kiss and told. Now what?
December 17, 2007 2:55 AM   Subscribe

2 months before the wedding. Fiance kissed another man while drunk. Told me about it. Now what?

She had confessed to having a crush on a co-worker a few months ago, but after talking about it with me seemed to be over it. However, tonight was her office's xmas party which I did not attend. She came home really hammered and told me that she kissed this co-worker at the party. Apparently, she pulled him into a bathroom to ask him why he was ignoring her, one thing led to another and they kissed a few times. They then talked about a sexual tension between them, but she said she loved me and he said he loved his fiance and that was the end of it (as far as I know). They were both drunk at the time.

I am very pissed off about this and but I feel very conflicted about it at the same time. I mean on the scale of cheating, kissing someone is below fucking them, but it was still a betrayal of my trust. One minute I feel like I could forgive her and the next minute I think that there's no way I'll be able to trust her again BUT she was at least honest enough to tell me right away and was very contrite about it BUT she initiated the whole thing. ARGH!

This is the first time something like this has happened and we've been together about 9 years now. I feel like I need some outside advice on how serious a betrayal this is - as the wedding date has gotten closer she's gone from being happy about it to somewhat "blah", so this might be just jitters(?), I don't know, but now I am just disappointed and disgusted, mostly because it was with some guy she had already said she was over - and I trusted her about that and look where it got me.

In your opinions, how serious is this? If I called off the wedding or broke up with her would I be over-reacting?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (74 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If I called off the wedding or broke up with her would I be over-reacting?

No. But it's not something you should do automatically. You should think about it carefully, obviously.

Your fiancee may have a subconscious desire to derail the wedding, or significant doubts that are being acted out in this way.
posted by grouse at 3:05 AM on December 17, 2007

You've been together nine years, this is the first time something like this has happened, and you need to take at least a few days to think about what you need to do about it. You have to talk with her, of course, and it'd be better to talk after a day or two than to talk now. You say the party was tonight, she told you about it tonight, she was drunk then, making her likely drunk now. Cooling out and listening to folks at MeFi say patient things is wise. Don't say or do anything you cannot take back; calm down; talk to her; you will understand better what happened after a day or two, and so will she.

Good luck, and be calm. Nine years is a long time, anonymous. Do not throw it away.
posted by cgc373 at 3:40 AM on December 17, 2007

It's definitely worth having a talk to determine what is going on exactly. I know that you are looking for outside advice but only you and your fiance really know if it can be treated as just a drunken snog or whether it is more indicative of greater concerns as Grouse has said.

Whatever you do, spend some time in the next few days seriously thinking about things and discussing them fully with your partner. Don't make any hasty decisions. Life is short and people that you love and love you back are in very short supply.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:45 AM on December 17, 2007

There is no score in things like this. You can't save this up and some time in the future if you do something similar say "Well, two months before the wedding you...". You have to be able to forgive her, completely, to be able to move on. If you think you can forgive and forget then you can move on from this. If you think you'll always feel betrayed then you and her are going to need to have a serious talk.

Don't go into the wedding because you've already 'invested' nine years into the relationship. Go into the wedding because you love her and want to make her happy.
posted by krisjohn at 3:53 AM on December 17, 2007 [7 favorites]

My main point is: don't let jealousy cloud your love.
posted by strangeguitars at 4:01 AM on December 17, 2007

It's not an offence worth splitting up over, even/especially if you're about to get married. This is no more than many men and women get up to on their bachelor nights. I tend to agree with Strangeguitars: there are many degrees to monogamy, and most men and women are unfaithful to some degree at some point in their lives.

This situation is likely to surface again in future, so how you handle it this time will be of lasting importance. You don't explain what your agreed boundaries were. We can infer from your anger and her apology that full monogamy, including not kissing with anyone else, was your agreement. If this was explicitly agreed between you then you have a right to ask her what was going on, and to discuss whether you both should amend your agreement to include activity with other people.
posted by skylar at 4:16 AM on December 17, 2007

You guys should definitely talk, as she might be subconsciously trying to prevent the wedding due to some fears.

But the big thing is that she told you and she told you as soon as she could (when she got home after the party). Whatever else happens that's a good sign that she's honest and should count for something.

However, you don't say how she is currently feeling. I understand that you're angry and hurt, but you still have to think of her and ask her about her feelings and thoughts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:20 AM on December 17, 2007

A potential problem is that she will continue to work with this guy... I certainly would ask her to think about how she is going to interact with him going forward, both sober and drunk. It's a little different than a random hook-up. It doesn't have to be a deal-breaker, but if loyalty and fidelity are important to you, then you both have a lot to think about.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:21 AM on December 17, 2007

Seriously, I'd postpone the wedding. If I was kissing some guy, 2 months before committing to someone for a very long time who I'd already been with for 9 years, I'd be asking myself just how deep my committment was.

I used to be, when younger, quite the "free spirit", and I read something sometime which said, if you use alcohol as an excuse for doing things you're not happy about sober, then either you have a problem with alcohol, or you wanted an excuse or something else that was much more profound. The point is, you don't get a free pass on things you do when you're drunk. It's still you. If you can't control yourself, then don't drink.

So there's three issues there, your partner has a thing for a workmate two months before the walk down the aisle, your partner possibly has a problem with alcohol, your partner likes to make excuses.

Now I've been married for a while, so I understand about being nervous about making this momentous decision, but somehow it didn't occur to me that overtly coming onto another guy would help me to work things out.

Maybe couples counselling? I don't think this is an insurmountable one, but I do think you need to address it before you get married, or it will fester.
posted by b33j at 4:29 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, my advice is tainted by cultural and generational differences. For example, I would have found that kissing someone sexually during pre-wedding celebrations was unacceptable, so if that's okay by you, then totally disregard my above comment.
posted by b33j at 4:31 AM on December 17, 2007

I had something similar happen in a past relationship (although the kisser was my long term boyrfriend and the kissee was the wife of a family member of mine) - They were both extremely drunk. Truth is, I was livid about it at first, but I dunno, after a while, although it did seem extremely stupid, people will tend to do things when they're drunk that they wouldn't do sober. I kind of got over it.

