Should I have a heavy conscience?
April 27, 2008 1:27 AM   Subscribe

Should I have a heavy conscience or is it none of his business?

My boyfriend and I have been together 4 years. A year ago, we broke up for two months, and I was a mess. I had a one night stand during the breakup with someone he knows and doesnt like. It was a drunk and vulnerable situation and a stupid decision, and nobody knows about it. But it totally haunts me. A month after 'that night' he wanted me back and I was so happy I never told him. At the time, I went with the "he broke your heart and you werent together at the time so its none of his business" ...

So, I love my boyfriend, but I dont know if he loves me. He is very distant and I am not sure if we are going to stay together. I still feel like I need to tell him, but I am afraid that will be it and he will never want to see me again.

Im confused and Im sorry if this confuses you too. But I would really appreciate any advice.

posted by osloheart to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you asking if you should confess? If so, the answer is NO.

Confession in this case is a selfish act that only serves to make you feel better (e.g. to lighten your "heavy conscience").

If you tell your boyfriend now, all it will do is make him miserable. Why would you want to do that? Regardless of whether you're going to stay together or not, your one-time indiscretion has nothing to do with it.
posted by amyms at 1:38 AM on April 27, 2008 [5 favorites]

I agree with amyms. I don't see any point in telling him unless it hits a point where you'll be forced to lie. It was a mistake that you regret, but telling him won't make you stop regretting that you did it. All it will do is bring new areas of hurt into a relationship that seems like it might already be a little gangrene.

Onto that. Your second paragraph, "...I don't know if he loves me. He is very distant..." That is the part I'm most concerned/ confused about. Is it that you think he knows about your indiscretion, or are there totally separate issues that are coming up? If it's the former, then you might need to talk to him about it. If it's the latter, then telling him would probably be the deal-breaker. But I think either way your deal might be broken. In my experience, when you start to think you might not stay together, that generally means you're not going to stay together. And it's better for everybody to just say, "Look. This isn't working. I'm going to end this now and exercise some form of control over how this plays out." It sucks, but it's what needs to be done.
posted by ictow at 1:46 AM on April 27, 2008

I agree that telling him would only be a way of relieving yourself of the burden of the secret, and not a productive step for the relationship or a favour to him. But the truth is, it's not a confession. It's just a fact, however regretful you feel about it. If you'd both understood that you had broken up, what happened in the interim has no bearing on him at all. So stop thinking of it as a thing he needs or deserves to know about or something you did to him.

How would you feel if he revealed a similar secret of his own?
posted by loiseau at 2:08 AM on April 27, 2008

It sounds like he did the breaking off that time. If you are over 18, there is nothing to say you can't sleep with who you please, you weren't with him at the time so there was no fidelity to pledge. It sucks when you break up with someone and then all of a sudden you're lonely, probably more people have done what you did than are willing to confess.

I wouldn't tell him because that would seem to say that he has the right to tell you what to do, in the past, when you weren't together. It's not as if you are stepping out on him NOW, while you're with him. Confessing will open a can of worms and while it may ease your conscience, it will probably instigate a fight or a break-up.

I'm with ictow on the concern and hope everything works out for you. Don't settle for less than a loving relationship with a man.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:14 AM on April 27, 2008

Agreeing with anyms here. Telling him will only make you feel better and make him feel worse. If you love him and want to stay together, keep quiet. It's for the best. If your aim is to hasten the end of your relationship, which you seem to imply is a situation which may be nigh, then tell him, because he'll probably break up with you again, and at least that way you have nothing to lose.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:33 AM on April 27, 2008

er...everyone is telling you NOT to confess, but i noticed that the person you slept with is someone he knows. is there a chance that your bf could find out about it from? if you think there's a chance, it would be prudent to confess before the other guy blabs about it, especially if the guy is someone he doesn't like...

but if there's little to no chance, i'd also go with not confessing.
posted by tastycracker at 3:03 AM on April 27, 2008

Tell him. No, seriously. Tell him, so he'll be angry and break things off for good. You won't have a waffling pretense of a relationship that makes you think you can be happy in that situation when you know better, and he'll have a clear conscience when cutting ties with you. He'll think less of you, you'll feel like you had a weight lifted from your shoulders by telling him, and when it sinks in that you just caused him undue grief, the weight will come back heavier.

