Savage Love Letter of the Day: Newly Engageed Woman Debates Confessing Bullshit "Infidelity" Or Keeping Mouth Shut

Comments

1
The married guy has no interest in outing you. There's nothing for him to gain by doing so.

And agree with Dan. This was 6 years ago. If I found out my gf/fiance/wife had made out and talked on the phone with someone 6 years ago, I would literally shrug it off.

Hopefully you're just letting yourself get way too worked up about this... do you really think your fiance would be THAT mad about this thing from 6 years ago? And if you do, why? If it's because it would be devastating if the roles were reversed and you're projecting that feeling onto him, ok, relax.

But if he has a habit of having huge reactions to small transgressions (and at this point, this is a small transgression), you have other far more significant problems with this guy to worry about.
2
This is so trivial I almost wish Dan had advised her to confess everything just so 1) it was off her chest and 2) so if the dude (and family/friends) were such assholes that they'd make a big fuss about this, then she's better off using this as an excuse to break all contact (and engagements) with them.
3
Recently engaged after EIGHT years?!!? And you're worried about something that happened once when you were two years into the relationship? Six years before you were engaged.

Yeah, sure. Come clean if it will make you feel better. But, trying a new something, especially when your relationship was stalled at a point where most people are getting engaged or married (high school sweethearts excepted...), seems justifiable. He hadn't put a ring on it yet, what you do is your business.

Unless you want to push the self destruct button. In which case, go ahead and confess.
5
Letter writer here. I wrote in that it was 2.5 years ago (not sure why that was edited to 6 years ago)
We were very much committed at the time!

But Dan, this helped enormously in terms of forgiving myself. In the grand scheme of things, you're right - it could have been much worse.
6
Dear Floribama... we sometimes change a detail or two to protect the letter writer's anonymity. Glad the advice helped regardless!
7
The hetero wedding "farce" and the corresponding "gay counterfarce" are useful descriptors indeed. Thanks again, Dan, for enriching English yet again.
8
Dear Floribama: Please stop sabotaging your own wedding - even if you're doing it subconsciously. Why would I say this? Because (if I'm right) you're most likely living with your fiancé or spending several nights a week with him - unless he works nights. If you continue not sleeping, he'll eventually notice and wonder whether you're having second thoughts: about the wedding or, worse, about him. He may come to believe there's something wrong with him and do one of two things: try harder to fix something that's not broken; or draw away from you because he's feeling unappreciated or confused.

With your lack of sleep eventually affecting your looks, alertness, and ability to cope with your daily routine, he could even come to the conclusion that you must be facing some severe health crisis.

Even though you're engaged and not married, sticking to the formula that straying sexually once or twice is so powerful that it MUST destroy an otherwise solid relationship that had already lasted years is precisely why Dan invented(?) the word "monogamish" and its noun form "monogamishamy". You don't need to rationalize that it was just making out i/o fucking, etc., etc. It happened In. The. Past. and that's where it should remain, its memory becoming fainter day by day.

You deserve to forgive yourself not only for your past (slight indiscretion IMO) but as emotional support to conduct your married life in the HERE and NOW.
9
Dan Savage, sometimes you really annoy me and you can be arrogant and even nasty.

But that was a VERY lovely response. Totally correct in substance and tone. Thank you
10
But again, if you're super-worried your fiance is going to go ape shit over this, make sure the level of ape shit you're expecting is appropriate to the crime and you're not engaged to an abusive asshole.
11
LW here - wow I am surprised no one really cares about the phone calls at all. It's been weighing on me heavily - just as much as the physical encounter

I think I need more people like you commenters in my life.
12
@2: Your point is well taken, but Dan’s advice works for many levels of guilt, which is a rather individual thing. If you are a generally good person, it seems a generally good idea to forgive yourself and your love interest whenever possible. Also, kind things sometimes happen at the memory hole.
13
All good til the pot recommendation. I get that it relaxes some people. It also makes some people psychotic. Not quite as fun to write/read, but maybe you could recommend meditation/yoga/long hikes/etc.? (or just "find what relaxes you, and go do it.")
14
@11 IMHO, the phone calls are potentially a bigger deal than the one night non-stand. But you didn't give us details to judge that by (unless I forgot that bit between reading and responding). Were they relatively innocent "how ya doing" calls or were they hot steamy phone sex?

In any case, there is little to be gained by coming clean for something that was not a big deal *as long as it was just this one incident and follow ons*. If you had a history of infidelity or lying more than this once, the recommendation would be another one altogether.
15
Dear Floribama:

Further to what @13 wrote about relaxing influences, I wanted to suggest a very personal technique. Decades ago, I was very bothered by rudeness and insults from someone at work. When I found I was dragging those upsetting incidents home (because they were overwhelming my mind), I created a mantra of my own. All I would do is repeat three times: Get out of my head. Get out of my head. Get out of my head. And it worked!

You could try something similar, using words that feel powerful to you. Good luck!
16
I was going to say the same thing as @13. If I was worried on the level like the LW is, smoking pot would push me over the edge to paranioa and psychosis instead of relaxing me. Careful with that stuff.
17
This is something very minor in the grand scheme of things. If this was ongoing that would be very different, but years ago should definitely not be keeping you up at night. The fact that it troubles you so much sounds like it is something that might be good to get off your chest. It really is something your fiancé should be able to shrug off. I completely agree about shoving things down the memory hole that would be emotionally damaging to your partner but this is so minor that it hardly qualifies. In fact if my wife told me something like this as her deep dark secret I would be secretly relieved that this is the worst thing that had happened! If this is a 1000lb weight that you will carry around forever and it would be two ounces for your fiancé I say transfer away.
18
I second Parker @17. When I was going through a very rough period in my life, I cheated. The situation was very complicated on several levels, but at that time, I needed it. Years later, when my husband and I were in a really good place, it wouldn't stay in the memory hole and I didn't want it coming back to ruin the good thing we had going. I broke down and confessed because I couldn't physically stop crying, he forgave me, and that was that. Because that is what people in loving relationships do. They try to understand each other and move past the bumps and obstacles. 8 yrs is a long time, certainly long enough that knowing you were out of bounds without crossing that line shouldn't be a big deal. Especially if you are able to articulate how it affected you and benefitted the relationship. He should appreciate the fact that you are being honest with him, be honest with you in return, and work it out like adults. If you need to, take a break from the wedding planning until you are past this, and if there is an overblown reaction, maybe consider if you want to spend your life with someone who has major reactions to minor events (many people are okay with that, but it is something you should be aware that you are signing on for.)
19
Are you sure you're not using this long-ago infidelity as an excuse to explain your pre-wedding jitters? Because maybe you're just worried about the wedding on the whole and this is just the most rational thing you can point to.

Either way, it was a long time ago, before you were engaged - let it go.
20
Sigh, I must have crappy morals; but LW, I think you might want to talk to a GOOD counselor about this hair shirt you're wearing over this one cheating incident from SIX YEARS AGO! Do you belong to some Calvinistic religion? Why would you lose your family and friends if they found out about this one mistake you made SIX YEARS AGO and NEVER REPEATED? Like Dan said, if your friends, family and fiancé are the type of people who would shun and abandon you if they find out about this, then you need better friends, family and partner. Do go see a counselor - it's disturbing that you haven't slept for a month, and believe that you can't plan your wedding because somehow, after SIX YEARS, your "sin" will be found out, and everyone, including your FAMILY(!?!) will dump you over this. Do these people make you feel you can't be forgiven for mistakes, or do you feel you're unworthy unless you always do "the right thing" - whatever that might be?

