Savage Love

Cheats

Comments

1
FFS, don't get married until you have a handle on this LW1. You executed your cheating behavior after being caught in the prep stages--that's fucking shitty and you should feel guilty. And you absolutely should tell your fiancé before she marries you. This reveals a lot about your character--hiding it isn't fair to your partner. Maybe things will work out between you maybe they won't but it's not fair to make that decision for her.
2
Oh wow, first? Go me!
Excellent advice to CPOS. He cheated and he believes he deserves punishment. Guess what: Taking this secret to your grave is the punishment. (Even though he already told his therapist, so it's not that severe a punishment.) Situations like CPOS's are the counter-argument to "once a cheater, always a cheater." Sometimes it's "once a cheater, felt so bad about cheating they promised themselves they will never do it again." Good on ya, CPOS.
3
Dammit! haha
4
Did anyone else get the vibe from LW1 that he actually gets off on the humiliation of his girlfriend finding out and being angry with him?
5
I have triumphed BDF! I'm not saying punishment is what he needs but what his partner deserves is a clear picture of who she's marrying.
6
@4: I hear you. It strikes me that he gets off on the cheating and he's getting off on the ritual post-betrayal self-flagellation too. He's fully entitled to his pursuits but he has no right to drag an innocent bystander (i.e. his fiancee) along for that charade. Again, it's just my sense of it, but I think that he has zero intention of changing his behavior.
7
Wow. As someone else who cheated and felt absolutely horrible about it, I utterly disagree with @4 and @5. (And @6.) CPOS made a mistake, and realises this. Hopefully what he's doing is analysing why this happened, what drove him to the decision, so he can fix whatever it is that prompted this course of action and ensure it doesn't happen again.

And why should he tell the fiancée? The experience left him even more committed to her. If he tells her, it will either end the relationship or at least cast a pall over it for years to come. He won't have the happy relationship he now has if he tells. And sure, that may be punishing him, but it's punishing her too. She now has a fiancé who's more committed to fidelity than most guys out there. Why ruin that?
8
CPOS, confessions are a selfish act whose sole purpose is to make the confessor feel better. It doesn't matter to the confessor how much the confession hurts the other party. Your therapist was correct when he told you to keep quiet!
9
I'm paying a lot more attention to the italicized ifs in Dan's answer to CPOS. I get what all went before about single failures and a sincere desire to do better, but nothing in CPOS letter suggests that that's what's going on. Instead I get sin and contrition but no insight into why he screwed up and no plan to make sure the screw-up doesn't happen again in the future. Simply vowing to do better without a plan has to be the worst way to keep a resolution. I'm with sax in 6. It doesn't sound like he has any real desire to change his behavior.

CPOS doesn't need to confess so he can get absolution. He needs to confess so his fiancee has the information she needs to know whether she wants to marry this guy.
10
I don't think CPOS needs to confess to his fiancée if he's really sure that he's not going to cheat again. But I think he needs to do some deep soul-searching about why he did before, how satisfied he is in this relationship, how he's going to not cheat again. Particularly unsettling is the fact that he got caught before he actually cheated, had a talk with his fiancée, and then went ahead and cheated anyway.

While he's figuring out if he wants or is capable of a monogamous relationship or wants a monogamous relationship--or an ongoing relationship--with this woman, he should put the engagement on ice or dial the relationship back to just dating. Maybe the idea of marriage and "settling down" and "forever" are freaking him out and he's acting out. It isn't fair to his fiancée to go ahead making wedding plans and putting down non-refundable deposits (if that's what they're doing) until he sorts his feelings out and really knows what he wants and how he's going to achieve that.
11
@7: BDF, you're hardly unknown at this point. You seem to have a high degree of self-awareness and I'm willing to believe you. Call me judgmental, but I just can't bring myself to give CPOS the benefit of a similar doubt.
12
@Registered European, thanks for thinking of me warmly last week!

Fichu @9 and nocutename @10, agreed.

I'm also paying attention to the ifs in CPOS's original letter: "if I'm certain this was a one-time thing, and if I'm convinced that I'm happy with my fiancée, I should keep quiet."

"If," not "since."

It's great that CPOS is in therapy. Instead of talking about confessing or not, I think he and his therapist should be analyzing why he was so determined to cheat that a difficult conversation with his fiancee about his dating app didn't deter him. Maybe he was trying to explode the relationship; if so, then he should try to figure out why his subconscious might not be willing to commit to this woman. There may be a substantive sexual or non-sexual incompatibility and he should figure that out before they get married.

For UGHERS, I would encourage her to see if she can help spark some fantasies she finds more tolerable. She says their sex life is fulfilling, but it sounds like he has some sort of cuckold tendencies and thinks about being replaced by someone younger, buffer, and maybe with a larger cock.

If she's willing to talk in bed about cuckolding him, he may find that hot without the racial aspect, and then that could bring them closer together. Insisting that he appreciate his own big white belly and bald head as she does may be missing an opportunity to play with how he has managed to eroticize his insecurities.
13
I'm with @10/nocutename. Does CPOS want to be in this relationship? Was sex with someone motivated by a lack of sex attraction or interest in his fiancee? Was CPOS acting out when confronted by fears about sex with only one person for the rest of his life? Or is CPOS just a CPOS? CPOS needs to figure out the answers to these questions. Presumably, he's discussed these issues with this therapist, and should have a good sense of the answers. But that doesn't mean this couple should simply jump into marriage. Given the path CPOS has taken, I would suggest that this couple take their time before getting married.

@9/Fichu: What kind of plan does CPOS need to keep his penis out of any vagina not belonging to his fiancee?
14
Hey, EricaP, welcome back! It's nice to see you here again.
15
LW1 isn't a CPOS unless he has cheated repeatedly. It's a shitty thing to do, no doubt, but he should use that shitty feeling to think long and hard about himself, his relationship and what he wants in his future.

An example: My best friend and I were on vacation once and he cheated on his girlfriend of 2 years. The next few days he was a complete mess (kind of ruined our vacation...). After those few days, he decided that he wanted to marry his girlfriend. That was 10 years ago and they have a great marriage and 2 wonderful daughters.

I guarantee that if he had confessed, she would have left him and never have had this life.
16
My money is on that CPOS will cheat again. He is in the happiest and most content time of his relationship. Yet he sought out casual encounters, even after he was caught. This wasn't a situation where he was caught up in a moment, or the usual state of sexual neglect when the kids come along. That said, he shouldn't tell his fiance. The best he can do is remember the guilt and try and resurrect that emotion when he feels drawn to cheat.

