Is lying ever forgiveable?
August 20, 2019 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I've known someone for 8 months through work 6 mo that ago he asked me for a date and hit it off. We have been official since. I'm 35 single mother of one. I've been cautious and have done all the right things in my dating life. Single for three years but have dated a few times. When I met him, things felt easy, never forced or wondered where things were going. Really put in genuine effort to get yo know me my daughter and family. I've never inteodiced her to anyone to her or my family. After a great weekend away with family he decides to tell me he has a 12 mos old. Im hurt and very sad by this bc he has had many opportunities to tell me, especially given fact I'm a single parent. I feel like the carpet was pulled from me. Someone I actually thought I saw a future with and I fee betrayed because it just felt right. He's appologetic of course maintains that he felt scared that I would run if o had known. I feel heartbroken and sad bc I always have him stable ground to be honest with everything in his past. I've already asked him to leave. My daughter and family grew close to him, and so did I. I felt a love I thought was real and now overnight it's gone. Before I completely close this chapter, is there any hope to this? Is this forgiveable?
posted by MamaBee223 to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry. It's so hard when you are single for a long time and then meet someone you could really see yourself with and everything seems easy and they seem so open and communicative. I went through this somewhat recently, but instead of a child he didn't tell me about, he had an addiction. I think your instinct is right. He is not mature enough to be in a real relationship with someone if he hid such a big part of his life from you because he was afraid you wouldn't accept it. Even if you forgave him, what kind of person is he if he thinks it is ok to hide that, as if having a child one coparents (I noticed the tag) is something to be ashamed of? Is he the person you thought you were in a relationship with? I am guessing "probably not" is the sad answer. Wishing comfort and healing your way.
posted by sevenofspades at 9:42 PM on August 20, 2019 [15 favorites]

It makes zero sense that he didn’t tell you, given that you’re a single parent too. The time to tell you should have been when you told him about YOUR child. He’s had months. And months. I’d be wary of entering into a relationship with him. Not because he’s a single parent, because he’s a liar and he withheld important information from you. He’s showing you what you can expect going forward - someone who refuses to talk about things or lies about them because they don’t want to have a discussion is not ready for an adult relationship.
posted by Jubey at 9:47 PM on August 20, 2019 [23 favorites]

He says he was afraid you'd have run if you'd known about his child: do you really believe that was his fear?

If yes: consider that it's a really, really shitty dad who fears this and yet keeps dating you. Would you ever keep dating a man who you think might leave you because you have a kid?

If no: he fucking lied to you AGAIN.

The answer to your situation is very painful but very simple. I'm so sorry.
posted by MiraK at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2019 [19 favorites]

Lies of this calibre, told in this manner, are giant red flags. You should not forgive but should walk away. You will be protecting yourself against much worse pain in the future.

Whenever we meet a new partner, there is a period where we exchange fundamental information about each other: our name and age, our family details, what we do for a living, our health history and so on. For a healthy relationship, the standard of honesty required here is high - you deserve to know the truth about each other - even thought they may be embarrassing or painful to relate. This period of mutual disclosure can take a few months - and it coincides with the period when we may fall in love with somebody. When things go wrong here - that can be tough: but you are still in the "cooling off phase" of the contractual aspects of your relationship.

Occasionally somebody will lie about one of these biographic details. And very occasionally those lies will be OK - because they relate to people or events that are in the distant past and which which will not have a bearing on your current relationship. The lies your have been told here don't fall into that category at all: they relate to this man's very current situation with his child and with its mother. You have been lied to, not to cover up some distant embarrassment that is now unimportant but rather to actively deceive you into falling for this person by omitting to share the details. The fall out of this relates to you - but also to the child and its mother - as well as to the rest of your family who you have introduced the guy to. They have been told expressly so as to be able to exploit you or protect some massive whole in the guy's ego (or both).
posted by rongorongo at 11:29 PM on August 20, 2019 [7 favorites]

The withholding the information until he met your family seems a bit long, though I don't fault him for that as much as the posters above.

What I am concerned about is that he has a very young child, and has been spending considerable time with you and your family, and not his own child. The first year of life is incredibly hard, and he was dating you... When she was 6 months old. And that's time he (even if he doesn't get along with the birth mother, yadayada) should have been focused on his newborn. I think that's more of a red flag about future long term involvement. Basically, I really wonder what his parental involvement is like, and I would likely judge him on that extensively more than the fact he waited to tell you about it. If he is super involved with his kid, I might be able to forget the first, but the second combined with the first just isn't a good sign for long term relationships at all.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:43 AM on August 21, 2019 [39 favorites]

I have come to think that people often post to AskMe seeking wider confirmation of what they already want to believe. This is just human nature. I'm not sure, for you, what that might be. What have you decided, for yourself, deep down, about this experience? About this person who hurt you?

