Can I still be with this girl and keep my self-respect?
October 20, 2008 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Relationship filter: Can I keep my self-respect and still be with her?

I met a girl, we hit it off, and quickly became close. Then one night after we'd been dating for about a month, at a party at my house she and I got drunk, and she got all flirty with these two other guys. We took a break for a week, got back together, and things were good for a while. Then I picked up her phone and found a note she'd written to herself along the lines of "I regret that night at anonymous's house when I slept with those two other guys. I know I hurt anonymous and I disrespected myself," and so on. Since then, she's apologized and asked my forgiveness, and I've just been pissed as hell and haven't really talked to her in the past week.

Now, you may ask yourself, what's the big deal? We were together for a month and a half altogether. Move on. But, well, she was the first person I was ever with, and I'm still getting my bearings with this whole breaking up thing. Yeah, I'm 22. Late bloomer. She's 19. At first I was just baffled, then extremely pissed, then sad, and now, god help me, I want her back. And she's told me she wants me back too. I feel like she made a mistake that night, but it's possible she makes a lot of hurtful dramatic mistakes. Or it's possible that she doesn't. I dunno. She acts slightly differently with her friends than she does with me, and it could be that she got carried away that night. I kinda get the feeling that she was unpopular in her past and isn't used to a whole lot of guy attention. The reasons I liked her in the first place haven't changed, but I don't know if I can be with her after she hurt me so badly. I also kinda feel like she'd have a hard time respecting me too, after a while. I dunno.

So that's my question. Would I be sacrificing my self-respect if I got back together with this girl now? It seems like every day I wake up and my emotions are slightly different, and I'm having a hard time seeing things rationally and non-emotionally.

If you need more info, perhaps I can send it to a mod to post up here later on?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Damaged goods with emotional problems, and she's prone to drunken threeways. Sounds like the worst possible girlfriend you could have, and she'll walk all over you again in about . . . seven, eight days. You're 22. Don't waste any of that precious, precious youth with that headcase, my man.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:49 PM on October 20, 2008 [8 favorites]

What is it you want to do? If you have forgiven her indiscretion and want to try again with her, then do so. There are no guarantees; it may end badly, or it may go well. The thing is, people aren't equations to be solved. You're never going to be able to completely accurately predict what will happen. Trust your instincts and try again if you feel you can trust her.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:50 PM on October 20, 2008

I'd cut my losses. Whether or not you're sacrificing your self-respect isn't something we can tell you; it's something you have to figure out for yourself. I do know, however, that I'd feel like I'd sacrificed my self-respect if I chose to stay with someone who'd cheated on me with two other guys within the first month of our relationship, and in my own house, no less.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:50 PM on October 20, 2008

Would I be sacrificing my self-respect if I got back together with this girl now?

Yes. Let me ask you this - if a girlfriend cheating on you - with two guys - in your own house - and then lying about it - isn't enough to make you mad... what would it take for you to draw the line?
posted by moxiedoll at 1:51 PM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

One thing people don't really know how to do when they're first starting serious romantic relationships is how to end them gracefully and without going through a prolonged breaking up/getting back together cycle. I don't know that there's anyway to learn how to do this than by going through it, but keep in mind you're most likely going to look back on your earliest relationships as at least slightly messed up and as having lasted way longer than they really merited.
posted by bluejayk at 1:51 PM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

I think I know this girl. She does not respect you, hence the other two guys she slept with at a party at your house. Chances are, she doesn't respect them, either. (Are they friends of yours? because they shouldn't be.)

If you do get back with her, you can expect to get played.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:51 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

The reasons I liked her in the first place haven't changed, but I don't know if I can be with her after she hurt me so badly

Until you figure this part out, stay away. She violated your trust, you're feeling mixed up, this is all incredibly normal. What you need to do is to allow yourself to feel mixed up, give yourself time and space to heal and figure out yourself first. You can't control her or her behavior but you can take charge of yourself and figure out how the 22 year old you feels about being with this girl.