It would be interesting to know the recidivism rate for male cheaters. Crime recidivism is directly related to age - 67% of inmates released before age 21 commit crimes again, but only 15% of those released after age 60 do so. Perhaps the "once a cheater, always a cheater" could be modified to reflect the fact that cheating for men is hormone (testosterone) driven and it will eventually level off as he ages.
17
I find it really hard to understand the 'don't tell' point of view. This wasn't a drunken oops, it was completely deliberate and executed AFTER she caught him on a dating site and they had a tough conversation. Confessing isn't about getting absolution it's about having basic respect for a woman he supposedly loves and letting her know exactly what he's capable of. Exposing someone you love to health risks isn't okay and she has a right to know before legally binding herself to him. The phrase 'my body my choice' comes to mind here--he's choosing a level of risk for her that she has a right to determine for herself. I also really have to echo what was said above--it sounds to me like he was trying to sabotage his relationship and he doesn't seem to have figured out the root cause.
18
EricaP @12: Yes, welcome back!
Re-reading, "if" was CPOS's therapist's word, not CPOS's. The therapist was asking CPOS to ask himself these questions. Presumably CPOS's answer is "yes," given the tone of his letter.

If CPOS isn't analysing his reasons for doing what he did, I agree, he needs to do that first and foremost, and put the wedding off if necessary.

And I agree with @17 that if he cheated unsafely, he needs to come clean (pardon the pun).

Tim @16: Testosterone doesn't make men cheat. Testosterone makes men horny. Ethics, or lack thereof, make men (and women, and non-binaries) cheat.
18
13-Sublime-- I was asking myself that question before you brought it up. I think it comes down to asking himself why he did what he did, how he was feeling when he did it, and then plan to stop the chain of events before he gets to the actual cheating part. I'm thinking of the person who wants to stop getting falldown drunk but who goes into a bar and has 2 drinks while promising not to have the 3rd, 4th and 5th. The plan might be to make sure he doesn't even walk by the bar, to never accept an invitation to a party where he knows there will be heavy drinking, and not to keep alcohol in the house. Applied to sexual lapses, he might keep away from the dating apps even if he tells himself there's no harm in just looking and a little mild flirting.

But really, I favor telling his fiancee what he did.

She could tell him the wedding is off.
She could say she's upset but that he's forgiven.
She could come to an agreement where he's allowed to have sex with someone on a dating app now and then as long as she gets the same privilege.
She could ask him how he feels about living under some amount of suspicion/supervision in which she gets to check up on him, and he gets to check up on her.

I can't say what she should or shouldn't do, but I think it would help if she had the information.
19
I can agree with Dan's advice to CPOS for people who generally have an unexpected, weak moment under unusual circumstances.

I can't agree with it at all for a guy who got caught with the app, had the hard conversation that caused, and still proceeded to cheat.

CPOS, you are going to cheat again if you go forward. You should do your fiancee a favor and break up. And if there's any way you can do that without telling her you cheated or blaming it on her, you should do that, too.

Then you need to figure yourself out. Maybe you're not made for monogamy. That's fine, but don't waste the time of someone who wants that.
20
I am a firm believer in don't ask don't tell, but it seems odd that LW1 would be cheating before he is getting married given how much he claims he loves his fiance. I'll unpack this a bit. We have no sense of how long they've been together. If it's 6 months or so then that is still enough of a honeymoon phase that he shouldn't be looking for other sexual partners. If they've been together for years then it could make sense to seek out a NSA scenario. But really, if he feels guilty then why did he do it in the first place? Whatever motivated him to cheat should tell him something about the relationship's potential problems. My general sense of these things is that we make choices based on holes in our current relationships. Sometimes we are good about communicating with our partners about those problems and sometimes we fail in that regard. But maybe I am placing too much of my own lack of guilt onto the scenario because I think you can love someone and still have sex with other people and not feel guilty about any of it as long as the main relationship is stable in other ways.

BTW, check out this really smart description of don't ask don't tell in the New York Sex Lives podcast from a couple weeks back (Are French better at sex episode). The topic comes up about 10 minutes in if I remember correctly: http://www.podcastchart.com/podcasts/new…
21
@7 If what you say were true he would have figured that out after the conversation about the dating app. "She now has a fiancé who's more committed to fidelity than most guys out there." What are you basing that on? Maybe you did, but he didn't, given the behavior he himself has reported.

I can agree with the don't-tell-the-guilt-is-the-punishment thing when someone genuinely has an unexpected weak moment under unusual circumstances. (In fact, my fiancee and I have discussed it and she's TOLD me not to tell her.) But I can't agree with it, as others have said, when he hurt his fiancee with the dating app, had the hard talk about it, and still proceeded to cheat. Totally different ball game. Dan gave bad advice here.

CPOS, you are going to cheat again if you go forward with this relationship. You should do your fiancee a favor and break up. And if there's any way you can do that without telling her you cheated or blaming it on her, you should do that, too.

Then you need to figure yourself out. Maybe you're not made for monogamy. That's fine, but don't waste the time of someone who wants that. Maybe you two just weren't right for each other, though you did pick a pretty cowardly and POS way to show it.

The hurt she'll feel if you walk away now will be easier than when you're 8 years married with two kids.
22
Ack! Double-post. Sorry.
23
I don't think it matters if it's an "oops I was drunk" or a dating app (I don't think a dating app is much different than staying at a bar until last call, it's still premeditated). He could have been having a very normal, cold-feet moment about committing to one person for the rest of his life. Those of us in monogamous world have all gone through it. Sometimes, before you make a lifelong commitment, you go and see what you might be missing.

It's often a good test of how you really feel. I never cheated before my marriage(or after), but there were opportunities and I'll admit they were tempting. When confronted with them, I actually thought about how important my partner is to me, something that rarely happens day-to-day.

I give the LW benefit of the doubt. If he does it again or downloads another dating app, then sure. He shouldn't make any monogamous commitments and should tell his fiancé the truth. But, if this led to an epiphany about how much this relationship means to him, he should keep his mouth shut or risk losing it forever.
24
UGHERS, at the start of your relationship, your boyfriend discussed with you a racially-charged sexual fantasy involving you, which you let him know was something that you were not interested in actualizing. That was five years ago, and in the time since you've enjoyed a good relationship together, and your boyfriend hasn't press making fantasy (one he knows disinterests you) a reality. Rather, he's found an online outlet, where he (interestingly) engages in a racial role reversal, to explore his fantasy.