If she's decent she probably is already mortified about this (if she's not, that makes things different). Give yourself a few days to see how you feel about it. It may be a deal breaker, but it also may be something that you can chalk up to drunken stupidity and move on.
posted by FortyT-wo at 4:39 AM on December 17, 2007

First of all, I call utter bullshit on strangeguitars "not fully a guy" comment. That's fucking ridiculous. Maybe guys cheat. Men don't.

She did something very disrespectful and selfish on the thin excuse of intoxication and sexual tension. And she was worked up over his ignoring her? Why on earth would that bother a woman committed to the man she was about to marry? Why would she have felt this tension was worth exploring if she respected you?

This is the first incident that you know of -- my advice is to at least postpone the wedding until you know for sure this a woman you can trust with the rest of your life. This doesn't have to end the relationship, or cancel the marriage entirely, but you had best make wholly sure that you can trust this woman - both when she's sober, when she's drunk, when she's with you and when she's not.

Long as nine years is, I'm sure you'd hate to be looking at a divorce in another nine because she "just felt something." and had too many cocktails.
posted by EatTheWeek at 4:47 AM on December 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

And yeah, you've got my sympathy, whatever path you choose. It's not fair you should have to cope with this.
posted by EatTheWeek at 4:49 AM on December 17, 2007

she told you about it, forgiveness is in order. life is complicated, don't complicate it any further.

You should read some stuff by Robert A. Heinlein about jealousy.

isn't Robert A. Heinlein a science fiction writer?
posted by matteo at 4:50 AM on December 17, 2007

It was just a kiss.
posted by fvox13 at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes. Calm down. Deep breath. Meditate. Calm yet?

The two of you need to have a long talk about how you feel. But if you are in love, you should be able to forgive. That doesn't mean your pain isn't meaningful, it means that your love is more important than your pain.

If you feel that you can forgive, after a chance for your emotional kettle to stop steaming, then go ahead with the wedding after you two establish good communication again (you have that, right?).

As for her, she needs to figure out if she's still ready to take her vows seriously (so should you). As a matter of fact, talking about your wedding vows may be a good way to continue this conversation after forgiveness.

1) What do the vows mean to each of you?
2) How important are they?
3) Do you trust yourself and your partner to keep them? If the answer to either is no, you should figure out how to get that trust if you want to get married.
posted by Pants! at 4:53 AM on December 17, 2007

Forestall everything by 6 months to a year, and talk. Lots of talking.
posted by cashman at 5:30 AM on December 17, 2007

She's likely overstressed. Relax a bit. Discuss this.
Go ask your parents (each one privately) if they've every 'kissed' outside of their marriage. Go google the statistics about how many people stray in their marriages...and how many divorces there are.

You don't say how old you could be 24 (started dating young at 15...) or you could be 35...and dating her for 9 years. Both these are heavily different. If you were've only really seen each other. If you are 35, you were seeing her for 9 years; I'll bet she's pissed you took this long to 'get married.'

Most of this stuff is pre-jitters/stress before a wedding. Did it go further? No. Did she feel guilty? Yes, she confessed to you. Relax. If you really love her, the jealousy and the 'betrayal' is a bit out of proportion for a woman you're planning to spend the rest of your life with. What if she had gotten into a bus accident and was breathing through a tube today? Would you have gotten married or breathed a sigh of relief? Either you two are ready for that sort of commitment, or you see marriage as a temporary thing, something to 'try' because you don't know what else to do.
posted by filmgeek at 5:37 AM on December 17, 2007

She told you right away. She was contrite. This is the first time in nine years. What more do you want? Seriously. What more do you want? You can't ask a person to "never make a mistake or misjudgement again." That approaches tautological status. In fact mistakes and misjudgements are required--or the opportunity to make them seen and avoided--to learn that we're capable of them and to take the prospect seriously.

For her not to kiss, or otherwise make out with, other people ought to be expected and doesn't really need to be asked, but you can't ask her not to find other people attractive. If you did, if you tried that, she really ought to drop you right now before you start cutting up her credit cards and ringing her at random times to see if she's actually where she said she was and questioning her about any guy she talks to, even salesmen. Good men don't do that.

It's inherent in human nature that we want to be found attractive by those we find attractive, regardless of the practicalities involved and what we do or do not do about it. She wants to be desired by that guy, and this is in no way incompatible with her desire to to marry you. Presumably, at this point, she has a great deal more emotional investment in you; that is why she'll marry you, if she's going to. My reading of the situation is that she didn't intend things to go that far, but because they were drunk, she made an error of judgement. So did he. There's no reason to assume he's any less faithful to his own fiance, in his normal state of sobriety. He has, according to the story, been ignoring your fiance. That is quite likely to be by deliberate choice; resisting his own temptation.

If you overreact badly to being confessed to, what do you expect to have happen next time she does something--doesn't have to be sexual--that she knows will hurt you? Don't give her reasons to lie to you, including fears of telling you the truth. You have every right to be react, to be annoyed and jealous and want some reassurance; but calling off the marriage because she got drunk, kissed some guy, and confessed immediately to you would be a ridiculous overreaction (and an expensive inconvenience, and would hurt her far more than she hurt you, and would leave half your friends and all of hers thinking you're nuts, frankly).

She's having doubts about the idea of marrying you, obviously. The fact that you ask this question, that you've seized on this thing, that you're so worried about it, indicates that you yourself are having doubts about marrying her too. This is normal. Talk about those doubts. The most reasonable thing to ask her, in my view, is not to be both drunk and alone with anyone other than you whom she finds attractive; and make the converse promise yourself. If you can't forgive her for this, then you really shouldn't marry her, or anyone else, until you've learned how to forgive people.

isn't Robert A. Heinlein a science fiction writer?