You need to find out - if this is just your perfectionism or self esteem problems, then you need to work on it. If it's because your family, friends and fiancé won't love you unless you follow all their rules/standards/moral or religious edicts perfectly, then they're scary abusers, and you need to RUN!

Your name wouldn't be Hester, would it?
21
Six years?? Six YEARS?!? Good god, woman, cut yourself some slack. Like Dan says, you made a mistake, and you learned from it. You should be proud of yourself for resisting temptation. This should be proof of your ability to be faithful for the rest of your married life.

But don't smoke pot. You're obviously way too high-strung, you're the sort that would have a freakout.
22
Misanthrope @3: "trying a new something, especially when your relationship was stalled at a point where most people are getting engaged or married (high school sweethearts excepted...), seems justifiable. He hadn't put a ring on it yet, what you do is your business."

Wow. It sounds as if you're saying cheating is justified if someone hasn't produced a ring by the time YOU would expect them to. No, sorry. A commitment to monogamy is a commitment to monogamy whether or not there is a ring. A relationship that is going well is not "stalled." "Most" relationships do NOT become engagements after two paltry years. Anyone who would take the lack of a proposal as licence to cheat (rather than, you know, bring up the issue of marriage if that was what they wanted) is pretty much a sociopath.

Floribama @6: Changing 2.5 years to six years was not a neutral detail, obviously. The advice stands, but at least you're not being quite as ridiculous as you first appeared ;) Please do forgive yourself. If you haven't already, try to work out why you did this -- cold feet? Just alcohol? Or perhaps you were just plain horny and he was hot? Understanding the reasons will help you, A, forgive yourself, and B, avoid the triggers for something like this to happen again.
23
I am more alarmed by the likelihood of your friends and family excommunicating you over a heavy flirtation than the actual flirtation itself. Good friends would forgive you for making mistakes and support you in doing better next time. Family mileage can vary, and you don't get to choose family the way you can choose friends. But as Dan says, you can choose how much time you spend with family.

If you are not sure how fiance will handle the news of a heavy flirtation, and you want to find out before you get hitched, then tell him. If he's going to blow his stack, better now than in 5 years when you have kid(s), a mortgage, etc. together. If your panic about the wedding is just manifesting through this avenue, then see a good therapist and work out what's going on with yourself. Good luck.
24
Evangelical atheists are people who go around and try to get everyone to (not) believe like they do. Evangelical pot smokers are sort of the same.
25
I'd advise thinking long and hard about how the fiancee has responded to other things you do that he hasn't necessarily liked. Is he easy going? Stubborn and unforgiving? Does he carry a grudge? You might suss him out. Talk about what's important to him in a marriage. Surely you've talked about this before. Where does he stand on flirtation, friendship with guys? How would you feel if he were unfaithful?

I'm trying to figure out if the current freak-out is because of wedding jitters (normal for everyone), of true guilt (forgive yourself), or because of a nagging knowledge that Fiancee would toss you out if he knew. If it's the latter (and I hope that's not it), think before you go through with this
26
Pot side note:
Everyone has a different landscape; however, different varieties of cannabis phenotypes may offer different results. Strains that are high in CBD and lower in THC generally have a calming/relaxing effect and are demonstrating efficacy in the treatment of stress and anxiety. These strains are also proving useful as antipsychotics, as an aide in PTSD therapy, in improving sleep, etc. Anecdotal evidence is building that paranoia or anxiety exacerbated by cannabis consumption can be remedied by chewing on a couple of black peppercorns. ;-)
.
27
The rational/rationale thing was probably a typo, but it's oddly poetic and I love it.
28
I'm curious as to why the letter writer recently recontacted the married man. That's potentially troubling.
29
@shefightslikeagirl
trust me - i do not have feelings for this man. i contacted him to see if he still planned to take this to the grave. he assured me he did, but i can only assume that he'll act in his self interest at any time. that's why i'm so troubled right now.
30
Floribama @29: Do you have any reason to believe he'll spill the beans? It certainly doesn't seem like doing so would be "in his self interest." If you do think he will, then, given that this infraction was so minor, it may be best to fess up first.
Since you're still here, can you clarify whether "inappropriate phone conversations" means you feel you shouldn't have stayed in contact, or whether you were having regular phone sex with him?
31
@bidanfan

flirty conversations. he would constantly tell me about how his marriage sucked and how he wanted to take me out to dinner. i looked at phone logs and it was about 2 hours worth of conversations over 2 months.
32
@29 And these phone logs are one of the things you're worried about will give you away, yeah? Is it normal for a person to comb through months/years of another person's phone logs? I've been single for a long time, but I can't imagine this being a thing I'd do unless some shit was really going down. And if shit is going that badly, then...a years-ago makeout session would seem to be the least worry. I don't know, the whole thing just seems really weird, like you're inappropriately wound up about this. And calling the guy to ask if he's still not going to tell anyone? Super weird.
33
If (as Dan says, and pretty much everyone agrees) it was no big deal and no threat to the relationship, then (*unlike* Dan says, but as some wiser commenters here recognize), it should *also* be no big deal to confess it. If you can't do that, or your fiancé can't handle that, that should tell you something about the quality of this relationship and what kind of stresses it can tolerate. Because this is really a lot of nothing. Just don't tell your fiancé that, give him the chance to tell you that.
34
Floribama @31: I'd put those in the category of effectively harmless. You had a bit of a flirt; you DIDN'T cheat; you enjoyed the attention; and now you feel awful about it, thus proving that you have a conscience.

Shefights @32 and Still Thinking @23 have posed some interesting questions. Given that a one-off makeout session and some flirtatious, but not sexual, follow-up communication happened in the reasonably distant past, your fears that not only your fiancé but your family and friends will condemn you for it either seem unreasonable, or your family, friends and fiancé are controlling and moralistic to the extreme. Which do you think is the case?
35
And yeah, if you're contacting the other party (who has a marriage at stake etc) to get reassurance that this won't come out, then you're probably not going to do a very good job of keeping this stuffed down the memory hole, and that anxiety is going to show. This could turn into a case where the coverup is worse than the crime.
36
@bidanfan thank you for commenting. yes, i do think many of my friends are very moralistic. i thought of myself as such too, until this all unfolded.

the reason i'm having a hard time confessing is i believe my fiance would contact the other man's wife. and he has children and i think the greater good is not affecting the life of these other children.

but that in itself puts the other guy over my fiance in a weird way.
37
Floribama: It would be in the married guy's best interests to keep this secret. But do you and your fiancé know this man or his wife? Do you run in the same social circles?
If not, then even if the married man should somehow tell his wife (and I can't think why unless she was accusing him of something worse or she had somehow found out through some other means), I don't know that how or why your fiancé would ever hear about this. Even if the married guy decides to confess, it's extremely unlikely that he'd tell his wife the name of a stranger to her. If you all know each other, that's a different situation.