And get yourself tested for an STD already. That's probably priority #1.
posted by Stynxno at 1:53 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

She's not the only human being that you could try to have a working relationship with. I also see a complete leap from 'got sort of flirty', which can be dismissed as typical human behaviour, to ummm... unfaithful threesome or very careless behaviour. I'm also not sure how you found a note to herself on her phone without snooping, which is bad boyfriend behaviour. Either way, unless you reach some sort of poly agreement, this sounds like major drama. If you want a roller coaster of emotion, make ups, breakups, paternity suits, love triangles, and so on, go ahead and take her back. Otherwise, why do this? You've said nothing to tell us why she's a good idea other than that she's there and she’s tempting.

Remember, most people are capable of falling in love several times over their lifetime, and if you do love someone or they love you, it's not a panacea. A jerk is a jerk, even a jerk who loves you deeply.
posted by Phalene at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2008

Oh. And burn whatever she had her threesome on. If you weren't thinking about where she did that then, there's gonna be some late night pondering in the very near future. Might as well torch those sheets, pillows, bear rugs, etc right now and get it out of the way.
posted by Stynxno at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2008

In using the fact that "she was the first person [you were] ever with" as a reason to stay with her, you've all but answered you're own question. Not only does this indicate a present deficit of self-respect on your part that is unrelated to her, but what you probably need is more fun and experiences, not a game of patch-up with your first flighty tryst. After you've broken a few hearts and had a few drunken threeways of your own, you can think about managing broken relationships and trying to save the ship. This one has passed.
posted by dskinner at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

So she's a drunk and she double cheated on you at your own party. Stay with her! Things could only get better.

Seriously, cut off contact with her. The fact that she was your first is messing up your head. You will just end up prolonging your heartache if you stay.
posted by wrnealis at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2008

Oh, darlin', it is hard....the whole breakup aftermath is hard, even if they've treated you like crap, one minute you want to kick them in the teeth and the next you want them back...

The telling part for me, though, is that you've flat-out asked whether it would be sacrificing your self-respect to stay with her. If you suspect this is the case, that means that you've got some serious doubts about her, and you're hurting from the way she treated you. Listen to the part of you that is telling you this -- all of the relationship mistakes I've made, I've made because I WASN'T listening to the part of me that was saying that I was valuable and that I had self-respect.

You'll note that I'm not saying either way what you should do. I'm doing something a little different -- I'm asking you to pay attention to the part of you that has dignity and self-respect and knows what is right for you, and asking that part of yourself what you should do. If you know that you honestly, sincerely, and truly wouldn't be able to live with yourself because you didn't feel like you didn't give her at least one more fair shake, then that's what you should do. But if you know that if you get back you'll feel like a huge-ass chump and you'll be afraid of what she's going to do next the whole time you're with her, that's also telling.

The fact that you go through phases of wanting her back is perfectly normal. Sucky, but normal. There is an actual physical chemical that's running through your system when you're in the early stages of love, and that wanting her back is a type of withdrawl. It sucks like crazy, but it's helpful to keep that in mind when you're figuring out what to do.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2008

You dont deserve this man. A good way to think about this is the following:

Have you ever broken a mirror and tried to put it back together. No matter how hard you try the end result is that you will have a mirror that will never be able to truly give an accurate reflection because it will be fragmented all over the place. If you break it in half...yeah the image is not so bad and what the heck nowadays nothing is truly perfect but if you break it in a million little pieces and try to put it back together..even if you might be not be worthy....

I think that what this woman did to you is equivalent of breaking this mirror in a million of pieces...yes you can try to fix it.....but is the result worth it?
posted by The1andonly at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2008


Gender is not what makes this person damaged goods. It's not a comment on a double standard attached to slutty behaviour, it's a comment based on a human who is acting psychologically unwell by being unable to act in a mature fashion about their desire to have multiple partners. The disconnect with the infidelity and self loathing after the act are red flags.

