Should I tell my (potential) new boyfriend about my marriage and divorce? Or can I keep this secret like I want to?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have been dating a guy for almost 2 months, and we are getting to the relationship stage. Neither of us were looking for a relationship, but it seems to be heading in that direction. This is the first guy I've actually thought about getting serious with for a few years... since my ex.
I am 26 now, and married and divorced. I got married at 22, divorced at 23. My ex was someone I had been good friends with for 3 years, and then we started dating while we were long distance (opposite coasts of the U.S.). The relationship progressed very fast, and I look back on it as poor decision-making on my part. We were living on opposite coasts, and neither of us would be able to move for at least a year, probably more like 3. We said "I love you" less than a week into the relationship. We got engaged 2 months in (and only the second time we'd been in the same physical location since being together). The next time we saw each other (a month later) was in Vegas to get married. We talked every day, texted constantly, always knew what the other was doing, etc.
When we decided to get married, it kind of started as a joke but then became serious. We decided to get married because we wanted to be together, but were going to be physically apart, and didn't think people would understand if we got married and didn't live together. So we secretly married in Vegas. In my family, only my parents new. A few people from work new. He didn't tell his family at all (they never got told -- they thought we were engaged). Since the divorce, I have told a couple of my cousins, but the majority of my family really thinks we were just engaged. People from my Church know, because I told them after we got married. I'm not as involved in my Church currently, but I have some close family friends from the church and any boyfriend I have will surely meet them and run the risk of hearing about my ex.
The relationship with my ex went bad very quickly. He became verbally abusive and really thought I was trying to somehow do him in. He had an abusive mother (who passed away before I met him) and equated me in the "wife" capacity to his dead mother, so any slight disagreement or difference in ideas, any small problem I had at work or bad point in my day, got blown up into this huge, emotional argument. Finally he came out and said he wanted a divorce, and this went through relatively quickly. The divorce was filed about a year after we got married, and was official 6 months later.
The moment I realized he was serious about the divorce, I was wretchedly heartbroken. In a sense that I couldn't breathe and had physical pangs in my chest. I'd been broken up with before, but this time was so incredibly potent. Right, so back on topic :)
Since the divorce, I first had to get over my hurt. This was, for the first time, really hard for me, but it happened. I still have a hard time trusting men (oh, did I mention that my ex told me explicitly how he cheated on me, and blamed me for it?), but it's a lot easier. My lack of trust generally translates into not caring too much. None of the guys I dated I really had a deep connection with. Some were nice, some weren't, some didn't call me again, whatever. I actually got to the point where I decided not to look for a relationship because I'm so busy with school. (Also, as a note, going back to school was the best antidote for my broken heart. Focusing on making ME happy and pursuing my dreams has really made me the happiest I've been since even years before the ex.) So, my life right now is really about me and following my dreams. I've been kind of "if the right guy comes along, great! If not, oh well."
And then we come to Current Guy. I'm not in some kind of "omigod he's Mr. Right!" state or anything, but he is Really Great. I immediately felt a connection to him (a "spark" I guess). Things have just kind of... felt right. He's also in school, so it's a pretty low pressure relationship. Yet, we still end up seeing each other pretty much every weekend (except when we've been OOT). Our "let's hang out for drinks" end up turning into staying over and sleeping in kind of dates. And I feel like I'm opening up to him and can trust him. It doesn't bother me to not text him or hear from him for a day or 2 -- partly because we're both so busy with school, but also because we're not trying to start a relationship.
But a relationship is exactly where this seems to be going. I'm really not just reading into things because I want a relationship here, either :) I don't care to share specifics, but from things we've said it's clear that it's going that way. And it seems right, too. It just has that "this seems right" vibe.
So here's the thing: my ex-husband is a fairly Big Secret. When I talk about him, I call him my ex-fiance. I think of him like that. I really wish I hadn't gotten married.
But it happened, it's this semi-secret, and what do I do with it now? I really don't want to tell my Current Guy about my ex, but I fear that a) I should and b) he would eventually happen upon the information independently. The really big reason I don't want to tell him about the ex is because I really seem like the crazy, rushing-into-things girl when I tell the story. It was a crazy-obsessive-compulsive type of relationship, and for him to understand the whole thing (like, yes, I was married, but no, most people don't know, but yes, you might run into some people who do know)... OhMiGod does that just seem complicated.
So how and when is it appropriate to tell him? We haven't had the "exes" talk yet, and we haven't met each other's family yet. He may meet some of my family soonish, as one relative is going to be in town. I feel like it's too early in the relationship to tell him about this guy, but if he asks me, I don't want to lie to him. Is there a way I can tell the story without seeming like a Crazy Chic? Or can I just veer off the topic if exes comes up... like "oh, exes, why do you want to talk about those?" I have generally avoided asking him about his exes (both because of mine and because I'm trying to keep the relationship slow, because a slow relationship is the only kind I can deal with anymore).