But for your insistence on policing his erotic imagination, this particular fantasy would have been something you discussed briefly at the start of your relationship five years ago. Unless he's being careless with his computer, in which case discuss that issue, stop looking for evidence that he's online chatting with people about this particular fantasy. Unlike some kinksters, he seems happy exploring a kink that is a no-go with you in a harmless way that doesn't involve you, while simultaneous maintaining a mutually enjoyable relationship with you. Given that stop creating trouble for yourself, him, and your relationship.

PAIN, your relationship with your girlfriend sounds like it's over. That can really hurt, but everyone goes through that pain at one time or another, and the advice Dan provided is spot on: get out there and start seeing other women.
25
@2: I sometimes wonder whether the CPOS-perpetual confessor archetype enjoys hurting themselves or their partner more. I guess hurting their partner is a proxy to hurting themselves.
26
@4: Sorta, these drama queens love being filled with sorrow and regret and self-hate. Also, he's still probably going to fuck up the marriage once he's in it.

@24: I mean, kink is a complicated thing, and but if he's actively becoming a racist stereotype and posing as one to perpetuate them, she doesn't have to respect him for it.
27
@18 - your statement that ethics, not testosterone, causes cheating - reminds me of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Which is technically true, although doncha know having a gun in the home increases your chance of dying by gunfire. And higher testosterone is linked to infidelity rates. The point I was making, knowing that testosterone falls as men age, I assume so does their desire to cheat. All else being equal.

While I am free associating - I don't think anyone can know whether they are going to be good at long-term monogamy when they are in love and in their 30s (let alone their 20s). Savage's advice that we should magically know how we will feel about having sex with the same person 20 years from now, is about as useful as making a college grad vow they will always remain faithful to their first job out of school doing non-profit work. I mean, Dan Savage boasts that all men want to have sex with women other than their partner. That is immutable. How can you possibly know what it will feel like 5, 10, 20 years into a monogamous relationship? Given rates of infidelity and divorce, best to assume people aren't good at monogamy, and - as grandma used to say - a man is as faithful as his options.

To which, the most useful advice to CPOS: get off the damn app and limit your damn options.
28
@27: "To which, the most useful advice to CPOS: get off the damn app and limit your damn options."

Oh yeah, no way in hell that guy's sincere enough to delete his account. I'd be surprised if he even puts it on hiatus.
30
@25 (undead)
IMO, the compulsion to confess being a CPOS is not so much from wanting to sabotage a relationship or hurt one's partner (or oneself), but rather the immense sigh of relief from having had to hold that secret in instead of blurting it out five minutes after the illicit sex happened. Because then it's out in the open and the cheater doesn't have to lie or hide.

That the revelation hurts the partner or torpedoes the relationship isn't even considered ... another sign of emotional immaturity, perhaps?
31
@30: What you suggest is surface-level but does not speak to the motivations of a serial CPOS.

Telling the partner is no act of mercy to the partner or themselves, it is performed to inflict the most suffering to themselves and their partner.

This is not to say that a person should not be honest about cheating, just that the motives of a serial cheater are more complex than the narrative they want themselves and others to accept.

It's all high-drama theater and self-indulgence, perpetual sin and redemption.
32
I mean, I'm not disagreeing, just tacking on :p
32
Infidel @21: "She now has a fiancé who's more committed to fidelity than most guys out there." What are you basing that on?
The fact that cheating made him feel horrible, more so than many guys out there (see BADDY in last week's column), and the fact that he knows from experience how horrible cheating makes him feel, compared with men who haven't (yet) cheated and therefore don't know how they'll feel.

Tim @27: your statement that ethics, not testosterone, causes cheating - reminds me of "guns don't kill people, people kill people."
A sentiment with which I could not disagree more.
People make the choice to buy guns. They don't make the choice of which hormones their bodies produce.
Your view seems to exonerate men, particularly younger men, from behaviour which is completely within their control. He couldn't help it; testosterone made him do it! Bullshit.

My thoughts re: CPOS run something like this:
If he takes Dan's advice and keeps this to himself, what is the outcome? He spends the rest of his life, or the relationship, with some low level of guilt that keeps him motivated not to cheat again, and to be extra nice to his girlfriend, since he now knows she deserves better.

If he tells, and she breaks up with him, that's hardly going to send a message of honesty being the best policy. If there's a next time, he certainly won't confess -- even if the facts are different and he absolutely should.

If he tells and she forgives him, he may conclude, "Hey, I guess she doesn't think cheating was such an awful thing after all." And he'll be less inclined to pass up the next opportunity.

Sure, the other option is that he not tell and as the guilt fades, he starts to think, "Hey, I got away with that," and the temptation creeps back in. But that's if he is in fact a CPOS. And if he is, whether he tells or doesn't is kind of moot.

The next question to consider is: In the fiancée's position, would you want to know? I certainly would if there were STI risk to consider. Personally, I would prefer to know so that I could claim my one get-out-of-monogamy-free card. But I doubt that would be her primary consideration. I'll let the monogamous amongst us debate that question.
33
@32:"Personally, I would prefer to know so that I could claim my one get-out-of-monogamy-free card"

Does that tit-for-tat ever work out for the better, versus delaying a pairing that just isn't compatible?
34
Delaying the dissolution of, I mean.
35
@BiDanFan 18: It's my understanding that testosterone has been shown (in peer-reviewed research) to make >people< (not just men) more likely to discount negative consequences of actions being considered; i.e. more likely to take risks and in particular more likely to take reckless risks.

It's probably relevant to CPOS cheating immediately after his fiancee discovered his dating app. A cautious person wouldn't do that. But young men aren't known for their caution, and that's probably strongly connected to their testosterone levels.
36
Really? Testosterone makes people biologically predetermined to be more likely to cheat? Give me a fucking break. He planned it, got caught, and went ahead anyway. *HE* did that, not his testosterone.
37
Best he go to confession, admit his sin , say his penance of three rosaries or maybe six, whatever the priest says.
His guilt will then evaporate and he's got a clean slate. Magic.
39
I'm out after LW1.

They are not married. Dan is a rich man, and I get the feeling sometimes that he doesn't realize how much other people's lives and future options are affected by marriage. It can literally destroy your life to marry the wrong person. And here we are, advocating for a woman to enter a marriage without full knowledge of what she's getting into? Fuck that. She has every right to know exactly who her fiance is. If she can't handle the fact that he cheated BEFORE MARRIAGE, then they shouldn't be married. Things are going to get a lot harder here on out.