If I had to guess, I'd say... you want to forgive. My guess is that you're still holding on to some degree of hope, looking for confirmation that it's okay to seek him out, and see what might come of a relationship with a man who at best, did something hurtful and objectively puzzling; at worst, soul-crushing.

What exists in AskMe is a wealth of experience that informs the responses to questions like yours, from people everywhere who have learned, often the hard way, how it feels to go through such a situation. And in this case, perhaps it will occur that you won't have anyone, really, promoting forgiveness. I expect I expect there will not be anyone here truly advocating for you to let him off the hook, and across the board, a chorus of "Red flag! Bullet dodged!" will tell you that someone who does what this man did is not someone worthy of the emotional gymnastics you're putting yourself through. And they will be right. It's hard to let go of the feelings you are struggling with... but they are right. Don't look back.

I am so sorry this happened to you. It's a really shitty thing to have to endure. But I want to encourage you to really listen to the voices of experience that will reply to your post, and not be dismayed or at all frustrated by what they have to say. You were given a gift in this revelation. I join the others in the chorus. Be happy and move on, and let it all go as you move toward what your future may hold.

Re-read rongorongo's excellent reply, if nothing else. This is gold:

You should not forgive but should walk away. You will be protecting yourself against much worse pain in the future... You have been lied to, not to cover up some distant embarrassment that is now unimportant but rather to actively deceive you into falling for this person by omitting to share the details.

posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:43 AM on August 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain here - he didn't lie to you unless he specifically told you he didn't have any kids? Was he supposed to tell you on the first date? Second date? At what point did not telling you become a lie?
Your situation is different, you live with your daughter, you guys are a package deal - I assume that his child lives with its mother and since you guys are dating, that he doesn't live with them. You haven't really given us any details, he may not be involved with his child at all. "I got my last girlfriend pregnant then left her" - not the easiest conversation to have and 6 months isn't exactly an eternity. Having a kid is still very new for him, you're likely the first girlfriend he's had to bring it up with.

IMO, unless there are STDs involved, someone's dating past is their past and they don't owe you any details.

If you want to leave him for not telling you sooner or for whatever circumstances have lead to him having a 12 month old, that's your right and your choice but IMO, putting off an awkward conversation a bit too long, perhaps until he was feeling secure and confident in the relationship, isn't completely unforgivable and not in itself a huge red flag.

I would be more concerned about the circumstances of the baby and ex-girlfriend than his non-disclosure about the child. Could be a red flag, could be nothing. Maybe she dumped him. We don't know.

My partner had a child when we met, he didn't tell me, he didn't get a chance because I found out from someone else. (one of my friends had been dating one of his friends and they blabbed thinking I already knew). I don't know when he would have told me but I know it wouldn't be the easiest thing to bring up so I had to let him know that I already knew. I wouldn't have found it unforgivable if he'd waited 6 months to tell me though, it wasn't any of my business.
posted by missmagenta at 2:58 AM on August 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

Before I completely close this chapter, is there any hope to this?

Probably not, although it's not clear how much the child is part of his life. If the mother has full custody and he has no visitation rights then I can see fear and embarrassment causing him to skip it at first then be compounded by the fact that he hadn't told you before.

If his child is any active part of his life and he failed to mention it, you should definitely move on and count yourself lucky. It's not a matter of forgiving, it's a matter of what you can expect from him regarding your own child if he's this detached from his own.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:59 AM on August 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Someone you're thinking about dating having a child is 100% your business. It should be disclosed early, if not immediately.

Being a parent, even a non-custodial parent, has impact for the rest of your life (and on the lives of those around you)...on your finances, your legal obligations etc. By hiding (and I consider not disclosing this fact to be actively hiding) this fact he violated a very basic premise of getting to know someone...that you are both being open and honest. What about the next time something happens that he's concerned will upset you, bother you, make you leave...he gets a DUI, he gets into financial trouble, the child's mother has problems and needs him to care of the child? He has shown that he isn't an adult in situations that demand honesty and I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone like that, especially if I had a child.
posted by victoriab at 3:14 AM on August 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

I agree entirely with Tell No Lies, with the addition of - if he isn't involved in his child's life, that would be a big red flag for me if I was a single parent, because why not?

