, him meeting his ex, or you meeting yours, shouldn’t come as a surprise. The hotel room “photoshoot” sounds a bit suspicious to me, to be honest, but I don’t know enough to weigh in there.
In any case, the problem shouldn’t be whether or not he did have sex — since you could have also been within your rights to do the same — but the fact that he lied. I think it would help to have a frank conversation with him about this, and instead of focusing on what he was up to, try to clarify why he tried to hide it or lied about it. I also think that the “threat of the ex” is overrated, and if a relationship has a strong foundation, no one should be fazed by it. Having said that, lying is never cool, and trust, once lost, is really hard to rebuild. If even after having a calm and frank conversation, you’re unable to bring back that trust, then it could be time to move on.
DR: I’m leaning more on the side of no, you probably shouldn’t, and my reasons range beyond his alleged infidelity. That part isn’t something I’d want to conjecture about because I don’t know him, or his ex, or the kind of equation they share post their break-up. It is, no doubt, possible for people who have dated in the past to stay friends — but I have a feeling that’s not what you think is going on here. Irrespective of whether your doubts are valid or not, they do suggest a lack of trust. And trust is very, very important to sustain a relationship — even an open one. In the absence of that absolutely vital element, I think it may be difficult for you to find happiness in the relationship — so unless you’re okay being on your toes constantly, I would suggest you don’t get back. Also, I don’t think it’ll ever be possible for you to conclusively verify he didn’t sleep with her — and this “Schrödinger’s Cat”-situation seems to have bothered you enough for you to have sought advice from a publication. If you do get back with him despite this, do you really foresee getting past it, at any point?
Last, I’m sure the two of called your relationship off for a reason. Have you been able to work through that, or are you considering getting back simply because you may not be over each other yet, and getting back seems to be the easier step? If the latter’s true, I’d say it adds to the list of reasons why you shouldn’t rekindle this relationship, and let the flame just go out in due time. If you have managed to work things out, do keep in mind that the lack of trust and the Schrödinger’s Cat will continue to be around, and dealing with them can, potentially, take a toll on both of you. Good luck!
ADT: Honestly I can’t tell you whether your boyfriend’s actions are ethical, but I can tell you that the way you are feeling is not going to go away. Getting over the nagging feeling of insecurity and betrayal piled atop the reason you guys took a break in the first place is not going to be easy. Do you really want to go through the immense distress of learning how to trust your partner now? Can that focus and attention be directed towards your career, friends, and family? Think about it.