There must be a way to delete old calls from a log and someone would have to be pretty paranoid to go back years through their partner's call log to see if there were any unaccounted-for numbers. If that's who your fiancé is as a general rule, you may want to rethink this relationship for other reasons. I assume you have no record--no saved voicemails, texts, emails, photos, whatever. If you do, and you're this nervous about discovery, get rid of them and get some piece of mind.

It sounds like you would never do anything like this again--the guilt seems to be eating you up. So you can know that you've learned your lesson and put it behind you.
38
Floribama, I re-read your letter and your response to BiDanFan, and I think that not only are you being too hard on yourself, but your friends, your family, and your love sound harsh and judgmental and overly moralistic in a way that never allows for human beings to slip up.

Maybe this is an opportunity. I don't know how old you are, but one thing I have learned as I've grown older, both through my own experiences and through knowing about other people's, is that given the right set of circumstances converging in the right way, anyone is capable of anything. Literally. I don't mean that this should be your excuse to rationalize doing any old thing you want to do; I mean that you need some perspective and forgiveness for yourself and for others and so do the people you surround yourself with.

Have a talk with your fiancé about absolutism and hypothetical infidelities down the line. Could either of you forgive the other under a specific set of conditions and circumstances? This is stuff the two of you should work out before marrying. It sounds as though you fear your fiancé would be vindictive and vengeful. Do you want to join your life to someone who you live in fear of angering or hurting because of his retaliatory tactics? Because believe me, in a lifetime together, both of you are bound to hurt, anger, and disappoint each other.
39
@nocutename

i'm not fearful that my fiance would be vindictive or vengeful. i'm scared that he may think i robbed him of his choice to make a decision in the relationship. or that our marriage and love were based on a lie.
40
@Floribama:

First, I can't see any circumstance where it is in this other guy's best interest to reveal this to anyone.

Second, why are you assuming your fiance would contact the other guy's wife? You can avoid that by simply not telling your fiance who the other guy is. You can explain the circumstances, but leave out the names, and if he wants to know who, it's perfectly reasonable to say, it's someone I haven't seen since and will not see again and leave it at that.

BUT... it is a huge red flag that you think your fiance would take it upon himself to go fuck with the other guy's marriage over your own objection. You don't think you can tell him, hey, this happened 2.5 years ago, it's over, DON'T go mess with this guy's marriage and have him honor that?

Especially given that I would assume your fiance himself would be motivated to NOT do that since the only thing that could come of it is more people (his friends and family, your friends and family) find out about it?

I'm hoping this is just the same as your fear that the husband is going to spill the beans at some point, in that you're not doing great at respecting other people's own self-interest over desire to create lots of drama/problems for themselves. But if you sincerely believe your fiance, if you told him, is going to go straight to the guy's wife, despite that being a horrible idea for himself and horrible thing to do in general.... again, red flag.
41
Also, 2 hours of phone calls over 2 months is NOTHING. 2 hours in one night maybe.
42
Thank you, biggie @41, 42. That was exactly what I was thinking and starting to work up to say. But you said it better.
43
It's real infidelity rather than "bullshit infidelity", but it's been too long to fess up now. You should take it to the grave.
44
I will also say that Floribama, I'm worried for you; you sound very controlled, either by your family of origin and initial community, or perhaps your finacé. Or maybe your fiancé is just continuing what your family started.
Of course we all should be considerate of our partners' ability to make their own choices and give informed consent. But the extent to which you feel you robbed or are robbing your fiancé given the (non)-severity of and time distance from the offense are really dissonant.

Someone I know just shared this story, which I think you might benefit from:
I was just reading "Cinderella" to a 4-year-old, and there was a part that said, "They made Cinderella do all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, but she never complained." And I was like, "Hey, kid. If you're around people who expect you to do all the work while they sit around, you should DEFINITELY complain." And she was like, "Yeah. I WILL. I'm gonna complain." And it was awesome.

I hope you don't take this as scolding or concern-trolling--I'm genuinely concerned for you.
45
I agree with biggie and nocutename. If you really think your fiancé would contact the other man's wife or otherwise react really badly, that's a huge red flag (either for him or your opinion of him).
46
I'm going to therapy tomorrow.

And @sportlandia - yes i agree. it's real infidelity and i waited too long and now i'm in this terrible mess.
47
@Floribama: It was a definite act of infidelity. It happened over 2 years ago. It happened when you were inebriated. It has caused you to think about how you want to conduct yourself going forward and strengthened your resolve. It has made you guilty. It will not be repeated.

Your fiancé has a right to make informed decisions about whether he wants to marry you or not. But try this: Think about if your fiancé came to you and confessed that 2-and-a-half years ago, he drunkenly made out with a married woman, then didn't immediately cut her dead, but spoke sporadically and briefly with her (mostly sympathizing with her unhappiness in her marriage) and not meeting with her again. Add in the exact sentences I wrote about you in the previous paragraph with the pronoun changed to be about him. Then ask yourself whether, knowing all that you do about your fiancé and based on your eight-year's long relationship, you would decide that you couldn't marry him.

If you say, "no; I would still marry him," then hold him to the same standard you hold yourself to.
If you say," no; I would still marry him, but I can see why he'd decide not to marry me," then I think you need to think long and hard about this man's character and the nature of your relationship and what you want or where you think this might end up.
If you say, "yes; this would be a relationship-extinguishing point for me," then I think you need to work on adding forgiveness to your repertoire, because in the grand scheme of a lifetime together, you will likely encounter greater tests of your steadfastness than this.
48
People -- including people who are usually good and kind -- sometimes do the wrong thing. (You, for example!). That means your fiance could also do the wrong thing in the heat of the moment. Just as "the other man" owes you confidentiality, so do you owe him the same. Stop trying to ruin everyone's lives because you are in terror about what could possibly happen if this came out. This is your "punishment." Live with it. Transferring the pain is selfish. You did not do anything much, but confessing will hurt your boy friend a lot more than your just accepting the burden yourself. Especially because making such a big deal of it will make it seem more significant to him too! I can just see your "confession," full of sobbing and wailing! It is kind of hard to believe that such a nothing burger is causing so much anguish -- and it will make him wonder if there was more than you are confessing.
49
@47, continued: and if the roles were reversed, would you feel that you were obliged/entitled/morally justified to contact the other woman's husband and possibly jeopardize the well-being of his young children?

If you wouldn't, but honestly believe that your fiancé would or have been given reason to believe that he would do that, again I urge to consider whether you want to marry a person who truly is vindictive and who uses the guise of moral righteousness to shield his abominable behavior behind.

If you think that that would be an appropriate reaction, then I'd encourage you to rethink. I think therapy is a great idea.
50
Lindie @48: Good points.
51
The weird thing is I was able to compartmentalize it and justify hiding it for so long. and now I feel like a shitty human. If I had been honest about it straight away, this could have all been avoided.
52
@lindie thank you for that. i'm going to try to hold onto it forever.
53
@floribama,

I have a tendency to do this, too. It's doomsday thinking. Once you know that you do this, you can see when you start to do it and be mindful of it. Seriously, forgive yourself and move on. Don't tell him about it. And for goodness sakes, stop thinking of yourself as such a moral person. I know it might feel good to do so when things are going fine and dandy, but it also feels good to know that humans make mistakes and to give yourself a break. I come from a family like this and it took me years to undo it. Your life will be richer for it. Your marriage will be stronger for it. I feel like this was one of my great frontiers of "growing up" (and believe me, people continue to grow up throughout their life). Learning that you are not perfect and neither is anyone around you is important. Let go. Take up meditation, it works.

