Savage Love Letter of the Day: She Found Out About Her Fiance's Affair Two Months Before the Wedding


What the actual fuck was that third party even thinking? Oh, I'm mad at LW's friend, let's just tear the heart out of LW and stomp it to the ground. Holy crap. That 'person' (I use the term loosely) should be called out for their egregious behaviour and bum-rushed out of town. Not only does the LW need to cut them out of her life, but let everybody else know what a shitstain they are.

Whew. Alright. Rant over.

BRIDE, this drunken mistake happened seven years ago. Of course only you can decide whether or not this is something that can be forgiven, but as Dan says, this was *before* you fell in love with the man who would become your fiancé. In a way, you can look at it as something that happened in an entirely different life than the one that you are soon to embark on.
well, BRIDE - time, I suppose. You're angry not because this is old but because it is new.
Is postponing the wedding for a few of months at all feasible? It might give BRIDE some time to process this so she can smile sincerely in her wedding pictures.
Great advice. You go Dan!
I think BRIDE's attitude speaks well of her as a human being, and it sounds like she thinks Jake and Ivy are pretty great too. So I think Dan's advice, which is meant for reasonable adults who can get hurt and be angry about it but can also communicate and forgive, has a pretty good chance of working out. How about, "Jake and Ivy, I need you to know that I'm angry and hurting. But I also want you to know that I do believe you that it was a one-time thing, I understand it was before Jake and I were really serious, and I still love you both. It would help me feel more secure if..." [if you two plan not to get drunk together when I'm not around, or whatever other conditions, temporary or otherwise, would help you feel better] If they're as great as you think, BRIDE, they'll accept your feelings, appreciate your attempts to deal with things forthrightly and constructively, and want to do what they can to help you heal your relationships with both of them.

Good luck. Have a wonderful, happy wedding day and a loving marriage and friendship.
BRIDE, I think you're going to have to keep repeating to yourself, this happened seven years ago, near the very start of your relationship. You barely knew your then boyfriend, now fiancée. Had you broken up shortly after that trip, he'd be a guy who today would barely register in your consciousness. Judge him and your friend based on who they have been over the past seven years, not who they were on that one night. I don't say this to minimize your pain at this new found knowledge, but you love your fiancée and you love your friend, and I think you will be happiest if you remind yourself of that.

I wondered the same as @3/Ricardo: BRIDE, if need a bit more time, think about pushing the wedding back a few months to give yourself a chance to process this information.

I also agree with @1/sangusisuga this third party did an absolutely despicable thing.
Great answer, Dan. Agree, the third party should get the flick pronto.
I vote threesome plus cut the third party out forever, unless they get in to make a foursome.
I agree with Dan's advice and with Ricardo @3's wise addendum, and I will add one of my own. For some people, the betrayal is less about the actual sex, and more about not being able to trust your lover to report a "slip-up" promptly .Jake and Ivy decided not to tell BRIDE about their drunken misadventure with the best of intentions, but if she is the type of person who would prefer to know about such things sooner from the original source rather than later from a vengeful third-party, now is the time to have that important conversation with Jake.
Great advice, especially the acknowledgement that she's going to be angry and upset for a while, and that's OK - it will get smaller and less important as some time passes. As long as nobody burns any bridges, and as long as Jake and Ivy actually are telling the truth and haven't been having an affair all this time, this is something that eventually just becomes a blip in your long life together.
Dan's right on the money.

Let me just add, as someone with pathological anxiety, that sometimes these kinds of creeping doubts are just manifestations of stress from other, scarier, sources. (When I have coursework to catch up on, I stress out about bills; when I have an interpersonal conflict, I worry about the dishes.) Right now, I think it's likely that some part of the nagging worry you're experiencing is your brain trying to manage anxiety related to the wedding (it's a big commitment, it's a major event, etc.) and anchoring it to this other thing that's not as enormous. Now, that's my gut reaction; your mileage will certainly vary!
But in the future, if you find yourself agonizing over this thing that happened ages ago, take a moment and think about what you might have hanging over your head currently. Who knows, it might just be causing an infidelity-panic-recurrence.
The wedding is two months away, why would she need to postpone it. The cost and people's plans.
Personally, I never would have let a new boyfriend go near my girlfriends alone, so early in the piece. Drinking and partying together.
BRIDE should definitely disinvite this 3rd party person from the wedding. Also, removing Ivy from the wedding party or disinviting her altogether is also an option. It'd be an insult, but so was fucking Jake, and if I were BRIDE it would be a lot harder keeping my cool with Ivy standing in all my photos, at the altar, making speeches and toasts and showers or whatever BRIDE plans for the maid of honor to do.

Also, BRIDE deserves an abject and unconditional apology from Jake. If this really was the mistake it's made out to be, he should be thrilled to make one.
@13, Corey. That seems a bit harsh, the LW forgives both of them, or moves on. Forgives them and lets it go, and tries to see it for what it was. A stupid act by two drunk people all those years ago.
Dan's advice is terrific but I'd like to give some credit to BRIDE for her eloquence and self-awareness. You don't see that very often.
All the advice is great, and was asked for, but at the same time, may only act to make her feel guilty if she is unable to let go of her sadness and forgive for a really long time. And that may be the reality. All the logic in the world isn't going to speed up this process. Trust me. I wish it did. You already know what you need to know, that it was a sincere mistake and that these two people are important to you. Be honest with them on how you feel and be easy on yourself for how you feel. I would also suggest, because of the very short timeline for your wedding, to try to find a counselor that might be able to offer you extra third party support through these next several months to come.
And first order of business is to figure out if a continued relationship, and marriage, with him is what you really want to do.
Secrets like this are cancer. Keeping it is advised in order to not damage the relationship and to protect Bride. Bullshit.

For the last 7 years the relationship has been damaged for the boyfriend and the best friend. Their own guilt and guilt altered behavior have changed their relationship with Bride in unknown ways. Now bride is left to wonder how many other secrets are selfishly held by the two most important people in her life .

The deed is forgivable and drunkenly understandable. Years of sober dishonesty is harder to stomach. Something this massively important to Bride is not a gift that protects her, but rather one that robs her of the foundation of trust she thought her relationships were built on.

These secrets almost always come out eventually. They cause pain no matter when they are revealed. The secret adds a whole new level of hurt.
Were it me, the sadness would be that I thought I knew this person (these people), and I didn't. I thought I could tell when they're lying (or keeping a secret), and I can't.