If my boyfriend cheated on me via a threesome at my house, I'd think he was pretty messed in the head too.
posted by Phalene at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Since you're new to all this, it's generally considered bad form to double up on two dudes at your significant other's party. Drunkenly making out with someone while out of town? Maybe you could let that slide, but this is one of those things you really shouldn't be flexible on.
posted by electroboy at 2:01 PM on October 20, 2008

Is it possible that she got so drunk that she blacked out, and was essentially raped by these two boys? I'm not saying it happened, or trying to justify what happened to you, but merely exploring the possibility. She may be to ashamed/whatever to admit it, or she may not have recognized that such a situation is rape in the first place.

Even if that's what occured, I think the two of you have a lot of stuff you need to work out. It's possible to have compassion for her without being her boyfriend.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on October 20, 2008

if you're with this girl you can't keep your self respect, your sanity, your health and safety, or your emotional well being. i'm sure she's a lovely gal who just needs to do a little growing up, but there's no reason to let her make all those mistakes at the expense of your heart.
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on October 20, 2008

In the words of President Bush: "Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. ...fool me, can't get fooled again."

Seriously though, get back together with her if you want, but if she cheats on you a second time you don't get to act surprised.

Would finding a different girl really be harder than putting up with that?
posted by Mike1024 at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2008

I am confused. It sounds to me like you were on a break that week. If so, don't go all Friends on her.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 2:08 PM on October 20, 2008

Acer I think they took the break after the cheating took after they have gotten back he found the ominous note in question (probably by snooping on her phone)...
posted by The1andonly at 2:11 PM on October 20, 2008

I have a general rule that any girl who has voluntarily been with 2 guys at the same time is instantly disqualified. Sorry, but it's a mental image I would never be able to erase, even if I tried.

I know you're new at this, but there are plenty of women out there who haven't crossed this line, especially in such a disrespectful way.

Trust me, if you can man up and move on, I guarantee that you won't regret it.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:12 PM on October 20, 2008

I think your happiness is a bigger issue here than your self-respect, because only you can determine whether you should respect yourself for doing X, Y, or Z. Whether other people will respect you for it is a different matter (and I don't think this consideration should really dictate whether you decide to pursue a romantic relationship with someone or not).

But on the happiness front -- I kind of doubt you randomly picked up her phone and "found" the note. It's not the sort of thing phones generally display on their welcome screen. You went looking for it, right? This indicates that you don't trust her. (Worse yet, you found out that you had cause not to trust her. That sucks, and I'm sorry for it. Shitty, shitty thing to find out!)

I think, in such a case, it really doesn't matter how much you like her, or how well you clicked with her off the bat. What matters is whether you could learn to trust her again. Without trust, relationships really suck, because insecurity isn't fun (or sexy or romantic). I think this rule holds for every sort of relationship, from marriage to friendship to casual hook-ups. In your case, since this is your first relationship and (like most first relationships) it has done a number on you, do you want to risk falling in love with someone you don't trust? That's neither fun NOR wise.

If you think you'll have a difficult time trusting her again, then I'd suggest you concentrate on the fact that you're twenty-two, and you have tons of time to meet other women -- women who really like you. This girl may say she likes you, and perhaps she really thinks she does. But being a twentysomething woman myself, I cannot imagine bailing on a guy I am genuinely interested in so I can hook up with two other random men. I mean, maybe it would be one thing if she'd been drunk and you'd been somewhere else and she'd run into That Guy She'd Always Had A Terrible Crush On And Believed Is Her Soulmate and Suddenly OMG He Was Interested!!! and made a really bad judgment call (though that's still pretty shitty behavior). But from your post, it sounds like you were there, and she chose to rank your importance below that of two different men. That's messed up! You're worth more than that. And there's some woman out there who totally and completely agrees, although she may not know it yet. THAT woman is worth your time. Go find her.
posted by artemisia at 2:14 PM on October 20, 2008

Being drunk is not an excuse for cheating on you, or for anything for that matter.

