Need advice on second-chance relationship that is failing miserably.
September 26, 2012 6:58 AM   Subscribe

I gave a guy a second chance, but found out later that he had been extremely shady with me the first time around (details inside). I don't know how to get over it. Should I leave the past in the past and focus on us growing together or should I chalk it up to bad judgement/being too trusting on my part and leave the relationship? The explanation is pretty long. Thanks for taking the time to read. I need advice.

I am currently dating someone for the second time around. The first time around, we dated for about a year. During that time, he was hot and cold. He would seem interested and then distant. We fought a lot. I eventually left the relationship because I couldn't take the ups and downs and I was feeling rejected. That year had been very traumatic for him - several friends of his had passed away, so I thought that was the reason for his actions. Even if it was, he just wasn't emotionally available to be my boyfriend. It was a painful time for both of us.

A year later we got in touch. He was sorry for everything he had put me through and wanted to give it another chance. He had realized that he had a lot of issues and had been trying to address them by going to therapy and working on himself. He seemed to have a real understanding of why I had felt so rejected by him before and he had a lot more insight into his own behavior. He seemed to have the desire to change - and he seemed like he had changed a lot. He said he realized he lost the love of his life after I left and it caused him to snap back to reality and take control of his life to make it better.

So I gave him another chance. 7 months into it, it was going really well. We just moved in together. A few weeks after moving in together, I discovered that when we had dated the first time around, I wasn't the only person he was with. I was under the impression that we were exclusive even though we had a lot of problems, but he was chasing other girls the whole time we were together, having sex with them, unbeknownst to me. He also had sex with prostitutes. He seemed very predatory about it.

This shows me a complete disregard to me and my health. It brought back all the memories I had of our time together in the past. The grief I felt when I asked him to do things and he said he was working late - or came up with another excuse. He was out with other women. I knew he had made me feel insecure then, but I had absolutely no idea he was capable of the things he did. Should I also add that he was in his late 30s when this happened?

He admitted everything after I confronted him. He was embarrassed and sorry. He said that he didn't want to tell me about all that because he wanted us to have a fresh start. I, on the other hand, feel that he should have been honest with me so I knew what I was getting into. I feel that he should have wanted to be honest with me now because he was trying to better himself.

After finding out about his past, I asked him if he had been tested for STDs. He said he had "awhile ago". I took that as meaning that he had since I found out about all the cheating he did. Turns out that he DIDN'T get tested after all his random sex. He was referring to a time way before that when he said he got tested "awhile ago". Why would he think I was asking if he has ever been tested in his life after I found out he was having sex with a bunch of women and prostitutes while he was having sex with me? Can someone really be this dense?

All in all, he didn't come clean to me when he asked for another chance. How do I know if he's telling me the truth about what he does now? If he had come clean to me, it still would have been a great shock, but I think it would have shown that he was in no way trying to repeat his past. The fact that he didn't tell me is disrespectful and shady. He was vague about STD testing.

The only reason I haven't walked away is that he has shown me in every other way that he wants to be with me and he has shown me that he's changed from how he had acted in the past. Am I a fool for even considering this?

Another part of me only wants to stay with him and make him feel terrible because he's made me feel terrible. I know that it's not healthy. But I'm so angry at him about all of this that I want to wake him up by punching him in the face every day.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
posted by spooky car to Human Relations (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Am I a fool for even considering this?

Yes.

I mean that with all the kindness and empathy I have. But yes, yes, by odin's one good eye yes. He is risking your life.
posted by French Fry at 7:05 AM on September 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, not only was he cheating on you, but he was cheating on you with a high risk bracket of women? Were you having unprotected sex with him? If so, he didn't just lie to you - he literally put your life in danger for his own selfish reasons. (And trust me, a guy who will have unprotected sex with you probably isn't using protection with other women either.) Having somebody else endanger your life based on their own risk tolerance should be utterly unforgivable.

Even if he wasn't having unprotected sex with you, this is still pretty crappy behavior.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:05 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


He seemed very predatory about it.

So... He seems like a predator to you? Are you comfortable dating a predator?
posted by cmoj at 7:06 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obviously, cheating on you when you were together is a pretty major failure. Many people would consider that a permanent deal-breaker and if you are one of those people, that is totally understandable. I'm pretty sure I'm one of those people. Other people are capable of forgiving and forgetting, especially when they determine that the person has changed their character and is truly regretful. Only you can answer which camp you fall in.

