Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Relationship built on lies - reveal or keep going?

(58 Posts)
Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 21:25:19

To cut to the chase, I cheated on my partner on and off for the first six months of our relationship. It started accidentally. I meet my boyfriend, I happened to meet someone else at nearly the same time, I agreed to go out for a drink with both and it snowballed... I kept pushing the other guy back and my boyfriend became my boyfriend, but the other guy never entirely left the scene and we slept together a few times.

My boyfriend and I broke up a couple of times over this period so it's not like he ever thought our relationship was all rainbows. On some levels I think he knows about the other bloke but he's never asked me out right. I don't really have an excuse for it, except it just kind of happened, the other guy was very persistent and I was bit of a mess. I met them both about six months out of a six year relationship and I'd decided that I absolutely wasn't looking for a relationship at that point. The problem is of course that now I've realised how wonderful my boyfriend is, or rather I'm in a better place to appreciate that.

It is now definitely, 100% over with the other guy and I'm looking forward to pursuing the relationship with my BF without complications. The problem is I'm not sure if I should come clean or take this as a fresh start and just be a better person. Friends know but I'm pretty sure they'd be discreet. I'm just very aware that accidents happen - I remember a thread here a few months ago where a woman overheard a chance remark about her fiancee's early infidelity at their engagement party and called the wedding off. If we are going to build a future part of me would rather do so knowing there aren't any surprises that could derail it. But the selfish part of me would rather just keep quiet. I know it's not fair to give him the wrong impression of who I am, but as I say above, our relationship has been rocky so it feels less dishonest than it could do IYSWIM.

Bonsoir Wed 02-Apr-14 21:29:39

Just don't. You don't owe anyone fidelity or monogamy at the start of a non-committed relationship. You don't owe anyone the whole gory truth about your relationship history. It's unimportant to your current relationship and why would the details of sex with someone else endear you to your BF?

EllaFitzgerald Wed 02-Apr-14 21:37:13

You either tell him, and run the risk that he'll break up with you, or keep quiet and hope that he doesn't find out. Neither option is great and only you will know how important honesty is to him in a relationship.

How long have you been together and how long has the other man been gone for?

What would you want him to do if the situation were reversed?

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 21:43:14

The other man has been gone about six weeks and it's about eight months now for me and my boyfriend.

Honesty is important for me. My problem with not telling is I think it prevents me from discussing things. But I'm not sure he'd want full disclosure.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 21:45:21

Ria I was thinking that and I really don't know. I think I'd be shocked if the situation was reversed because it's in character for me but not for him. The fact that he could have acted how he has been and cheating would almost make it worse than just cheating IYSWIM. I think if I knew it would ruin everything and I'd have to end it, so I'd rather not know. I'd know that something had been wrong and now something was right, and that would probably be enough for me.

meditrina Wed 02-Apr-14 21:46:11

Have you ever had an explicit 'exclusivity' chat with BF? If so, was it within last 6 weeks?

cakehappy Wed 02-Apr-14 21:52:03

You've been seeing another guy for 6 months out of an 8 month relationship with your BF and honesty is important to you??? Sorry, maybe I've misread the thread wrong. If I haven't you should definitely fess up, if honesty is so important.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 21:56:33

Yes we've had an explicit exclusivity chat, fairly early on in the relationship. Earlier than I wanted in fact but I didn't feel able to say a relationship wasn't what I was looking for. That's why I accept this counts as cheating.

Hmm. What if he asked you outright if you've cheated?

olathelawyer05 Wed 02-Apr-14 22:04:41

Neither option is great. No one can really advise you.

I find it interesting though that you volunteered the use of "lies" and "cheating". I think this is somewhat Freudian and suggests that you clearly believe that your behaviour in your dealings with your boyfriend was wrong/dishonest. In this context, anyone saying things like "you didn't owe him anything" and "if you haven't had the exclusive chat then its OK" are probably talking rubbish. They ignore the fact that you have clearly been big enough to label your own behaviour as dishonest. That's a good place from which to move forward, whatever you choose to do.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 22:12:34

If he asked outright I would come clean. I think he is unlikely to do that though.