Will you be able to trust her if she got drunk again around other guys or will this keep haunting you? If the latter, move on, there are plenty of better women out there.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:16 PM on October 20, 2008

Wow. Just wow. Two guys? At your house? Wow. Since you're new at the dating scene: this is not normal or appropriate behavior for someone in a relationship. There's plenty of women out there that you will hit it off with, who won't cheat on you.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2008

This is your first, anon. Maya Angelou said it best: "You teach people how you want to be treated." Sure, you can forgive her, but then you've already said to her, "He'll tolerate me banging two guys while I'm supposed to be dating him." Maybe she'll never do that again but she'll know that she can get away with disrespecting you because, well, you've told her it's OK.

There are plenty of kind and decent women out in this great planet. No need to settle for this one.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:24 PM on October 20, 2008

I would probably echo 90% of what's on here about move on, etc, but I don't think that's the biggest issues here.

Can you help me out here a bit. . . you talk about "self-respect," and while I also find that immensely important, I wonder what it means to you. I can see where trying to have a relationship with this girl would feel very zero-sum, and where you would have to sacrifice "self-respect" to be with her (/be in the same room with her!). If the question is about whether you'd be able to build a nurturing, mutually respectful, loving relationship with her, my guess would probably not.

I fear though that from your having to ask this question in the first place, you might be one who needs to experience this very slow and painful pulling-the-band-aid-off-the-very-hairy-arm rather than being able to yank it off and be done with this girl.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 2:24 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Would I be sacrificing my self-respect if I got back together with this girl now?

Yes, you would. There are plenty of other girls out there who won't fuck two guys in your house while you're dating her.

Move on and don't look back. One of the rules of dating is that you don't have to put with that kinda shit at all. Put your foot down now and respect yourself and move the hell on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

this is not an either/or proposition. you do not have to choose between "cut off all contact" or "get back into a serious and committed relationship."

chances are that since you stopped talking to her you've given a lot of thought to how much sex you aren't having right now. i'm not saying this is the only thing you want back, but let's be honest and admit that it's probably a significant portion of what's running through your brain right now, and that if you were already dating someone else with sex as good you'd probably feel less drawn to re-establishing a relationship with this girl.

so give some thought to dating her casually. it's a bad idea to jump right into emotional turmoil, generally, and it seems clear that this girl has been the source of some of that. this isn't to say that she's a bad person or that there's no hope for a relationship with her, but there's no rule saying that you have to jump into all your relationships with your whole heart. she's hurt you, so take it slow. see each other casually, see where it goes, but maintain your boundaries. if that's not good enough for her, then fuck it. move on. no one has a right to demand anything from you when they've betrayed you like she has. but chances are she'll be willing to work on those terms until she's either earned some measure of trust back from you or has proven to you once and for all that you're better off without her.

and while this is going on, you can continue to keep an eye out for other possibilities. i know i know, that sounds fucked up. it's not, though. this isn't teen drama where everybody that sleeps together has to fall in love. you're 22, not 16. you shouldn't be pretending to love somebody in order to sleep with them, but consenting adults are perfectly capable of having physical relationships without emotional attachment. so give yourself the space to see this girl when you want to, and to distance yourself when you need to. you may find that the possibility of being with someone else makes you realise you don't want this girl at all, but you'll never find that out if you go right back into a committed whole-hearted emotionally charged relationship with the girl. conversely, seeing someone else who doesn't measure up may show you that this girl you feel conflicted about is worth a third chance. who knows?
posted by shmegegge at 2:39 PM on October 20, 2008

A lot of good responses. Frankly, I was expecting some of the "Oh, it's just sex," crowd to show up. While sex was the weapon, the assault against your relationship was the trust that was broken - at your house - and the fact that relationships are hard enough to keep together without something like this to work through. When therapists say you must "work at relationships," nobody means work at accepting behavior that is unacceptable in a situation where no marital bonds exist. You are, in a very real sense, shopping. I don't mean that in a crass way, only the similarities of looking for a mate are similar. Dating>courting>relationship>maybe living together> marriage. The beginning stages of this ages-old cycle is nothing short of shopping. Would you consider a purchase based on this short free trial? I think the healthiest thing you can do is move on. For her? She learned early - at 19 - that actions have consequences and maybe your moving on will allow her to one day learn from her mistake - but not at your expense.