There are two other issues to consider. One is the question of if your partner owed you honestly about this issue when you got back together. For me, I'd want to have all the facts and I'd rather start from a place where everything was in the open, but I suppose I understand the impulse to not drag out all the dirty laundry. The right answer for you depends on what your understand was when you got back together. Did you expect that there had been full disclosure or was it ambiguous? I think I could let the fact of not disclosing it slide.

The second is the evasive answer to the STD testing and I'd be pretty unhappy with that. I'm pretty sure that he very well understood that you were asking if he was tested since his risky behavior and that he intentionally gave you an ambiguous answer in hopes that you wouldn't know the truth (that he had not been tested). This is a very serious red flag to me and it indicates that he has a certain disregard for your health and safety and that he has not yet exactly embraced a policy of honesty and openness. For me, that would be something I couldn't live with.
posted by Lame_username at 7:08 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only reason I haven't walked away is that he has shown me in every other way that he wants to be with me and he has shown me that he's changed from how he had acted in the past. Am I a fool for even considering this?

If he cared enough to get the fresh start he wanted, he had to be open with you. He hasn't been. This is not an old sin, it's an ongoing lie of comission and omission that he wished he didn't have to own up to in a selfish attempt for him to get back together with you.

And then he compounds everything with another misleading statement that is tantamount to a lie about the STD testing.

He's still lying to you. He's still being evasive. Evade him by running away.
posted by inturnaround at 7:08 AM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another part of me only wants to stay with him and make him feel terrible because he's made me feel terrible. I know that it's not healthy. But I'm so angry at him about all of this that I want to wake him up by punching him in the face every day.

Is this what you're looking for in a relationship? Is this your dream for yourself? If yes, then by all means stay with him. He sounds like a real charmer.
posted by heyho at 7:14 AM on September 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Another part of me only wants to stay with him and make him feel terrible because he's made me feel terrible. I know that it's not healthy. But I'm so angry at him about all of this that I want to wake him up by punching him in the face every day.

So, above all, this statement is the one that sticks out to me most. If this is your reaction (and I'm not saying it's not justified) you need to leave this relationship. It's really not healthy, as you note, and the amount of work and trust building that it would take to not feel this way doesn't seem worth it, or actually likely, considering his past lack of respect for you and your body.

On another note, have you gotten tested yourself? If not, please do. He may not see your health as a priority, but you certainly should.
posted by dysh at 7:14 AM on September 26, 2012


It is telling that in the entire question there is not one mention of any of the guy's good/redeeming qualities.

"The only reason I haven't walked away is that he has shown me in every other way that he wants to be with me "

You should be setting a much higher bar for boyfriends than "he wants to be with you".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:15 AM on September 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Regardless of whether you stay with this guy, you should both go get tested.

As a data point, one of my boyfriends was messing around on me. A month or two after I dumped him for said messing around, I ended up in the hospital with a severe lady parts infection due to chlamydia. I'm talking ultrasound on the fallopian tube to see if there was scarring and I'd ever be able to bear children again. That and 3 days in a hospital bed getting antibiotics via IV. Some fun.

I later called and asked him about it and he said, "oh yeah, my doctor said something a while back."

He sent me flowers on my birthday that year, but I declined another go-round.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:17 AM on September 26, 2012


He's been a dick, but now is trying not to be.

In my book he probably deserves a chance to show he's changed.

However, I think he's also due you a lot more respect and honesty than he has shown.

You both need tested.
You both need to sit down and be honest about it. He needs to be absolutely honest with you; it's probably going to hurt and it's probably going to be difficult for you to hear and for him to say, but you both need to understand where you are and what you both expect.

IMHO you also need to be very very careful. You sound very vulnerable; you want to punch him, yet you are staying because 'he wants to be with you'? Please be very aware that what you 'want' may not be the best guide to what is best.

Is a temporary split possible; it sounds like you need some space to get things clear in your head, and he needs to show a little commitment.
posted by BadMiker at 7:25 AM on September 26, 2012


Get out now.

I can see an argument that the cheating is in the past and could be wiped out as part of his 'first chance', but evading the question of when he got tested is in the present and definitely doesn't count - if you stay with him, he's getting a third chance, and I don't see much justification for giving him one.

