Should I be concerned about fiancees trivial, frivolous 'white' lies?
October 25, 2012 7:03 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee is lying fairly often about trivial, frivolous things. Should I be concerned, or am I just hopelessly insecure? (special snowflake inside)

*NB: I'm posting this on a buddy's account since my fiancee posts here and I'd rather not talk about this with her until I have some perspective on things.

*Some backstory: we've been together 2 years, planning a wedding soon. We're currently LDR for a month or so while I sort out some things back home.

Today I found out from my girlfriend that she'd lied to me about something she said to her ex and it deeply troubled me. For the past year and a half, we've been receiving mail addressed to said ex at the house, and, being that I'm away from home on business right now and had had a long, stressful day, I said something along the lines of throwing it all in the garbage as soon as I got back.

Recently, I learned through a friend that she pasted this to her ex-boyfriend in an IM session, saying something along the lines of "ugh.". They were, at the time, organizing a lunch out so she could give him said mail. She said something along the lines of: "let me just ask [my fiancee]. Well, tell him. lol" when he asked when she was free. I took from that the implication that she'd have lunch with him whether I liked it or not.

Needless to say, this upset me a bit. Now, most of you will probably be thinking "she's banging him, dude", but I don't really see it. I'm not ruling it out, but she's pretty proud of never having cheated on anybody and she makes no bones about being completely in love with me, loving the relationship etc. I'm pretty happy overall, and I am most certainly in love with her.

It's just that she lies -- and it's not really about things you might expect. I'm certain that she doesn't cheat, she tells me if she gets hit on or if her ex wants to get lunch or if she's going somewhere or whatever. She's not stupid enough to put herself in a situation that would jeopardize our relationship. But sometimes, for some reason, she'll lie about something casually, just drop it in.

I get that she might not want to tell me the truth about certain things because they're painful or she doesn't want to be judged for it. But some of the things she lies about are relevant and damn disrespectful to me, such as in the example above.

Here is another example.
Her and I have history; we dated when we were teenagers, separated, stayed friends online, dipped in and out of 'online' relationships and eventually cut contact for about a year. We got back in touch with each other afterward, and somehow just clicked. We both got on like a house on fire, and although we were both cagey -- and thus unwilling to become exclusive until we met and spent time together -- we were certainly lovey dovey (or as much as you can be online).

During this time, she had a really good male friend. Super close, although she hadn't known him all that long. Now, she's always made it clear to me that she only ever wanted me. She said that I was always the one, and that in every one of her relationships she always wondered 'what if' and wished that it were me. Take from this what you will.

Later, after we were dating, I casually asked if they'd been a thing since they seemed quite close at the time and she had not seen him at all since we got together (and I had never met him). There wasn't anything meant by it, it just seemed a little strange.

She swore up and down that they had not slept together. I pursued it perhaps a little more doggedly than I should have -- my gut was telling me something wasn't right. Probably a jerk move.
She said I was making false assumptions. She actually went far enough to make me question my insecurity and jealousy, and I got some informal therapy in order to get over it. I felt like utter shit and I felt like I had failed her. But we got over it.

Then, yesterday, she told me that actually they had slept together. Once. And though her then-boyfriend had given his consent prior -- it was an open relationship -- she felt really shitty about it because she hadn't actually told him that they'd slept together after the fact and they were still cohabiting despite the relationship being over for all intents and purposes (it lingered). She never told me because she was deeply, deeply embarrassed and ashamed, imagining that she'd cheated on her then-boyfriend, even though the relationship was all but over and he'd been OK with it.

I got it. I understood. But I was really upset about being made to feel like shit over something she tried to convince me I was imagining. I was upset not so much at the lie than at being psychologically abused over something my gut was telling me was the case. We fought often and bitterly about the subject in the past and I couldn't understand why at any point she didn't just say, "yeah, we slept together, but it's over, okay?"