Good luck!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:46 PM on October 20, 2008

You're young and just because she's the first does not mean she'd be the last. We've all had that one (or two) early relationship(s) that were just wrong. They don't necessarily get complicated by one half of the couple cheating with multiple partners under the other half's roof though.

She seems to want to enjoy being young and single and sexual. That's fine. Lots of people are like that at 19. It's only been just over a month and she's already demonstrated that she doesn't really value this relationship with you.

You're willing to be committed but she might not be. If you stay, you might wind up the chump she hangs onto just because he's stable, while what she really wants is to dabble in the fleeting.

You have to think about what you want to do, but you honestly haven't invested much in this yet. Do you really want to?
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:51 PM on October 20, 2008

At your age, you can be very, very picky in who you're with. And boy, I gotta tell ya, it's pretty nice having a girl who doesn't get drunk and sleep with multiple guys when she's with you. As luck would have it, 99.999% of girls do no such thing. Why on earth would you voluntarily choose one of the freaks who does?

You're 22 and the relationship is a month old. You have basically nothing invested. Break it off with a quickness.
posted by Willie0248 at 3:01 PM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Then I picked up her phone and found a note she'd written to herself

I can't get past this part. Why did she write a note like that? Was she talking to someone else, or was she just leaving the note in hopes you would find it? And then you "found" the note- what, you picked up her phone to move it out of the way and it fell out onto the floor? Why were you hunting around in her phone- did you feel like there was something you needed to know that you didn't want to ask her about? Cheating, ok, cheating's bad, but it's salvageable- you can move and grow past cheating. But you will never, ever be able to move beyond poor communication and/or lack of foundational trust.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:04 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ick. Almost the exact same thing happened to me in first year university. I was good friends with this girl. I had a bit of a pre-self-aware gay boy crush (Yeah, in first year, what can I say, late bloomer) on her. We went out one night and got to talking about how we could be together, walked around holding hands... She got fall down drunk and had to wake up early the next morning, so I put her to bed (her room, residence) and promised to wake her up. Next morning I didn't get an answer on her phone so I headed down the hall to knock on her door and found her coming out of another guy's room. Found out later she had slept with another guy that night too. I was absolutely crushed and backed away.

And you know what? She turned out to be a slut and a pathological liar, telling different stories to everyone about everything. Really glad I found out who she was before doing anything with her. So back away, because anyone who would do this... well, it's probably just the tip of the iceberg.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:36 PM on October 20, 2008

Dude, move on. I know it's your first relationship so you get a free "ridiculous question" pass, but consider it a blessing you found this out about her so early. Run far, far away.
posted by Nattie at 3:41 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

With this girl?

No. Whatever her issues, she doesn't seem to value a relationship with you, I'm sorry to say. Let her go.
posted by droplet at 3:43 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Something like this happened when I was 16. Run.
posted by rhizome at 4:07 PM on October 20, 2008

Have you considered that it didn't happen? After all where were you? Did anybody witness any of this? If you were drunk enough to have no idea what your new girlfriend was up to maybe she was too drunk to remember too. Or maybe she made it up for the sake of 'cool' (or some other teen drama-based reasoning) and wrote that message specifically for you to find...

If it is true maybe you could ask her why she did it - people here seem pretty quick in judging but hey, you guy's were pretty new together and she's only 19 - you said she's unused to this kind of attention - if she's been 'unpopular in the past' its a lot to process, sounds like she's on just as steep a learning curve as you are.

I'm not saying you should forgive and forget, regardless of what happened, she either cheated or lied about cheating to illicit some response from you, both of which point to immaturity at the very least and possibly some bigger issues, but you said that you have no idea whether or not this is typical behaviour for her so the benefit of the doubt would be the gracious path. People do make mistakes, what matters is how they handle the consequences - it might be worth cooling things for a while til you've got to know her a bit better.