54
Floribama, I'm glad you are going to therapy. So many red flags here. The fact that you cheated (you know your husband wouldn't have been OK with what you did, and you hid it from him, means that it was an infidelity as far as the parameters of your relationship are concerned) means one of two things: 1. It's not in your nature to be monogamous, or 2. Something is wrong. Either something is wrong with you (possible alcoholism, as you were drunk when it happened), or more likely, something is wrong with your relationship. My guess being that your fiancé is too morally rigid and controlling and some part of you -- the part of you that had had a few drinks -- wanted to rebel.

The second red flag is that you didn't confess when you'd sobered up. Nothing (really) happened, so what were you so afraid of? If you didn't want to reveal to him that you are the kind of person who is capable of making a drunken mistake, then you are hiding part of yourself from him. Not a good sign. (You're right that if you'd personed up then, or maybe at the point when you became engaged, you wouldn't be dealing with this now.)

The third red flag is that you are STILL so terrified of your fiancé's reaction to a minor infraction, and that of your family and friends. You are terrified that if your fiancé found out the Real You was capable of a drunken snog, he wouldn't want you. I'm more worried about why you would even want to be with someone who apparently has zero capacity for forgiveness, for compassion, someone who would proactively ruin another marriage out of... you say he's not vindictive, but what other possible motivation could there be for his contacting the wife? I mean, is there something we're missing here? Is this his brother or something?

Good luck with the therapy, and consider postponing the wedding until you can figure out why you even want to marry someone you are terrified of.
55
@BiDanFan

I hid this from him because I thought it would be the best thing. And now - 2.5 years later, that is when it is biting me back.

My fiance is not a controlling person. He just trusted too much.
56
@54: The firs two aren't red flags. That's just normal human behavior (error). She slipped up. She probably got into the all-to-easy "I'll tell him soon..." which then turned into 2.5 years.

The third one could be, or not at all - if Floribama would be devastated if the roles were reversed, it's not odd that she thinks her fiance might feel the same way, in which case the issue is Floribama is making this a much bigger issue than it is, and hopefully she can bring that up with her therapist tomorrow and talk it out. If she would not find it tremendously troubling if the roles were reversed but thinks her fiance would, that's possibly a red flag. But again, not everyone has the values of Dan Savage readers and for some people any infidelity really is a big dealbreaker and maybe her fiance wouldn't want to marry someone who had a minor mishap 2.5 years ago. Although we would probably all agree that if that's a dealbreaker, something else is going to come up later.

@Floribama: My personal suggestion is, give your fiance a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card. Don't tell him about it, but at the inevitable point in your marriage where he does something that he really shouldn't have done, look back at this, talk it out, and be understanding. We're all fallible, hopefully this situation helps you understand that we can definitely fuck up even though we really, really do love the person our fuckups hurt the most.
57
@Florabama - So what has changed that it was the right thing to hide it then, but it's not the right thing now?

I think therapy is a really good idea, and I think you should consider telling your fiancee about this if indeed his is not vindictive, because you are terrified of letting him see a flaw in you. You are terrified he will leave you if you admit an admittedly rather big (but not really deal-breaker big) transgression against him. There is no such thing as "too trusting" in a committed relationship. You should trust your partner completely, but you can only do that if you know you can talk to your partner about anything you need to talk to them about. Trust is only true trust if it can survive difficult conversations. You will face many challenges in your relationship and you will need to be able to trust each other completely. Right now it seems like you don't know how he will handle difficult, painful news. You should find this out before you marry him. Having this conversation about infidelity may be the perfect opportunity to be truly vulnerable, to truly have a difficult conversation, and when you make it through the other side, you will be stronger.

I have a partner who catastrophizes things-- he thinks the absolute worst thing will happen in every situation. And when he finally talks to me about whatever it is that's winding him up, we hash it out, and it's fine. And he's getting better about this tendency because the trust we're building is based on hard and extremely honest conversations.

So, I suggest therapy for you, with an eye towards bringing your fiancee into it, whether or not you decide to tell him. Because you need to figure out what trust means to you, and what it means to him. That's the real issue going on with you, it seems to me.
58
Also maybe go through these questions with him: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/…
59
Lindie @48 expressed how I would personally (try to/have) handle something like this. I made a minor slip, I feel horrible about it, it woke me up to something I will never do again, it’s my job to keep it to myself forever and not make myself feel better by making my beloved feel shitty. But I understand that’s not everyone’s take.
60
Floribama @55: Consider that maybe your fiancé trusted the right amount?
You were tempted. Sorely tempted. You COULD have slept with that guy, right? You WANTED to sleep with him. But you didn't. Also consider that maybe not telling your partner was, in fact, the right decision?
I do understand; I also committed a minor infidelity (no sex) several years back. I didn't get the chance to beat myself up over it the way you are, because my partner hacked into my e-mail and confession was beside the point. And I felt horrible about it and felt, like you, that I was a shitty person. But then I realised that if I truly were a shitty person, I wouldn't feel so guilty and awful, and that proved that I wasn't a shitty person. And what I should do was learn from the experience and avoid repeating it, which I have done.
What would you do if you confessed, and your fiancé told you that he had done something similar, and also decided it wasn't anything you needed to know about? Your fiancé is human, too, remember.
61
@22 I dunno, most marriages I've witnessed have happened within a couple years of the relationship starting (gay marriages aside, because of legal limitations). I've always thought that moving in with each other was a good first year type thing, and then getting engaged if not married was sort of a second year step. And, most certainly by 6 years in.

Most of the people I know get antsy if they're not moving towards larger family type situations. Now, not wanting marriage is also acceptable. But, 7-8 years is an awfully long time between dating and engagement. I'm sure Floribama had her reasons for the relationship (so far, she hasn't actually communicated those reasons), and it seems those reasons have dissipated (or at least her need for an outside relationship has been sated).

I agree that cheating instead of communicating is bad judgement. But, I've seen people who want to get married and have kids get tired of waiting for their partners to agree to engagement (after communicating their marital desires), and then play the field a bit to see if there might be fresher fish in the sea or if they're really happy with the partner they have. I wouldn't call that sociopathic.
62
I find it a little humorous about what's not being discussed: Is LW liable to cheat again? The affair was more than one drunken evening and involved some intentional, sober choices. What motivated that? Unsatisfaction and a desire to get out of the current relationship (words echoing in my head: "Settling down means settling on" - D. Savage)? Just the general excitement factor of a dalliance with an off-limits person? This fling wasn't SO long ago (I learned my now-ex was cheating on me in late 2014 as well, there is still a sting to it today) that it's no longer worth mentioning. Is LW a serial line-stepper? Has she cheated in past relationships? Could LW be reprojecting her own fears about her ability to maintain the marriage she wants, which is why this is so guilt-inducing?
63
@sportlandia i never plan to do this again

