Coming clean
August 11, 2005 11:12 PM   Subscribe

I lied to my SO about how many girls I had slept with before her. Should I come clean? (more interesting stuff inside)

I told her 3, the real answer was zero. We got together two and a half years ago, but i was still at an age too old (24) to not have been with any girls before. I was brought up in a strict Baptist household and it took me awhile to shake off the religious propoganda. And the confidence problem didn't help after that. She had had a lot of experience, and I think maybe coming clean will cause her to respect me less, and she will see me as more of a "flight risk" since she'll figure I'm itching to sleep with other girls now that I've been with one. The catch is, she would be right. But I love this girl a ton, and the feeling is mutual, and I can see this being a very long-term thing. There is no danger of me cheating, I'm not an asshole. At first I didn't think I would tell her unless it got extremely serious (ie engagement - which would not happen for many years if at all), but I feel a strong pull to tell her now. Does anyone see any benefits to telling her now? My heart says to tell, my head says not to.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total)

Go with your head.

Why do you want to risk ruining what appears to be a wonderful relationship? No good can come out of your revelation.
posted by madman at 11:26 PM on August 11, 2005

This you can tell with some comfort. I was thinking something different before reading your more inside. Admit your fear, shame, whatever, and tell her that she has made you feel comfortable enough with yourself, as well as with the relationship, to reveal this very personal side of yourself. She will probably still be pissed, and worried, that you lied, but if the relationship is headed anywhere it is best to get it out now rather than let it fester over time. You may even find that she is completely cool with it and that she kind of likes being your first.
posted by caddis at 11:26 PM on August 11, 2005

How happy is she with you (and your performance)?

If she's happy (more than happy?) and you feel guilty about not sharing yourself entirely - tell her.

If you're feeling insecure about how well you're pleasing her, ask her about how she feels about your intimate relationship and see if you can't both use communication to mutually improve your abilities (abilities) to satisfy each other.

I'm not a woman so I don't have a well formed idea of whether or not being someone's "first" is a good/bad/neutral thing - which I would suspect would be modulated by the degree of satisfaction that you provide her...

Whatever you decide - good luck!
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:34 PM on August 11, 2005

Does anyone see any benefits to telling her now?

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:49 PM on August 11, 2005

Yeah, there's one benefit to telling her: you'd get it off your chest and stop worrying about it. That "strong pull" makes it sound like you feel like you're hiding something from her.
posted by aneel at 12:06 AM on August 12, 2005

The important question is, I think, why (after "shaking off the religious propaganda") you think virginity is such a gigantic issue that revealing it would change the nature of your relationship so much. I don't know if I'd particularly care if a boy I was serious about had lied about not being a virgin or alternately if the number of people he'd slept with was an order of magnitude higher than he'd initially said it was, numbers are just numbers and the past is the past.

Perhaps there are other things going on here? Does it bother you that she has so much more experience -- I ask because of your "respect me less" remark -- or is it really just that you want to be completely honest with her? I wouldn't tell her, I don't think it would or should matter.
posted by lia at 12:15 AM on August 12, 2005

You're saying two contradictory things here, or at least it looks that way:

I think maybe coming clean will cause her to respect me less, and she will see me as more of a "flight risk" since she'll figure I'm itching to sleep with other girls now that I've been with one. The catch is, she would be right.

But further on you write:

I can see this being a very long-term thing. There is no danger of me cheating, I'm not an asshole.

I don't understand the importance or your motivation to reveal to her how many women you've slept with.

But I'd suggest you figure out exactly what it is you're really asking, which seems to be something along the lines of, "Should I break up with her if I want to see (sleep with) other people?"

And my answer to that would be an emphatic yes.
posted by Rothko at 12:29 AM on August 12, 2005

I'm not quite sure where you got that from, Rothko. I read that as "Yes of course I want to sleep with other girls, but I'm not going to." In other words, perfectly normal human feelings.

I vote for telling her. Explain why you didn't tell her in the first place. And it might not be a bad idea to preface the conversation with, "$name_of_endearment, we need to talk. I kinda lied to you about something, but it's not bad at all..." and go from there.

Speaking as a guy: I have been honoured and touched to have been peoples' first. It's partly an ego thing--they're going to remember me forever, so I'd better make it an extra good one--, and partly feeling very special that I'm important enough to someone to share an emotional experience with.