On the respect issue you seem pretty cool. You're pissed off and that's fine, no breach of self-respect there. As for getting back together - do you still respect her? Could you? If not, you should move on.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:12 PM on October 20, 2008

I might agree with "people make mistakes" if she'd owned up to them and begged your forgiveness, but the only way you found out was by snooping around on her phone. If you get back together with her, how can you ever trust her again? I predict that no matter what she does or doesn't do, you will drive yourself crazy looking for evidence of further cheating.
posted by desjardins at 4:33 PM on October 20, 2008

dont let Virgin Clingy Syndrome ruin the next bit of your life. months, or years if she lies about birthcontrol etc.

she's not to be trusted. flee.
posted by phritosan at 4:45 PM on October 20, 2008

Actually, it doesn't matter whether you kept your self-respect if you stayed with her or not; you should leave in any case. She said she "regrets" sleeping with those guys (to herself), but she didn't confess and tell you about it. You can't and shouldn't trust her, especially if she didn't come clean on her own. Feeling bad is no insurance that she won't do it again.
posted by timoni at 5:07 PM on October 20, 2008

She's working out big stuff. You sound like you're still figuring life out. These two things can be at cross-purposes for both parties and lead to horrible disasters or even just minor (but pervasive) drama.

Best bet is to be a friend when you see her out and about - keep it casual and platonic, don't let either of you get confused about possibilities beyond that.

She needs to see that the choices she makes can limit who is in her life and that others have enough self-respect to not put themselves in hurtful situations. More importantly, though, is that you don't need a project of this type when you're just getting yourself incorporated into the world.

(damaged goods?!? ugh. male or female, that's...ugh.)
posted by batmonkey at 5:37 PM on October 20, 2008

[a few comments removed - "damaged goods" metacommentary needs to go to metatalk]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:11 PM on October 20, 2008

You're better off without her. Seriously, fucking two guys she picked up at her boyfriend's place? So. Gross.

posted by The Monkey at 8:07 PM on October 20, 2008

Please don't jeez, she sounds gross.

Cut this girl out of your life and find someone better right away, I promise you will not regret it.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:24 PM on October 20, 2008

I've been there. She is not good for you, and if you are anything like me, you will be inclined to keep at it anyway.

If your experiences over the next five years or so turn out to be anything like my own, you will find yourself only capable of holding a grudge against one person, and find it unlikely to go away.

Don't make the same mistake I did of dating someone completely nuts and lacking in any sense of more-than-indifference toward your own emotional well-being. Just because she's the first person you've dated does not mean that it's going to be a good relationship, and we're all just pointing out that you've already established this.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:11 AM on October 21, 2008

sometimes what we want isn't any good for us. Like tasty candy that just, unfortunately, happens to be poison to us.

sometimes forgiving a person means you let them back into your life as an acquaintance, but not into your close circle of friends, into your confidence, into your heart, or anywhere near your bed.

sometimes because of the choices they make, people lose a special place in our lives, and they just can't get it back.

If you want to be a friend to her, and this seems to be a pattern, encourage her to seek help to explore why she felt inclined to get drunk and have sex with other people at your place. What's worrisome about it is that her behaviour was kind of self destructive. Beyond regretting it, it might help her if she understood how it happened.

So at most, be friends with her, but hold off being with her for a little while. Continue to meet new friends and see how you feel in a month or so. But it's entirely okay to be angry. It's how you feel.
posted by anitanita at 3:48 AM on October 21, 2008

Can I keep my self-respect and still be with her?

Yes, you can, because the bulk of responses here seem to oddly enough refer to self-respect as a quality others confer upon you. Self-respect is, by definition, respecting yourself — it is an act that begins and ends with you. Respect is an opinion, and self-respect is having the opinion that is respect about yourself. Thus, no one else here can speak to your own emotional state accurately, because we don't know what guidelines you use to respect yourself.

What they're all really saying is whether they as outsiders to this situation would respect your (theoretical at this point) decision to go back to her.

A lot of good points have been brought up. She was your first lover, and that does influence your attachment to her independent of her worth as a human being. She has done an act that was a massive violation of your trust — albeit while drunk, and our actions when drunk are rarely in line with our sober selves' belief systems. And the point about this being possible misunderstood rape is indeed a possibility, and should definitely be considered.