This isn't just a personal lie, which I would find forgiveable. If he has a relationship with and responsibilities for his kid, this would be a lie almost up there with "actually, I'm still married" because there's a whole extra person in this relationship he's been hiding from you.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:15 AM on August 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm sorry this happened to you. Regardless of who the child lives with or how involved he is with the birth mother, she is indeed part of the "package deal." Either he's a really uninvolved father (do you want that as a role model for your own kid?) or he never meant to get serious and panicked after meeting your family. Neither are a good look.

You ask if this is forgiveable. That's a values question, and it sounds like your values (family, your child, your relationship) are not compatible with his values (avoiding an emotionally fraught conversation as long as possible). That's as good a reason as any to break up.
posted by basalganglia at 4:42 AM on August 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

I can barely contain telling people about my adult child, I can't imagine not telling people I work with (let alone date ) about having a baby (which is such a terrifying and/or exciting life event for most people.)
posted by vespabelle at 4:45 AM on August 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Regarding his reason, I have to add: if he will keep something this significant from you "because he's afraid" of your reaction, how can you ever trust him to tell you the truth in a tough situation in the future? Even if you didn't mind the lie itself, the fact that lying was his go-to move when he wasn't sure how you'd react is a big red flag.

This is aside from treating his kid like a dirty little secret, which is also gross.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:51 AM on August 21, 2019 [20 favorites]

This happened to me although in a much shorter time frame than you. A guy I met online and dated for about 3 weeks didn't disclose he had children, saying he thought I would not want to see him any more. I had a 3 year old whom I had mentioned my first conversation as well as putting on my profile that I had a child. I didn't hesitate to never speak to this guy again even though I fancied him. I had a physical response of nausea after hearing this but politely ended the conversation and wished him well.
posted by waving at 5:32 AM on August 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

As someone who dated while a single mom, let me also point out that he did something gross to your child. He developed a relationship with her while knowing he had a possible dealbreaker in having his own child. So he not only hurt you - he hurt your kid. For me, that would be unforgivable. We don’t know for sure how he treats his own child, though it doesn’t sound promising. We know he treated yours as if her feelings and relationships don’t matter. Please lose him for your child’s sake if not your own.
posted by FencingGal at 6:02 AM on August 21, 2019 [28 favorites]

I'm a single mom who just split up with a liar. A couple of small lies at the beginning. Lies so negligible it didn't compute why he was even lying. His profuse apologies. My forgiveness. Then more lies to cover up really big lies that I didn't find out about until the end. The clearest thing I learned about being in a relationship with a liar is that he lies because he knows that you, an adult with healthy boundaries and needs, are likely to use that truth to make a choice that doesn't serve his interests. When someone is that low in the face of a relationship with a single mother who is already expending a lot of energy creating a safe, healthy, caring, loving home for a child, I personally think they're a tragic waste of your time and energy in the world.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:44 AM on August 21, 2019 [19 favorites]

Let me just add that his timing of telling you the truth is classically strategic. You've integrated him into your family circles and THEN he tells you? Consciously or not, he waits to tell you until any "social embarrassment" of breaking up with him is pretty high. I'd also wonder what other things he's decided you get to know about or not know about. Partnership with this kind of person is a shell game you don't know you're playing.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:52 AM on August 21, 2019 [13 favorites]

It's an odd lie and an odd explanation. In general, women don't run from a potential partner with kids. You have a child. Ask him what the status of his relationship with the child's mother really is. You've dated him since the child was 6 months old. Is he a guy who bails on a relationship when it gets difficult with a baby? Is he being a responsible parent? Was he actually single when you started dating? Is he still in that relationship?

I've learned to listen just as hard to behavior as to words. I wish I had learned this sooner.
posted by theora55 at 8:02 AM on August 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

You've known him for 8 months and now the baby is 12 months old. So when you met, his kid was 4 months old. I just wonder what the situation is with the baby's mom - one night stand? Not compatible with her? Abusive relationship? Something else? There's definitely a story there and no matter how run of the mill or complicated it is, he didn't tell you. Maybe it was shame, guilt, fear of judgment etc. Either way, he has really bad judgment, can't own up to his actions, lacks emotional maturity and is not in a place to be in a healthy relationship.
posted by foxjacket at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

It isn't a question of whether it's "forgivable." Like, you could "forgive" him, in the sense that you could understand why he did it and have compassion for that: but for pity's sake don't STAY with him! The guy is fucked up in so many ways!

(1) general dishonesty
(2) intentionally omits telling you information that he knows you deserve to have, BECAUSE he thinks you might act on it (i.e. he doesn't tell you specifically because he knows it IS important)
(3) apparently totally uninvolved in his own baby's life
(4) treats his kid's existence as a flaw he can chose to hide
(5) now that he's told you, he's trying to manipulate you into somehow feeling like you're the one who has to prove that you "wouldn't run"
(6) timed telling you so that you'd lose face in front of your family
(7) has become part of YOUR kid's life without thought to what it would mean to her

Sorry, you can't build on a foundation that shaky. DTMFA and don't look back.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2019 [16 favorites]

fingersandtoes is so right. The man lied BECAUSE he knew this was important information that you might act on.