Was, he's been dead a while. Heinlein was one of the great SF writers of the 50's and 60's, and some of his writings deal extensively with interpersonal relations in odd contexts, which, unavoidably, requires discussion of interpersonal relations in quite ordinary contexts. I don't know if his work really ought to be recommended as marital guidance textbooks, but it's well worth reading.

Some Heinlein quotes on love:

"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."

"Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy -- in fact, they're almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other. Both at once can produce unbearable turmoil..."

There are some less helpful quotes of his too, but I don't see any reason to go looking for them.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:48 AM on December 17, 2007 [9 favorites]

n-thing FortyT-wo's and Brandon Blatcher's advice.

I am really sorry this happened to you. Relax for a few days, and see how apologetic she is. It might help you gauge how she felt about doing what she did. From that, maybe you can decide what to do.

Crazy things do happen. People make mistakes. And she admitted her mistake to you right away.

But what is more important is what people do to resolve their mistakes. What will she do to assure you that this won't happen again?

Good luck to you, whatever happens. We are all rooting for you!
posted by bitteroldman at 5:58 AM on December 17, 2007

OK, EatTheWeak, I call utter bullshit on "guys" and "men" being different. You guys should lighten up about what I said. I was being facetious. I was semi-quoting some line from a movie or something. I can't remember the quote precisely, or where it came from. Maybe someone else can. Maybe it's not a quote, per se, but a kind of meme. Anyway, everyone, please pay more attention to my serious advice concerning the dangers of jealousy.

Yes, Heinlein was a sci-fi writer. He often addressed the jealousy issue. I have read all of his fiction, and the books are all in my office, so it's not easy for me to go check right now. For Us, the Living, a recently published novel which was previously believed to have been lost, has a significant subplot about this. Reading his stuff made me a lot less jealous.

And, what fvox13 said: it was just a kiss.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I attended a birthday party for one of her best friends. Also attending the party was a rather attractive woman and her husband. My wife and I were the first to leave because we have young children. On the way out the door I gave the rather attractive woman a big deep romantic kiss. I'm not sure why. She's kind of a playful unpredictable type, and it just kind of happened. It wasn't serious. My wife and the guy's husband (and everyone else) were in the room. Everybody laughed. My wife never raked me over the coals about it. It was a lighthearted thing.

There are lots of women all around me always who I'd love to hop in the sack with. But I don't. That doesn't stop me from thinking about it, or looking. And if I did hop in the sack with one of them, it wouldn't diminish how much I love my wife. I've been married for almost nine years, and it's been pure joy. We argue and make each other want to pull our hair out sometimes, but it's still pure joy.

Other people here are saying that maybe your fiancee is having second thoughts, or maybe she's being confronted with her real feelings about you, or maybe that there's a lack of them. No one can guess what is going on in her mind. But it's important to communicate with her. Communication is the most important part of any relationship. Is anyone going to "call utter bullshit" on that? Talk to her. Don't confront her. Hold her hand and just ask her what she feels about everything. Do this reasonably often, but don't be overbearing. That's my advice, anyway.
posted by strangeguitars at 6:04 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

If I called off the wedding or broke up with her would I be over-reacting?

Well, I'm not you, but my answer to this would be yes.

She was drunk. She kissed a guy. She told you about it.

Can you say that in nine years you've never looked at anyone else with lust in your heart? Never had even a teeny, 20-minute crush on someone else? (I know that feeling and doing are two different things - for some people. I don't know if you are among those people.)

Since what she did violated the agreement you have about monogamy, then of course, you have every right to be upset. But she did tell you about it, and this gives the two of you an excellent place to talk about monogamy, and trust, and communication.

Take some time. Think and write about this. Talk with her about it, and really listen to what she says, and how she says it.
posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on December 17, 2007

She's nervous about the wedding and fucked up. Yeah, it's a big deal, in that there should be a Talk, but not a big deal in that the wedding should be called off.
posted by desuetude at 6:06 AM on December 17, 2007

I'm glad that people are bringing Heinlein into this - his views on jealousy finally helped me get over my own. Don't discount him just because he was a sci-fi writer; the man had a keen eye into the way humans interact. While adults may not be able to unlearn jealousy, they can at least recognize it for the poison that it is, and work against letting it do its nasty work.

That being said...

Here are the data points I picked up, rereading the question:

-Nine year relationship
-Wedding in two months
-Christmas party with lots of alcohol
-Two coworkers admit sexual tension, kiss a few times
-Both realize they love their SigOts, and slip away
-Fiancee comes home smashed, and fesses up

Now you're disgusted and hurt and confused - and I can completely understand. Something unexpected came outta left field, from someone who you had no reason to assume was a 'threat', and rocked the boat! I'd feel the same way, honestly - at first.

Then I would look at the details:

1) She was drunk. A lot of people will look at this as some flimsy excuse, but I know from experience that alcohol will unlock things in you that you'd rather keep bolted down. If the attraction had been there all along doesn't mean she wasn't 'over' him. aeschenkarnos had it exactly right, IMHO, in that people can and will find others attractive, regardless of marital status. If that isn't the case, I challenge you to not think about another single woman in a sexual manner than your soon-to-be-wife.. for the rest of your life. Not that easy to consider, hm? The alcohol was inadvisable, perhaps, but what's done is done. And speaking of what's done...

2) They kissed. In the privacy of a bathroom, both having consumed large amounts of alcohol, they kissed. That's it? Again, YMMV, but a kiss is a minor infraction in my list of relationship don'ts... especially if my partner left it at that, and came back with me. Life is built of a million little choices - on or off, yes or no, now or never - and in my mind, she made the correct one. Overall, she chose you.

3) SHE CHOSE YOU! In a drunken stupor, she could've forgotten about the relationship next to the fire that was the here and now. She didn't. All those hormones racing with someone who she had an obvious physical connection with, at the right place, at the right time... and they talk about the person each of them was about to marry instead of taking it any further. Honestly, I'm impressed - there are many that would've come home saying that they fucked some guy in the bathroom while drunk, instead of just kissed.

Oh, as if this isn't long enough already...