I tried to bring up how much it hurt to find out the lie given that I'd gone to such effort to fix my apparent insecurity/jealousy, and among the things she said was that it had been none of my business whether they were sleeping together -- and irrelevant to our relationship. And though it's true that we were not exclusive at the time, after we became so, it was an important factor. She fell for him hard, and slept with him, and I felt like this was extremely important information to our relationship if she wanted to go and hang out with him alone.

She insisted it was none of my business. Then, she admitted that she wasn't sure if I was still a dick when we first reunited (we have history -- dated when we were teens, reunited online, but weren't exclusive until we met up and fell head-over-heels in love with each other) and although she wanted beyond anything for us to work out, if it hadn't, she would have chosen him.

She introduced me to him a while ago -- we all got lunch -- and although it was a little bit awkward (at the time I didn't really know why), I get that this might have been her way of distancing herself from him. But I have a hard time being grateful for this because of the shit she put me through, and the fact that when I brought that up she dismissed it and then started apologizing for being a failure -- thereby dashing any chance to rectify things.

She's had a shitty upbringing and suffered psychological abuse at the hands of her parents. She's still dealing with shame and embarrassment from things she's done in the past. She struggles with feelings of worthlessness at times since she has never received any support from her parents.

I want to be there for her and support her, and I want her to not feel judged by me. I want her to feel like I'm not prying into anything, and I want her to be comfortable telling me as little or as much as she wants, and if she needs to keep stuff to herself until she's ready then that is OK, but given how obvious she is when she is lying, I need to feel that she loves me and that I am not being taken for a ride.

Since I have told her that I need her to be more open with me, she has acknowledged it but she is still lying to me about things like the exbf-mail scenario. Frankly it's turning me into an insecure jealousy monster and I don't know how to broach the subject. I don't know left from right, and I don't know if my logic is sound.

I don't know if she is still doing this because she simply cannot be honest or if it is because she is afraid of telling me the truth -- that she's afraid she'll hurt me, or that I'll lecture her or something -- or maybe that I'm just expecting too much (I admit that I'm an unusual case in that I am blatantly open with people. Sometimes it takes them aback and they don't like it).

This is complicated by the fact that this only really comes up when we are apart. I don't know if this is because she changes her habits when I'm not there, or if I'm just blind to it when we're together because we have a great time, or if it's just insecurity at being apart that's causing it. I am fully willing to accept the suggestion that I'm blowing things way out of proportion.

Also, for the DTMFA folks, give me that advice if you think I need it, but realize I don't want to end things -- I think that I could have been better and more understanding at times. I feel like our relationship deserves a good shot and I'm willing to work things through until it becomes clear that there's no road left to run on.

I just need some perspective, I guess. What's her deal?
And how can I tell this to her, honestly, openly, and supportively -- without inadvertently hurting her?

Help me, mefi. I feel like I'm torpedoing my own relationship.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you need to DTMFA, but I would not go ahead with the wedding planning. My knee-jerk is "this person is not mature enough for marriage."

'Proud about not having been a cheat' is weird. Basic decency just is for most people, not something to take special pride in. I think there might be a bit of a red flag in that.
posted by kmennie at 7:13 PM on October 25, 2012 [11 favorites]

Best answer: So, I've been this girl. I've glossed, dissembled, or outright lied about little things that wouldn't have been that big a deal if I'd just said them, but were a really really big deal to lie about. And I did it because I was ashamed of myself and couldn't bear the thought of my partner being disappointed or angry with me--especially for something that I really truly thought I *deserved* him to be angry or disappointed with me for. It just makes the fussing and recrimination so much worse when you know you deserve it.

A lot of things went into making it better for me. One was Zoloft, another was a good shrink. The most important thing that my partner did was tell me in very clear language that he wanted to be with me, but he simply could not be with me if I could not be up front. He also had the brilliant idea of practicing telling him things I thought he wouldn't want to hear -- like a roleplaying thing -- so that I could start to trust that he wouldn't be as angry and disappointed and ashamed of me as I was afraid he would be. We didn't end up doing that more than a couple of times in a jokey manner, but somehow even talking about roleplaying that out really helped me a lot.