I'm all for an acceptance of the occassional screw up, and I totally agree that lifelong monogamy is a ridiculous expectation and that there are all sorts of other (and more sane) ways to arrange yourself. But lying? And then forcing someone else into making a life-altering decision based on limited information? FUCK YOU.
40
BTW Therapists are paid to blow smoke up your ass.
41
@7 BiDanFan

He made a choice. I don't think it was a particularly devastating choice. They aren't even married. But he made a choice. He doesn't get to remove HER right to make a choice also. He needs to be honest with her and tell her what he did. She can then reevaluate her expectations in light of the choices he makes. THIS is the healthy way to proceed into a relationship. If she can't handle that he lied to her, deliberately twice, then she has every right to be with someone else. If he can't be monogamous, then he has every right to be with someone else, too.

42
I’m a bit late this week, my apologies if overlapping with others which I suspect I am.
I think LW1 may be driven mostly by his low self-esteem and shame/guilt cycles. Unless he works on that and stops beating the crap out of himself time and again there will be more affairs or other sexually-related acts to provide some temporary relief and assurance, followed by crushing shame and guilt once they’re over.

Healing one self and building confidence is a long process that usually doesn’t pop up all of a sudden after only few sessions with a therapist. And withdrawals are very likely to occur in years to come. If available in his area I’d recommend joining a group therapy or any group talk of some sort with likeminded people, others you can rely on in challenging times.

The future wife should be privy to what I see as the main core, “working on low self-esteem issues with a therapist.”
Keep the sexual stuff out of it, at least for now. “Brutally honest” is often too brutal to all involved.

43
@9 FICHU
Exactly. It's not about him and his conscience. It's about her having all the information she needs to make a major life-altering choice. This is the person she will choose to share finances with, to share children with, etc.
44
@17 Juju
Yup. He was caught, he lied and reassured her, and then he went out and did exactly what he was planning to do all along. That does in fact make him a CPOS.

He needs to come clean about who he is so that she can decide how to handle it. The fucking other people does not make him a bad person nor a bad fiance. The lying about it does. Right now, he can still get away and get into a better sort of relationship for him without destroying her life.

I really have a problem with Dan's assumption that everyone is going to cheat anyway. His statistics don't even make sense. I've been thinking a lot lately about his normalizing of really shitty behavior. Monogamy does not make sense most of the time. That is true, and Dan's advocacy to change this idea (that we should marry someone and fuck only them for the rest of our lives) is important. But he crosses the line into the assumption that it's OK for everyone to lie and cheat just because it happens a lot. There is a world of difference, and Dan is losing me here. Not that it matters to him, I'm sure.
45
PAIN's girlfriend has not broken up with him, nor does it sound like he wants to break things off with her. So I'm not really understanding why Dan says they have to break up (at least for the time she's in LA).

Yes, she cheated on him, but she confessed on her own, and I see that decision to reveal her real sexuality as part of deepening intimate relationship between them, rather than simply unloading her guilt. If she wanted out, she could have skipped confessing about the cheating, and simply broken things off on her way to LA.

PAIN should give her his blessing, and tell her he'll have adventures while she's gone. Of course, they may break up after her trip, but any relationship can end. I just don't see why they should end this one now, rather than opening it (at least temporarily, for her to have the experiences she craves).
46
@42 Why? They aren't even married yet. This isn't some couple that is financially tied together and has kids.

Worrying about how well she'll handle brutal honesty and then making a choice for her to save her from it is super condescending. The ethical approach is for her to see all the cards on the table before she makes a decision that will affect her entire life. He didn't just get caught up in a moment. He made a deliberate and conscious attempt to screw someone else, got caught in the planning stage, lied about it, then carried on anyway after reassuring her that he would not. This is a person who, for whatever reason (self esteem, sex drive, whatever) puts his own desires above the emotional needs of someone else to the point of lying. Fine. There's actually nothing wrong with screwing other people. There's a million things wrong with lying. She has every right to know this and choose whether or not to understand him and stay with him or else leave and move on.
47

I'm with Dan and the therapist( disagree with you there EmmaLiz @40. Not my experiences with them).
He has learnt a big lesson and found out he loves his wife to be. Let sleeping dogs lie.
And go to confession.
48
Tim @27

I think there might be something to hormonal drives causing behaviors. As a woman, I have experienced similar things with extreme hormonal fluctuations. Sometimes you get caught up in something before you realize what you are in the middle of. Fine.

Again, the problem isn't that he fucked someone else. Personally, I think there comes a point when you separate your impulses and drives from your actions (this is being a grown up) but we all screw up sometimes, especially when we are young and when the desires/drives are very strong. So whatever, he fucked someone else. It happens.

This has absolutely nothing to do with lying about it, which is not a matter of hormones but rather a conscious choice. Since they aren't even married yet, it also removes her right to make decisions about her own life based on accurate information. And its a shitty thing for him to do to himself as well. Does he really want to try to spend the remainder of his life with someone who expects monogamy for decades and decades? Being a lying piece of shit has nothing to do with testosterone. It has to do with being a fucking entitled coward.
49
Ms Fan seems to fall in line with Mr Savage and the idea that one should trust someone who has cheated and regretted it over someone who has never cheated.

It does feel as if Mr Savage's model nudges first-time cheaters towards the It Wasn't So Bad track. Or maybe there may be some benefit for the people Mr Savage claims to want to help, but a good deal more for the worse kind, as if he's telling them exactly what to say to get a pass from the Cheating Parole Board.

Welcome back, Ms Erica.
50
CPOS - You are not a shitty person. You treated your fiance badly. You got away with it. But that doesn't change what happened. You know your relationship is different than it was, even if she doesn't. What you don't know, what you haven't clarified, is why you cheated. It's not because you're a monster (and do you really want someone you love to marry a monster if you were one?). It does mean that you are attracted to polyamory.. or if not, it might also mean you have some deep fears about your present relationship or upcoming marriage. It's not clear if you are poly, sort of uncontrollably attracted to planning affairs with others, or if the draw was just the deception, introducing more distance into your relationship. Hopefully you can figure it out. Either way, it's something that is of concern to your fiance too.

It would be nice if you would take a break and spend some time working on yourself before jumping into romance again. But my magic 8 ball says don't count on it. & it's hard for me to feel bad for Ms CPOS. However they worked out the fight about the dating app, it went badly.

UGHERS - some reassurance that I'm doing the right thing by letting this behavior go and also for some insight into why he's doing it in the first place.
If online dating was against the rules for y'all, then you can't let it go. You can renegotiate the rules to something you can both be happy with. Placing online ads is ok. Extended correspondence or meeting is not ok.