It's not really about the infidelity. It's deeper, lonelier than that. Even if I don't blame them (for either the infidelity or their choices around it), the two people closest to me in the world shared a secret - without me - for 7 years.

That would make me very sad.
First, I think Dan's advice was sound with a caveat.

The bride-to-be says she wishes she didn't know and so boo on the interloper who changed that. And, it was a long time ago.

In line with @19 and about the trust issue - it's great that you have such love/faith in Jake and Ivy. But the question might also be raised - is this a pattern with either of them?

The bride-to-be knows these two. Do either of them get drunk regularly and act out like this? Was it just a combination of the two of them drunk that made this happen or does Jake get drunk often?

If she knows that this really isn't their normal behavior (although she called Ivy's party a bacchanal), then trust them. But if she has doubts, especially about Jake, maybe a pause might be in order.
This is such a fascinating letter. On first glance the problem is the single one night stand... and that Ivy has crappy friends and crappy conflicts with them. But there are so many confusing parts of this letter for me. Poor Judgement #1 Why the heck would you throw your new beau at your girlfriends when you go out of town? Would you have gone to party with a bunch of his guy buddies when he went out of town? Poor Judgement #2,3,4 Keeping a secret to the grave is only under your control if you get rid of everyone else who knows. Jake should have told or backed off the romance. Ivy should have told or backed off the friendship. Instead, 2) Jake trusted Ivy, 3) Ivy trusted Jake 4) and this horrible friend 5,6?) and who knows who else, and now they have much worse consequences to deal with than coming clean at the beginning or backing off. Poor Judgement #5 Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It happened, you can't wish it back, and honestly it might have been better for your life if they had told you in the beginning. Why do you refuse to fault them for keeping it a secret? Now, if they had kept it a secret and backed off, or kept it a secret for a few months but told you when things were looking serious with Jake so you could make an informed decision, then I'd understand how they were just trying to save you some heartache by impeding your sense of reality, but you are in a bad emotional state now because they had poor judgement keeping this secret: Ivy told someone else about the sex, or someone else was there, so they shouldn't have assumed they could keep this secret. Also keeping a huge secret together is intimate, involves a lot of trust.

Some questions it might help to ask yourself are: What would you do if Ivy sent her boyfriend to your place to party and you ended up in bed with him, would you keep it secret, would you back off the friendship, would you fess up... would you stay and try to "make it up" to her by doing a bunch of good things and forgetting about it?... Would you call it an alcohol problem and stop drinking and forget about it?... would you simply act like it didn't happen? How does this compare to what Ivy chose, why would you trust her around your boyfriends after this? Also, how would you treat a boyfriend you had been seeing for a X months and cheated on and really regretted? Jake seems to be the only one who kept this secret well. I'm sorry, but it's good to know that Jake can keep a secret really well, even though it hurts right now, I think it's better to be realistic about your important relationships, even though it feels much nicer to be googly eyed delusionally in love, a lack of realism likely ends in disappointment.
sorry for my english, it's not a language I use a lot

ok, sadness is what we feel when we loose something. It's the sign there is something to mourn, it can be anything from the death of a loved one or something not so bad. Here the obvious options (but maybe the wrong ones) would be that you are sad because you just lost the idea that both boyfriend and best friend were flawless or the lost of a sort of ideal world where you never feared cheating or serious crisis with your soon to be husband. But you are the only one who can know what it really is and first step is to identify what really hurts. Second step is to mourn the loss. And to allow yourself to cry if you didn't already, in a place where you feel safe (it can be Jack's arms by the way, he can understand that).

You're angry because someone did you wrong (or did to someone else you care about). We are not angry normally over a loss we can't do anything about (like the death of an old loved grand parent). We are when there is a situation to fight against. The wrong I see in this story is the 3rd party who used you to hurt your fried, hurting you too (maybe more, but I'm sure she's everything but happy either). Here you need to take action against. It would be maybe useful to do it with Ivy to show that the plan to hurt her didn't go so well. Of course don't do anything illegal or immoral, humiliating someone doesn't teach him anything, but do something, even so simple as to go to the person with your friend and tell what you think is right.
Maybe I'm wrong(ok, I used this word a lot, sorry) with what causes you to be angry but you need to clearly identify the problem and make changes in your life to make the "aggression" stop.
@14 Lavagirl - perhaps you're right. Disinviting Ivy would be rather harsh. Like Dan said, keeping this in perspective is probably the key to salvaging BRIDE's relationships with both Ivy and Jake. Maybe a 1:1 convo with Ivy is sufficient, since they are very close friends. But it's something I would definitely want to discuss with Ivy ASAP if I were in BRIDE's shoes.
Yep, you need to de-tangle yourself from the feelings you are having about your fiance and friend. Drop it, or cancel the wedding. You DO NOT want to enter into a marriage with those things swirling in your head.
I thought that the LW actually already understood everything Dan said. Her question was, "How do I get past these feelings that I do not want to have?" In that case, very little that Dan said was useful (to the LW specifically; other readers could use hearing it again, I'm sure). She knows it was a mistake that didn't happen again and forgives them intellectually; she's just struggling with the emotional fallout. Like Dan said: be honest with them about how she's currently feeling, allow herself to feel those feelings, and eventually her heart will catch up with her head's forgiveness.
Also she should not get married if it's not a good decision for her, and she might need more time to make the decision... getting divorced is harder than calling off a wedding.. wait a month and see if you feel good about marrying Jake, and keeping Ivy as the maid of honor. Proceed with wedding plans postponing any financial agreements possible, but also digest your feelings, and give yourself permission to postpone the wedding for a year if you can't feel good about the marriage. (I don't see how you can keep Ivy as maid of honor, I'd change the wedding to exclude even my mom if she had slept with my fiance in secret, unless I had somehow well and truly dealt with it.) If you don't marry, give yourself 6 more months to make sure that things aren't going to work out with Jake, then pull the plug. You might put a couple people out by calling off the wedding 1 or 2 months beforehand, but no one should be burdened with 6 months notice.
I would postpone. Postponing would allow you the time you need to sort out your feelings, it would show you how your husband-to-be handles difficult times (is he patient or defensive), and is your friend going to continue to be there for you or will she phantom from your life.

This can be looked at as a great opportunity and not a loss. Don't listen to those who would tell you to get over it. Take as much time as you need without guilt, it's your life.
Seconding the folks who said explore your feelings about the secrecy. Even if Jake and Ivy made an objectively defensible decision to try to bury it, you can absolutely say you need openness for your relationship. And that's a conversation that is awkward but important in any relationship. Before the wedding is a good time.