4) She TOLD you! She didn't have to, but she did. I know I'm not the only one - maybe even not the only one reading this - who kissed and DIDN'T tell... to no everlasting detriment to my life, my conscience, or my relationship. It could've been her little secret, to be forgotten about, never for you to know... but she loved you enough to tell you, drunk or not.

Yes, there was a breach in the understood agreement between the two of you. That's why the two of you need to talk, talk more, and keep talking until this gets smoothed over - and talk like two rational adults. Make your feelings (love, betrayal, lack of trust, disgust) known, but don't beat her over the head with them. Listen to her, really listen. Be patient. TALK about what constitutes 'cheating', from both perspectives - make sure you're on the same page there, too. Talk about your perception of her pre-wedding "jitters"/"blahs".

Maybe its the agreement that needs to be rediscussed, hashed out again - whether changed, or just re-established, recemented, recommitted to. People change, people grow, people evolve... and so do relationships.

Whatever you do, don't give up a nine year relationship over a couple of drunken kisses one night without a fight, man.
posted by Adelwolf at 6:20 AM on December 17, 2007 [7 favorites]

I was your girlfriend. Had a few too many, a couple of hot kisses with a guy at work I felt attracted to, 2 months before I was getting married to the love of my life. I felt absolutely horrible afterwards, told him, and he forgave me. I never did figure out wtf I was thinking that night, because the guy I was kissing wasn't fit to be a wad of gum stuck to my fiance's shoe.

Long story short, the bf and I did get married. In the 80s. We're still together and happy and the only guy I want to kiss is him.
posted by iconomy at 6:30 AM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

This seems like a prime candidate for forgiveness, but that's just me. Personally, I think a long Talk about the whole thing will just make it worse. A short conversation to make sure that there aren't deeper concerns on her part that led to this incident probably ought to be pursued.

And just FWIW, anybody who can say that they don't occasionally see people other than their SO who incite lust are much better people than I. If someone has a prime opportunity to act on that and manages to escape with a mere kiss? They have quite a strong will indeed. Despite being with my SO for 10 years now, I can't say for sure that I would be that strong. I like to think I would be, but I can't be sure.

10 years from now, you'll look back and wonder what the big deal was, unless of course you call off the wedding, in which case you'll either wish you hadn't or wish the "fucking bitch" had more self control, depending on whether you've yet come to realize that expecting perfection is assuring failure.

Of course, maybe my answer is too colored by my own imperfection.
posted by wierdo at 6:32 AM on December 17, 2007

If it was me I'd call off the wedding and drop her like something very hot. No hesitation.
posted by brautigan at 6:35 AM on December 17, 2007

It sounds quite likely that she doesn't actually love you but is marrying you out of some warped sense of duty toward the relationship. I've been friends or acquaintances with several women who stayed in a relationship and in some cases chose to get married out of perceived self-sacrifice, not love for their partner, and acted out similarly (e.g. drunkenly hooking up with the object of their affection).

I think she wants to be with the co-worker, not you, but has convinced herself that she can't throw away the nine years she's spent with you and is going to soldier on anyway.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 6:35 AM on December 17, 2007

How about a few sessions of premarital counseling, so you two can talk this over with a neutral third party in the room?
posted by Carol Anne at 6:37 AM on December 17, 2007

Personally, the most important value to me in my marriage is something I group as "loyalty/faithfulness/chastity" with my husband. This means that we have agreed not only not to have intercourse with other people, but not to put ourselves in situation where sexual tension is likely to develop, to actively flirt with other people, to develop sexually charged friendships, etc. It means that when I am out with my girlfriends, I think about the number of manhattans I'm drinking and the types of people I'm talking with, and how my husband would feel about that. I expect him to do the same. It means that I've made a deliberate choice to forego sexual contact or interaction with other people, and I take that vow very seriously. In our world, teasing and flirting and coyly brushing breasts against someone's arm would be a serious infraction. Developing a situation where sex is on the table with another, is disloyal. I reserve that for my husband. I don't believe there's a magic line where inviting another man to interact sexually with me is okay, as long as I don't let him inside my clothes. Yes, sometimes I see or know a man I'm attracted to - but this is not a person I would accept a dinner invitation from, or go skiing for the weekend with, or be intoxicated around. We made the decision that tempting fate - tempting ourselves - is disloyal, and we expect loyalty. I have lots of healthy, platonic friendships, which are not a problem, because I ensure in all ways that they are kept platonic. That there's no confusion from either party.

I'm not illustrating that to suggest you have to agree - this is one area where people's most personal feelings as a couple should determine their agreements within the relationship. There's no right or wrong. But it may be that you and your fiance see the boundaries differently, and that is far more a problem than the fact of the kiss. So, what troubles me is that (a) she invited the attention - she admitted she was the sexual aggressor, but far more the question of (b) whether that is behavior she is likely to engage in again, the next time she is thrown together with someone she finds attractive and attempts to initiate and foster sexual tension without cheating, becomes intoxicated, and has an accident.

In my view, dating is for the time when you think you might have accidents. When you're getting married, you have to agree to prevent accidents. Some of the reasoning for my very strong, very conservative feelings about "loyalty/faithfulness/chastity" is because (when not pregnant) I am a fairly copious drinker. In past relationships, being an outgoing, excitable, very friendly young lady who deeply loves her bourbon, I've had a lot of "accidents" (some of which were deliberate).

So, for me, in my marriage (and prior, when it was a dating relationship and then a 2-year engagement), I made some very serious decisions about drinking when not with my husband. Because the thing is, accidents happen. But when you have a person who is regularly, constantly, willingly and deliberately creating situations where accidents are likely to happen, THAT is WAY more serious and important than a kiss. A kiss in and of itself is not a big deal, but a kiss that is sympomatic of a pattern of behavior that makes future similar events likely, is a REALLY big deal. At the end of the day, my marital vows did not come with an "unless I am drunk" caveat.