Ola I'd agree with that. While it was happening I was very amoral about it but now I'm completely clear with myself (at least) that it was wrong and avoidable, for all I say that it "just happened".

shelbyfrootcake Wed 02-Apr-14 22:13:52

OP, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't so you can only do whatever feels right for you and what you can live with. Noone else's opinion matters.

NotNewButNameChanged Wed 02-Apr-14 22:16:24

So this is very definitely cheating, because it was after the 'exclusive' talk and you have friends that know about it.

Not just one friend, but several friends? Only takes one to slip, or say something they shouldn't after a glass of wine....

Personally, I couldn't take that risk. I think with more than one person knowing, it is much more likely to come out. If you tell him, yes, he MAY split up with you. If you don't and it comes out later, he will almost DEFINITELY split up with you.

meditrina Wed 02-Apr-14 22:16:38

If the other boyfriend was indeed a boyfriend, who could have seen you together? Would he evermention you?

If there is a chance that your BF will discover the other boyfriend, then it is probably better to risk it and tell him - that way at least you have control of the timing and the circumstances.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 22:24:56

So it's definite disclosure for uncertain dumping, or uncertain disclosure for definite dumping? I'm not sure how to weigh those two up.

My friends would be careful, but it's others who pose the risk. I don't want to think of having to steer him away from certain people forever. But then actually most people are good at keeping their mouths shout and don't ask about personal lives, exes etc.

taratamara Wed 02-Apr-14 22:26:40

If you see this current man as a long term thing (and really given that you've been seeing someone else in that initial 'honeymoon' phase?) then I'd tell him now, as it's just going to fester and would be much worse if it came out in say, 5 years.

Springheeled Wed 02-Apr-14 22:36:49

How would you feel if it was the reverse? And however did you get away with the double partner thing for six months? Did you have to tell lies or just omit things?

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 22:45:55

Springheeled, I've answered above on the reversed scenario.

It was surprisingly easy (which hasn't been great for my own trust issues). No lies, just omissions. In a new relationship you don't know much about the person or necessarily how they spend their time so certain friends won't raise the suspicions that a new "friend" in an established relationship would.

Springheeled Wed 02-Apr-14 22:50:22

Blimey!
Ok so why the earlier break ups?

bestsonever Wed 02-Apr-14 22:52:15

I got asked once and was honest - not quite the same situation though as I hadn't gone between the two back and forth. However, response was that I should not have said anything and perhaps the need to say something was more about making myself feel better about being honest, at the expense of upsetting the other person needlessly.
Only you can decide if divulging is as much about making you feel better as it's likely that you will upset him. What you will be hoping for is that he will move on from it and you can wipe the slate clean and live in an honorable bliss henceforth. What you will likely get at best is that he may be able to get over the hurt in time but things may not quite be as perfect as you hoped for.
I'd say tell him if you feel that it's likely to happen again, and really contemplate weather you feel as strongly about him as you think you do. After all, you did what you did for 6 months, now why did it take you so long to decide he was great? Could it just be that the other didn't mach up to him but he's not the one for you either?

taratamara Wed 02-Apr-14 22:52:22

Want to say more about your own 'trust issues'? maybe this situation makes you feel more powerful/in control? In my view that's often why people cheat. Also, why didn't you just say no to exclusivity at the time it was raised confused

How would you feel if this relationship ended?

morethanpotatoprints Wed 02-Apr-14 22:53:55

You have been together for 8 months and for 6 months of this you were unfaithful.

You weren't ready for this relationship and the fact you cheated means this isn't the man for you.
I am not judging you because lots of young people do this before they find one that's right.
However, when you find one that's right you wouldn't even think of cheating as you'd be loved up with Mr Right.