And to me it's a fair question to ask: did they really think three (or however many) could keep a secret? Did they really judge (fairly even if incorrectly) this would have the least harm to you? Or were they thinking more of themselves?
Fwiw, I think the best way to "get over" something is to really let yourself feel it. Give yourself time to grieve. I know you feel impatient, BRIDE, you want to be at the end of this. But the only way out is through. Make some time to be by yourself and wallow a smidge; make some time with other friends for a little while, people who can be comforting. and then when you feel up to it, do something low-key but fun with your intended, and maybe separately with your friend. In short, give yourself space to mourn the hurt, and make time to re-establish fun times with these people you want to forgive. Good luck.

Philo @21, so many angles and forgiveness would need to be for all of them. The LW by somehow not thinking what might go on when she encouraged her bf to get to know her friends, via a drunken party, when it was a new connection, is implicated in this happening.
The feelings are an important part of her resolution, whatever that is. @25purls
highlighted what the LW asked for," how to get past these feelings." By thinking it thru and talking with the other two thru out. They need to know this crisis is real and hear the truth of what the LW is feeling. And the LW has to work it thru herself. Is it all a bridge too far or can she forgive and let it go.
Truthfully if LW is struggling to work through the emotions on her own but is sure she wants the relationships to survive (I'm not sure she IS sure), couples counselling may help. Javing that objective 3rd party to help her sort out how to process it and give her the tools can help her understand where she wants her relationships to go.

I disagree that keeping the secret for 7 years was the "right" thing to do. I personally value honesty and openness above protecting my feelings and the revelation of an early betrayal would be difficult to move past because it would cast doubt on every other interaction and make me wonder what else was being hidden from me. It implies they know better than me what is good for me - which is very condescending.

If BRIDE honestly believes it was a one off and just wants to process the feelings then I agree with moat others here. Process it as best you know how, and as I said, seek counselling if you need the tools to address it and can't seem to find them on your own.
It's interesting lying is the accepted position and the person who revealed it is the bad party. It's possible the bad third person always believed BRIDE should know but out of loyalty to Ivy didn't share. Shit often surfaces before a wedding because some people believe vows should be taken with an honest awareness of their partner. Sex and lies do not indicate strong relationships.
Not saying I would have told but that complicity matters.
It was just sex. They haven't done it again . And as the LW says, these two are the best. Nobody died and the truth is now up front and these two can take their vows, if they take their vows, with no secrets between them.
@32/pwnlady: Really, the the third party thought BRIDE should have been told that her boyfriend of a few weeks cheated on her with her best friend, but waited seven years until a mere two months before the BRIDE's wedding to his same man, and that is in any way understandable? At a wedding, they say speak now or forever hold your peace. The third party was under the same obligation seven years ago. The time for that person to speak up was at the time of the ill-advised sex or shortly thereafter, not seven years later.
BRIDE loves this man and loves her friend. Let's do a thought experiment and pretend that her then boyfriend and Ivy came clean seven years ago. There is a strong likelihood that BRIDE would have broken up with her short-term boyfriend and may have ended her friendship with Ivy. Yet being kept in the dark by her boyfriend and Ivy got her to a point that she want to be married to her boyfriend and recognizes Ivy as her most important friend. Would complete transparency really have made BRIDE happier, even if would have left her without two of the most important people in her life? Was BRIDE robbed of her agency, or was she given the opportunity to see her boyfriend and best friend as loving, supportive, and loyal, as well as imperfect or the past seven years?
@33 Yeah, that's my feeling - it was just sex. Right now BRIDE is hurting, and angry, and that's reasonable. But she knows these people, loves them, and feels they love her. That's important.

The drunken hookup was a mistake, and possibly choosing to keep it a secret was a mistake. But that's all they were, mistakes. To me, the path they took seems so human - keeping the truth from BRIDE was initially probably half self preservation and half protective of her. Then, if later one of them wondered if perhaps it was not the best choice after all, well, then it's already gone so far, and another person is involved, and..... time passes, and the urgency passes with it, and it's pretty much forgotten.

Not perfect behaviour, no, but pretty standard. We've all got things that prick our consciences that we might in hindsight have dealt with differently, but which there seems little point in doing anything about now. Sure, there is weakness and self interest in the mix, but also care for BRIDE's feelings. Telling someone something you know they would really rather not know might ease your conscience, but might not actually be in that person's best interests - that's just another kind of self interest.

Me,. I'd rather go through life with someone I love and who loves me than with someone who always deals with mistakes perfectly. Because god knows I don't, and they'd be so hard to live up to.
Here is my personal take. If only Jake and Ivy knew about their dumb drunk ass night, than fine. Never speak of it again. But they were not the only ones who knew and they knew it. I understand why Ivy and Jake might have wanted to keep it secret in the beginning. Perhaps Ivy saw Jake's potential as a great partner to the LW and felt bad for what she did. Perhaps Jake knew that if LW found out at the time, the promising relationship he was embarking on would be dead in the water. OK. Here is the problem. Other people knew. They knew other people knew. So, there Jake was for seven years pretending to be this fantastic loyal boyfriend while persons knew that he was not. People knew that LW was being fooled. At a certain point, she should have been told by one of them. So she could process. So when this person came to her and said, you know that they fucked each other right? The LW could have had a better response for that person than "No. I didn't." Instead, if they had told her, she could have responded, "Yeah they told me three years ago. They were drunk and it will never happen again. And it hasn't" That would have given her agency. That would have given her power to portray herself as she wants to be understood. Instead, their bullshit silence, which is bullshit when you know other people know, put her in only one position. She has been a naïve fool for seven years. Look at how society has judged Hilary Clinton for staying with Bill Clinton. Our society does not regard women who forgive infidelity as anything but weak. And their secrecy fed into that bullshit societal trope. It put her in no other position than to play the part of the wronged party. I would be sad and angry too. Not at the stupid drunken sex, but that they let me walk around believing one narrative when others knew a completely different one. I think that is where the true betrayal is. Not the sex, the lack of consideration of how she would be viewed by those that knew what really happened.
My mother says, when trust goes out of a marriage, the marriage is over. My father when he was alive, he told me the secret to marriage was no secrets. They were together for 49 years until he died. For me, it would take a lot not to walk away. Letting me go seven years oblivious to the truth that others around me know that would be hurtful to me... THAT is what would be hard for me to forgive. That is where her anger and sadness are coming from. This is where she needs to focus and decide on whether she can move past it. I wish the LW well.
If this relationship was just newish, seven years ago, then the LW and Jake wouldn't have necessarily made a commitment to each other. The transgression here is the non disclosure on top of the drunken regretful sex, and the motivation for this seems to be feelings of shame by ivy and jake. Surely the last seven years has been punishment enough for these two? LW, as Dan pointed out in his response, shit happens in marriages, and before them. Forgiveness is asked for and given, and on goes the connection. People are imperfect.
@37/Reader1234: "So, there Jake was for seven years pretending to be this fantastic loyal boyfriend while persons knew that he was not. People knew that LW was being fooled."