So, be patient and think about it. Having been cheated on, we all know the instinct is to set her on fire in her bed at night, but really do think about it. Have a talk with her about how this situation came up and why that's important and how, when married, you may need to act to prevent this stuff. Acknowledge what others have said - maybe she's having some anxiety, maybe she felt this was a pre-marital door she had to get closed, maybe it was a once in a lifetime thing. But, watch your own back, too - if it hurts to consider delaying the wedding, it'll hurt more if afterwards this behavior continues. I would maybe plan some serious talk time for the weekend. Give her time to see you aren't going to KILL her, and for each of you to think about your real, long term feelings. Please DON'T threaten to delay or cancel the wedding to PUNISH her (I am not accusing you of doing so on any level) - that would be horrible for both of you, and set a terrible cloud over it.
posted by bunnycup at 6:39 AM on December 17, 2007 [10 favorites]

It sounds quite likely that she doesn't actually love you but is marrying you out of some warped sense of duty toward the relationship. I've been friends or acquaintances with several women who stayed in a relationship and in some cases chose to get married out of perceived self-sacrifice, not love for their partner,

I've known people who have done this out of a warped sense of duty towards the wedding. Not because of their sunk investment in the relationship, but to the actual marriage ceremony.
posted by grouse at 6:40 AM on December 17, 2007

I don't really see the problem. She had unresolved fantasies about a coworker that she clearly felt she needed to confront and resolve before getting married, and she did it. If you believe her about what happened and that it changes nothing about your plans together, then you should actually be really glad it happened and glad she was honest about it, and that's it.

The only problem I see here is that she chose to take care of this AND initiate her conversation with you about it while drunk. Probably didn't help things much. If you wind up having a difficult time talking about this, then you should try to work it out in the presence of the counselor or minister of your choice, just to make sure that the discussion is fair, open, and honest. (And you DO have plenty to discuss, if she's going to continue working around this guy.) But I think you really really need to just let it go and see what happens. You two are grownups. A drunken kiss followed by a conversation about devotion to fiancés sounds incredibly human and not very risquée. Monogamy is not ownership, jealousy is not romantic, etc.
posted by hermitosis at 6:45 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

OMFG! She was honest enough to own up to it instantly, people. And they've been together for 9 years, which makes it highly likely that this was a once off and has more to do with wedding jitters than anything else.

(Occam's! All other things being equal the simplest, yada, yada, yada).

This is culturally encoded in hen-parties and stag nights, she's just a bit early.

Thank heavens for people like weirdo up there saying all you wonderful perfect ppl who would drop a 9 year relationship for a kiss are amazingly strong, cos I think you're amazingly self-centrered and egotistical.

This is a perfect example of where our rush on AskMe to DTMFA is just wrong!

ask her about pre-wedding jitters, ask her why she didn't sleep with him, but ASK HER!
posted by Wilder at 6:46 AM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have been in a similar situation, though we were not together for nine years and not engaged. There was an attractive, funny, very cool girl my boyfriend had become friends with over the course of a year or so. I knew he was attracted to her, but I trusted him. Then during a night out they ended up having a drunken makeout session. He was extremely apologetic, and when I first heard of it I tried to brush it off like it wasn't a big deal, and almost convinced myself that was the case until a couple of months later when he and I went back to the club where they originally made out (BAD IDEA) and by the end of the night had a huge, all-out screaming fit, the worst fight we'd ever had. It seriously lasted for hours.

But in the end, after all of that, I came to the same conclusion Adelwolf has. And we are still together a year later, no other incidents have happened, and I am so, so glad I did not break up with him over it.

So my advice is, let yourself be angry. Let yourself rage about it now, because you must get those feelings out. You have been hurt and betrayed and you have every right to be upset. It's not "just a kiss"--it was an open acknowledgment that yeah, sometimes your fiancee will be attracted to people who are not you. And while we all know that on some level, it is very hard when it is made this obvious.

BUT. You love her. And she still loves you. That's the conclusion she made at the end of the kiss, before she did anything worse. And she told you, because she loves you and knew, even in her drunken stupor, that was the right thing to do. You're not obligated to take her back. But seriously, seriously consider it. I think it is far more likely you will regret losing her than leaving her. Adelwolf is right. Forgive her, and move on.
posted by Anonymous at 7:11 AM on December 17, 2007

wait a couple of days before you do anything. if you let people on the internet guide your romantic/marital affairs, then you aren't really the quarterback of your own life, more like the football.

also, fiance=male, fiancee=female. i was somewhat relieved to read the [more inside].
posted by bruce at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2007

The real question is, does she often get drunk?

Everyone I've ever known has felt attracted to people other than the one they are with. Few act on it. Alcohol changes the calculus on that and causes problems. If your fiancee is someone who doesn't deal with stress well, acts out or has substance abuse problems, I would be concerned and go to counseling.

As for the getting married part, everyone has buyer's remorse. You guys need to talk about what she wants right now and what you want right now. Stress makes it more likely incidents like this are going to happen.

The main thing is that you guys need to have a serious talk about all of this when you are both sober.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 AM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm much more of a pessimist. I'm inclined to think she slept with him but is toning it down to tell you about it. Of course there's no way to know that for sure so you shouldn't assume that and break up with her or anything.

At the end of the day, no matter what happened, she came home to you and that's what matters. One day at a time.
posted by kpmcguire at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

she admitted a crush
she was annoyed by his lack of attention
she dragged him out of the party proper and ended up kissing him
she is about to take a vow of life long commitment to you in several months

One of these things is not like the other; one of these things just doesn't belong.
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, that would piss me off. But the thing is, when she realised she had a crush on him, she came home and told you about it. She didn't hide it from you. When she was talking to the guy after the drunken kiss, she was thinking about you, telling him how much she loves you. When she was on her way home, she was thinking about how to tell you, how sorry she was, worrying about how you'd react, feeling really stupid for hurting you. And then she came home, knowing you would be upset, and she immediately told you and apologized. She didn't even dress it up and make excuses for it–she admitted initiating things. She just came home and opened right up to you, consequences and all.

People get crushes, and they kiss people they shouldn't when they're drunk. But you've got a woman who loves you, who comes home and shares her life with you even when there's a risk in that. Who feels like shit when she hurts you. Who stops at just a kiss because her love for you is stronger than her hormones.