How on earth does he (or do you!) think "I deliberately manipulated you" is an understandable excuse or explanation for his lie? It's flabbergasting in, like, a Trumpian way: a brazen admission of guilt served up on a platter of entitlement, and you are expected to pay for this choke-worthy meal with your understanding and forgiveness?
posted by MiraK at 2:29 PM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

So he either did an incredible amount of lying to cover this up or he is a very uninvolved dad. If he's actively parenting this kid, he's likely pretty tired and negotiating regularly with the other parent, right? If he's doing that and you didn't know, he must have been doing a lot to cover this up. But if he's generally seeming not stressed and pretty well rested, I'm guessing he hasn't been parenting a baby. So he's either a bigger liar than you realized or he's a not great dad. That makes him not a great partner for you.

Also, can you imagine spending that much time with someone and not talking about your kid?! The compartmentalization there is extraordinary.

And if you kept seeing him, I think you would also wonder what else he might lie about. It would be hard to regain trust. So I think you did the right thing in ending the relationship. I know you've gotten close to him, but better to move on now then down the road.

You also said this:
I've been cautious and have done all the right things in my dating life. Single for three years but have dated a few times.

Don't be too hard on yourself, okay? I think some people really expect single moms to somehow not date and be only focused on working and their kids, like somehow we are bad mothers if we have a life outside of work and parenting. My family is generally pretty supportive but I realized, after my divorce, that some family members (women, too, which is frustrating) would always find fault in me having any kind of intimate relationship. Or they judge it too soon or too much or too whatever. But it sounds like you are a good parent, so please don't beat yourself up over the decisions you made around this relationship. It sounds like your child is at least a little bit older and will be okay.

Also, there aren't really rules in dating that, if you follow them, things will always work out. When we're talking about intimate relationships, it's always about having the courage to make ourselves vulnerable and take that risk.

I'm sorry he lied to you, so consistently and for so long. You made the right decision. For what it's worth, I think it's totally fine to be honest with your adult family members (and maybe your child, in an age-appropriate way) about the reason the relationship ended.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thank you to everyone who responded. This story unraveled quite quickly with receiving a phone call from the woman. Apparently, I was the other woman. He is now back in her arms trying to med this relationship with her and his son.

This question now changes to.... how the he** do you rationalize and get over this pain caused by someone just tossing you to the side. I realize now he just ran to my arms for what he felt was missing, and I gave him that. I trusted him, he met my entire family. He was always with me, never hiding, never on his phone, in constant contact, I NEVER suspected anything. Nothing, not one red flag. It just felt easy.

How do you rationalizing being that other person, the one to be devastated picking up the pieces of a a broken heart caused by a person who deceived you.
posted by MamaBee223 at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

oh, OP, I'm so sorry. That hurts so much.

If you mean how do you explain it -- well, if you're an honest person, someone who means what they say and doesn't even know what it feels like to lie easily -- then it's very hard to imagine that someone who seems kind and loving is lying. But remember that it doesn't mean he didn't care for you. He did, in some way. He just compartmentalized.

And -- you dumped him. Correctly, smartly, appropriately and inevitably. So his trying to make things work with his other girlfriend now does make sense.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2019

Well, I don't think you rationalize it. I think it hurts and you have to let it hurt. It really sucks and there's not always a good way to understand it all. Seeking that understanding can be crazy-making. The best things for me (and for many) in moving past a tough break up:

-Cutting them out of your life completely, including via social media, texting, phone calls, etc, so you aren't knowing about them or interacting with them at all. You still think about them, but you aren't getting new information. Nothing can be gained by continued interactions, and lot of hurt can still get worse, so, if you haven't already, close all doors (return stuff, settle financial issues, etc) and then block/unfollow/unfriend.
-Keep yourself busy with friends and family. Try to get out and about and keep yourself at least a little bit distracted.
-Journaling can be helpful. So can talking to a therapist. Talking to friends is really important. Let them know you are hurting.
-Sometimes it can be helpful to have a sort of symbolic goodbye activity or ceremony. Write a letter by hand saying all the things you want to say and then burn it. Or go for a long walk to a high place and yell goodbye. Or plant a tree that represents you growing from hurt.
-Exercise, whether it's training for a marathon or going for an easy walk or bike ride every day, is so healthy. Good for body and mind.
-Go easy on yourself and know that time is what you really need to heal.