i have low self-esteem and was supremely selfish. that's the excuse i have.
64
Or - tell your fiancee. It seems like it would relieve you to come clean and it may open up a channel of communication that leads to more intimacy. Talking about what it was like and sharing that part of your internal landscape could create an opportunity and habits that will serve your long term relationship. In the future, instead of heading to the room with the married man you might be able to tell your husband that you met someone you found hot, tell him all about it and why, and then have hot sex with your husband. Trusting that you both have sexual desires/attractions toward and will over the course of a lifetime and trusting one another with these thoughts can be amazing if this kind of intimacy and transparency is allowed. In another 10 years (or more, or less), you and hubby might even want to explore some new territory together with one of these possibly willing attractions. And you would be able to sleep at night and not feel like you were carrying a "secret", harmless or not.
65
If you must confess to feel better and you aren't just shifting feeling awful to your fiancé and allowing yourself to be punished for being the selfish person you are, just at least make sure to not tell who it was you made out with. Fudge the truth a bit, if your fiancé knows this man or can find out who his and his wife are. You called the married father--who has so much more to lose than you--just to make sure he wasn't going to let this secret out. Don't do the same to him.
66
@nocutename i would never confess just to make myself feel better. i 100% believe that this is my cross to bear.

the only point to confess is that the other guy has my email, my phone #, and could be the one who ruins it all for me. better for me to confess than for him to find out another way.
67
OK, so the only reason you're considering telling your fiance is not that you think it's good that your fiance knows, but that you're worried he'll find out later so you'd rather do a moderate amount of damage now than risk more damage later?

Don't tell him, and don't talk to the married guy again. Problem solved. Honestly, it's been 2.5 years, if you have had no contact with him in that time, he'd probably totally forgotten about you and YOU scared the shit out of HIM by calling HIM and now he's sitting there wondering if he should tell his wife before you do....

If it's true that you had not talked to the married guy since 2.5 years ago, and neither of you made any effort to contact each other during that time, this thing was over and done with, and as long as you leave it alone will remain so.
68
@biggie thanks for following my saga in the comments. i'm really taking everyone's advice to heart for my therapy appt
69
and to think about all the pain i'm in because of some phone calls and making out

i would have been able to forgive myself for either/or, but the combination is definitely less forgiveable
70
The biggest danger to your relationship seems to be the guilt you are carrying. Therapy sounds like a great idea and hopefully your therapist can help you realize that this is really no big deal and you can forgive yourself and forget about it. If this is something you feel like you can never forgive yourself for then you need to be forgiven by your fiancé. Carrying an unforgiven secret into your marriage might create a cancer in your relationship that might rot it from the inside. Every happy moment will be tainted by the feeling that your relationship is a lie. That won't be true of course but will be the feeling you will have. I know from experience. I had a minor infedelity early in my relationship (before getting married) and finally confessed it about a year after getting married. It was one emotional night but then it was all done. In hindsight my wife says she appreciates the honesty and it was truly good for our marriage because there isn't a secret between us. This secret is obviously affecting you negatively, not being able to sleep, etc and the small amount of pain your husband will feel for a short time (assuming he truly is a kind forgiving person) will be greatly outweighed by the benefits of a happy healthy spouse not burdened down by guilt. Again if you can truly forgive yourself no need to tell him but if this is something you can never truly forgive yourself for than keeping the secret won't be a kindness to your husband.
71
@Floribama: Really this is only a problem as long as you make it one. It sounds like if you just chalk this up as a learning experience, forgive yourself, and forget about it, it would cease to exist. Talk it out with your therapist. Your worries are self-made.
72
Also the 2.5 years is about the right amount of time to disclose something like this. Disclosing earlier everything would be too raw and immediate. Plus you have proven to yourself that this isn't something you are likely to do again. You might have thought it was something you would never do again immediately after, but now you have the 2.5 years to prove it. Whatever happens, make sure you can forgive yourself. This isn't something that should ruin your life.
73
@54. I can't help thinking there's a kind of one-upmanship going on, with some liberal, poly, morally flexible and imaginative people thinking they're better than the straight-arrows in their ability to tolerate complexity and forgive minor transgressions in relationships. No: the 'ethical sluts' have no monopoly on goodness and wisdom, any more than the Mormons or moralists of any stripe. They (or you) are not necessarily better or more sophisticated people-- even better adjusted people in the sense of managing a number of functional relationships within a community.

Let's say that two to three years ago Floribama's fiance got wind of a married friend making a pass at, and making out with, his girlfriend, and moving to follow it up with a series of morally ambiguous phone calls. His impulse is to call the straying husband's wife. Is that such a bad thing to do? For a start, a big part of his motivation is to protect his girlfriend F. Then his world and moral system has been, to a degree, shaken; he's calling it to order and acting in accordance with what he sees as a high code. Maybe the fallout of the whole episode would be that everyone would learn the world was a more slippery or treacherous place morally than they'd bargained for: the husband might repent vehemently and call on forgiveness, or F.'s fiance might relent and come to a new appreciation of why said forgiveness is such a major part of most Christian ethics. And maybe this blowout, this storm and the ensuing calm would be a good thing--but it didn't happen; and I'm not sure that you can say the conditions for it happening, the strict abstinence-and-observance based ethics of Floribama and her circle, are bad in themselves.

@Floribama. I think Dan's advice has to be right--that at this stage you should put your straying down to experience, think of it as something that's made you the person you are, and reveal nothing. Fwiw, I can't see that you behaved so badly. You snogged the married man; you didn't have sex with him. And I can believe that part of the reason you went along with the phone calls after was that you felt obscurely guilty to the guy for not having gone through with it. And a chasm had opened up before you in the world's being revealed as full of gray areas, of occasions for divided loyalties; and you responded to this by indulging the guy's calls for a little too long. It shouldn't really matter what the content of the phone calls was. If it was phone sex, or his compliments, or 'how do we feel about this?'--all of them pretty much represent a process of adjustment to an enlarged moral understanding. They were minor forms of infidelity to your boyfriend; and it's good they're over and you know how much more carefully you have to tread how in future. Forgive yourself for the fault, see it as a difficult lesson and good luck in your marriage!
74
Floribama Can you change your email and phone number? That would be a good of protecting yourself from this guy.

But do you need protection? If he's been taunting or stalking you that's one thing, but if he's been keeping his mouth shut I don't see any reason to believe that he won't continue to do so. He arguably has more to lose than you since do to him being married when this happened.

I mean you could 'destroy' him just as easily as he could 'destroy' you.
75
My thoughts on this comment thread so far: I don't believe anything specified that Floribama has a controlling fiancé at all. It's true that making out with a married man once over the course of years of monogamy, and a few phone over a two month calls isn't that great of a betrayal.

But I do not think its completely insignificant and how long ago it was makes it any easier to forgive or get past. Everyone seems to believe that since it was so long ago it somehow loses importance over time....but I believe it would bother me more if I was in finance's position. Not that I would be angry or controlling or even unforgiving, but it would hurt that it happened so long ago and my partner never told me. That is where I would lose trust in my partner, even if I understood their reasons for not not being honest initially. It would hurt that they possibly thought I was so unreasonable that I wouldn't forgive them and they had to hide it forever from me. Maybe I'm the small percentage that likes to be told and can get over things more if people are open and honest, because it seems like most people wouldn't want to know.

