I am trying to trust him
May 20, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Am I totally off-base regarding trust issues with my boyfriend? Advice needed.

I need to know if I am putting unreasonable expectations on my boyfriend.

First some background. We have been dating for about 10 months now and we are currently living together. Things have been going well and we are trying to work through some trust issues, with some success. Essentially I feel like I am upfront and honest with him about things, and I find he can be evasive and secretive. But he is making an effort, albeit small.

Here's an example: when we first started dating, he spent a lot of time with a friend (who is same sex, as we are a gay couple).

They would go for walks, watch movies... I wanted to meet this person but there was always some reason as to why I couldn't.

I find out about a month later (after pressuring him for an answer), that this isn't just his friend, its his ex of 3 years!

I felt betrayed as he had never mentioned to me that this close friend of his was his ex -- something I feel I should have known. Unfortunately that event set the stage for some of the issues we've had in our relationship.

Last night, I found out that my boyfriend didn't graduate from high school, and is going to be graduating this Friday.

He is 26. I am happy for him but more upset that anything because he told me several times that yes, he had some problems in high school, but he went back a few years later, finished his courses and graduated.

He even wrote a speech with this info and presented it to one of his college classes. I always believed it to be true and never once questioned it.

Now I am finding out it was all a lie and I am feeling betrayed. He also didn't tell me upfront... we had to have an argument about why he wouldn't tell me what his plans were on Friday night, and after 2 hours, this came out.

Considering the issues surrounding trust that we have ... am I right to be upset (and feel betrayed)?

thanks for your advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't seem that he's done much to earn your trust and done quite a lot to make you distrustful. Some people like to tell as little about themselves as possible. Perhaps this is an acceptable level of disclosure for some relationships but it sounds like you would like greater communication and more openness. Dump him and move on.
posted by Happydaz at 10:35 AM on May 20, 2009

Yes you are right to be upset and betrayed. This guy lied to you, either deliberately, or by the sneakier method of misleading you. neither of those things is acceptable in an adult, especially not nor nearly a year. What else is he not telling you about?

Whether you should stay with the guy or not is up to you. But either way, he doesn't respect you enough to tell you the truth. That's a big flashing red alarm bell right there.
posted by Solomon at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2009

You're not off-base, but some people do have difficulty opening up and being honest, and these two events by themselves don't scream "deal-breakers" to me.

They might be indicators of bad stuff, or they might just be two things about his past life that your BF is a little unsure of how to deal with. You'll have to talk with him to find out. We can't do it for you.

I'm increasingly put off by the insta-DTMFA posts that seem to be appearing more often. That should be reserved for the situations that clearly call for it. This doesn't seem like one of them.
posted by Aquaman at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2009

You're absolutely right to feel upset and betrayed - he lied to you. Not only is he lying to you, he's also forcing you to drag the answers out of him. You're not his parent, you're his partner. Tell him to grow up, man up, grow a pair .. or move on.
posted by VioletU at 10:57 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think he must feel a great deal of fear and insecurity. In both the examples you mentioned, he was probably afraid you'd judge him unfavorably if you knew the truth, so he covered it up. As for the friend thing, I'll bet that he feared his ex would reflect on him (or on your current relationship) somehow in a way that would give you pause.

The irony is that you're MORE likely to judge him for being dishonest, and in this way insecure people often create a self-fulfilling prophecy for themselves which results in their ending up alone, confirming their fears about their own general unsuitability.

I think you're right to be upset, but I also don't think you should keep him under a microscope. He's not trying to hurt you, he's just afraid of losing you. That may seem dumb to you, and it may result in his making some really dumb decisions, but maybe he'll relax and be more honest as time goes by and it really sinks in that your love of him is not going to be tanked by superficial impressions of his character. I think consistently demonstrating to him that you're more upset by the act of lying than by any truth that he covers up.
posted by hermitosis at 10:58 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry, that last bit was not a complete sentence. How about, "I think consistently demonstrating to him that you're more upset by the act of lying than by any truth that he covers up will eventually lure him out into the open."
posted by hermitosis at 11:00 AM on May 20, 2009

I agree with hermitosis on the HS issue- there's clearly a lot of shame involved in something like this for him. I don't think it's right for him to have lied about it, but if he can at least come around to seeing why it's wrong for him to keep something like that from your S.O., then I think you can work past that.
posted by mkultra at 11:12 AM on May 20, 2009

so... you've been seeing one another for almost a year and he partially has a built up fallacious life revolving around school, saying he is taking college classes but in fact finishing high school. I understand why he may be sensitive about these issues fearing you may dump him because of it/them... but seriously? When all is said and done it is pretty childish behavior on his part. He doesn't trust you to be able to deal with parts of his life, so he acts in ways that foster you to distrust him.