The relationship is in trouble already, you have a secret that you want to tell him for purely selfish reasons, and you did something that probably was meant to hurt him anyway for breaking up with you. So, I'll suggest it again. Tell him, so he can break things off and bury this emotional roller-coaster of a relationship. Or, just break things off without telling him, so you don't hate each other, and you don't have to feel like the jerk. Breaking up means you can go for other people, that part is fine. Telling him you did it? That's what the jerk does. Don't try to hang on and create more drama, that's the worst thing you could do.
posted by Saydur at 3:05 AM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

sorry i meant is there a chance that your bf could find out about it from him sigh...
posted by tastycracker at 3:05 AM on April 27, 2008

Staying together or not, DO NOT tell him.
You were apart and it would hurt him. Two excellent reasons to never tell.
Practice putting it out of your head.
posted by k8t at 3:50 AM on April 27, 2008

You need a freaking BOOST.

You said that:
1.Your boyf broke things off with you.
2. He decided to get back together with you.
3. He controls the love, since your love is already present, but you're not sure if he's doling any out or not.

I think you need to do a few things for YOURSELF now.

It seems as if you do have a heavy conscience. RELIEVE IT. Go ahead, do it. But know, that there's a chance that he might not be so understanding. If thats the case, don't give HIM the choice to choose; CHOOSE YOURSELF. Break it off with him if he's not understanding.

I mean damn, he's the one that broke it off. Once you break off a relationship, both people are free to do what they please.

So consider this a training exercise. Tell him, feel better about not being the person who hides stuff, and then choose to either keep the relationship or drop him based on how he reacts to you telling him.

There is a "right and wrong" here, but its not what you're thinking. Its not whether you tell him and accept his decision, or keep it to yourself. The right is "having you come out of this experience a better and stronger person", the wrong is "having you come out of this experience worse or the same as when you started".

So go on, make the decision to tell him. If he's all "well...we were on a break. I'm glad you told me...I'm sure it was hard. Even though this isn't the best news, this is something we can work through together", you should consider keeping the relationship. BUT...if he's all "you whore, you betrayed me...with WHO???", drop him.

Seriously, it sounds like you are the one thats always accepting the situation HE creates...and not participating in making the situation you BOTH create.

Give yourself an exit strategy for this relationship with its basis being "I'm going to be a better person after this, regardless of the outcome".

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:52 AM on April 27, 2008 [6 favorites]

Don't listen to people who tell you about the state of your relationship. We know nothing about it. What we can only give you is some idea of the questions you need to ask yourself to come up with the answer for you.

Ask yourself if the relationship between you two would be improved by telling him. Ask yourself if there might be any other motivation (getting out breakup anger, relieving guilt) for telling. Ask if you can relieve the pressure regarding the motive to tell in some other way.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:12 AM on April 27, 2008

Should I have a heavy conscience or is it none of his business?

You shouldn't have a heavy conscience and it's none of his business. It was a dumb one night stand, stop beating yourself up over it.

I love my boyfriend, but I dont know if he loves me.

That's the bigger problem. You two need to talk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 AM on April 27, 2008

I'm going to agree with the people who say "none of his business -- he broke up with you; you have the right to do what you want at that point". You don't need to feel guilty, either. So what if he didn't like the guy? He was broken up with you, and the definition of "broken up" includes "gets NO say in who you sleep with".

So, if he doesn't know, don't tell him.
If he DOES know, and isn't handling it well, HE has control issues. So what if you had a drunken one-night stand with someone he doesn't like AFTER HE BROKE UP WITH YOU?
posted by lleachie at 5:59 AM on April 27, 2008

hi, all. sorry im late.

i notice most are saying its none of his business - and i agree.

however, i am very curious - would all these opinions be the same if the one-night-stand involved unprotected sex? (not implying anything about the OP's situation, of course.)
posted by gcat at 6:19 AM on April 27, 2008

I would tell him.