It was a shit thing to do, but the way she's dealing with her mistake displays a lot of trust and respect for you and a desire to have open communication, even when that's not to her advantage.
posted by heatherann at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you got the jitters there, big boy.
posted by ewkpates at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2007

In my opinion, you should break up with her. She will be shocked, because she doesn't think you've got it in you. By demonstrating that you do actually value and respect yourself, you'll make yourself more attractive to her and there's a good chance that she will actually fight to get you back. If she does, and you choose to take her back, you'll have the chance to build a relationship on the basis of mutual respect as opposed to her taking you for granted. If you forgive her right away, you're asking to be taken advantage of for the rest of your life, and she won't be happy either because nobody wants to think that their partner is only with them because they are too weak to leave.
posted by teleskiving at 8:23 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This would be a deal-breaker for me.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:27 AM on December 17, 2007

My only advice to you is to stop reading this thread.
posted by rocket88 at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2007 [5 favorites]

This is the first time something like this has happened... that you know of. Obviously, to be sure, you have to be able to trust her, which is difficult right now.

Call the wedding off. If and when you trust her again, you can always call it back on.
posted by kindall at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2007

I'd be more concerned about her drinking than her kissing.

It's likely to be pre-marital heebie-jeebies on her part, and possibly on your part, as well. Maybe she needed 1 last kiss from somebody else before a lifetime of kissing only you.
posted by theora55 at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2007

You know, I usually think the hive mind's advice is pretty good. But all the DTMFA in this thread is, paradoxically, making me feel even more pessimistic about lifelong monogamy than I did before.

If you would value your hurt feelings over something like this more than a life with your beloved -- you're not ready to get married.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:13 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm shocked at all the "dump her now" responses, though I guess this is askme and it's the default.
But I'd just like to say that people routinely get drunk and kiss the wrong person and rue it the next day. I've done it, and I can tell you IT MEANT NOTHING. Nothing. Except an occasional "what the fuck was I thinking" twinge.
The fact that she came to you full of contrition should weigh heavily in her favor. Most people just keep it a deep dark secret. If your relationship isn't strong enough to survive a slip like this, then it won't survive the real struggles you have ahead. Forgive her. Move on. You will make a mistake of some kind at some point, and will hope she forgives you.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:27 AM on December 17, 2007

If you would value your hurt feelings over something like this more than a life with your beloved -- you're not ready to get married.

Repeated for excellence.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:28 AM on December 17, 2007

Understand that I have very explicit and personal reasons for being bitter right now. OTOH, I had a wife of many years who was a girlfriend for an equal number of many years before that. She admitted to having crushes on other men at various points in our relationship. I wrote it off as being human. In this case, at any rate, it was only a manner of time (13 years so far as I am aware anyway) before she started acting on these urges. We are officially no longer as of last month. Take from this what you will.

At any rate counseling, while an easy AskMe answer, is a really good idea here. Putting off the ceremonies is not a bad idea if you are uncomfortable with the arrangement when the time comes. She should be understanding. IOW, don't be pressured by the looming deadline or her desire to stick with it.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2007

I'd take everything said here with a grain of salt. I'm really suspicious of answers that tell you what to do, and more enamored of answers that give you some ideas that you have to consider while making your decision. I'd also say this, the DTMFA people seem to show up later in the thread. Not sure why that is, but keep that in perspective as well.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you to minimize your feelings or that you are "valuing" those feelings more than a relationship. Remember that this happened last night. If you are still hanging on to this one incident weeks, months, years later, then those people are right. But don't minimize those feelings. Accept them for the pain that they really are.

Other important questions--do you have a history of gettng mixed up with the wrong types?

Make sure she understands how you feel about this--that it hurt you very much and you need to know what is going on with her and where she is about the wedding and all that.

Most importantly, get advice from someone you love and trust who isn't friends with her personally. Get their take on things--they are going to know a lot more about the situation than total strangers relying on your description of things. Given the time you asked the question, I'd say you are probably doing that but having a tough time of thinking it through when they are not available.

I'd take the decision slowly, about 3 days. I did that in a past situation and did the right thing, which in my case was break up.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 AM on December 17, 2007

Upon re-reading, that sound too bitter. Definitely talk with your support network and a professional if you are comfortable with that step. Take some time and think things through. While I was quick to read my own circumstances into your scenario, that doesn't mean they match up well. My advice is to not act rashly. I know what you're feeling right now.
posted by Fezboy! at 9:42 AM on December 17, 2007

the DTMFA people seem to show up later in the thread. Not sure why that is, but keep that in perspective as well.

They might be Americans who were asleep at the beginning.
posted by grouse at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd put money on the scenario that she did WAY MORE than just kiss the guy at the party and then just instantly told you that she kissed him to resolve her guilt and make it less suspicious.

Like others said, get to the real root of the problem here with a lot of talking and or counseling.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2007

I guess I'm saying that it is my experience that in all threads of the type OMG! Significant other did something terrible, the DTMFA people come up more at the end. We don't know where the poster is. My guess is the poster is from the USA, from the questioner's tone.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2007

Also, only direct questioning will tell the poster the extent of what happened or did not happen. He has to ask. We literally have no idea.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on December 17, 2007

dump her. not because she kissed someone but because she has a "sexual tension" with someone else, which is another way of saying she's attracted enough to him to want to fuck him, and (drunk or not. drinking is not an excuse) apparently that tension was enough for her to do something physical about it. That's not what happy marriages are built on.

get on the bus, gus.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm of mixed mind here, and I'm sure that's no real help to you...still - you consulted the hive mind, and so here's my two cents:

I'm of the pessimistic camp that feels like more fun was had than just a kiss. That's dire, I know - it's just a product of my own experiences with people, and is colored by such. It sounds to me (based purely on events as you have posted them) like she's not letting on to everything, and is downplaying the situation...while still technically giving you an admission. She gets to pawn some of her bad feelings off on you that way.