Set your boundaries. But tell her that you're setting your boundaries like this because you love her and want to be with her. Stay in the present; use past events as illustrative examples, but don't make this about punishing her for them. Be very clear about what you need from her. Ask her what she needs from you. It sounds like you understand her rather well; be open, and trust yourself.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 7:22 PM on October 25, 2012 [31 favorites]

Best answer: that she's afraid she'll hurt me, or that I'll lecture her or something

Have you considered the possibility that she's afraid that you'll leave her? If her parental relationship was abusive, it's quite possible that she doesn't really know how a healthy adult-to-adult relationship looks. If she is insecure, and having lived in LDRs, the fact that this is an issue when you're apart indicates that she is, the fear that you'll 'find her out' can be an incredibly (irrational) driving force.

I also see being proud that she was never 'a cheat' as being one more indicator that she probably hasn't seen many great examples of adult relationships.

I certainly don't think you need to DTMFA either, and I'm generally more reluctant than many around here to jump on the therapy bandwagon, but I think she has work she needs to do before marriage, and that you'd be wise to encourage her to do it.
posted by scrute at 7:22 PM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

The lie situation you're describing from today is really hard to understand. I'm not sure how you found out about what she was IM-ing with her ex and what exactly she told you about this that turned out to be untrue. Regardless, her conversation with the ex does sound disrespectful towards you (although I think it is a leap from seeing that she made some snide remark about you to her ex to "she's banging him").

The other situation you describe is far more worrisome - outright denial of something that later turned out to be true, for an extended period of time while you were tearing yourself apart over it. That incident alone would be a major red flag for me/relationship deal breaker, and if it's really part of a pattern beyond these two incidents you describe, I think you ought to consider breaking things off with her. I would never consider marrying someone I did not trust, and I don't think you should either.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:25 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

I got halfway through that question before alarm bells started going off.

You are not ready to get married to this person. You have trust issues. She has commitment issues. This sounds like it is going to be a mess. Please get this sorted out with some therapy or something before making a life time commitment.
posted by empath at 7:25 PM on October 25, 2012 [22 favorites]

Best answer: I don't understand how what she said to her ex-boyfriend becomes lying to you. Did she tell you she didn't say that, or what? I actually don't take her comment to mean she would go even if you said no, and I certainly wouldn't say she's sleeping with him based on that. To me - and I may be projecting - she may be correcting the implication that you get to tell her what to do. Also, by having to "ask" you, that implies a level of intimacy in their relationship that she may not feel comfortable with.

All that other stuff, I dunno. I can see where you would be upset that she insisted that nothing happened, but on the other hand, what happened before you/during what appears to be a long break is not your business.

I'd say neither one of you are ready to get married yet.
posted by lyssabee at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

I am of the team that outside of professional relationships, men and women can't be friends. Her ex really should not be in her life unless they have a child together. All these male friends, open relationships, seems shady to be honest. There is no way in hell I would give my blessing to my boyfriend to meet his ex to give her some mail. Put it in an envelope and mail it to his new address or throw it out. She is also IMing with him? It sounds like maybe she is keeping these guys around as a "just in case" you and her don't work out. We have all had shitty childhoods and at some point you need to come to terms with it, put on your big girl pants and realize that you will never improve unless you make changes within. She probably lied about sleeping with the guy because she was embarrassed and thought it would change your opinion of her. I understand but in these cases honesty is the best policy even if it's hard to admit. If you truly see yourself spending your life with her, then keep working on building trust. She obvi feels bad about her past and I'm sure wants things between you two to be good, but she has let go of the past for that to happen and staying in touch with old lovers isn't going in the right direction.
posted by Summer Fall at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh man, after reading your previous questions. You should have dtfma a long time ago. Don't waste more of your life on this person. Her problems are not your responsibility. You have only heartbreak waiting for you if you stay in this relationship. And please get some therapy for yourself. She has been manipulating you for so long that you probably don't even know up from down any more.
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Like Made of Star Stuff, I've totally been your fiancée, too, in terms of weird lies about small things, and coming from a strained, distrustful place with my parents. The couple times I lied about something like this, early on in one of my relationships, it was because I had unthinkingly done something I realized (perhaps too late) would upset my S.O., then vacillated between "Eh, this isn't a big deal" (the problematic, disrespectful attitude that led me to do the dumb thing I was lying about in the first place) and "OMG my S.O. is really not going to like this." So I went with what I thought at the time was the "safe" option, lying, even though the actual safe option is not lying, ever.