A friend of mine, when I was in the early days of a break up that was really tough for me, said it was good for me, in the big picture, to have experienced the great things in the relationship because now I remembered what was possible. You had a lot that was working with this man, so now you know that you can connect with someone like that again sometime, when you're ready.

For what it's worth, I don't think he was faking it with you. He wasn't mature enough to deal with the reality of his life and child, but he wasn't pretending to feel things for you. It wasn't a big scam or manipulation. It was real.

The way we can have real love is through vulnerability, but being vulnerable comes with risks of getting hurt. The lesson here isn't not to be vulnerable. The lesson is to understand that sometimes love ends and it really hurts and yet we find a way to move forward.

Please be gentle with yourself and give yourself space and time to feel terrible and heal. You didn't do something wrong. I hope you know that.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

How do you rationalizing being that other person, the one to be devastated picking up the pieces of a a broken heart caused by a person who deceived you.

Let yourself feel the hurt.


Even though it doesn't feel quite like it right now, keep telling yourself that you are lucky (or clever, or smart, whatever speaks to you here) to have found this out and got out when you did. Someday you will feel glad to have gotten out when you did. Realize that this man is a skilled liar who was trying very hard to pull the wool over your eyes.
posted by yohko at 6:11 PM on August 22, 2019

I feel very bad for you, OP, but thank god you managed to get away from him. I feel worse for the woman who took him back. She’s with a liar and a cheat and a terrible father who managed to toss aside his whole family when things got tough. I can’t see this leopard changing his spots for her anytime soon. While I understand being wary after this experience, don’t let this poison your future dating life going forward. Just know that most people are basically good.
posted by Jubey at 9:02 PM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

“Dodged a bullet” is a cliche in these circumstances, but one that can be useful to meditate on. It was very, very close and sudden. You felt and heard the bullet zip right though your hair. Now there is a burning feeling and there is a scar that will take a while to heal. The bullet has traveled on to inflict who knows what damage over the horizon. Breathe a huge sigh of relief, tend your wound as best you can. Don’t follow the bullets’s path.

Bluedaisy’s advice above is great on the specifics for recovery, I think.
posted by rongorongo at 11:41 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

how the he** do you rationalize and get over this pain caused by someone just tossing you to the side

I don't think there is really a way to rationalize it. It feels the same as something you would rationalize, like a normal kind of relationship where someone with not horrible intentions hurt you. But since his behavior was so egregious, I think it's more like trying to rationalize someone breaking into your house and stealing your stuff or a stranger knocking you down in the street. There are people in the world who just do rotten things, and it's hard for a person with a reasonable sense of behavior to understand how that happens. It makes the world seem confusing and unpredictable (which it is sometimes). Every once in a while, we hear about a bigamist who had two families who didn't know about each other - he's closer to that than to the kind of relationships most of us find ourselves in. I'm very sorry this happened to you, and I know you're in a lot of pain right now, but I think you'll eventually look back and be glad that you found out when you did. Time is going to be your friend here. I wish there were a quicker fix, but I don't think there is. Please be gentle with yourself. You were deceived by a bad person. This is not your fault.

I hope you can avoid him at work. One thing that's hard for me to fathom is that he behaved so terribly with someone he actually knows and will continue to encounter in his daily life. If he's OK with that, if he can actually face you, it makes me wonder even more about him - I don't have the knowledge to use the word "sociopath" in any definitive way, but that's what springs to mind.

And the woman with his child who took him back - ugh - I hope she's able to show him the door sometime soon.
posted by FencingGal at 6:43 AM on August 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

how the he** do you rationalize and get over this pain caused by someone just tossing you to the side

Well this all sucks.

And that is how you rationalize it. Sometimes the world hands you a suck sandwich. Everyone gets them and it was your turn.

This time it was wrapped up in some very personal trappings, but at its heart it was still the universe that decided to thwack you on the nose. There are plenty of jackasses in the world and this particular one was inflicted on you as much by chance as anything else.

You get over this the same way that you get over a broken leg, which is to say that you protect it and yourself while it heals naturally. It'll hurt like hell sometimes but in the long run you'll get better.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:50 AM on August 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I just read your update and I am so sorry. That completely and totally sucks. I agree with everyone above that the only way out is through. You're smart, capable, a good mother and surrounded by family and friends that love you. Lean on them as you process this and know that you did nothing wrong here. It's not your fault and you in no way contributed to this's completely on him. I know it's cold comfort but you will recover...scarred but unbroken.
posted by victoriab at 6:23 AM on September 1, 2019

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