Also, if you want to be with him to make him miserable? That's a great candidate for the saying 'cutting off your nose to spite your face'.
posted by jacalata at 7:31 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You call him "disrespectful and shady" and you want to punch "him in the face every day". Your post screams with anger and contempt for your boyfriend (totally warranted IMO).

Given his actions and your justified feelings, I honestly can't see any way for this relationship to be anything other than horribly destructive.
posted by murrey at 7:35 AM on September 26, 2012


Here are three thoughts.

1: I truly, honestly believe that people can change. I believe that, if given a good reason, they can have a road-to-Damascus moment and begin the process of becoming a better person; they can change what is awful about them. It's not a flawless process even in the best cases and it doesn't happen all at once. I say this because it's not all that hard for me to imagine someone who is working on self-improvement and will never cheat again but at the same time isn't really sure how to come clean since there's every chance he'd lose you if he did. Now, I'm neither defending nor condoning his actions here, and I do think he should have told you. I'm just saying that I can see this scenario happening, especially if he's been in therapy and such.

2. On the other hand, I never quite know what to make of relationship AskMes where someone says they were being lied to for a very long time by a significant other, but they're not being lied to now. Hindsight might color your perception of the situation that existed in the past, and maybe now it seems like alarms were going off in your head, but I got five says you truly believed nothing was up. You only have his word now, like you only had his word then.

3. So it's a crap shoot, but consider what's at stake if you guess wrong. STDs are no joke.

If you decide to give him another chance, you need to lay out some terms. Terms like: He never lies to you again (tiny white lies excepted, but don't say that out loud), and if you find out he's lying about something like this, he's gone. He gets an STD test (you should too), and if he won't, or if he won't show you whatever printout they give him or whatever, he's gone.

However:

Another part of me only wants to stay with him and make him feel terrible because he's made me feel terrible. I know that it's not healthy. But I'm so angry at him about all of this that I want to wake him up by punching him in the face every day.

This is a recipe for disaster. I'm not saying you shouldn't feel angry - you should completely feel angry - but this sort of thing is poison to any chances of a healthy relationship, and even though anger is justified, wanting to stay with him just to make him feel terrible is not great. Therapy might not be a bad idea.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:37 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


People can change, but he hasn't. Cheating on you back then showed disregard for your health and disrespect for you. Failing to come clean when you got back together was dishonest and selfish of him: a changed man would come clean, admit his wrongdoing, and accept that you have a right to decide whether to trust him again knowing the full truth. Lying to you more recently--and he did lie, no one is that stupid--about getting tested shows that he still has a total disregard for your health and severe disrespect for you.

You will be much better off, safer, healthier, and happier without this person in your life.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:51 AM on September 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


This all sounds eerily similar to some experiences a close friend of mine had with her boyfriend. He turned out to be a serial cheater whose only moral compass was defined by what he thought he could get away with, but he was very good at claiming to have changed, seen the light, etc. as necessary whenever anyone called him on his shit. That business about having been tested "awhile ago" is textbook: it's evading any kind of responsibility for what has happened or its implications for you. I don't think there's a future here. Sorry.
posted by shattersock at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been in a relationship where I was that angry with the person I was dating (also due to lies of omission and cheating). It's not worth it. A week after our relationship ended I sat up in bed and marvelled at how happy I was. That thick black cloud was gone. When I ran into the reminders of his lies I didn't have that sinking sick feeling, I could jump up and down and say "Not my problem!!"

Just end it. Tons of fish, big sea, be nice to yourself, he's not worth this, and you are worth so much more.
posted by Dynex at 8:01 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Should I leave the past in the past and focus on us growing together or should I chalk it up to bad judgement/being too trusting on my part and leave the relationship?

See, you've phrased this so that you're a bad person if you leave the relationship. That's so backwards.

If you leave the past in the past and focus on "growing together," you are willfully ignoring the fact that he broke your trust and endangered your health and fertility and did NOT try to remedy this. And now in the new relationship (not even in the past!), he hid the fact that this happened all the while knowing that this would prevent you from getting tested for the STIs that he may have infected you with.

He hid this to protect himself, not the relationship.

If he truly cared about you and your health, he would have said "Baby, I messed up and I am very sorry. It is hard to talk about this, but it is important to me because you should go get tested for STIs. Your health means everything to me." He would make amends and he would fully apologize and that is how you would know that he actually wants good things for you.