First girl i ever slept with had no idea she was the first, until the next day when it randomly came up in conversation. She sort of looked all flustered and speechless, and then said "Why, dnab, I'm honoured!" Informal polls of boys and girls (of various sexual persuasions) in the years since has suggested that this is the standard feeling amongst people with hearts. There's the few, of course, who just see taking someone's virginity as a purely ego-driven notch on the bedpost.

Aaaand an informal poll amongst a few friends just now (a few males, couple of females; the former mostly gay or bi, the latter all bi) votes unanimously for telling her, but emphasizing that you feel no need whatsoever to explore elsewhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:37 AM on August 12, 2005

If you do decide to tell her, don't treat it like a big secret you've been hiding from her, treat it as a goofy exaggeration you made because you were dumb enough back then to think you needed to hide your virginity to get her respect, you thought you were too old to be a virgin.

Perhaps make it into one of those cute "Did you know that when we first met, I did X, because I thought Y" stories, or if you have one of those conversations about all that when-we-first-met stuff, where you trade anecdotes, work it in there along with the other stuff you laugh at yourselves about.

Though if you made up and told her about fake girlfriends and fake relationships and other details to embroider the lie, then you've dug a deeper hole than I'm interpreting.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:02 AM on August 12, 2005

Well, just to give you another perspective- if I found out that my boyfriend was a virgin the first time and lied about it, I would be pissed. Not because I have something against virgins, but because I would have made a extra effort to make the first time special- even if that only meant wearing pretty underwear instead of the usual grey-white washday regulars.

Irrationally, it wouldn't matter if you told me the first time was fantastic anyway- in my head, I would always "know" that it could have be better somehow. Rationally, if I found out you'd lied about that, I'd wonder what else you've lied about. Inventing a dishonest sexual history in this era is far from kosher- the only thing going in your favor is that your lie covered up a 100% guarantee that you had no STDs.

Frankly, I don't see what good tell her is going to do except to make you feel better, since it in no way can change the situation, so I reckon you pick: you occasionally feel a twinge of guilt because you did something wrong when you lied, or your girlfriend feels bad because you did something wrong when you lied.
posted by headspace at 5:05 AM on August 12, 2005

All of these responses are going to be enormously subjective, but this girl's reaction would be to be flattered that you now feel close enough to me to come clean. I'm VERY sensitive about being lied to, but men bragging about their sexual exploits is almost a given and I totally understand why you did it.
I guess knowing I was your only one would make me worry a little about your (understandable) desires to shop around a bit, though. So if you do tell her, try to subtly head off those concerns.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:18 AM on August 12, 2005

It's the lie that will be the problem; the sexual history being the content of that lie is incidental. So, if you do bring it out do it as though you are sorry about the lie, not the specifics of it.
posted by pissfactory at 6:46 AM on August 12, 2005

If you do decide to tell her, don't treat it like a big secret you've been hiding from her, treat it as a goofy exaggeration you made because you were dumb enough back then to think you needed to hide your virginity to get her respect, you thought you were too old to be a virgin.

That's the best advice.

Come on, if you're in a relationship with someone who would not find this amusing or at least accept it without freaking out, then you're with the wrong person. So, spill the beans. The last thing you want is to be going out with an anal-retentive who freaks out.
posted by wackybrit at 6:57 AM on August 12, 2005

She already knows.
posted by LarryC at 7:03 AM on August 12, 2005

I had the opposite thing happen to me way back when [guy said zero, actual number was three] and that was sort of annoying but I got over it. If you made up a number there might be a time down the road when she might be curious who the other people were and that would be an awkward conversation.

From my own perspective I would feel like headspace in an "Aw shucks I would have liked to have made it nice for you..." way, but I wouldn't have been pissed off, wouldn't respect you less, and wouldn't think you were a flight risk. In fact the flight risk thing would simply not occur to me; I'd be more likely to think that you'd waited for someone special and I was that someone special and that would be nice.
posted by jessamyn at 7:30 AM on August 12, 2005

I would tell her. You want to stay with this woman long-term, and you don't want this perpetually on your conscience. Tell her, using the excellent suggestions in this thread to make it go over better, and then don't ever lie to her again.
posted by orange swan at 8:15 AM on August 12, 2005

I suspect this is only a big deal if you make it one. Ie, if in the future it comes around in conversation and you own up that you were embarassed and insecure to be a 24 year old virgin and you're sorry for not being honest about it. But not SO SO SO SORRY.