Twinklestein Wed 02-Apr-14 22:54:51

If it was a few weeks then you could probably wing it, but you've been cheating for 75% of the relationship. That kind of truth will always out, so you might as well put yourself out of your misery now.

PlantsAndFlowers Wed 02-Apr-14 22:57:23

If it was only 6 weeks ago that you finished with the other guy then you should say something. It's not like you're raking up ancient history.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 23:00:34

We broke up because I wasn't sure I wanted to be in a relationship and I wasn't sure he was someone I'd want a future with. A lot of this stemmed from me being very recently out a very painful breakup. I do feel that if I'd met him now then there wouldn't have been the mess.

Taratamara I think you may be on to something. I get very jealous in relationships and in an odd way, if I'm really honest, I felt a little insulated from that during those six months. I knew that I was definitely the loose canon.

Bestsonever that seems very unfair to ask you outright and then tell you you shouldn't have told!

Maybe you're all right and he's not "the one" but I want to give it a shot, and a shot, so my question is really about what gives it the best shot?

NotNewButNameChanged Wed 02-Apr-14 23:01:47

Best shot? Be honest.

Springheeled Wed 02-Apr-14 23:02:06

Honesty gives it the best shot. Otherwise what sort of relationship is it?

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 23:04:05

I think I want to give us a few more months of just being happy before I consider raising it. At the moment it's too soon for me to demonstrate that I can be better.

Springheeled Wed 02-Apr-14 23:09:39

How will you be happy though? I mean, happiness to me is being totally unencumbered by doubt and guilt.

Notafixer Wed 02-Apr-14 23:14:15

Happiness as in we just enjoy the honeymoon period, commit to each other and respect each other from here on in.

Springheeled Wed 02-Apr-14 23:17:58

Sounds like you want all the control and to give your partner none because he's in the dark here. Your gamble. The truth will out one way or another.

PlantsAndFlowers Wed 02-Apr-14 23:34:42

Nah. The longer you leave it the harder it will be. Honest. The lie will magnify, not recede, especially with the world and his dog knowing.

Twinklestein Thu 03-Apr-14 09:11:33

OP, you're living in Lala land. You can probably get away with a few more months 'of just being happy' without it coming to light, but what's the point? It's completely fake. It's purely a selfish form of happiness because it's based on tricking your partner into something that he may not have chosen if he knew the truth.

Your partner has the right to make his own choice. The longer this goes on, the more culpable you become, the more horrified he's going to be. You have to accept that by very poor judgement you may have nuked this relationship. Take responsibility for that and learn that this is not how to do relationships, it's immature and unrealistic.

KiKiKiKi Thu 03-Apr-14 13:00:12

You say you really like your boyfriend, yet you're not giving him to choice on whether to be with you whilst knowing all the facts.

If I were him, I'd ditch you immediately, especially if your other break ups have centred on you not being ready.

It sounds like now you're ready, but I think you've ballsed this one up OP.

CoteDAzur Thu 03-Apr-14 13:10:26

Can you plausibly spin it as "I slept with a guy for a few times while we were not together (during the 'off' part of the on/off relationship) but now I know you are the one" etc?

NotNewButNameChanged Thu 03-Apr-14 13:45:14

See, I never understand anyone who thinks people should keep quiet about cheating or affairs. Yes, of course the person cheated on will probably be devastated or hurt. But every decent person deserves to be in a relationship with someone that respects them and treats them well. Cheating on them shows a lack of respect. Lying about it ditto. They have right to know their partner's morals.

OneMoreChap Thu 03-Apr-14 14:53:16

Notafixer
I think I want to give us a few more months of just being happy before I consider raising it.

Bizzare.
Either keep shtum and never say anything, or tell him now.
Want him to "fall in love" so you can really mess with his head some months down the track?

Sounds like you want to make yourself feel better.
You won't.
You certainly won't make him feel better.

MamaMumra Thu 03-Apr-14 15:28:52

If other people know then it will come out.

OneMoreChap Thu 03-Apr-14 15:36:52

If OP thinks it will come out, she should tell him now.