Can you keep your self-respect and still be with her? Yes. You can make the decision to forgive her and try to forgive her and resume the relationship. And in such a case, were I in your shoes, I would respect the fact that I could forgive an act like that and have an open-enough heart to ... albeit with great wariness ... give someone another chance to regain my trust. That would be where I would find self-respect in such a situation.

But the question really at play here is: is this the healthiest thing for you? That demands a level of detail we don't have yet. Right now, with the facts we have, the majority's answer is: no, it's not the healthiest thing for you.

And, in fact, unless there was some pretty convincing detail, I'd have to agree with them. But for all we know, this is "the one" — yes, she is your first, but falling in soulmate-level love with your first is certainly not rare. Given the fact that she is your first, it is likely you are giving her weightier "soulmate" credentials than she deserves — but we don't know that for sure.

It depends entirely about how you feel about her. But look very, very, very hard — deeply and scrutinizingly so — at what you feel towards her. How do you feel about her? This question is not any of the following: how do you feel about having sex? how do you feel about finally being someone who has sex? how do you feel about finally being someone who has a girlfriend? how do you feel about having another warm body in your bed or in the apartment?

In other words, separate the mere act of having a lover and having a girlfriend away from who she is, in and of herself. And based on how you feel about that, make your decision as to whether you can forgive what she did. And if you can't, then that is a perfectly acceptable, understandable, and very healthy answer, and in such a case you need to move on for both your sakes. But if ending your relationship with her — not your idealized version of her, not the sex, not merely having a girlfriend, but the reality of who she is, with any other flaws she may have shown you — is something that'll wound you deeply, it might be worth seeing if you can rebuild the trust — and seeing if she is really worthy of being trusted. As others have pointed out, it doesn't mean you resume the relationship from whatever point it was pre-infidelity. You reduce your investment in her substantially, but it's up to you whether you should withdraw altogether.
posted by WCityMike at 8:24 AM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

cut and run. don't get more attached to this woman than you already are.
posted by brandsilence at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2008

speaking as someone who has sort of been that chick you are dating, i recommend that you get tested, and you tell her (if you can keep talking to her) that she get tested, and pretty much say to her what you said to us:

"The reasons I liked you in the first place haven't changed, but I don't know if I can be with you after you hurt me so badly. I also kinda feel like you'd have a hard time respecting me too, after a while. I dunno."

seriously, i read that kind of getting boozed up and acting a fool + self-flagellating note on phone as signs of someone who is working through some shit. there are other people, cool people, out there who are not currently at this feelings stage. you should date one of them.
posted by beefetish at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2008

1. This is not the girl for you
2. Don't ever snoop someone's phone (/pda/computer/etc) again. That makes you not the boy for anyone else.
posted by zarah at 11:36 AM on October 21, 2008

Let me answer this the way that I usually do—with a tangential anecdote.

The first girl I ever hooked up with, really, was part and parcel of a long-distance relationship. That sort of fell apart ("No, why would I want to talk about your cat again? I don't even like cats."), and I met this new girl. She was a bit older, worked with one of my friends, and seemed really cool. We hooked up a couple of times, then things started getting rocky a month or so later (I was totally clingy). About that time, I had a party at my house, and while I was downstairs on the porch, she was upstairs, boning the drummer of the band that played in the basement. In my bed. She came down wearing my clothes.

That was pretty much the end of that relationship. She kept the clothes, including a Hawaiian shirt I liked a lot, I kept her Thermos (still have it!) and a frying pan.

Now it's nigh on eight years later. I've been dating the same girl for about six-and-a-half years, and have seriously dated, what, four girls in the intervening period. And I honestly can't remember what her name was. (The drummer's name was Dwayne.)

So, while it's entirely possible that you won't be able to forget her name in eight years, you'll never really be able to tell until you dump her, cut off contact (keep her Thermos!), and hook up with some hot Spaniard in a couple of months… Of course, the Spaniard moves to Australia and becomes a lesbian, but that's a rambling anecdote for another day.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

And who leaves notes for themselves on their phone like that?

She meant for you to find it.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

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