I believe that's also why Floribama thinks her fiancé might tell the other mans wife if he new about this. I feel like that doesn't make him a terrible person. He probably just doesn't realize how it would ruin the family's life because he thinks he is helping and values truth above all. He might look at it as a good thing for them to know and not love with this secret, especially if he feels bad for the wife. But don't get me wrong, him telling the family would be awful for everyone involved. And if he wanted to do it as some form or revenge or to make them feel the way he felt, that definitely IS a red flag. Only the letter writer would know what her fiancé was thinking though.

Best of luck to you Floribama, I think you just made a mistake and it is good that you feel guilt for it now. That said, you should be a little easier on yourself. I don't think you need to get rid of your friends and family or your fiancé if they ever found out about your mistake. I think they might be upset, and maybe understandably so. But not to the level you and even some commenters tend to think. So try not to worry about it; and I agree that in this case the best option is to not say anything.
76
Floribama, You know the vows that talk about "better and worse" and "good times and bad"? Well, that includes the spouses' imperfections and bad decisions as well as external factors. Marriage isn't about perfect people entering into a perfect union where neither of them will ever make any mistakes. If it were, nobody would get married.

I'm an atheist, but it sounds like you may be religious, and I can't help but wonder if therapy through your church might carry the moral authority to help you forgive yourself. By all means, go ahead with the therapy you have planned, which I gather is secular. But if you still have trouble forgiving yourself for this minor infidelity, you might want to give some thought to whether the person who will be officiating in your marriage could help give you permission to forgive yourself.

For all its many flaws, forgiveness is something the Catholic Church does dole out. The fact that you haven't already tried this makes me think that you don't go to a church that offers confidential confession in the way the Catholics do, but I really have trouble imagining any mainstream church that would say that this incident means that you are a shitty human being who should never marry.

Most marriages probably face problems at least this severe and any church that doesn't want all marriages to end in divorces has to emphasize forgiving spouses' failings. So, I suspect your clergy could address this in a helpful manner. But you know your church (if any) better than me. Don't tell anyone you think would call you a whore in front of a packed congregation.

Didn't some famous guy once say something about he who is without sin throwing the first stone? Any Christian faith should allow sinners to be forgiven.

All who were raised in oppressive Christian sects that forgot all about the forgiveness inherent in the words of Christ, please feel free to set me straight about how awful, unforgiving and un-Christian some "Christian" sects are.
77
Ok, Floribama, I'm guessing from your name that you were raised in a southern Christian home and possibly an evangelical one. Yes?

One of the uglier, more sadistic aspects of that culture (which I also grew up in) is that the temptation is as great a crime as the action. In other words, the very notion that you were tempted to cheat and that you did some physical stuff (a makeout, a few calls) in that worldview is basically equivalent to you actually fucking this man, because (a) you were tempted to begin with, (b) you had sexual thoughts about someone not your partner, and (c) you didn't immediately squash them to heel. As a result, you're now suffering from shame on multiple levels.

Shame is how southern culture controls you. Shame is how you fall into your social role no matter how bad it hurts, because the fear of retribution and exclusion from the group is worse. You'll no longer be seen as a good human being, but as a sinner (and possibly a whore, depending on how conservative your upbringing was). Never mind that all humans are flawed and will fail, including you, me, your fiancé, and everyone else, the fact that YOU, specifically, failed, can't be tolerated. So you're looking for someone else to berate you and make you feel that shame, even though the other half of that (grace and forgiveness) is equally theirs to give. Yes?

True story: a few years ago, a male coworker propositioned me for sex. I turned him down. It wasn't that I wasn't interested, because I was and we'd been flirting pretty hard. But once it was on the table, I couldn't go there. It was weird for a while, we made things better, and life went on.

But: up until that point in my life, I was one of those people who would Never Cheat. Now, I know I would and could, in the right circumstances. That knowledge made me sit down and think long and hard about myself, and other people around me. That to some people we both knew, the mere fact that we as adults even had that conversation makes us both guilty of cheating, even when I made the conscious decision NOT to. Why?

Well, if the temptation is equally bad as the actual sin, then we're both sinners.

Since we're both sinners, we both deserve shame.

Even when nothing happened.

Think on this, and bring it up with your therapist. I suspect this may be a big part of what is eating away at you.
78
@slinky

You are way more noble than me. You stopped! I didn't.
79
@explosive anonymous

Thanks a lot. Yes, I think you totally understand what I believe would be my fiancé's thought process.
80
@dcp123
I think I can forgive myself for the action

But I will never forgive myself for being selfish and hiding something to protect myself
81
Cosigning @47 on all points.

LW, I keep thinking, in thirty years of marriage this is probably going to happen again, that's just the odds. What happens then? Will you or he tell? Will it blow everything up if you do?

If you and he feel a "don't tell about betrayals" marriage is what you do, then I guess don't tell now. (But be aware, that marriage tends to be a time bomb, because people usually find out anyway.) If you feel you and he are generally on the "tell and forgive" page, then I think the 2.5 years doesn't have to stop you. Shouldn't stop you. It's not uncommon to say: I have to tell you this thing before we get married, should have before but here it is now.

If you're both basically tell/forgive, or you both want to be, telling him might set the pattern of your marriage. But erase the tracks and don't let him find the guy's identity, that won't help anybody. You have to judge the risk of your community coming down on you though -- it's easy for *me* to say then they don't deserve you, but it's you who has to make your life work.

If you and your fiance are different -- one is more "tell/confess" and the other is more "don't tell" -- think hard about how that might go, please. Because no offense, but stuff happens. Even if you both stay totally inside the lines sexually, there will be other things -- about money, about gambling, about day drinking, I don't know what. Will you tell? Will you forgive?
82
Floriobama I would recommend you not marry your fiancé then. If their attitude is anything like ExplosiveAnonymous then you need to get out of the relationship.

Because people who value truth above all don't actually care about the truth. They care about the power the truth gives and how they can use it hurt the people around them. They don't care about causing pain and destroying lives because truth trumps those things.

And of course these rules never, eve apply to them. They can lie through their teeth about anything it's completely acceptable in their eyes. Should you even try to call them on it they'll bring the thunder.
83
I have met several people in my life whose insistence that everyone else be completely honest was meant to assure everyone that they were not the completely dishonest people they were.
84
@82 that's not true at ALL. I'm a 'I just want to know the truth' type. I think secrets, the shameful kind, are toxic to relationships. Because the truth is so important to me - well, not the truth, but connection, and secrets and shame block connection - I make an effort to always respond in a non-judgemental and calm way, so people know they can tell me the truth again. (For this reason I'm on the side of telling him, btw - the guilt is blocking the connection you have.)

I also disagree with whoever said cheating HAD to be a sign something was wrong in the relationship. Of course it doesn't! It was selfish to act on it, but the desire for someone else doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the relationship you had.
85
I'm a chronic oversharer: HERE'S ALL MY FLAWS NOW YOU KNOW EVERYTHING - because that way no one will ever be able to hold a secret or a sin over me. It makes me feel safer when everybody knows the worst of me from the get go.
86
Misanthrope @61: And how many of those marriages have you witnessed ending in divorce?
Carolyn Hax would put two years as still within the butterflies stage of a relationship. My guideline is wait five years in order to be sure.
What I was calling "sociopathic" was not communicating one's marital desires, and then cheating because one didn't get what one didn't ask for.