Offred Thu 03-Apr-14 15:50:26

You're being exceptionally dishonest and emotionally immature I think.

You've not got a relationship with your bf because you are only prepared to do that taking and no giving. You even sound like you are blaming him for talking about exclusivity too soon - too right it was too soon because your were seeing someone else!

Basic human decency should have seen you say to him that's what you were doing and how you felt when he raised that chat.

You blame the OM for pressuring you and you want to trick your bf into having stronger feelings before you expose yourself as a liar/before you can trust you'll be able to manipulate him into staying.

Astonishing levels of selfishness and deceit there.

I think you need to confess now and if he does want to split up I don't think you should date until you've sorted yourself out a bit, you just can't treat people like this.

LeapInTheDark Thu 03-Apr-14 16:16:07

I wanted to let you know that I am in a similar situation. Only some of the details are different which I think makes a huge difference although I recognise that some people here won't see that.

About 3 years ago I was young free and single and doing some online dating but getting a bit hacked off with it.

Just as I was about to give up I went on a date with a lovely guy - let's call him A. We arranged a second date but TBH I had been there many many times and wasn't overly hopeful. In between our first and second date I met a man in a bar (let's call him B) and there was instant chemistry.

So for about 6 weeks I saw them (and slept with them) both. I liked them both but didn't tell either of them about the other. I felt like I didn't owe either of them an explanation at the time, it was such early days. But quite quickly I realised that although I fancied the pants off B that A was a keeper and had potential for a long-term relationship.

So I finished it with B. He was really surprisingly upset and it took quite a few phone calls until he finally accepted it. But finish it I did and have gone on to have a lovely, happy relationship with A (3 years so far!)

Except I've never told him about B. I justify it in my mind that we hadn't had the exclusive talk or mentioned the L word and that I ended it quickly with B (6 weeks for me is a different matter than 6 months!). But I still feel guilty about it and sometimes consider confessing to A. But I never have because I know he would be very upset and it seems a bit pointless. There is no chance of A and B meeting as they live in different countries.

Where I think your situation differs OP is that you didn't end it when your BF became your BF and he believed you to be exclusive. Having said that, I don'tthink there's much point in telling your BF. Not sure what it would achieve tbh. Apart from assuaging your guilt.

Just wanted to know that I can understand your dilema

Springheeled Thu 03-Apr-14 22:44:50

Have you decided OP?

Notafixer Thu 03-Apr-14 23:15:47

Well, I'm sure I'll get flamed, but I've decided to keep quiet. For various reasons I think we are strong enough to survive it if it came out. (I haven't gone into the rocky patches, but he really doesn't think I'm an angel). However, it would hurt him hugely, create unease where unease isn't necessary and always sour something that doesn't need souring and I'm not sure the price for honesty for it's own sake is worth that. If I thought he'd instantly want to end it then I might feel it was morally different.

But if he ever gives any indication that he knows and is looking for confirmation I will come clean. As I said, I'm pretty sure he strongly suspects but has never probed.

Regarding the "it will come out", this isn't actually an uncommon scenario in my social circle (and it's not even the worst story!) and those have all remained hidden.

Twinklestein Thu 03-Apr-14 23:20:37

If he strongly suspects, he will probe eventually, and then it will be over. You will have wasted x amount of time and have to start again.

You cannot build a solid relationship on such dodgy ground. But, you'll have to find this out the hard way...

NotNewButNameChanged Thu 03-Apr-14 23:20:40

Why am I not surprised? Not sure why you asked. What a lovely social circle you must have, where people cheat and think so little of their partners.

Offred Thu 03-Apr-14 23:49:42

Yes, learning the hard way it is then for someone you claim to love too...

Offred Thu 03-Apr-14 23:50:49

Honesty for honesty's sake i.e. To be an honest person and a respectful partner is always better than lying for the sake of keeping a relationship btw.