(I mean, you have to live together; you don't always have to say every little thing that's in your head. Utter, painful honesty isn't always merited. You're allowed to have discretion and keep your own counsel. But lying is something else. And in cases like this, maybe starting from a place of complete, utter, painful honesty in all things and then working to regain a sense of what's appropriate to withhold and what isn't would be a good first step.)

Anyway, my epiphany at the time was basically that this is about basic RESPECT. Even if you don't think a given thing is a big deal, you should know your partner well enough to know what crosses a line for them...and first, make it a priority not to cross that line, but if you do, do them the basic respect of not lying to them about it. (It's like Johnny Cash: "I Walk the Line.") So she needs to own that, and figure out how she can be herself or feel cool or whatever without disrespecting you.

And yeah, all this stuff with hanging around with her ex, joking about you to the ex, IMing the ex, etc., is a bit disrespectful. And as it was always with me in past relationships, maybe that's about keeping her options open, having a fallback plan, not wanting to be alone even for five minutes, etc.—classic insecure behavior. But she needs to work to understand what's going on in her own head and get past it, or you're going to repeat this cycle of feeling weird about something she says, stewing about it, asking her about it, getting lied to, still feeling weird about it, then finding out the truth, confronting her about it, and again getting your thoughts and feelings downplayed.
posted by limeonaire at 7:46 PM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

There are lies, and then there are lies. Some are told to deceive or hide something and are the nasty kind which implies contempt. Others are told defensively to protect the liar.

I think your questions are loaded. "Did you have a thing with him" had no right answer, because you would probably have been upset if the answer was 'yes' (because you'd suddenly be comparing yourself to him, etc) and upset if the answer was 'no' (because you wouldn't believe her -- indeed you didn't). Not to mention if she said 'yes' she would have to deal with the shame and embarrassment - there were costs to her for saying 'yes'. Thus she probably felt that there was no 'we slept together, it's over, no big deal' option on the table for her, and made a snap choice to try to avoid it. Unfortunately once she started lying, she had to continue lying because admitting to the lie would upset you as well, and she got more and more stuck.

Overall I get a sense that you have some insecurities dealing with other people your girlfriend might have loved in the past. The degree to which you need to be aware of who was what to her at what time, and the degree to which you need to keep tabs on her when she is with male friends and exes, are a little on the high side and perhaps feeling slightly oppressive to her. I think your girlfriend is dodging you in order to get out from under this feeling. The 'ugh' is a very bad sign, because it suggests she is getting tired of having to avoid the Huge Discussions, and is losing her respect for you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:47 PM on October 25, 2012 [13 favorites]

1) If she reads metafilter, another account or no, this question is clearly, easily identifiable.

2) You seem to have a lot of trust issues and insecurity in this relationship. Healthy relationships typically do not have these feelings, whether you are bringing them with you, or she is stoking them (sounds like both to be honest).

3) Frankly, from the question it sounds to me like you are somewhat of a jealous type (eg past boyfriends etc are really none of your business; catching up with ex to hand over mail not a big deal, really; you either trust someone of you don't; it sounds like you knew the answer but kept pressing), and that she enjoys the feelings of being valuable, wanted, etc that your jealousy provides. There are definitely insecure people who take comfort in those kind of things, and her background probably doesn't help.