Sure, such debauchery is part and parcel to many bachelor and bachelorette parties, but let's look at a key difference here. At a bachelor party, say, you may very well see some boobies and you may even kiss a stripper or somesuch. Any more is generally shunned. The fundamental difference here is that you do not know said stripper, and you most certainly not have mutual romantic feelings for her. I am using a bachelor party here as merely a rhetorical convention - assume the same liberties/restrictions for a bachelorette party.

This case, on the other hand, is somebody with whom she shared a mutual physical attraction, who she pulled into a bathroom in order to basically tell him that he needed to pay more attention to her (this makes her the instigator in this... a definite strike), who she confessed her feelings to, and who she subsequently smooched on.

She told you about it afterwards. Whether you feel that she told you the whole story is ultimately between you and her, and depends on how much you decide to trust her, how much integrity you feel she has, how close and honest you feel your relationship with her to be, and how far down that particular rabbit hole you want to try to go.

My gut tells me there was more, but I have no real clue in the end. What I do see is somebody sending you a message, loud and clear. If this had been a one-off thing, and she didn't feel that it put your relationship in jeopardy, she may have in fact been better off keeping quiet about it. A confession, to me, indicates a substantial amount of guilt anxiety regarding the situation. Is she the type to feel so guilty over a conversation and kiss? Regardless, she's practically shouting a message at you.

Now, I'm not one to say DTMFA (even though I think the odds are extremely high that more happened in that bathroom than just a couple of kisses). That's for you to decide. I didn't, in my own situation. Or rather I did, and then worked things out later. It can happen. It takes a lot, lot, lot of talking, though. I would hazard a guess that there's not enough of this sort of talking in your relationship. If there was, I don't think she'd need to send this sort of message to you. Why don't you change that and open up some honest avenues of communication?

You can better decide what you need to do once you really start talking.
posted by kaseijin at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

dump her. not because she kissed someone but because she has a "sexual tension" with someone else, which is another way of saying she's attracted enough to him to want to fuck him.

And here we have the sentiment that when put into practice, virtually guarantees that most marriages will fail: the expectation of being able to subvert or repress natural feelings and desires in an attempt to achieve superhuman ideals, for life.

After nine years, this is just part of your story together. You have so much history to draw from in figuring out what's going on with her. She has made some bad, but very human choices here, and has come to you for help and forgiveness.

This is an opportunity, not a crisis.
posted by hermitosis at 11:16 AM on December 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

9-year itch. I can understand that. Everyone can. If you can, say absolutely nothing. Marry her, make passionate love to her, give her your children. She's a living, sexual, honest creature. Isn't that what you want? I know great marriages have survived far more than this. Don't chuck it away.
posted by londongeezer at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is an opportunity, not a crisis.

Repeated for excellence.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:27 AM on December 17, 2007

Look at this as an opportunity to ask yourselves, and each other, the really hard questions. Does she really love you or is she afraid of the ultimate committment? Are you better off with her or without her? Do it now, before the wedding. Then, when you have some answers, proceed like this. It's either full-speed-ahead with your lives together, and work on forgiveness, because it won't be the first time you'll be called upon to exercise it. Or, call it off and start healing. Because it's easier to dissolve an engagement than it is a marriage.
posted by Lynsey at 11:51 AM on December 17, 2007

I think what really shows up in this thread are value differences. Like a bunch of people value no intimate contact between their partner and a third party, and make committments on that basis, and a bunch of other people don't find that as valuable. There's no need to ridicule each other for this. However, it's useful for people getting married to have similar values or at least respect each other's values so that hurt can be avoided. Honestly, for those of you to whom a kiss is nothing, those of us for whom a kiss is serious business are not whackos. It's just the way we prefer to live our lives. It's like the difference between introverts and extroverts, different but not wrong.

So OP, you'd think after 9 years, you and your partner would have similar values. Time to talk about it.
posted by b33j at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I want to point out--not breaking up with my boyfriend because he kissed someone is not because I don't value monogamy in my relationships. It's not because I am some abused little flower who can't see her guy is scum. Before and after the incident he showed no indication that he is anything but 100% faithful, and the kiss remains a constant source of remorse and self-recrimination for him.

However, if I'd been in the sort of relationship where this occurred regularly, then that kiss would mean something much different.

You need to look at this kiss in the context of your relationship. Based on both of your previous behavior, based on how you've talked about fidelity, based on the experiences you've had and your judgment of the person she is, what does this kiss mean? That's why you get so many wildly varying answers here. It's not just values, it's also how people are perceiving your relationship through their own relationships. Some people have been in situations where the drunken kiss was nothing more than horrible, horrible mistake they or their partners will always regret. And some people have been in situations where a drunken kiss was a precursor to something more. And others saw admitting to the drunken kiss as evidence they were hiding something more.

You know your fiancee better than any of us. You know her trustworthiness. We can't tell you whether this will happen again. Due to my experience, I would give her the benefit of the doubt. Others won't. All I can say is you gotta give yourself time to sort this all out before reacting. Nine years is a long time to give up in a fit of rage.
posted by Anonymous at 12:59 PM on December 17, 2007

This is a test.

Being unforgiving is a failure of the test.

Being too focused on the incident is a failure of the test.

Being thankful for the good times you've had,
and confident in the good time to come,
passes the test.

Failure of the test is likely to lead to more incidences.
posted by dragonsi55 at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2007

Lot's of conflicting advice. Most of them equally true. And probably a lot of these conflicting emotions and thoughts have gone through your head.

If I were you I'd
1. express my feelings without making any decisions. Be angry, be hurt. etc. But don't say "it's over" or "I forgive you".
2. say that my faith in the relationship was shaken and that I needed time to find out if I could regain that trust. After that time of thinking things through you'll make your decision about how you feel. Take that time and you'll find out after some turbulent emotions what weighs more heavily for you.
3. watch whether she
- takes responsibility for what she did.
- is concerned that she hurt you
- makes an effort to convince you that despite this she really loves you

Good luck sorting through your emotions.
posted by jouke at 1:35 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Just chiming in a second time to agree, strongly, with b33j, who explained better in a few lines than I could in a few paragraphs. Marriages don't require fidelity to survive, but I think they require an agreement on the partners' marital values as decided on by the partners themselves. The talk about those values, and whether they are shared, and so forth is far more important than the fact of a kiss or other details. My values with my partner are far more conservative, less permissive, than many others', but we both feel strongly about them (rather than one imposing on the other).