Springheeled Fri 04-Apr-14 07:03:14

I feel for the partner here. When/if it's found out, it will be the lack of respect that will hurt way more than the cheating.
I couldn't do it. Each to their own!

MamaMumra Fri 04-Apr-14 17:29:32

Well as long as you realise that you're keeping this secret for your own benefit only and not because this is a great love or anything.
You don't respect this man and you don't seem to particularly care for him either. Sorry to sound harsh but don't you think he deserves better than you?
You have taken away his choice - you have decided for him and you have done this for selfish reasons.

LadyHH Fri 04-Apr-14 18:52:40

Don't tell him. I stupidly told my DP about an affair I had 10 years before met him. Our relationship has never recovered and he considers me a liar for not telling him I was the sort of person who would do that. Don't make the same mistake I did. The chances of it coming out by some other means are slim. Mind you my DP is an unreasonable B!

Springheeled Fri 04-Apr-14 19:00:25

I am intrigued by the dynamics of this as I guess I have been person B in the past in this kind of scenario. I would not want to swap places with person A though, in a million years.

jellybelly29 Fri 04-Apr-14 22:00:02

This scenario is odd. Why did you carry on with the other guy for so long, and why are you still with your boyfriend now? Did you really want the other guy but he just wasn't interested enough?

We can't all have everything we want, of course. It's bad that it carried on for so long, but if you want to be with your boyfriend long term, no good will come of telling him now. Decide if you want him, or just a relationship (and if it's the latter, end it).

Otherwise, work on what your relationship is now. It's not 'built on lies' (stop being such a drama queen), focus on what you've got and giving it your all.

Just because bad things have happened in the past it doesn't mean that you can't have a good and meaningful partnership now. But make sure you are honest with yourself about why you're still with him.

Twinklestein Fri 04-Apr-14 22:07:16

This relationship has one shot of working out: coming clean and her bf liking her enough to essentially start the relationship again, and build up up the trust from scratch. Otherwise, it's fucked.

Notafixer Sat 05-Apr-14 10:03:06

Did you really want the other guy but he just wasn't interested enough?

No. It was the opposite in fact. I supposed I realised early on it wasn't going to be a goer but he was so persistent and I guess I was flattered with the persistence. Plus as long as I kept both on the go it meant I didn't have to make decisions, could tell myself I wasn't really getting into a relationship etc.

Calling it "built on lies" isn't about being a drama queen, I'm trying not to minimise. During the six months I had all kinds of reasons why it was fine and now I'm just trying to be honest with myself that it wasn't.

And it's him, not a relationship. If it was just a relationship I could get another one before the summer ends, and one with far less chance of blowing up! But he is special.

This relationship has one shot of working out: coming clean and her bf liking her enough to essentially start the relationship again,

As I said above, I am confident we could work through this, so I'm actually not convinced it's helpful to upset him and make him question things he doesn't need to question.

Twinklestein Sat 05-Apr-14 10:40:49

I agree with you that describing your relationship as 'built on lies' is not being a drama queen it's just calling it like it is.

If you're so confident that you can work through this then you'd tell him now. It's because you fear you couldn't, and you want to manipulate him into being with you, that you don't.

But hey, it's your life, it's no skin off my nose what you do.

Offred Sat 05-Apr-14 15:48:52

to upset him and make him question things he doesn't need to question.

Because from what you mention basically not even being interested in the other guy, just being pressured he absolutely does have reason to be worried because you are not in control of your sexual behaviour... Demonstrably...

Because, selfishly, this is very likely to come out and lying about it proves he has something to worry about - that you don't respect him or consider him an equal.

Because, unselfishly, this is something you should respect him enough to allow him to choose for himself.

Offred Sat 05-Apr-14 15:50:47

What you did is upsetting. How you are now choosing to handle it is going to be upsetting too. You may think he would handle the infidelity but will he handle the infidelity AND the dishonesty/disrespect?

Apart from anything else the way you describe the relationship makes it sound as though you are getting into another crap relationship with this bf.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now