Floribama @78: "You stopped! I didn't." Yes you did. I'm guessing the married man wanted to do more than kiss, and you stopped that, didn't you?

Bells @84: I'm the one who said that cheating could indicate there was either something wrong with the relationship or with the cheater themselves. Floribama has said it was her: "i have low self-esteem and was supremely selfish. that's the excuse i have." (@63) Re-read @54 for my actual comments.
87
I'm sure that Floribama is hopeful that marriage will be a voyage of discovery, a learning experience, for both herself and her partner. If so, one of the things they learn together might be a less inflexible, black-and-white conception of duties and commitment. Perhaps, a few years down the line, her husband will change so that he no longer regards a fumble a flat-out heinous infidelity requiring repudiation of the parties involved (if he thinks this). She may be able to tell him then. Until that point, her slip is something calling for reflection and self-forgiveness, but not pulling down the edifice of her relationships over her head.

I get the feeling that there are some people who, when a writer begins, 'I'm getting married to a closely observant southern Evangelical in the spring and I have [this problem]', they will take the real problem not as the specific bind described but as the preamble. The red flag for them, as it were, will be the red-state proclivities of the fiance. Floribama should ignore these people. She lives an examined life and knows what she's doing getting married. I first read a gay agony uncle about twenty years ago counselling on things I wanted to do but didn't dare (and on some that struck me as strictly coterie). Now, I feel, that people of a wider range of backgrounds and political beliefs write to Dan. To me this is a good thing.
88
First of all, no, I can confidently say that she's not a serial cheater/transgressor; this one minor confluence of episodes has her halfway to the Hatter's for tea, if she had actually been getting down with other dudes, by now she wouldn't be conversing on SL, she'd be plaiting her toes into doormats.

Flor, as many before me have said, chill the Eff Out. You weren't Salome seducing Thich Nhat Hanh, you did some stupid shit you wish you hadn't under the influence, that doesn't make you an alky or a sociopath, that puts you in a big club called Everybody. Not saying it was righteous and to do it again, but as the guy said in Name of the Rose, there is a hierarchy to sin as well as to virtue, and this is way dowwwwn the ladder. As NoCute says, you get old enough, you start to see that pretty much anyone can end up doing anything. The right/wrong circumstances, stars line up...we're all human.

When I was listening to the Loveline radio show thru pretty much all the 90's, when this sort of thing came up, Adam and Dr Drew (hardly a pair of libertines) would generally dismiss this as 'kissy-face,' give absolution, tell the maledictor to not do it again, and to keep their fucking mouth shut.
And those phone calls...I swear. You sat there listening to some dude go, man, the wife's a real bitch, not like I bet you'd be, wanna meet up? And you were like, uh huh, no, keep telling me about your life. That's not scandal, at least on your part, that's a giant wedge of the pie that is middle-aged phone calls.
You're taking a couple of almost-nothings and smushing them into a huge foolishment sammige, with extra-pickled guilt.
I keep thinking of this episode of 21 Jump Street, focusing on religion and creationism, where Johnny Depp befriends this guy who's deep into the God Squad, who touches (I think) a girl's boob, then runs off to throw himself in an icy river, then holds the now-polluted hand over a candle flame...Lighten up, Francis.

I will bet Dan Savage's next paycheck on the following -
Other Dude, when you were making out, did one or both of the following -
1. Went for the boob grab
2. Detached and asked you back to his place
(- and you said no! He'd'a been in there like swimwear, you kept it first base. Give yourself some credit.)
The Other Dude is keeping his fool mouth zipped, and prolly had to pour himself a stiff one after you called, praying to Yahweh and Ba'al that you haven't found religion or L Ron Hubbard and are going to spill the beans.
Your fiance, if we could question him in an alternative reality, would prefer Not To Know.
If your fiance isn't in the NSA, he's not gonna find said phone calls. And if they're on your phone, they can be erased. Really, take it to a tech, if you don't know how. They've heard much worse, I promise.

“If there's even a 1% chance that the calls can be discovered,” listen, if If was a fifth, we'd all be fucked up. That is a great way to think yourself nuts.

TL:DR – do what Biggie says. Especially the part of the bullshittiness that is 'total and complete honestly, always.' Nobody'd 'scape hanging.

(Bursts out of courtroom) My client has been recused from these proceedings!
89
Cat Brother! Welcome back!
90
@86 Straight people are so weird. Do all y'all still expect surprise engagements without talking about marriage and expectations ahead of time? I figured in this somewhat more egalitarian time, women are able to propose just like men, or at least have a direct discussion about wanting to get married before expecting a proposal.

Some of those quick engagements have lasted, some haven't. I watched a friend in a seven year relationship plus a one year engagement, get married and divorced within a few months. On the flip side, I know a couple who got married after a brief relationship because they wanted kids now, and they've lasted a few years so far (I didn't have many friends get married in their early 20s, so...I don't have much of a long term perspective on it yet). There's no one answer.
91
Cat brother's comment made me laugh in between trying to keep track- good stuffs, regardless!

And floribama- I'd quash it and not worry about it. I'm a guy and if my ol lady told me, I probably would've asked her "Why DIDN'T you go with him? Sounds like fun!". But...that's just me.
92
Floribama, after reading all of your comments here, I don't think it's the infidelity that's the real problem. It's your complete insistence on feeling guilty and denigrating yourself at every turn. You are hanging onto this self-flagellation like a kid gripping the bumper of a departing ice cream truck he just missed.

You're already in therapy, which is good. Talk to your therapist about why you absolutely insist on bathing in self-hatred over this act that is not nearly the catastrophe you paint it to be. You are putting the payoff you get from the guilt ahead of any vow you will take. And there is a payoff, or it wouldn't be ruling you like this. Maybe it's conditioning from your childhood and/or faith, or maybe it's something else, but people don't repeat negative behaviors unless there's a payoff (or positive ones, for that matter).

If you walk down the aisle and spend the next 40 or 50 years torturing yourself over this, you are not living a full life. You are handicapped before you say, "I do", and your husband will be none the wiser. Did you know that you deserve way better than that, regardless of a make-out session and 120 minutes of phone calls that are way in the past? Talk it through with your therapist, forgive yourself, count it as a life lesson, and then truly let it go.
93
Floribama

You probably aren't going to read this, which is a worst case scenario. I am both a skeptic and a cynic and you need to remember that while reading this. First, if things are as you describe them to be then what you did was no more than venal sin and I doubt that it was even close to that (I'm not religious but it seemed like an easy metaphor). The level of guilt you express is totally out of proportion for what you said happened. Although I am somewhat skeptical given that you were in his hotel room (people are going assume the worst). To be perfectly honest, if I were the man in that situation I would not have stopped at making out (such a nebulous term, it can be mean some very different things including foreplay) for the following reason. If I was willing to take advantage of an inebriated woman, had her alone in my room, and was willing to take that risk ( both would be compromised, how do you prove that it stopped at making out, I doubt that would be the only one having a hard time believing that) I might as well go all the way, [Since I have never taken advantage of an inebriated woman and never will. (Believe that, don't believe that, you have only my word on that) I would never be in that position]

Several points (questions) about the married man. Do you really think that you were the first time he has done something with another woman or will be the last? You said that you had too much to drink, did he? How do you know so much about him? Are you taking him at his word? You said that he has too much on the line, he has already put that in jeopardy, Does he know who you really are and where you live? How does he know that? Why were you at the hotel? Were you a registered guest? Where is the hotel in relationship to your home? (good if in a different city / better if in a different State / best in a different country) The more the married man knows about who are the greater the potential risk. The answers to those questions are among the factors that will determine whether or not you are at risk of exposure and the level of risk if you are.