How can you claim that Jake was "pretending to be a fantastic loyal boyfriend?" I think the evidence demonstrated that Jake in fact was a fantastic loyal boyfriend over the past seven years. That's why BRIDE fell in love and decided to marry him. BRIDE hasn't been fooled by all the acts of love and devotion Jake showed over the past seven years. Jake did that, and that's why BRIDE wanted to marry Jake.

Second, your much of the rest of your comment suggests that if you were BRIDE, you would have ended the relationship based on Jake's behavior at the start of the relationship. Had BRIDE done so, as is likely, she would now not be marrying the person she loves. She might also not have Ivy in her life now either. As I asked above, would BRIDE be happier without two people who have been such a big part of her life over the past seven years, and who she intended would be a part of her life forever? I think not.

You seem to believe that the past seven years have been a fraud, with BRIDE playing the role of fool. Again, I think not. I think BRIDE and anyone else who knew of Jake and Ivy's one night of ill-advised sex at the start of the Jake and BRIDE relationship can see that Jake and Ivy have been dedicated and loyal to BRIDE over the past seven years. That should have been enough to silence anyone with doubts, and as I said above, anyone with doubts should have spoken up five, six, or seven years ago.
@Reader1234, re:
> Our society does not regard women who forgive infidelity as anything but weak.

That's true, but hardly a reason to leave someone. Society tells us all sorts of things that aren't true, and the ability to see that your situation is right (or wrong) for you despite what society says is a great strength. (And it may be worth pointing out that different societies feel pretty differently about this--American society says one thing, yes, but I think that, for instance, the French have a different view--so it's not as if it's some universal truth.)

I get that being lied to feels awful. I was lied to about an affair and it was awful. That said, this wasn't an affair. It wasn't a continuing set of lies, it wasn't one person pretending to be in one type of relationship while being in another. It was one lie, one action, one time. Whole different ballgame. Forgiveness is hard, but it's for exactly this sort of situation. And it's good for your soul (and your happiness) to be able to forgive people.
I'm impressed with the thoughtfulness of most of the responses from readers. I think this is a situation that's highly nuanced (actually, most problems are more highly nuanced than an advice column makes them seem, but this one shows its complexity on the surface), and people are exploring the angles.

I think that agony's response @36 is one the lw should consider. I think BRIDE is reeling from the newly-discovered information, feeling perhaps humiliated that other people knew something she did not for such a long time. It seems to me that the last 7 years should demonstrate that she can trust Jake and Ivy, that they made several mistakes, including the mistake of dishonesty especially since at least one other person knew such compromising information, but that they deeply regret what happened (and possibly the way they handled it), and would never do anything like that again.

It's easy to say "postpone the wedding," but there may be non-refundable deposits involved, and non-refundable airline tickets and vacations scheduled. BRIDE is already feeling humiliated, and explaining to family and friends that the wedding is on hold because the couple is working through some problems may lead to some particularly nosy relatives or friends theorizing that infidelity is behind the postponement. Although I don't agree that our society always regards women who stay with their unfaithful partners as weak, (think "Stand By Your Man"), I think we typically reserve that attitude for people who are already married and have children and when the infidelity occurs many years into a marriage; as a society, we take a pretty harsh "dump the bastard" view of cheaters who are unfaithful before the marriage, and that, coupled with all those "revenge-on-the-cheating-bastard-right-at-the-wedding-ceremony" stories which always seem like the last thing I would do but which everyone else seems to regard as justice being served, might make BRIDE feel pressured into breaking up with someone she really loves and ending a close friendship even if they could work through this. If they go ahead and get married, she may be subjected to criticism from family or friends.

However, if it is at all possible, I think that the lw should put the wedding on hold or move it back while she takes the time to work through her feelings of betrayal and mortification. I think therapy is a great idea: individual, as well as couple's (and maybe even "couple's" therapy for BRIDE and Ivy). I think feelings will arise, and anger and doubt will surface, and they should be worked through on their own timetable. Most importantly, BRIDE has a right to feel what she feels, to be angry and hurt and to demand true contrition from both Ivy and Jake, and Ivy and Jake owe her genuine and heartfelt sincere contrition. They need to take responsibility for what they did and what they didn't do. They need to own up to the pain they're causing her and the mistakes they made. I don't think she will be able to move on if their attitude is "it was just sex; it was seven years ago; we were drunk; you would never have found out if that bitch hadn't wanted to get revenge." They need to not be defensive. Then maybe this friendship can survive, and maybe it can't. Then maybe this couple can take an honest look at how they will deal with other difficult issues going forward. They could come out of this stronger.

Good luck, BRIDE. I hope you come to a decision that is right for you.
@40: ciods is right: this was't an affair and it wasn't a continuing set of lies.
I call BS on people who don't know when they're fucking someone not their partner. I've been drunk enough to jump out of the car, have vomit in my hair, lose my shoes, be entangled in a stranger's rose bush, and need the police to take me home (all in the same night) and I was still sober enough to say no when someone wanted sex. I think alcohol is used more as an excuse than anything.
If I found out just before my wedding that my fiance had, many years ago, gotten drunk on a work trip and fucked a stranger at the hotel, I'd be sad, but I would apply what I know about monogamy to the situation and try to move on. I can't presume to speak for LW, but if I were her, I would be less bothered by the one-time infidelity of my partner than by the idea of my partner and best friend having this secret together for 7 years.

I'd be rewinding the last seven years, wondering how often they locked eyes at a dinner party and remembered it. Or talked about it when they were alone. How often, when we were all together, when I was sitting beside them both, did they look at each other and think about sex? I'd wonder how often they may have even felt some secret titillation over it.

I'm not saying that's rational, but that's what would bother me more than the fact of a single infidelity by my partner and a single betrayal by my friend, both of which I could forgive.