That all said, I'm not on the "dump em!" side of askme usually, but I do wonder how well-suited you two are together, or at least ready for marriage. Be careful you don't slip into some kind of co-dependence around this, with her exacerbating your insecurities and your voicing of them providing her comfort. At the moment, to me, this sounds very much like a drama with two willing participants. Think carefully about whether that's a role you are subconsciously, willingly playing, and what you might do about that; your behaviours and reactions are the ones you can control here.
posted by smoke at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2012 [33 favorites]

It just seems like you guys have a lot more work to do before you can communicate like a couple who's going to make it through marriage. Too much guessing, too many games. If you want to go forward, try some couples therapy, and tell the therapist that you need to work on trust and communication.

Don't rush into marriage; you're both not ready.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

If she's so good at gaslighting you (and so willing to do so) that you actually believed for years that you have insecurity issues, how can you ever truly trust that she's been honest about not cheating on you? In what way did the conviction with which she said it differ from how she told you she never slept with her male friend?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:59 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't marry her. This dynamic will never change. She doesn't respect you. You're going to be made to feel awful a lot.
posted by discopolo at 8:18 PM on October 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

She likely does have some abandonment issues, but she's also gaslighting you, and it sucks. I don't think it's at all obvious that she's cheated... but I think she has the personality type where if she becomes a little bit dissatisfied with you in your marriage, her compunctions about cheating will suddenly dissolve (though of course she's not a cheater because she hates it, right?). Idk. Also, are you 100% sure that she had the go-ahead from her ex to sleep with the other guy? It sounds kind of fishy to me.

I don't think she respects you and I think she needs at least a few years to grow up.

Anyway, defo not ready for marriage, I think. (I do agree with lyssabee that she was possibly just not trying to sound creepy by saying she had to "ask" you, though.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:20 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I had the exact response as stoneandstar and wolfdreams01 had. Your fiancee is gaslighting you. She is not treating you with respect, and you should at least not marry her until the two of you have worked out why she lies to you about other men.

You're trying to take into account all your past issues with trust, and making excuses because of all that she has been through, and that's admirable, but she is counting on you doing that and using your own insecurity to manipulate you.

When you asked her if she'd had a thing with this other guy, she could have not answered you, told you to let it go, that it was before the two of you got together, what does it matter, etc. Instead, she lied to you.

She didn't lie to you to save your feelings, either, which I could maybe empathize with. She lied so she would look like the "good girl" she wants to be, and then made you feel like the bad guy for even suspecting that she'd ever had a thing with him. She laid on the guilt, to the point where you had to get therapy.

These things that are happening now that you are in an LTR are important, because you are seeing her true colors come out. No matter the narrative she has been trying to spin to you about how infidelity disgusts her, she slept with ex #1 when she was with ex #2 and lied to #2 about it, and then lied to you about it, too. Doesn't that mean the idea that she would "never cheat" has clearly been debunked?

Yeah, she says they were in an open relationship. She said a lot of things that turned out not to be true, though. It just doesn't sound plausible at all to me. Anyone that I know who has been in an open relationship stresses how important honest, open communication is, and how they talk endlessly about boundaries and feelings and reevaluate them all the time, something your fiancee does not have down at all. She also said she only slept with this ex once. I have my doubts about that, too.

This IM thing is just a little issue, really, but it really does speak volumes about her character that these things happen, as you say, when you are away. She talks about you disparagingly to her ex, and you find out about it through a friend, not her. (That's weird right there. I can't see a friend telling you about that little incident unless they thought it was important that you know, and it seems pretty minor. Makes me wonder if your fiancee has done some other things that made your friend suspicious in the past, and the friend was trying to give you a heads-up).

Why give the ex the mail in person? (And why, for heaven's sake, have you been getting mail for him at your address for a year and half ?! That's outrageous.) More tellingly, why choose to do that when you are away? This guy has no problem sleeping with her at least once when she was in a relationship before. Why put herself in a vulnerable situation with him like that?