There is the separate issue of having incompatible sexual fantasies. I think you made a mistake in your hurry to round him up to Mr Perfect. It sounds like this fantasy is not going away, and you'd best decide if you'd rather do it, or outsource it, or get cheated on. If it's way across your line.. think about outsourcing it.. then you can at least change the tone of this sex problem. From "omg quit trolling about it online I hate that part of you" to "I want to make you happy and if you need to outsource it, I think I can get there".

By the way do you have any fantasies that have been growing dusty in the back of the closet? Around now might be a good time to dust them off..

As for how this guy is eroticizing black man/white woman... who knows but him. Might be BBC, might be more subtle racial stereotypes. Maybe try buttering him up more before asking him again. (And praise every little scrap of insight he lets slip out)

PAIN - It doesn't matter how good things are, if they are fucking up your physical or mental health too, you need to stay away from them. You sound like a heroin addict... "I know I'm doing something horrible to my body but it FEELS SO GOOD!" Maybe you don't have to quit for good, but quit you must. Break up and only get back together after you've tested the waters and you are not going to boil alive anymore.. ie she demonstrates the desire for monogamy with you for awhile.
51
Dude didn't hit up one or two women. He had sex with multiple women from the app. Unless he knows why he did it, he oughtn't be marrying anyone. And he certainly shouldn't be in a monogamous relationship.
52
@47LavaGirl

We disagree on lots of things, and that's OK. To be fair, I should have said SOME therapists. There are plenty of wonderful therapists out there who really do help people and save lives.

There are also a ton of them who do nothing at all. The stats on talk therapy, for example, are not promising. And what it means to be a "therapist" has a wide range. The qualifications alone show a wide range. Just because a therapist told him it's ok to marry someone who he is repeatedly lying to doesn't mean that this is some objective expert opinion nor that the person who told him so is even remotely qualified.
53
@51: Yuuuuup.

He's not ready to be married, he's not stable enough for a relationship.

I agree with CMD that this has everything to do with his self-hatred, but disagree that he can address these things within the context of a lie-ridden relationship.

Him staying in a lie is yet another way to draw out the glorious, burning CPOS identity that hits all the right notes of disgust and revulsion.
54
@47: "He has learnt a big lesson and found out he loves his wife to be"

He learned no lessons and how he feels about his wife is at odds with how he doesn't love himself and uses her as a prop to make himself feel bad. He isn't going to treat her well.
55
Whoops, Lava she's not even his wife. He's taking the serial cheating to the altar and beyond.
56
Guilt is a corroding feeling. When I stated in my relationship with my husband to be, that I wanted monogamy, nothing had been clarified between us..he promptly went off and got with a sex worker. Panic maybe. Asserting his options, who the hell knows. We were both in our late twenties. He did tell me, and we then moved onto monogamy.
Remembering that I'm now conflicted.

Oh Tim. It's not just men who find themselves sexually attracted to others beside their partners. Men who cheat really need to stop justifying their behaviour with a line of reasoning that somehow their free choice is taken away, because they are males.
57
I've never cheated, but I've been cheated on, and I've assisted guys in cheating, and dollars to donuts, LW1 is going to be a serial CPOS. His meager, meager defense is how he's gonna roll for the foreseeable future -- it's ok as long as he sticks to NSA and his girlfriend/future wife never finds out.

It's completely laughable to think that he actually feels guilty when he followed through on the cheating AFTER he got caught. He's faking the guilt. He feels like a shitty person because he doesn't feel guilty at all. I almost wonder if he went to a therapist who told him to confess, and not liking the answer he wrote to Dan knowing that Dan would tell him what he wanted to hear.

I would agree with Dan's advice if I caught the slightest whiff of repentance off CPOS, but lol, NO. It'd be one thing if he'd already started a family with his partner, but childless and unmarried? Let the poor woman know.
58
@51 what did I miss, he said he looked up multiple women on the app, but that it was a "one time thing." I didn't get the impression he actually slept with multiple women.

@undead: don't psychoanalyze someone based on a few paragraphs. Yes, he's guilty and feels shitty, like he should! It's probably situational, like, feeling feeling guilty for cheating on a fiancé? I think it's jumping the gun to say that he doesn't love himself and is using her as a prop. He cheated, a good person feels bad about themself in that situation. It's the people who don't that aren't mature enough to be in a relationship.
59
Clarification for my @ 42
I didn’t say LW1- and avoiding calling himself “CPOS” should be the first step in his healing process- shouldn’t tell the fiancée everything at some point, and I didn’t say he should keep lying to her and marry her regardless.
There is no marriage date, and I will not set it any time soon.
I think that in order to figure out what’s going on, as well as possible long-term solutions, he needs time to figure things out.
It is possible he will realize monogamy is indeed for him, or maybe he will be comfortable with the idea that he is not mono, which so far he isn’t.
He fucked up, no doubt. We can roll him in tar, but beyond the immediate sense of revenge not much else will be resolved.

60
Possibly my best sentence ever:
“I think that in order to figure out …he needs time to figure things out.
61
@59
It's not about revenge or any such thing. It's about honesty. He needs to be honest about what he wants and what he does so that she can be honest about the same. I don't think monogamy is necessarily better nor that he should be punished. Just that everyone should lay their cards on the table before entrapping one another in a joint future.

This is the same conversation last week regarding the vasectomy. Somehow, the husband is allowed to lie because he's afraid of the wife's reaction. This makes no sense. Everyone needs to own how they feel and what they want. They don't get the right to lie to others about what they feel/do in order to get what they want. That never works out, long term.

62
I always believe CMD @60, that if we don't blow our own trumpet then who the hell will?
63
CPOS: Just don't get married.
PAIN: Just let her go.

Wow, that was easy.
64
@63: ...um, for me to say, anyway.

65
@52EmmaLiz.
I've only ever done the 'talking cure' type therapy, with two different therapists. They were great 👍. Both confronted and challenged me.
Hi Grizelda.
66

I don't think the guy last week lied. Saying he doesn't want kids is not equivalent to having the procedure.
He placated her freak out by agreeing to have it done. Is that lying or a normal reaction to another person assuming way too much control over someone else's body.
CPOS needs to come clean with himself about what he wants in life. His cheating suggests it's not monogamy.
67
EL @ 61
I agree that “he needs to be honest about what he wants and what he does so that she can be honest about the same.”
I also think that he needs some time to figure out why he needs to cheat and what is it that he really wants.
My guess is that he doesn’t have the answer yet, and is aiming to plain vanilla monogamy mainly because this is what society tells him he needs to do.
At this point in life, and certainly before getting married, I’d suggest looking into the motives, different possibilities, and a dignified way to present them all to his possible-or-not future partner.
It is going to be painful and challenging for her as well, no doubt, yet the more he is prepared the different outcomes are likely to be easier on both. And there are more than two possibilities here: others touched on his possibly submissive needs-to-be-punished attitude, but mostly in a negative way.