If the LW feels this way, my advice is to focus on two things: 1.) They barely remember the sex. 2.) More than likely, this was not a pleasant or sexy secret all these years. Their own feelings about it have probably overwhelmingly been shame and regret. They have not been looking at each other for the last seven years and thinking about sex. They've been looking at each other and thinking about how much they love you. If it were anything else, they would have either done it again or broken up with you.
The thing is, it happened when they had just started dating, but BRIDE is experiencing it NOW, because she just found out about it now. So she can't help but experience it through the lens of her and Jake's relationship now. Since another person did know about this, maybe it would have been better for Jake and Ivy to come clean then, instead of trying to stuff it down a memory hole over which they did not have full control.
And yeah, the blabbermouth is an asshole.
People (nocutename, for example) have alluded to this, but I think it bears calling out specifically: LW's personal experience of what happened is the same as it would have been back then. In other words, she just found out. Of course it is new and raw and huge. Which is to say that LW should cut herself a little slack if her emotions are intense and overwhelming right now. Suggesting that that focusing on this being seven years ago so it shouldn't count so much is logically correct, but she still has a genuine right to her reaction today. Feel those feelings, even as you attempt to mitigate them.

That said, I think Dan's take on it was right on the money in all particulars. Especially the evil shithead who tried to get back at Ivy by attacking YOU. Whether or not you decide Ivy or Jake have to go, that "third party" revealed their sociopathic tendencies. Get 'em out of your life.
Just a thought...

What if Ivy is a homewrecking sociopath who manipulates people and their emotions to suit her own purposes and Jake is a dumb slut?

7 years for a group of "friends" to keep secrets from you about the biggest aspect of your relationship and emotional security seems like a group of millennial assholes who don't possess a single modicum of integrity or appreciation for another persons feelings.

What if, after 7 years of fighting with Ivy about revealing the truth, coupled with an impending marriage between LM and Jake, 3rd party finally grew enough sack to come clean and share a truth that SHOULD HAVE BEEN REVEALED IN YEAR ONE?!?

Lying? Continuously? Forever?

Worst fucking advice I've ever read. This country is so completely fucked, for the future. Good luck, assholes.
@ 47 - If you were an apathetic nihilist, you wouldn't write in caps. In fact, you wouldn't even bother writing in at all, and even the worst fucking advice would provoke no more than a "meh" from you.

Either you ironically chose the most inappropriate handle ever, or you're not very good at sizing people up (starting with yourself).

@48: Ha! Thread winner for sure.
@ 47 "the biggest aspect of your relationship and emotional security"

It is, though, necessarily, and that's where I think a lot of the comments are coming from, mine definitely included.

Let's put this in another scenario. Say, for instance, that BRIDE was a committed vegan, and when she met Jake, he said "Oh, yeah, I'm vegetarian, thinking of going vegan", when, in reality, he was actually a meat eater but thinking of going vegetarian. Misrepresenting himself, trying to make himself look more attractive to this girl he likes.

Couple months in, he's been eating vegan when with her, starting to commit a bit more to being vegetarian, and when she's out of town, goes to a BBQ, gorges on meat, finds it repulsive in retrospect, and, at least partly due to that experience, commits fully to a meat free existence. Never tells her about it, because he's embarrassed, because of the initial untruth, because he's not perfect and is a little weak and just really doesn't want to have to have that somewhat difficult conversation. Some of their friends were at the BBQ and know about the meat-gorge.

If BRIDE found out about it now, she'd feel much the way I read her as feeling in the letter - kinda betrayed, kinda like she was taken for a fool, kinda hurt, kinda angry. But also still loving him, still appreciating him for the man he has shown himself to be in the intervening years. Just needing some time and maybe a little grovelling from him to make herself feel better.

I suspect you won't see these two situations as even remotely analogous, but I can tell you, as someone who has been cheated on, that to me, they are. One-time, regretted cheating is not a good thing, but it's not really all that big a deal. It's like many of the other things we do in relationships that we really shouldn't, but which are largely forgivable - pretending to watch our diets or pretending to try to control our spending, while not really making much of an effort, even though we know it's important to our partner, for example.

Jake and Ivy shouldn't have slept together, and shouldn't have lied about it. But they did. BRIDE believes they are basically good people, and she loves them. She intellectually believes that what they did was forgivable, just is not quite there emotionally. To me, that seems like exactly the normal way to be feeling right now, and all she really needs is some reassurance that yes, in time she will probably get over these feelings, if she does not feed them.

there is no huge crisis here, just normal human imperfection.
Oh, ffs. That first sentence of the second paragraph should read "it is NOT, though". Sigh
The most important thing for bride to do is not to act out of hurt pride and sadness before she has had a chance to absorb the situation -- to think about the soundness of her relationship with these people, about the flaws that they have forgiven in her, and about what she wants from her life. It sounds to me like she is already doing these things, and I am impressed with her ability to do so at such a hard time. This is her opportunity to be a kinder, more forgiving person than she may think she has in her, but if she can rise above the viciousness of the fourth party, I think she will solidify her relationships with her friend and her fiancé. I do think the person who used her to get revenge on Ivy is the villain of the piece. There is just so much malice in his/her actions.
Man so judgy.

Some people believe sleeping with someone else is a sin closer to forgetting to take out the garbage than it is murder. It seems like LW is one of those people.... She doesn't feelike this one thing 7 years ago is a big deal. She appreciated that she didn't know and she wishes she hadn't been told.

But she has, and now despite not thinking it's an issue, she has the very problem not knowing about it had helped her avoid for 7 years: She feels bad.

Let's take the letter writer at her word that everything is fine except her mind isn't overpowering her feelings and she'd just like to get to the point where she doesn't feel hurt.
@39would BRIDE be happier without two people who have been such a big part of her life over the past seven years
You seem to be forgetting that there are other people in the world besides Jake and Ivy. Hopefully BRIDE is being more realistic. If they had confessed at first, or after a year when things were getting serious, maybe BRIDE would have forgiven them in a much easier setting with no pressure to decide immediately to marry, without the gossip, without having to wonder what other badly kept secrets may cause problems in the future, without having to reinterpret the last 7 years with this new information in mind. Maybe she'd have had solid, weathered relationships already instead of trying to patch them up now. Or maybe she would have drawn away from people who weren't as supportive and respectful of her life as she was of theirs. Maybe she would have met a guy who treated her nicely AND could be more honest AND more monogamous and committed to their sex life. Maybe she'd meet a new friend who sparked off new interests and growth in LW, maybe they would have been partners in some wildly successful startup, but instead of rich and married to a great sexual match... she's here.