The "making out" is not the concern here, it is the phone calls. Those are what put you at risk (not the content, unless there were texts (Anthony Weiner) or either of you were using VOIP or he recorded them (remember I'm a cynic). As part of your phone bill there is a record of the phone number every phone call or text made or received. [unless you were using a prepaid cell phone, which I doubt] I am assuming that you were using a cell/smart phone and not VOIP or a land line.

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure. [I am being paranoid here] Nothing is fool proof. If you are living in the same place you were 2.5 years ago, move. Take your husband's name after you marry. Do not keep your maiden name or take a hyphenated name. Get a new cell/smart phone (possibly as a wedding present) Destroy the old one ( break it, then burn it) Get a new phone number. Hopefully some one else will take your old number. Do not ever, under any circumstance contact the married man again. I would say get a new social security number (admittedly extreme) you can claim you are worried about identity theft. Change employers Change jobs Change careers. Hopefully you weren't at the hotel for anything related to your job, career, or employer. Do not ever go back to that hotel. Move to a different city, State or country (again extreme)

Lastly: The married man is less of a threat than his wife if she ever finds out about what her husband has been up to. Misery loves company. Her life has been wrecked, why shouldn't yours; You are not a good candidate for an affair given the guilt you express over something relatively innocuous.

I began by stating that this was a worst scenario (regarding the risk of exposure) and that I am a skeptic and cynic. I don't take anything at face value and I don;t trust anyone until they are proven to be trustworthy
94
If things happened the way you said they did, then you are a victim of someone who took advantage of an inebriated woman. Everything else that happened resulted from that victimization. You don't need to beat yourself up over anything.
95
Skeptic @93: "if I were the man in that situation I would not have stopped at making out"

So you're a rapist, then?

I've made out with men who stopped when I said stop. The majority of them, in fact. Presumably including this man. I agree that he probably hoped he would get more than just making out, but he did not rape LW, so that's something.

"making out (such a nebulous term, it can be mean some very different things including foreplay)"

Making out IS foreplay. As soon as the genitals get involved, it's sex.
96
Damn, #93, there's paranoia, there's weed paranoia, and there's that rather bizarre third-to-last paragraph of yours.
Listen, Flor, forget Biggie, Skeptic's right, but he didn't go far enough. You'll have to start by faking your own death; pick up a drifter, hopefully female, kill her, put her in your car, and slide if off a cliff with that burning-rag-stuffed-in-the-gas-tank they always do in the movies.
Make the acquaintance of jihadist extremists, make it known that you're willing to detonate a dirty bomb in your city. Do so.
Get used to wearing a hijab, so only close friends know it's you, but don't let anyone get too close. If they do, prepare to sacrifice another drifter.
Then take off in the Sulaco, nuke the whole site from orbit. Only way to be sure.

By the way, try to make it so Reese/Michael Biehn lives on in the sequel, like in the comics, not like that fucked-up one they did. Prison planet my ass. Though Charles Dutton showed a whole lot more range than he ever did in Roc.

Or, you know, just see it as the minor thing it was, accept that you've done your penance, and put it in The Vault.
97
@92 (The Zoo): That is what I've been thinking: the biggest problem is that Floribama seems to want to see herself as a guilty, horrible person. She seems almost to be wallowing in her sense of herself as worthy of punishment and then starts the punishment herself.

That's what the therapy should address, IMO.
98
Floribama @80, Hiding it has prtected your fiance, the other man, his wife, and their kids from a lot of potential pain. And you're sitting here feeling guilty. I'm having a hard time seeing this as selfish on your part.
99
nocute @97 and Floribama, I was thinking about the same thing. Why does Floribama want to be terrible person, despite the lack of any indication that she is?

Getting cold feet before a wedding is nothing unusual. Some people cheat shortly before a wedding, some pick fights with their fiance, and some go on a binge of alcohol or other drugs, but Floribama has gone on a binge of guilt - about almost nothing - and has herself half convinced she's not worthy of her fiance.

Floribama, if you're still reading, give some thought to whether you may be afraid of the commitment and looking for an excuse to sabotage your engagement. If so, think about whether you really want to marry this guy. If you do, stop it with the self-flagellation. If you don't call it off AND stop it with the self-flagellation.

In other news, as an atheist, I'm constantly surprised about how little I understand about Christians. How can your church teach you to feel guilty about being tempted? You believe that Christ was the son of God and even he was subject to temptation, right?

Heck, I looked it up. Hebrews 4:15 says of Christ that he is not a "high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." So, Christ was tempted and did not sin. You were tempted and sinned an itty-bitty little bit and then stopped it, which isn't easy. So, you're not as pure as the son of God, but you're doing pretty well for a human. Good on you.

Go forth and sin no more, but don't torture yourself if you do sin a tiny bit from time to time. None of us, not even your fiance, is perfect. Please be especially careful to avoid judging others unduly, casting the first stone, etc. and maybe you and your fiance can raise children who are less tortured by needless guilt than you seem to be. I gather Christians are supposed to identify and confront sin in others, but talking about somebody behind their back or scorning them, to say nothing of condemning others for temptations you also feel, will probably usually be a sin in the "pride" family (thinking that you're better than another person because of some minor infraction). Try to avoid that whole shaming thing.

Good luck.
100
BiDanFan: I'm not being petty or hostile to you. I began by saying that what followed was a worst case scenario and instructing the reader to (always) remember that I am a skeptic and a cynic. I then I absolved her (I was more explicit about that in my following comment) of any responsibility for what followed. All of it predicated on her being inebriated (too much to drink (I cringe here, drinking too much has been used too many times to avoid responsibility for a person's actions (things become complicated if she voluntarily, intentionally drank too much [at some point you have to take responsibility for whatever follows when you intentionally put your yourself at risk {I'm not talking about "well she was asking for it" which I find disgusting} I'm talking about doing something that your own common sense tells you not to do])

In the scenario, in my mind and under law I became a rapist when I took advantage of an inebriated woman (who did not have the capacity to agree to anything).

"I've made out with men who stopped when I said stop." Were you/was he inebriated when you said stop? Were you alone with him in his hotel room or home? Not that either circumstance would justify anything. I merely want to confirm that you that you were in a comparable situation

I will accept your statement that making out is foreplay, but Webster's definition that foreplay is erotic stimulation preceding sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, and anal) and I will accept Paradise by the Dashboard's definition of making out. As I said a nebulous term.

I am also concerned that she continued to have inappropriate (whatever the hell that means) phone calls for two months after making out with a married man after having drunk too much. Does that make sense to anyone?

101
@a skeptic and a cynic
I agree that it was wrong to accept the phone calls while sober and yes I also agree that it was wrong to get so drunk to lower my inhibitions. But I do feel he preyed on my low self esteem and he got what he wanted