I made a mistake. Recently I went home for a friend’s wedding, and after getting tipsy at the reception, I hooked up with an ex from high school. Then I flew back home…to my live-in boyfriend. I’ve never cheated in the past, and I feel horrible about it. Obviously I’m not going to start up a long-distance thing with my ex, but I find myself fantasizing about him all the time now. Should I tell my boyfriend what happened? It’s eating me up.
-The Worse Half
I’m pretty black and white on cheating, at least in relationships without very specific extenuating circumstances. Translation: if you cheated (whatever that means in your relationship), you need to own it, and own the consequences.
For me, those consequences would pretty much always be “dumped,” because I think cheating–which, again, I’m not defining as any specific action, but as something that would constitute betrayal in your relationship–is almost always pointing to some bigger underlying issue. It’s fine if you don’t want monogamy. It’s fine if you’re having doubts about your current relationship. But if you don’t trust your partner enough to talk about those things with him or her, there’s a huge hole in your relationship, one that has nothing to do with how often or how satisfyingly you’re getting laid.
There are all kinds of ways you can justify it–you were tipsy, this person was someone you once loved, your SO wasn’t around–but in the end, it all comes down to a simple couple of questions: is your relationship based on a foundation of trust? (If it’s not, that’s a whole ‘nother issue, which should also probably be resolved by breaking up.) And: would this constitute a violation of that trust?
If the answer to both is yes, tell your SO what happened and let him decide what to do with that information. You made a unilateral decision after the wedding, one that he got no say in. It’s only fair that you at least give him all the pertinent information when he’s making a decision on whether or not your relationship is solid, now.
Basically, cheating is a coward’s way out. If you find yourself taking it–especially if you don’t have a history of cheating in the past–listen to your own subtext.
And own. Your shit.