I hope this week and last week’s main topics don’t turn into an all out genitalia warfare. Last week’s Mrs. SNIP used some language that made me question her motives and attitude. Her appearance only enhanced it, and her not-so-graceful exit pretty much confirmed it. (For the record, as opposed to Lava I think it was really her despite the pathetic “it’s not me, I only faked it.”)
To my liberal non-sexist credentials I’d like to point that when “Mr. 20 beautiful women” showed up some time in spring of last year I was also sympathetic to him at first. Once the cows' manure meter started beeping my attitude was adjusted accordingly.
I really used to milk those beasts, and I did figure out I should step away once the tail comes up.

68
LW3: Your girlfriend feels like she missed out on her teenage dating years by being with you? How old was she when you started screwing her?? A seven year age difference might not seem like much when the ages are 36 and 29, but it's immense if you started "dating" at 20 and 13. Let her go. You don't have to dump her, just let her go so she can discover normal relationship development. From now on, try dating women who are already adults and don't cruise the schoolyards for your next girlfriend.
69
Clashfan @51: "Dude didn't hit up one or two women. He had sex with multiple women from the app."
Where do you read that? I read it as, he was surfing the app, the fiancée discovered the app, he said he wouldn't follow through, he followed through, he felt like a shitheel. As well he should have.

Tim, I wonder if your "hormones" blanket excuse also applies to women whose PMT is so bad they commit acts of violence? She didn't hit her husband/kids, her hormones did that. So it's fine.

Bear @68: Perhaps PAIN's girlfriend missed out on her teenage dating years by being too shy/acne-ridden/awkward to actually do any dating then?
70
Hey! Is that 69 to me, two weeks in a row? :D
71
@67 CMD Nothing I've read that you've written has come across in the least bit sexist, etc. My response would be the same if the genders were reversed or the same. I agree about him stepping away to figure out what he wants btw.
72
@68 Bear I took it to mean she'd been a goody-good or something when she was young and now felt like she needs to sow some wild oats. Though teenage years was probably a bad choice of time to long for- did anyone have fun then? Early 20s perhaps. "Being young" is what I suspect she meant, as she's about to turn 30.
74
Ah - I have it! Mr Savage on infidelity reminds me of Tania Degano (the bride at the beginning) at the end of Muriel's Wedding. The assembled company will perhaps recall that Tania's marriage began with Muriel getting a view of the groom boinking bridesmaid Nicole in the laundry room during the reception. Tania later tells her group of friends that Chook has admitted to having an affair... with Rose Biggs, which Tania discovered when Chook was (no wonder Ms Lava thinks all men require constant Viagra from the age of forty in order to perform at all) incapable, and she found lipstick on what Church Lady would call his Tingling Naughty Parts. The assembled company may well recall with some pleasure Rhonda's epic "I'm Honest Too" speech to Tania at Hibiscus Island which reveals Nicole's affair with Chook and tells Tania that Rhonda would rather swallow razor blades than have a drink with her. Waterloo (in dual form) presently ensues. [top that, Conchita Wurst, if you can!]

Later, however, when Muriel's marriage has forced the now-wheelchair-bound Rhonda to return to Porpoise Spit to live with her mother, Tania and her gang (minus the excommunicated Nicole), who were also Muriel's bridesmaids, have taken to visiting Rhonda regularly to brighten her home life (gee, thanks). Just before Muriel returns to whisk Rhonda back away to Sidney, Rhonda suffers through such a visit only to come to life when Tania says the girls have to leave early to meet Rose Biggs for lunch. "Rose Biggs? But she [blanked] your husband's [blank]!" Tania then waxes philosophical:

"Yes, but then later, I [blanked] her husband's [blank], and that's when I realized... we all make mistakes."
75
@ LW-1
I spent some time in a marriage counsellors office working on my issues. In the course of these sessions she related the story of an Unnamed other coupe she was counselling with similar issues that I was having. She said that the husband in this marriage was repeatedly being unfaithful, but did not want to leave his wife. The wife desired to be with him, but wanted fidelity from him. They were working on these issues and had no firm conclusions. This was 17 years ago, and I always wondered what ever happened to them.
76
@40 My experience was that my therapist in NO way condoned someone being a CPOS.
She said that she did not encourage the "other couple" to stay together if the wife was continuously unhappy with her hubby's infidelity, but the wife told her that she was still attracted to her unfaithful mate.
I was left with the impression that the guy had some sort of movie-star charm, and I was told that most men (to include me) did not possess that charm. I did not detect any smoke but then my experience with counsellors is limited. Does anyone else on here agree with Miss Emma?
77
@76
What are you talking about? I'm not referring to what your therapist told you?? I'm talking about LW's therapist who told him that he should lie to his fiance in order to protect her. Which is condescending and, yes, condoning of cheating.

If you mean my dismissal of therapy in general, yes I clarified that plenty of times it is effective. But not nearly so often as the general public seems to think since people frequently grab at "get some help" as if this is an easy thing to do. If you look into the efficacy of talk therapy, you'll find that it is way overblown. Likewise with SSRIs. In both cases, the people that are helped by such things are frequently helped in extreme ways- sometimes to the point of saving someone's life or to the point of allowing a person to function, etc. But just as often (around half the time according to most studies) there is no improvement at all. It's especially difficult to study when we talk about talk therapy alone since what it takes to become a therapist ranges dramatically. A brief look at the listings of psychologists in my own city range from people with associates degrees to people with phds.

I'm glad that you had a good experience. I have had good and bad. I've seen a lot of people who go to therapists just to have smoke blown up their ass. Lots of people continue to go because it gives them validation of their feelings and their desires out of context of the other people and events in their lives since the therapist is often advocating for the patient without knowing anything about the other people around the patient other than what the patient says. And yes, when someone says they got caught planning to cheat, promised they wouldn't cheat, cheated anyway, and now want to lie about it so that they can still get married to someone under false circumstances (the expectation of monogamy) and the therapist validates those feelings, says it's OK and in fact tells them they are doing the other person a favor (how nice of you to spare her feelings), my red flag that this is a bullshit smoke-blowing therapist is flying high. It's in their best interest to keep the clients coming. Psychologists, especially those with only a BA or a masters, have a lot of trouble with employment- that degree has one of the highest rates of unemployment out there. And since patients usually don't have to pay for it themselves, they will frequently continue to attend sessions without any benefit to their mental state because everyone likes to be told they are right and their feelings are right and they are doing the right thing and that it's other people who aren't right or don't deserve to be told the truth. I used to see this crap all the time in public health. It's frequently a circle jerk.