Why? Because if you stay together for a long time, odds are he'll find out. People way overestimate their chances of keeping secrets from their partner. Aside from you, there's another weak link: the guy you slept with. He might talk. He might only tell someone he really trusts (e.g. his best friend or a girlfriend), that person might just tell one other person... Your guilty feelings combined with alcohol might lead you to say something imprudent; your boyfriend might join Metafilter and some tiny clue in your post might make him suspect you. Etc., etc., etc.

He might not find out. But it's a risk. Know that it's a risk. The risk is there every day. So whereas it's probably really unlikely he'll find out on any given day, the the dice will re-roll for many, many days, months, years...

What if he finds out in two years? He'll likely be MUCH more upset than if you confess now. In two years, it will be "something you kept from me for two years."
posted by grumblebee at 6:53 AM on April 27, 2008

(I agree that, since you were broken up, you weren't wrong to have a one-night stand. But we're talking about feelings, not right or wrong.)
posted by grumblebee at 6:55 AM on April 27, 2008

If someone waited a year to tell me what you are considering telling your boyfriend, I would be pissed. There was exactly one good moment to tell him this, and that was right before you decided to get back together. If you bring it up any time after that, it raises the question "Why are you telling me this now, instead of before I decided to get back together with you?" I think at 1 year into it, you're past the point of no return. It's not going to be twice as awful for him to hear about in two years as compared to one year. However awful it's going to be, you've already maxed it out.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:48 AM on April 27, 2008

So, I love my boyfriend, but I dont know if he loves me.

Does he make you feel better or less good about yourself?

To me your questions make it sound like he is not really very good for you, and that you recognize that somewhere.
posted by airplain at 9:09 AM on April 27, 2008

Hate to say it, but chances are he slept with another person/other people while you were broken up.

I have no idea why you should have a heavy conscience.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:21 AM on April 27, 2008

The more important issue here, it seems, is whether or not your boyfriend loves you. If you're not sure, then yeah, I'd agree with those who say you need to talk to him about it.

Once you get that established, then you should figure out whether or not there would be any benefit from telling him. Me? I probably wouldn't, because if you were broken up and it was a random, drunken incident, then it doesn't seem there would be anything to gain, just you feeling better and him feeling worse. Yeah, it might weigh down on you, but you didn't do anything wrong. It seems as if he already has a one-up in the relationship, with him taking you back. Telling him would add this extra dynamic of guilt on your part, making it so that you start perceiving yourself as a lesser rather than an equal part of the couple.

But like some above said, we don't know the specific dynamics of your relationship. We can only conjecture. I still say you should have a talk with him, either way. Productive communication is vital in any relationship.
posted by landedjentry at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2008

Wow, thank you guys so much. I havent been able to talk to anyone about this, I feel much better about the situation now.
I am not going to tell him. I agree that he had totally broken it off with me, and I was heartbroken and alone. It happened. It was protected. The other guy is a good person, and he has no reason to say anything/promised me he wouldnt tell anyone/ lives far away. I think it is just in the past. Im 25, Im not perfect.

Its just that my bf and I dont have many secrets. He is a very morally respectable guy. I am the only girl he has been with for more than 3 months, ever, and weve been together 4 years. Hes 32. I think he is just scared of settling down because he hasnt been with many other girls, and might feel like he should still have fun, etc. Thats probably why he doesnt want to say i love you.. and a lot of his friends are in bad relationships or failing marriages... I think he is just plain scared.

But we'll see. Im gonna chalk it up to being young and technically single at the time.

Thank you all again
posted by osloheart at 11:02 AM on April 27, 2008

Its just that my bf and I dont have many secrets. He is a very morally respectable guy. I am the only girl he has been with for more than 3 months, ever, and weve been together 4 years. Hes 32. I think he is just scared of settling down because he hasnt been with many other girls, and might feel like he should still have fun, etc. Thats probably why he doesnt want to say i love you.. and a lot of his friends are in bad relationships or failing marriages... I think he is just plain scared.

Oh, my BS radar is pinging. He's 32, and is too scared to say I love you? And you've been together for four years?! You deserve way better than this.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:35 AM on April 28, 2008

I know that it isn't any of our business since your question has been answered, but yeah, dating someone for 4 years and never telling them that you love them is pretty strange.
posted by arianell at 9:28 PM on April 28, 2008

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