Sex and money are the big issues in relationships. Not everything should be forgiven and there's no objective reason for her to forgive Jake. She should trust her gut instead of listen to people who tell her how to feel or that this type of cheating is forgivable, or that all cheating is unforgivable, or forgiveness is always appropriate, or wedding plans or engagements can't be called off. There's no proof that Ivy and Jake only did it once, although it's likely the "friend" only knows about one instance. It costs far more to have a wedding and a divorce than any deposits or plane fare she'd have to eat at this point, she shouldn't hurt herself to save someone some plane fare, and it would hurt less anyway to pay their fare if they got upset than go through a wedding and divorce. She doesn't owe anyone the gory details of her romances, if nosy people ask, she can say anything, she's dealing with a miscarriage, Jake's friend died, they went broke from an internet scam, there are lots of lies to deal with nosy rudeness if she needs to postpone. And again, the cheating counts, she can't forget about it (although she might be able to refrain from bringing it up again ever and act like it's forgotten, she can't erase the information from her brain). She can choose to forgive, if she thinks it's good for her... if she can reach some peace and surety with that decision. Or she might think that if she takes a couple years to heal from this mistake she might enjoy dating and find a better match, who knows. Poop on people who tell her what she should like in her romances.

Memory holes don't sound like they belong in a healthy brain. I respect privacy. I respect growth and learning from your mistakes. I have little respect for deceit and delusions, or for people who cannot cope with reality. I am not saying that I think everyone has a nice cushy reality, or that coping with reality is easy, or instantaneous. But when you lose touch with reality due to trauma, emotional unbalance, protectively or selfishly deceitful people, etc, it creates other problems. Mostly it impedes ability to generate realistic predictions. Unrealistic ideas are also contagious (global warming doesn't exist, the more antibiotics the better, wine is evil, people are all nice, mommy or boss or president will take care of everything, the existence of gods). Lies, like physical violence or other weapons, should only be used when nothing else will work to protect yourself and others. I disagree that BRIDE's health or sanity depended on being lied to here. But maybe I'm wrong, and she's always been permanently codependent on Jake, couldn't leave if she was unhappy with him, she's so fragile it would end her life or sanity, so she needs to maintain this delusional bubble that he doesn't make really bad mistakes, and Jake and Ivy chose correctly to protect her. Or maybe Jake was under the impression that the sex was none of her business, monogamous agreements aren't important, so he was within his rights to protect his privacy.

Philo, you are projecting a lot onto this scenario. Ivy and Jake have expressed their shame and regret. Why does she have to reinterpret the last seven years? Over one fuck, you can't be serious. You're giving this one momentary lapse of judgement, way too much power. It was just sex, the protagonists haven't continued, haven't alerted the LW by coded eye contact. Whatever the attraction between them was at that party, best friend and boyfriend, is done. They kept if from her because it was just sex and meant nothing to them.
I dont know what your crowd was like as young people, but this scenario doesn't surprise me. Weird psychosexual shit between girl friends and their boyfriends.
I'm confused. LW was off at Ivy's birthday party so the boyfriend went out drinking with Ivy and did the nasty? So Ivy was not attending her own birthday party? But but but why?
Nocute @ 49 - Thanks!

Lava @ 55 - "I dont know what your crowd was like as young people, but this scenario doesn't surprise me. "

Indeed. It sounds like the start of so many of my friends' relationships in those days.
@56: Yes, that made no sense. I assume it was a casualty of sloppy editing.

@ Those who say BRIDE is making this into a bigger deal than it should be: It's easy for us to say that BRIDE is overreacting, and that this is no big deal. But I think people are entitled to their own feelings and right now BRIDE is feeling betrayed and humiliated.

The LW was out of town and therefore could not attend Ivy's birthday party. She suggested her boyfriend go anyway, stag without her, to Ivy's birthday party b/c Ivy is the LW's friend and the LW is out of town and would naturally like her friend to get on with her boyfriend.

Personally, I'd totally forgive this if either the boyfriend or the best friend had told me about it themselves. I'd also understand that they initially withheld the info. But if it never came out after that, during the planning of an engagement or intervening years, etc, then yes I'd feel betrayed. Or rather totally crushed to have two people I loved and trusted so much not love or trust me enough to tell me the truth themselves. Sucks for the LW. The fact that it happened, alright normal. The fact that they lied to her about it for seven years- in a lie that depended on third parties also lying- nope. Shitty friend and shitty lover.
BTW at the risk of projecting, I'd say this is also the answer to her question. Why can't she let this go and get over it? Why is it bothering her even though she intellectually knows it was no big deal? It's because the fact of what they did (hooked up while drunk early in her relationship and instantly regretted it) is totally normal and not really a big deal. She knows this and forgives them. What is a big deal is the two of them carried on the lie, including a third party (which means probably more people too) for years. She's bothered by this because of the ongoing betrayal and that's natural. They don't need to have a conversation about how mortified they were that they slept together or how much they regret it or don't remember it or how it meant nothing or whatever. They need to have a conversation about why they withheld the info and how the lie grew to the point it did and how this is a betrayal of the LW - not just her own trust (and bodily autonomy if she thought they were monogamous) but also of her dignity in a sense if there are third parties talking about it and she's the topic of gossip etc all without knowing it and her two most trusted people don't put a stop to it by coming clean. Now I'm not all hard heart, and I believe that loving people could have this conversation and really resolve it all- it makes sense that you'd lie initially; we all know that lies can grow. It'd probably be a relief to the friend and lover both to explain it and get forgiveness, etc. But the LW's question is why she still feels unsettled by it, and the answer is (most likely) that they haven't talked about this aspect. The betrayal wasn't the sex but the seven years of lying about it. Eh, but maybe this is just me. I can take just about anything but dishonesty.
@58, nocute. You are projecting too. The LW said she felt sad and sometimes angry. Nothing about feeling betrayed and humiliated. And I'm not sure anyone is underestimating how the LW feels.
@lava you can describe feelings without knowing the words. This is why it's helpful to seek counsel at times. Pretty common for a therapist to help you name your feeling, for example. The LW names anger and sadness. Nocute chimes in with humiliation and betrayal.

"Why do I feel like a fool?" This sounds like feeling humiliation.