I'm kinda tickled by jessamyn and headspace's comments about doing things to make it special. At my first the girl could have arranged a parade and fireworks and it would have only been barely noticed compared to my glee at NEKKED GIRL WHO'LL LET ME TOUCH HER! WOOHOO!
posted by phearlez at 8:26 AM on August 12, 2005

One more vote for telling her.
posted by widdershins at 9:16 AM on August 12, 2005

IMO, great relationships are based on openness, honesty, and trust.

If you believe that, too, then your decisions is made for you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 AM on August 12, 2005

...and she will see me as more of a "flight risk" since she'll figure I'm itching to sleep with other girls now that I've been with one.

If you do tell her, and I think you should, you should probably leave this little concern out of your explanation. Stick to the "Isn't that embarrassing; look how silly I was."
posted by nobody at 9:39 AM on August 12, 2005

I guess I would tell her. This exact same thing happened to me - my current boyfriend was 24 when we got together and said he'd been with a few people before but was actually a virgin. I was pretty experienced, but couldn't tell at all as he had watched so much porn before we got together (mostly girl-on-girl) that he was pretty fantastic. Too much information, probably.

Anyway, he came clean pretty soon after (maybe 6 months into the relationship) and although I was a little angry because of the lying, I was also relieved to know the truth - it seemed like he was just really secretive about his past when really, he just didn't want to have to make up all these lies to cover his tracks. I understood that he didn't tell me so I wouldn't think he was a freak or uncool or something and had really great reasons for why he had decided to wait each time he could have just gone through with it. It made me feel special - after all this time, after other offers, etc. he picked me for his first time.

I do worry sometimes that he might lie to me from the same motivation - not wanting to look weird or not wanting me to think he's uncool. It's always going to be something that happened in the past and you're going to have to expect that she may trust you a little bit less and you will have to work a bit to earn the trust back, but overall, I think it will be ok and you'll feel a lot better after you let it out (it sounds like it's really getting to you).

As far as her being worried that you'll eventually want to sleep with other women, that will probably be a legitimate concern of hers. But, there's really no reason at all to let dishonesty reign in your relationship - relationships aren't all sunshine and happiness. Yes, she may not trust you as much for a while, yes, she may be worried you'll want to experience other partners, but honestly, this is the reality of the situation and who you are. Isn't she worth telling the truth to? Then she can make her decision based on the truth and the facts. In the end, it will come out somehow or something might happen and you'll tell her you're sorry but you were a virgin when you met and needed to experience more and that is going to be devastating.

Don't lie to her and tell her what you think she wants to hear - if you respect her you'll want her to have all the information and know what she's dealing with. Be honest, present yourself as who you are, past and present, and see what happens. That's the only way a relationship is going to work anyway because lies and deceit seem to always come out somehow in the end. It's just never a good idea to present yourself as who you wish you were or who you think your partner wants you to be. Be honest, tell her who you are, and if she rejects you, she rejects you. At least everything is out in the open and I really think that's always the better option, no matter what may come of it. You lied and made a mistake and you might have to pay for it a bit but it wasn't malicious, etc. so I think she'll forgive you.
posted by CristinaM at 12:08 PM on August 12, 2005

If you guys eventually get married you can tell her the truth on your 50th wedding anniversary.

If you guys eventually break up then you can rest knowing that the revelation of your sexual history (or lack thereof) had nothing to do with it.
posted by quadog at 12:25 PM on August 12, 2005

You need to tell her - not so much to right a past wrong, but because you want to sleep with other girls. That's a deal-breaker for a lot of relationships, and it's probably better to break the deal before you actually act on your impulses and back your way into a broken deal.

If she's a certain kind of girl and really cares about you, it might not be a deal-breaker, too. That'd be worth finding out, don't you think?
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:04 PM on August 12, 2005

If this is a deal breaker, then she is the wrong girl. Tell her.

It is perfectly understandable why you would be reluctant to reveal this information at first. If there is anything there between the two of you it should not be a problem now. Let her know, without shame, except perhaps the shame of not being able to tell her at first. If she has a problem with it, especially after a few days, then you need to find someone more compatible. People like that are not worth the trouble.
posted by caddis at 5:16 PM on August 14, 2005

Since it seems like it is of come concern to you, I would tell her. Make it light, and make sure she knows that this does not mean that you're a flight risk, if you aren't.
posted by OmieWise at 6:28 AM on August 15, 2005

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