Being nice in a relationship doesn't mean ignoring the things your partner does to endanger your health and break your trust. You can absolutely forgive him AND put your foot down on this and protect yourself by kicking him out of your life. And then you can chalk THAT up to good judgement and taking good care of yourself.

Quitting this relationship deserves a high five. It is not a sign of failure on your part.
posted by heatherann at 8:16 AM on September 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


He said that he didn't want to tell me about all that because he wanted us to have a fresh start.

Nope. Not coming clean wasn't about having a fresh start; he didn't tell you because he knew there was a good chance it would be a deal breaker.

And yeah, he knew what you meant when you asked if he'd been tested, and he didn't tell you because he knew there was a good chance *that* would be a deal breaker.

I agree with the other commenters: you should kick him and his selfish dishonesty to the curb.
posted by Specklet at 8:31 AM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This guy is a major fail as even a potential partner. Don't waste your time. There is something seriously wrong with him.
posted by discopolo at 8:40 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's hard to evaluate your boyfriend's partner-potential when you're right there in the thick of the relationship, because you're living day-to-day with all the feelings of how nice it is to have someone to come home to, how nice it is to have someone to call after a long day, how nice it is to have someone tuck you in / cuddle you on the sofa / etc. But most of those feelings are still going to be there no matter who this "someone" is. It doesn't sound like there's anything good-special about this guy, and there's a lot that's bad-special.

As EndsofInvention said, you should be setting a much higher bar for boyfriends than "he wants to be with you".
posted by Lady Li at 9:01 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If a close friend or a sister told you this crappy story, what would you tell them to do?

DTMFA
posted by BlueHorse at 9:37 AM on September 26, 2012


Thank you so much for all of the thoughtful advice. I am taking it to heart as I feel like I'm lost in the thick of this.

Just to clear a few things up:

1. I didn't get back together with him because he "wants to be with me". There are other reasons that I wanted to be with him too. I didn't write about the good stuff here because I'm dealing with all of this bad stuff right now and I'm just trying to see clearly.

2. I don't really want to stay with anyone just to punish them. I don't want to put myself through that, but I really really want to hurt him at this moment in time. Wouldn't you? (This is the angry side of me talking. My anger will subside eventually, but I'm writing while angry).

Thanks again for all of your comments.
posted by spooky car at 9:41 AM on September 26, 2012


He lied to you even when telling the truth was 1) very easy and 2) very important.

An STD panel is ~$70 at Planned Parenthood, even without insurance. You already knew about the cheating. You already knew about the sex workers. All he had to say in response to "have you been tested" is "Oh, wow, no, I'll get right on that."

Instead, with your health -- literally your life -- at stake, he lied. Because it was marginally easier than telling the truth; because he knew that the answer *should* have been "yes"; because maybe you'd have declined sex with him for the week or so until all the results were in. Who cares why?

He lies for his own immediate convenience and gratification, regardless of the consequences for you.

Imagine what it would be like to wake up, and look at your partner with a light and loving heart, to have to restrain yourself from waking him up with kisses from head to foot because he makes you so happy. You can have that. With someone else.
posted by endless_forms at 9:48 AM on September 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


2. I don't really want to stay with anyone just to punish them. I don't want to put myself through that, but I really really want to hurt him at this moment in time. Wouldn't you? (This is the angry side of me talking. My anger will subside eventually, but I'm writing while angry).

On not-preview:

STAY with that anger. You SHOULD be angry. *I'm* angry. Anger is not an accident or a moral failing -- it's a sign that something is very, very wrong, and you should do something about it.

Just don't work out your anger in fantasies of hitting him. Work it out in the reality of leaving him.
posted by endless_forms at 9:53 AM on September 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Please don't spend another second with a liar who has no regard for your health.

Sex workers are at tremendous risk of sexually transmitted infections, and so are their clients. And so are their clients' partners.

If this was me, I would end things right now and go get tested for everything. Please be honest with the doctors or nurses you see for testing and say that you just found out your ex-partner had been having sex with sex workers, so you need a really comprehensive panel of tests.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:53 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't write about the good stuff here because I'm dealing with all of this bad stuff right now

There is no good stuff that would make it worth the very real risk to your health, your sanity, your sense of trust, and your heart that staying with this man will incur. He has shown you who he is willing to be to you: someone who will endanger you, lie to you, and manipulate you. Whatever good qualities he has, whatever nice things he has done for you, whatever you like about him--and it's fine to like things about him, I'm sure there are attractive things about him--he isn't willing or able to be a partner who protects your best interests, is honest with you, or is worthy of your trust.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:19 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What would you tell your daughter, if you had one? If this was your best friend?