If you want this relationship to work in the long run something is going to have to change, from what you said it sounds like he is dragging his feet and not really facing that fact. How much effort do you want to invest in this? If it is a potential long term relationship I would suggest some type of couples therapy as I think these will be issues that will keep popping up in some form or another. If it is something less than long term perhaps a "one more time and I dump you" speech and follow through when it happens.
posted by edgeways at 11:24 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'll bet $1 that he was hedging his bets at first, and you could have been dumped in about 1.1 seconds if his ex had wanted him back. I'll bet he's pretty honest and open with his ex in a way he has never been with anyone else, including you.

Watch out.

You need to make him understand that you will not--after almost a year together--be treated as a junior partner, entitled to what information he chooses to disclose. Neither of you are getting younger, so you'd better get some openness soon or else set him free and move on.

posted by General Tonic at 12:28 PM on May 20, 2009

My bet is that he's a habitual liar. I dated someone like that once. It's not fun at all, because the lies eventually come to surface, and there are more of them than you realize. The worst part is that since he's already built up such a web of lies around you, he will not be able to come clean to you.

My advice is to cut the relationship off. Let him know why you are doing this, and it will hopefully provide him impetus to be more honest in his next relationship, or to seek counseling to find out why he lies. I don't really think your relationship is salvagable, though. If the only lie was still being friends with an ex, it kind of makes sense. The fact that he lied to you about something so stupid and trivial as education status after 10 months is the real red flag.
posted by explosion at 12:46 PM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can imagine that he feels a lot of shame and self-doubt because of his situation, and so probably thought that lying could somehow prevent YOU from feeling the same way about him, as others have mentioned before. He has clearly not been responsible or mature here, lying and holding things back from you, but part of this is something that you need to look at within yourself, too. What is it that keeps you in a relationship where you are pretty clearly not feeling like an equal, valued partner? Why do you live together when you are already aware that you don't fully trust him? Why are you sticking around to find out what else he lies about/keeps from you? This is the key for you in trying to figure this situation out, in my opinion.
posted by so_gracefully at 12:58 PM on May 20, 2009

The fact that you two are already living together and he's not letting you meet a very close friend of his--regardless of the fact that it's his ex--means that someone's relationship priorities (yours or his, possibly both) are out of whack. If at all possible, don't live and sleep with someone who hides basic things about his life from you. Everyone's entitled to some privacy,* but I agree with explosion: complicated, long-term lies = shitty relationship.

* He wants to go out with his friends? Fine. You never get to even meet his friends? Not OK.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

The fact that you two are already living together and he's not letting you meet a very close friend of his--regardless of the fact that it's his ex--means that someone's relationship priorities (yours or his, possibly both) are out of whack.

It's a poorly-written question, but I'm reasonably certain that the drama with the ex played itself out entirely within the first month of their 10-month relationship, which is possibly before they became serious/exclusive much less moved in together.

Doesn't excuse, but it does mitigate.
posted by mkultra at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2009

One of the great tragedies of being gay in this society is that many of us (gay folks) learn to lie as a survival mechanism. Our families, our churches, our high schools, our communities often can not accept the truth about who we are. We begin a habit of telling less than the truth in order to survive these places. It sounds like your boyfriend became very good at this. There may be even more lies to come. But, this does not mean he doesn't love you. If you love him, confront him about these lies and ask him to be radically honest with you. You might discover even more things that concern you (and ending the relationship might be the best option), but at least you have given him a chance for a new start.
posted by hworth at 2:36 PM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Be very clear with him that when he lies to you it hurts you and makes you angry. Make it clear that you want him to stop doing it. Tell him that if he doesn't stop lying you're going to have to move on. Give him the opportunity to to fess up anything else he's hiding from you.

He is 26 years old FFS. This is not acceptable behaviour and he's old enough to know better.
posted by Lleyam at 12:30 AM on May 22, 2009

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