It might be a good time (and an easier discussion) to think of some other important values to sit down and really talk through all of it - not only fidelity but also children, religion, finances, housework, etc. I'm not saying that after 9 years you haven't worked these things out, but maybe a pre-wedding review is in order.
posted by bunnycup at 1:51 PM on December 17, 2007

I think Teleskiving has it right. If something like that happened to ruin my trust in my relationship (2 months before the wedding!) a simple 'whoops, I am really sorry' wouldn't put to rest my fears. A rough break up period might help you sort out the real issues and put things back into perspective. Thats just me, random guy on the internet. You just need to make sure you can fully forgive her, and thats the only way I personaly could do that.
posted by ZackTM at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2007

I guess if he does dump her it increases the potential dating pool for jealous freaks by two more insecure, wounded people. Maybe that's the reason.

Dear poster. Please ignore these sentiments, expressed above and elsewhere in the thread. You are a human being and it is perfectly normal to feel hurt and insecure about your relationship right now. Your feelings are real and something you should work with, and not supress. You are not a "jealous" person because you are concerned that your fiancee did something which hurt you a mere two months before your wedding. You have a real problem and I think you are right to ask the questions you have. You are asking if it is overreacting or not. You aren't sure and are torn by a number of emotions. These are all perfectly normal reactions for 99% of the human race.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

I saw this late, so sorry about the slow response.

Decide if you love her and wish to continue with the marriage. Make absolutely sure you are able to deal with the jealous feelings that no doubtly will come up. If you are on board, and she is as well, then this is how I would deal with it.

There must be some repercussion for her behavior. The best way is to do this is to delay the wedding by a number of months. This can be 2- 6 mos or however long that makes you comfortable.
This does two things; Everyone will know what happened (repercusison) and by her agreeing with the new date and following through, you will know that she is committed to you.

During the extra time; seek counseling together.

Good luck.
posted by thekorruptor at 3:36 PM on December 17, 2007

This question unfortunately hits close to home for me. I was with a guy for 7 years and found out a week and a half before the wedding that he had feelings for another woman. That was all he ever admitted to. It likely was plenty more than that. But the tears when I finally asked him about his feelings towards her was enough. It was over. Sit down with her and really ask her what this situation meant. Does she truly have feelings for this other guy that she can't ignore? Is it the alcohol that helped fuel a foolish decision? Booze does make some people really stupid. But I think she knows in her heart if that was a mistake or something more. And by this time you should know her well enough to tell by her demeanor when you talk about it.

And please, do postpone the wedding. Don't rush into it just because it's already planned. Trust me, it takes a helluva lot less time to dismantle wedding plans than to make them. Good luck. I wish you well.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:58 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

These are all perfectly normal reactions for 99% of the human race.

His reactions are entirely normal and reasonable, but the calls to "DUMP HER NOW!!!!" in this situation are giving him really bad advice. You'll notice they tend to be short, sharp, dispassionate, contemptuous, un-nuanced, unthoughtful responses. No "maybe if this, maybe if that". They're projecting out their own issues onto this poor guy. Telling him to just break off a long-term relationship like a snapped twig, grind it under his heel, and stride stoically off, unscarred and unbowed. Telling him that the situation is hopeless, and he lost her the second a vague attraction to someone else crossed her mind. Does that sound like sensible advice, or decent behavior, to anyone? Have they given thought to what the consequences might be for these peoples' social lives, family lives, shared property, finances, future prospects, etc? It really doesn't look like it. It looks the advice of people who see themselves as incapable of winning in any love triangle, and feel so badly threatened by any competition that they fetishize fidelity into the only real important thing in a marriage, rather than just one of many important things. I don't recommend giving a moment's consideration to the advice of those people unless you want to be like them.

If they break up it should be because they're not compatible and it won't work out, not just because he's pissed off. After nine years, with this as the worst ever problem, that seems unlikely.

The only worse advice than "DUMP HER" in this thread is punishing her for the sake of punishing her and embarrassing her and yourself by making the matter public. It's no-one else's business but yours, and the consequences of getting yourselves into a dynamic of punishing each other for things rather than working out problems like sensible, equal, adults should be obvious to anyone.

If you delay the wedding it should be because you need more time to work things out than you have before the wedding (and working things out really should be top priority). This may or may not be the case.

OP, if you're still reading this - the thing to do is, first and foremost, ask yourself why you've reacted the way you have. Be honest with yourself about how you feel, because you can't be honest with her unless you do that. Then go talk to her, ask her the things you need to ask her to establish that she really does want to marry you (or not), re-set your ground rules (especially, don't be drunk alone with other attractive people), and make your decisions together. All the best.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2007

but the calls to "DUMP HER NOW!!!!" in this situation are giving him really bad advice.

I agree with that. I think the answers should best talk of things to keep in mind while making the decision, not the actual call.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:15 PM on December 17, 2007

Have they given thought to what the consequences might be for these peoples' social lives, family lives, shared property, finances, future prospects, etc?

He should stay with her, even though she loves another, because the consequences of breaking up would be so dire to his social life? That's your vaunted nuance? I confess I don't have an answer. I just have to laugh.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:47 PM on December 17, 2007

Dump her? Uh, NO!

Take her to your room and worship every inch of her body. Make her feel as loved and cherished as you know how, and then have her show you more, if possible. Marry as planned.

Drunken party, she resolves an issue, makes her choice, reports on her behavior. There is nothing to forgive, only something to celebrate. Love is LOTS more fun than jealousy! But seriously, there is nothing for you to feel jealous about.
posted by Goofyy at 6:40 AM on December 18, 2007

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