What I would say is: GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.
posted by angrycat at 10:57 AM on September 26, 2012


I wonder what else he's been up to that you haven't found out about yet?

Perhaps when you find out about those things, he'll be very sorry and desirous of a fresh start, too. He should seek that out with someone else, someone with whom he doesn't have a history of mistreating, betraying and exposing to fatal disease.

He might be trying to reform, but where you are concerned, he's blown it like a vuvuzela. I agree that for your own safety you shouldn't spend one more second with him.
posted by tel3path at 11:02 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't give anyone chances or the benefit or the doubt when it comes to my health. You shouldn't either.
posted by Julnyes at 11:07 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


He blew it. He's clearly not the guy you thought he was, or that he's trying to make himself out to be.

Exposing me to an STD and then blowing off the fact that you haven't bothered to get tested, AND not warning me, that's just not a guy who's dealing on good faith here.

You may love the way he makes you pancakes on Sunday mornings, but your anger is your best guide here.

Leave and don't look back.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:25 AM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone posted this:

When I ran into the reminders of his lies I didn't have that sinking sick feeling, I could jump up and down and say "Not my problem!!"

and I had the same experience after finally dumping my lying girlfriend
posted by el_yucateco at 11:41 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only reason I haven't walked away is that he has shown me in every other way that he wants to be with me and he has shown me that he's changed from how he had acted in the past.

HAS he shown you that he changed? He's already concealed his STD screening history. You simply can't go through life waiting for the other shoe to drop, wanting to accept everything he says at face value but in the back of your mind knowing that it could be a(nother) major lie.

It was selfish and wrong of him to cohabitate with you before sharing all this, obviously it might have made a difference in whether you decided to live with him.

If stuff like this is allowed to blow over, then what does that teach him? Don't get caught? Heck, even when he does get caught, he just faces a little wrath and then things move on like usual. It sets a disturbing precedent.
posted by hermitosis at 1:00 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I would stay with him long enough to make sure he pays for your tests, then DTMFA. This just doesn't look to me like he's changed at all. I don't see any reason to trust that he's not still cheating on you and lying to you.

You are so right to be angry. Stay angry and let it make you strong enough to fight for yourself. You deserve so much more than this asshole.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 1:04 PM on September 26, 2012


My story is kinda similar to yours. Ex broke up with me but due to my financial circumstances, we continued living together for 3 more months after that. It was sheer misery for me because I was still loving (the good) him while hating (the bad) him. I woke up *not knowing* whether to kiss him or punch him. I totally wanted to do both. We were broken up but as far as sex went he didn't draw any hard or strict boundaries between us -- I should have but I was clinging to hope. This meant I got used because when I wanted closeness, he got laid.

Meantime, the "bad him" started dating other women, sexting them in the middle of actual conversation with me, and may have slept around (he came home the next morning several nights). At any rate, he was definitely not upfront and honest with me, because he felt I was due even less of that now that we weren't in a relationship anymore (as if character is relative!). However, foolishly I was still sleeping with him because I was addicted to him like a drug.

The upshot is YOU NEED TO MOVE OUT AND GET AWAY FROM HIM in order to think clearly. When I finally found a place and got enough cash together to move out, it was like going from hell to heaven. It was hard and I dreaded the last goodbye, but the first morning of my freedom from him and that relationship was when I got the gift of autonomy over my own life, body, mind and soul back. You sound so disturbed, angry, hurt and confused with him. He's not worth the mess he creates in your life. Lose him and you'll know what it's like to feel AT PEACE.

Lastly, the stress and anxiety you're going through isn't good for your body either. I got a slew of health problems (allergies, infections) from those last 3 months, in part I think due to how unsafe I felt in that house.
posted by Sa Dec at 5:33 PM on September 26, 2012


This was the my first post on Ask Metafilter, so I am not totally sure if I'm keeping within the rules by posting here again, but I wanted to sincerely thank everyone who answered. You all helped me to see things a little more clearly and helped me articulate a lot of thoughts I was already having, but wasn't able to express. I appreciate each and every response.
posted by spooky car at 9:43 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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