It just sounds to me like, for someone who is engaged, your fiancee certainly seems to be keeping her options open with this ex. She's known him, off and on, as long as she's known you, right? I wonder if she ever told him he was the guy she always wanted, too?

No way I would get married if I were you unless the two of you go to therapy and work all of this stuff out first.
posted by misha at 9:11 PM on October 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

Neither of you are ready to get married, so don't, at least not for another year or two while she sorts out her lying problem and grows up. Don't marry someone who lies about the "small" stuff. None of this is small stuff.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:13 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I got confused in my thoughts there, with my hers and hims. For This guy has no problem sleeping with her at least once when she was in a relationship before, I think I meant to type: This girl has no problem sleeping with her ex at least once when she was in a relationship before.
posted by misha at 9:19 PM on October 25, 2012

Actually, misha, I think that statement works in both forms.
posted by MuChao at 9:37 PM on October 25, 2012

Best answer: That was a pretty long post in which you repeatedly refer to her lies but you only gave two examples. The first I don't see as a lie, yeah, maybe implying that she doesn't need your permission to see a friend can be seen as disrespectful in very gendered relationships but I don't understand what the actual lie was. Unless she did need your permission? Did you think her "ugh" comment was over the line? Because to me, I'd rather have a partner say ugh about an admittedly dumb comment than discover they wrote a long screed on a friend's account on a website I frequent where they repeatedly saying I lied.

The second example you asked about her sexual history - which can be a very difficult topic for women that have been slut-shamed - and admitted you were dogged about pursuing an answer dispite her discomfort: "we fought bitterly and often about the topic". That sounds like you set her up to lie, because you clearly would have been angry/upset/disappointed about the truth (and frankly, specifics of your partner's sexual past are NOT your business). You are coming off as judgmental about her sex life before you two were exclusive - which is exactly what she feared would happen. My verdict? Not a lie when she is trying to keep some dignity, respect and privacy in the face of frequent, heated and invasive questions.

It does seem like when you are away from her you want to keep checking up on her, I have no idea how your "friend" got her chat logs but that someone is actively watching her and reporting back to you is creepy. Have you told her how that friend violated her privacy? You need to set firm boundaries with that friend, whatever your girlfriend needs to regain her trust.

You said you are very blantenly open; that works for you but other people have different needs, including the need for privacy and space from their partners. So maybe she feels you do not respect that she is differnet from you -not worse, different. Openness does not always equal intimacy or stronger relationships, it can actually set up an oppressive and judgmental tone in a relationship if one partner believes their way is the moral/right way. You mentioned informal therapy (I assume you mean talking to friends about your relationship but I hope not in light of how upset you were that -she- said "ugh" to her friend about you), probably a bit of professional couples couselling could correct some of your assumptions and improve your communication. Can you delay the actual wedding until you get on firmer footing? I don't see this relationship as doomed, just, like most, it needs a little work and better communication.
posted by saucysault at 9:54 PM on October 25, 2012 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Hooboy. Poster, totally aside from what issues your (now ex, I guess?) girlfriend may or may not have: You have some serious, SERIOUS trust and jealousy issues.

Why not take a look at things from the GF's perspective? Why do you suppose she might hesitate to tell you about the nature of her relationship with a past FB, for example? Do you suppose it's because she knows how you would react and doesn't feel like bringing that hornet's nest down on herself? Men who are jealous and intrusive into their GF's past set up an environment in which it is very difficult to tell the truth to them. In the future, you might want to try being a person your next GF can confide in. React calmly and non-accusatorily when she says things you may not love. Allow her to feel safe confiding in you, rather than like she has to hide things. In short, EARN the honest and open communication you claim you want.
posted by parrot_person at 9:58 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

I will echo the other commenters in saying that this would be a great time to go talk to someone, but with a goal in mind. Can we work together to get the questions of our relationship answered (are we ready to get married? what does that mean to you and i?)? Can we open up to each other enough to work it out, time after time again? Do we have compatible expectations and desires? Maybe it will end up that you do, and what a great thing that would be. Maybe you'll find places that you can't work around, or places where you can negotiate. These things things are also good to know. This problem can't be solved from where you two are at right now. Respectfully, I think you need some perspective.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 10:05 PM on October 25, 2012

Best answer:
This is complicated by the fact that this only really comes up when we are apart. I don't know if this is because she changes her habits when I'm not there, or if I'm just blind to it when we're together because we have a great time, or if it's just insecurity at being apart that's causing it.