That doesn't mean of course that there aren't plenty of people who benefit, as I said.
78
@69: He was a serial cheat, even after she found out about the dating app, which he apparently also lied about?

"But she doesn't know that shortly after her discovery, I went ahead and cheated. To my meager, meager credit, I did seek out only women who were looking for NSA hookups"

That guy isn't interested in change.
79
I have to disagree with Dan on LW#1. They aren’t married yet, they don’t rely on each other financially, one doesn’t depend on the other’s health care, they’re not responsible for any children, etc. The fiancée has a right to know *before* tying the knot.

Why is everybody so sure that marrying this guy is definitely what’s best for her? Yes, finding out that he cheated on her anyway will hurt her feelings. But it will be temporary pain as opposed to the long-term pain of ending up married to this clueless goon.

I really don’t think that him coming clean would be selfish in this case. Quite the opposite. Don’t forget that he wants to marry her and that may not happen if she finds out about his cheating. So let’s not pretend he’s got nothing to gain from being dishonest. I think that his whinging about not wanting to hurt her feelings is just self-serving bullshit. I don’t buy that he’s really concerned for her wellbeing, at least not as much as for his own.

Honestly, all this talk that it’s better for her not to know comes across as really patronizing to me. Yes, receiving painful information sucks, but it’s the price to pay for being able to take charge of your life. It would be ok to not tell her if it didn’t change anything, e.g. if he decided to dump her she wouldn’t need to know all the details of how he came to that conclusion.

But if her knowing may change how she feels about a major life decision (like getting married!) that’s important information. And he has no right to take that away from her just because it’s more convenient for him.
80
@77. Emma Liz. You assume a lot of knowledge about a lot of people. How do you know what goes on in other people's therapy or how effective it might be for them.
81
@80 It's not my assumptions. It's what research has found over and over again regarding efficacy of talk therapy and (separately) SSRIs. The reason I know this is that it was my job to know this. That was a few years ago, so I might be a little out of date, but I doubt there has been a revolution in psychology since then. Regarding unemployment levels of different degrees, this is easily verified. Psychology is not an easy field to get into.

The only thing I'm assuming based on personal experience is that people who are not being helped yet continue to go to therapy anyway do it because it's validating to them. And I'm assuming this because I've had so many patients and students over the years tell me that their therapists told them that shitty things they did were perfectly fine because their parents or teachers or siblings or lovers were treating them poorly- this without the therapist having met any of these people but only having heard one side of the story.
82
LW; I think the first question you have to ask yourself is why. Why did you have dating apps when you had decided to marry someone and then why did you go out and cheat after your wife to be found out about the app.
Maybe getting married is not what you really want to do. And it is grossly unfair to enter that state if you are half arsed about it.
83
@81. EL. of course therapists don't meet the people a client is talking about.
Just be careful with your blanket put downs of a service a lot of people take seriously, as therapists and as clients.
84
Steamed Hams @79 said exactly what I was thinking. I think the fiancee deserves to make her own decisions, and withholding the information is selfish and self-serving. Whether she dumps him, postpones the wedding while she thinks things through, decides to give it a try and work through it, or all/none of the above, it should be her choice, because it's her life too, and he has no right to take that away from her. If he truly feels guilty about this, then he needs to come clean instead of seeking absolution from an advice columnist who is going on his word alone about how terrible he feels.
85
Bi @69: It's my impression that the argument Tim is making is not that testosterone makes cheating okay, but that it makes it more likely. As with many other things, a predisposition isn't an excuse, but it can be part of an explanation.
86
@84: I don't doubt that he feels bad, but I find feeling bad doesn't correlate in any significant way to recidivism, or at least not in any way that would build confidence that he wouldn't cheat again.

Some people love their own misery so much, they create scenarios where they can wallow in it. Not most people, but serial philanderers surely do. I don't have an issue with the idea that they "feel" but their actions are predictable.

Of course, their definition of "feeling bad" usually is at odd with others who would assume that if you truly felt bad for hurting someone, you wouldn't hurt them again.
87
@85: "As with many other things, a predisposition isn't an excuse, but it can be part of an explanation."

But by bringing up strict Nature versus Nurture, he is absolutely muddying the waters. Persons with high testosterone count don't universally cheat.

He attempts to inject a biological excuse where one is unnecessary and unhelpful to the topic at hand.
88
Just to play devil's advocate for a moment, I'd like to ask the people who are on the "she deserves to know so she can make an informed choice" side of the CPOS discussion how far they think that line of thought goes. We all have things we disclose to our partners and things we hide. It's not clear to me which of those things someone else can declare my partner has a "right" to know. If I'm trying to be a good partner, and have the happiness of my spouse in mind, presumably I don't owe them a list of all my past faults. So is this assertion that she has a right to know basically a belief that he really must be a CPOS? Or is it a line that is drawn at physical actions? She has a right to know about actual cheating--does she also have that right about flirting? Fantasies?
89
@87 undead: "Persons with high testosterone count don't universally cheat." Yes, but they are more likely to, and that's all that was said. More likely does not equal always happens. Why, when asserting the first, are people acting like he was asserting the second?
90
Tim darling returns here periodically pushing the same line. And I think it's a false one because women can equally feel they are not being taken seriously in their marriages re their sexual desires.
The question could be how long must anyone wait for their partner to listen, and then if its years and years, what can one do about it without demolishing a family that functions well in all other areas. Is cheating a viable alternative here, or should a person, after years of being denied bite the bullet and say enough is enough.
Either you hear, respect and respond to my desire for enthusiastic and erotic sex or I'm going to find it elsewhere.

91
@89: "Why, when asserting the first, are people acting like he was asserting the second?"

Because of the context in which this useless factoid was introduced.

@88: "We all have things we disclose to our partners and things we hide."

The difference is in that he's a serial cheat, they haven't been married, and she should get tested for her health.

I don't have anything particularly dramatic to confess to my partner, so I don't know what is at the limits of tell or not, I can only speak for this particular instance.