"Why can't I shake this off as something that happened in the past and has had little bearing on my life until now?" This sounds like feeling trust was betrayed.
As if weddings aren't stressful enough, BRIDE now has to deal with this. That it occurred seven years ago is, in a sense, irrelevant. She has been lied to for those seven years. What else has she been lied to about? With friends like Ivy, who needs enemies. Being drunk is a bogus excuse. There are some things that friends just don't do to their best friend (that assumes Ivy feels the same way towards BRIDE)

How did the third party (call her Iago) know about what happened? How many more people/friends knew about it and have kept silent for seven years? How many people has Iago told this to? How many people at the wedding will know about this? Did Jake and Ivy know that Iago knew?
@63, EmmaLiz, true. It is hard to describe feelings sometimes, it is still wiser to let the other person identify their own. The LW, who sounds like a thoughtful and self aware young woman, points to feeling predominately very sad.
The LW is the only one to decide if she can forgive her friend and her fiancé. If she does forgive them and is able to move on, then what does it matter S&C @64, who else knows or doesn't know.
@65: In a way, LavaGirl, it doesn't matter who else knows or knew or didn't know. If BRIDE decides that she can put this information behind her and move forward with this marriage and keep her friendship with Ivy, then of course it's her call. You're right that it shouldn't make a difference, but I think a skeptic and a cynic was voicing some of what may be or may become BRIDE's sense of having been humiliated--and yes, it's humiliating for most people to realize that other people knew something that affected them when they didn't know it themselves and were blithely ignorant. They can feel as if they had been an object of pity or contempt or condescension. I'm not projecting so much as considering the way I've heard people I know who were betrayed say they felt when they found out--that they cringe at the idea that they were in the dark about their own relationship while someone else was more enlightened, that they didn't see the rottenness in the apple, while someone else was well aware of it.

Maybe the lw doesn't feel this way and maybe she never will, and that's great. But from the letter, I wouldn't be surprised if in therapy this exact feeling surfaced.
Marriage is a small business and, in the early stages, an intensive two-person-and-helpers creche. When the LW gets into this, it's possible that her feelings of betrayal at this one-night stand will recede into perspective.

It’s good there are letters from a wide variety of people going through different issues. But maybe I'm the only person who found the LW's absorption in something that happened seven or eight years ago narcissistic. I'm sure psychologically recognisable queers will be back next week.
@LavaGirl: Although BRIDE doesn't use the word "humiliated," she does say she feels "like a fool." That's the essence of humiliation.
Feeling like a fool is feeling like a fool. That is not necessarily feeling humiliated. Other people knowing about a sexual encounter seven years ago reflects on those other people, not the LW.
There are no universal emotions the LW will feel, and the way others might feel she should feel is not pertinent to helping her get past her feelings now.
Dan's suggestion to maybe have a threesome was a great opening line. Like, you love these people and they love you, don't let this stupid mistake and equally stupid cover up spoil a lifetime with a compatible mate and a good friend. With that attitude, the LW wouldn't give a stuff what anyone else knew or thinks.
I have to disagree with @61/EmmaLiz who writes:

"What is a big deal is the two of them carried on the lie, including a third party (which means probably more people too) for years . . . They need to have a conversation about why they withheld the info and how the lie grew to the point it did and how this is a betrayal of the LW - not just her own trust (and bodily autonomy if she thought they were monogamous) but also of her dignity in a sense if there are third parties talking about it and she's the topic of gossip etc all without knowing it and her two most trusted people don't put a stop to it by coming clean."

First, this was an omission, and while Jake and Ivy were not transparent with BRIDE, the idea that this "lie grew" is entirely false statement of the events. This wasn't a Ponzi scheme, in which a small lie is covered by larger lies until even the biggest lies cannot hid the truth. This was an omission in the first few weeks of BRIDE and Jake's relationship. What did grow? BRIDE and Jake's love for each other and their relationship.

Second, Jake and Ivy now know that a third party was aware of their ill-advised sex, there is no way to know who else knows now or knew all these years, and there is no evidence that BRIDE was a "topic of gossip." Even if there was gossip at the time, does anyone really believe that people have been gossiping about this for seven years? Given that, what purpose is served by encouraging BRIDE to think she has been the topic of conversation for the past seven years? Yes, it's natural for BRIDE to think and wonder about who knew, but resolving that question may be impossible and in the end entirely unnecessary to resolving her feelings about this event.

There's a Buddhist story, where two monks come to a creek, and a young woman is there, scared of crossing the shallow but swiftly moving water. So one of the monks picks her up and carries her across, putting her down on the other side. The second monk, further up the road, could hold his rage no longer and turned to the other saying,
" you know we are not to touch women", to which the first monk replied, " I left her back at the creek, you are still carrying her."
@55 I don't appreciate the unfounded accusation of projecting, or the "just sex" trivializing something that most people consider important (I certainly care about sex a lot although maybe BRIDE does not idk), or claiming to know the actions and motivations of Jake and Ivy better than the LW (projecting). Cheating and lying are shitty things to do, your mother did not deserve it, and saying it's no big deal doesn't prove anything except your confusion. It really doesn't matter if you would marry a man who slept with your best friend, mother, AND dog... it's the LW's decision.

I don't want to lose these relationships (I think). But these insidious thoughts are dragging me down in.
Lava, I think it would be better for her to feel more settled in her marital decisions than this. And I'm not a fan of stuffing things in memory holes, I think they too often pop out at inconvenient times. I think she should settle down, think things through, and commit to marriage when she is again sure it's the right thing to do. It'll be ok if she takes a break or calls off the wedding or divorces too, she should take care of herself first. There's no obligation to marry because she got engaged or break up because he cheated. That's where I'm coming from. I don't understand what you're trying to do here. Get her married and pumping out kids?

I value skepticism above faith, because I value realism, and the ability to make accurate predictions and plan well. Saying this is a mistake Jake will realistically never make again is just as ridiculous as saying that if Jake cheated once then he must have done it more, or that it will definitely happen again. I hope I am helping to widen her perspective, consider all sides and see more options, search for what feels right for her, even though it sounds like it's painful to accept the new information, she needs to if she wants to heal from this. Hoping for the best is good, refusing to consider the worst is foolish.
I don't think we know that Ivy and Jake knew anyone else knew (ugh, horrid sentence). The third party who told LW may have overheard them, seen them, or in some other non-obvious way found out. If they thought no one else knew, then I think the seven-year (and meant to be forever) lie was the right way to go, given the one-off, early-on nature of the incident. It's a shame that someone else decided to step in and share the information, but that doesn't mean the lie was the wrong choice. Again, I'll say, so far as we know this wasn't a whole pile of lies growing or building. It was one lie, kept well for seven years. Kudos to Jake and Ivy for that.