I do this, or rather, I used to do this frequently back in the day. My partner isn't insecure or jealous. I think you're right about it stemming from insecurity. The rest of this is speculative but I'm going to write it as though it were certain because it's less confusing.

Her parents' abuse and abandonment have led her to always be thinking about a backup plan (or several) in case you abandon her or abuse her enough to necessitate her escape. She is able to suppress or ignore her need to cultivate these backup plans much of the time, but deep down she believes that this behavior is necessary for her physical and mental survival.

One of these backup plans is other men, specifically sexual relationships with them. I wouldn't be surprised if she had been cared for or nurtured by a sexually intrusive or inappropriate (if not outright abusive) man as a child/adolescent, or perhaps she got out of her parents' house by moving in with a boyfriend. I would also not be surprised to hear that she has felt the need to exchange sex or romantic affection for food, a place to stay, or other necessities.

Since she associates survival with sexual relationships with men, and since your absence (or even an emotional distance or perceived rejection) makes her feel insecure, when you leave she feels a stronger need to keep men who are sexually interested in her happy, hence making fun of you behind your back in order to "side" with her ex sexual partner and cohabitant.

I am not surprised to read that she started sleeping with other men while in a failing relationship, again, rejection or imminent abandonment (or even just her desire to end the relationship) would cause her to increase her efforts to feel secure, which means backup plans, which means sexual relationships with men.

Unfortunately, if what I wrote above is true, I do not think you can trust her to remain monogamous with you when you are gone. Even if she doesn't actively seek out cheating partners, her perceived need to stay friendly with potential sexual partners in case you leave her will make it very difficult for her to turn down advances from other men. That doesn't make her a bad person, it makes her someone who has a very sad and understandable reaction to early abuse and abandonment.

At the same time, if this is a reaction to her abuse, it doesn't mean you have to be okay with it. No one has the obligation to stick around just to be lied to, gaslit, and mistrusted.

With me, it significantly improved as my relationship with my partner lasted and I felt that I could trust him, but I still occasionally feel that panic that I literally will be sleeping in a car with nothing to eat again and it drives some weird behavior. It also was a long and very hard road and one that my partner is very tempermentally suited for because he does not tend towards sexual jealousy and he's very willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I know I would be horrible in a relationship with someone like me, and that's okay.

Summary: yes, this is probably due to her abuse and abandonment; no, that doesn't make it okay or require that you stick around.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:27 PM on October 25, 2012 [10 favorites]

Oh, and if I'm right, the thing about denying that she slept with that guy? It was because she doesn't want you to interfere with one of her backup plans, and/or she feels secretive about them because she doesn't want you to be able to sabotage them. Obviously, you are not rubbing your hands together like a cartoon villan and thinking "Yes, I will find out who she has slept with and who wants to sleep with her in the future, and I will isolate her from all of them and then I will be able to abuse her ALL I WANT! MUAHAHAH!" However, her behavior is not stemming from a rational place and she's largely treating you like you're her abusers, not like you're you. That is hurtful and shitty, I know.

And again, the above is speculative and I could be wrong.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:35 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Such a wide range of responses above. But for me, this: ' "Now, most of you will probably be thinking "she's banging him, dude," ' seems totally unjustified. Your question reads to me like you may have as many unreasonable issues as she may have.
posted by glasseyes at 11:03 PM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

I agree with several others up thread: there are so many miscommunication, trust, respect and control issues at work in this post -- on both sides, in the general dynamic described -- that you should put the brakes on marriage. It requires a more functional relationship than this.
posted by ead at 11:29 PM on October 25, 2012

I am one of those "therapy bandwagon" people, because therapy saved my life. That said, there are way too many issues all jumbled into a big steaming mess to not strongly suggest it. You need therapy together and apart.