If you want to invent an instance we could probably give you a more nuanced response, but this guy doesn't sound like he's good for his fiancée, now or ever.
92
Jina @ 84
Withholding the information, at least for now, may be the better option for both.

undead @ 86
Please elaborate on “I find feeling bad doesn't correlate in any significant way to recidivism, or at least not in any way that would build confidence that he wouldn't cheat again.”
Not sure if I read you right, and it seems possibly contradicting to me.
Recidivism is “relapse” which I think can be partially fed by feeling bad. As for the second part, obviously there is no confidence building in relapsing, but I may got your real intention wrong

ciods @ 88
It’s pretty obvious what “disclosure” means in the context of the letter and the actions described. We’re already at each other’s throat as it is.
93
Ms Ods - Highly reminiscent backwards of Murder in Mesopotamia when Poirot wonders why Mrs Mercado stared intensely at Nurse Leatheran at tea when they first met. Nurse Leatheran tells him that Mrs Mercado isn't a lady, to which Poirot replies that that is an excuse, not an explanation.

As for your question about disclosure, perhaps there ought to be a second/third date game in which one attempts to predict how one's potential partner would prefer such situations to be handled. That might reduce the weight of a discussion, and, while not foolproof when the time comes, at least provides some sort of pointer.
94
@92: I meant that someone who "feels bad" is no less likely to act poorly. It is, of course about their feelings and at a disconnect with how the other party feels. It's not the same as empathy.

I feel like the best gift a person can give themself is the ability to "get over" themselves.
95
I think it's s valid point ciods @88 makes
CMD @92. Are actions the only things one must disclose to one's partner. How about thoughts of disliking them or thoughts of wanting to fuck specific people or sexual fantasies that involve private kinks?
Do these have to be disclosed in order to run a decent and above board marriage. Cause if they are, then I suggest very few of us have ever made the grade.
96
@95: How is someone's naive idea of "true honesty" relevant to the topic, though?

This guy's gotten raked over the coals in the comments for physical infidelities he's going to take into the marriage not "thoughtcrimes".

"How about thoughts of disliking them"

This should absolutely be addressed in some manner.

"thoughts of wanting to fuck specific people"

Contextual, but generally not needed to be disclosed.

"sexual fantasies that involve private kinks"

Contextual, but generally not needed to be disclosed.

The question is posed as some sort of confoundingly framed "gotcha", but it offers no insight on that particular LW's scenario.
97
"Do these have to be disclosed in order to run a decent and above board marriage. Cause if they are, then I suggest very few of us have ever made the grade."

Take it up with ciods!
98
@88 - I'm not sure which direction you're looking to go in when you say "how far do you go." "I murdered someone; help me dispose of the body" then certainly she should know so she can run the hell away. "I fantasized about someone else last night while we were having sex" is fairly harmless, and I see little point in disclosing.

No, I advocate that she should know because she is going through a major event in her life - i.e. marriage - without all of the information. She knows that her fiance contemplated cheating, and she forgave him for that. What she doesn't know is that he proceeded to cheat *after* she forgave him. He gave her the false idea that he was willing to accept monogamy as the price of admission to be with her, and then reneged on that as soon as he had the opportunity to do so.

In addition to that, this isn't really a "past" fault. Certainly everyone has something in their past that they haven't told their significant others, be it because it never came up or it's just not relevant to the current relationship. But this IS relevant to the current relationship. Concealing a fairly big betrayal of her trust, i.e. doing something she explicitly asked him not to do, and, it bears repeating, he *agreed* not to do, in order to keep her around, doesn't exactly scream "I'm thinking of my partner's happiness" so much as "I'm a selfish prick."

@92 - And I say it isn't. If you're going to rebut, please elaborate a little more than that. Are you saying he should wait until they're safely married and she is legally bound to him?
99
@96 undead: It wasn't meant as a "gotcha," and I'm sorry if it read that way. I may not have adequately accounted for the lack of tone in text. It was meant as an honest question. What things would you want your partner to disclose, assuming that that partner *was* genuinely interested in continuing a relationship with you? I assume--perhaps wrongly--most of us would want a disclosure that had to do with unease about the relationship. But if the partner feels committed, then what to disclose is less clear to me. I think there are plenty of people who *wouldn't* want a one-time fling disclosed (and there seems to be some confusion in the reading about whether this guy cheated once or many times; I read it as once). But obviously many people *would* want that. I was just wondering if that's the only thing along those lines that people would say the other person has a "right" to know. You're right this question doesn't offer much insight into this letter. I didn't think the conversation was necessarily restricted to the situation in the letter.

100
@96 undead. Can't we digress then from the letter? And it seems the options of tell
or not tell have been explored.
Interesting you think it necessary to disclose if one had thoughts of not liking one's partner, I did mean momentarily, yet don't think the same if one desires sexual union with someone else. I'd say the opposite to you. No need to mention every time one has thoughts of disliking/ annoyance yet good to discuss sexual desire for another.
Not sure who you think ciods was trying to get by her question. I saw her just exploring
the " rules" of disclosure.
101
ciods @ 88 Well, devil’s-advocating right back at ya: How much is ok to *not* tell your partner? Why shouldn’t he keep fucking other people and never tell her as long as he does it safely? What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right? And how many times does he get to cheat anyway before he becomes a “real” CPOS? Three? Four? Is ten times ok if he spreads it out over 20 years?

And what else doesn’t he have to tell her to spare her feelings? Taking on another mortgage on their house? Pawning her jewelry to pay back debt? After all financial problems are very stressful, it would upset her to know about them. It’s ok to lie about it as long as he has “her happiness in mind”. If you truly love someone you always know what’s best for them (because that’s how love works!). So why bother telling your partner anything? Just keep them shielded from life forever so that they’re never upset ever again!

To reiterate, yes, there are situations when I think it’s ok, or even kinder, to not tell your partner about an infidelity. But there isn’t one clear line to draw, because people have different priorities, because life is complicated. However, a big reason for me why *in this case* he should tell her is that they’re about to get married and she needs to know what kind of relationship she’s in before making this life-altering decision.

I’m also not convinced that it was a onetime thing. He prepared to cheat, got caught in the preparation, “worked through it” with her (whatever that means) and then went ahead and cheated anyway (and btw. like some others in this thread, I also understood his wording to mean he had sex with several women, though I see that may not be the case). In any case, he put a lot of work into this. It wasn’t just one night of crazy drunkenness.

Note also that in their “work through” conversation she apparently didn’t tell him that she wouldn’t want to know if he really cheated, like some of the posters here told their partners. So he knows that she would want to know and I think he also knows that she could handle it. But he doesn’t want her to handle it because he doesn’t want to get his ass kicked.