This stuck out the most for me, but nobody seems to have hammered this one home: she gaslighted you to the point where you got therapy because of her lies! This is one of the more fucked up things I have read in askme. You may not have acted the gentleman in that situation, but undoubtedly you couldn't let it go because your spidey sense was tingling. And she let the lie go so long that YOU felt like the bad guy, when all along your spidey sense was right! You shouldn't feel ashamed, you should feel angry about what she put you through with her lies.

For me, that's DTMFA territory. You can draw your lines differently, but you have to recognize that that situation is a major red flag, all by itself. And then there are the other 10 paragraphs. At a minimum, put off the wedding until you can get this straightened out.
posted by zug at 7:32 AM on October 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

she's pretty proud of never having cheated on anybody and she makes no bones about being completely in love with me, loving the relationship etc. I'm pretty happy overall, and I am most certainly in love with her.

I wanted to come back to this point for a sec, because you're getting some responses that are disbelieving even this. I believe that she does want it to work. I just want to stress, as someone who's been in many of the mental places your fiancée has, that all is not necessarily lost for you guys. The relationship that started out with me being a bit squirrelly? We're happily married now.

Everyone has the tendency to assume the worst of someone who's cheated in the past (been there), and as I noted above, your fiancée definitely still has some bad mental habits. I've been the fiancée in this situation twice, and the first time, when I was younger, it turned out I just wasn't ready to keep my shit together, the relationship wasn't right for reasons I was trying to ignore, etc. I completely crushed someone's heart because I couldn't be honest with myself or him. Me getting honest meant bringing the whole thing crashing down. The second time, I got my shit together from the get-go, and I've walked the line.

So there's no guarantee of which direction this will go. But you also have a part to play here. I'm not saying let yourself get cuckolded. But if you want this to work, well, it's like with Indiana Jones: Only the penitent man will pass. You have to humble yourself and open yourself up to potentially getting hurt even more to walk through this with her, to clearly express why what she did hurt you and figure out how you guys can trust each other moving forward.
posted by limeonaire at 9:32 AM on October 26, 2012

Lying about a past sexual relationship to your fiance is wrong and the fact that she dragged it out so long and so repeatedly and knew you were in therapy about your insecurities makes it even more mind-boggling. Lying about her ex-boyfriend's mail isn't as big of a deal as the other example but it's still a lie and if you are as accepting of that relationship as you present yourself as being, her lying about it makes absolutely no sense. These don't seem like trivial or frivolous lies when they are coming from the woman you plan to marry.
posted by morganannie at 9:52 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

You guys don't sound like you like or respect each other much.
posted by cmoj at 11:13 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

the tone of this question is entirely scary and obsessive to me. if i was her, i'd feel weird about disclosing stuff to you too! she should have lunch with someone she wants to have lunch with, absolutely regardless of your feelings about it, and she probably just didn't want to sound like you have her under your thumb when she suggested she would 'ask' you about a lunchdate. and people will sometimes talk about you behind your back, even when they love you.

i suspect this is a somewhat controlling relationship - as you feel it's okay to harangue her about her sex life before your relationship. you don't fix insecurity or jealousy by knowing every detail of someone's life.

ultimately, metafilter isn't marrying this girl, so you need to decide if this is something you can deal with - but i would say that these two examples really don't paint her as the compulsive liar you seem to think of her as. evaluate how approachable you really are before you expect people to give you full disclosure 24/7.
posted by f3l1x at 6:18 AM on October 29, 2012

oh and when you say we're all thinking "she's banging him, dude". we are really, really NOT. that's not an assumption you could reasonably draw from the preceding information.
posted by f3l1x at 6:22 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

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