Of course the LW feels sad. But I think she sounds aware and thoughtful and I think she'll get over it. Feel what you feel, maybe get some counseling as others have recommended, and be sure to keep a very open line of communication with Jake. But then--let it go. Move on.

The people who think one bad mistake (and the very common post-mistake cover-up) should end both a seven-year relationship and a longer-than-that friendship must be living quite impressive moral lives.
@ 73 "The people who think one bad mistake (and the very common post-mistake cover-up) should end both a seven-year relationship and a longer-than-that friendship must be living quite impressive moral lives. "


I think it's not entirely realistic to imagine that BRIDE would be living a rich and sexually satisfying monogamous life if she had only been able to dump Jake and Ivy for their actions all those years ago. Instead, she would probably be with someone else who is also not perfect, though perhaps imperfect in a different way than Jake.

There are some really really good people in the world, and there are some really really bad ones, but most of us, I think, wash around somewhere in the middle, making mistakes, sometimes compounding them and sometimes redeeming them. Hoping for forgiveness, and doing a lot of forgiving, ourselves.

I don't think it is minimizing BRIDE's feelings to tell her that she'll get over them - to a large extent, that's the question she asked, "Will I get over this?" And the answer is "Yes, if you want to". She feels bad now, which is normal and understandable, but she doesn't have to feel bad forever, or as if her life has been ruined.

Feeling bad about something forever is a choice, and that choice is where Dan's memory hole comes in. I'm an old woman, and have had a pretty hard life. If I chose to keep every wrong that has been done to me in my living room where I'd trip over it every day, I'd be an unhappy person. Instead, the feelings have been felt, I've forgiven the forgivable, and those memories are tucked away where I can find them if I need to, but really, do I need to? Maybe not totally forgotten, but almost.

The man I ended up marrying slept with my sister early on in our relationship. The circumstances are different enough that it's not an exact parallel to this letter, but close enough that you'd think I'd have remembered it in this context, but I'm not exaggerating when I tell you all that I'd commented on the letter twice before I thought "Oh, yeah, something kinda like this happened to me". That's the memory hole.
@73 - that was my thought as well. I don't think either Ivy or Jake bragged about their exploits to the gossipmonger. There was a big party with lots of people and lots of alcohol. At some point, J & I went wandering off together, and somebody probably noticed. Or noticed them coming back with clothes all in disarray or with fabulous post-shag hair.
Still think it's highly odd that cheating and lying get a pass but someone telling BRIDE the truth gets nothing but scorn. Why are people interpreting her fiancé and best friends actions gracefully and assuming the worst intent by the third party?
@76/pnwlady: I think that was adequately explained @34.

First, the third party didn't tell BRIDE because she believe that BRIDE had a right to know before the wedding, she told BRIDE to hurt Ivy. That's behavior is deserving of scorn.

Second, it strains credulity to believe that the third party was acting out of honorable motives. The third party knew for seven years and kept silent. If they believed that BRIDE has a right to know the time to speak up was at the time or shortly thereafter. As the years went by, and BRIDE and Jake's relationship deepened through years of emotional investment, nothing prevented them from telling BRIDE. If they had honorable intentions, why did they let BRIDE invest seven years of her life with Jake?

Third, my guess is that Jake and Ivy were 23 to 25 when they engaged in one night of ill-advised sex. The third party is 30 or 32 today. I'm willing to treat recent college graduates differently from a 30 years old.

Fourth, sometimes 23 to 25 years old people don't exercise the best judgement, such as engage in sex that they shouldn't, but I expect a 30 year old to display better judgement, and the third party clearly did not.

Lastly, I don't think anyone is giving a pass to Jake and Ivy. Everyone can agree that they did something wrong. The question is what should BRIDE do having learned this information which has hurt her deeply just weeks before her wedding. Some of us have tried to frame the issue and events in a way that we think can help BRIDE see her way through to forgiving her fiance and best friend, and not letting that incident burden her.
@ Sublime

I didn't say Jake and Ivy gossiped about it. What I'm saying is that their keeping this secret caused gossip and drama. I mean, I don't see how anyone can deny that yes, this went on for years, when the contents of the letter are literally about how the third party had a fight with Ivy over this and then weeks before the wedding brought it all out into the open causing this mess in the first place. If that's not gossip and drama, I don't know what is.

You are right that there is no indication that anyone else knew about it, but I can't imagine that a third party who would take it upon themselves to bring this up right before a wedding never told anyone else. It's a moot point anyway, I'm just saying that this whole shitty scenario could have been avoided by the best friend and the finance just being fucking grownup and honest about it in the first place. Especially considering that they knew that keeping the secret required not just them to keep their mouths shut (both of whom love the LW and have personal interest in keeping the secret) but also a third party who apparently has no problem causing major distress just before someone's wedding.

And yes, it is a lie, not an omission, to cheat on someone who thinks you are monogamous and then not tell them about it. It is also a lie, not an omission, to fuck your friend's lover and not admit it. And the way this lie grew is that it led to the current situation which involved the friend and the third party having a big old falling out about whether or not to tell the LW, then the LW now wondering what to fucking do about her wedding. You can bet that if either Ivy or Jake had any idea that their initial seemingly-white lie would grow to something this big of a deal, they would've come clean about it way back when it was no big deal. B/C as I said, the fucking wasn't a big deal. The subsequent lie was.
agony @74. Thank you for sharing and you made me remember something, one of my boyfriends slept with one of my sisters. I didn't marry him though. That was a tough one. Gee, it's opened up a few more memories of messy times around sex. And from these experiences we learn and get beyond the fairytales.
EmmaL @78. The LW doesn't say the third party fought with Ivy over this. She says the third party told her after a falling out with Ivy.
Lava, I've liked your posts lately but you are being strangely limited and literal in your interpretations here. I mean, you are claiming that "feeling like a fool" does not mean someone is humiliated in one discussion, and now saying "she didn't say they fought, she said they had a falling out". I didn't intend to imply they gave each other black eyes.

"A third-party was aware of the tryst and, after falling out with Ivy, told me."

Now there are only two possible interpretations of that sentence. The most likely (and most generous) is that the third party had a falling out with Ivy over whether or not to tell the LW about the tryst. It would never have occurred to me to interpret it as the only other possible interpretation which is that the third party and Ivy had a falling out over a completely unrelated topic and the third party then went and told the LW about the unrelated tryst in order to get back at Ivy over that otherwise unrelated falling out, but you are correct that this is within the realm of possibility. In any case, my point is that trying to keep a secret like this causes drama and gossip- and regardless of what the falling out was over- this is exactly what happened. Which is one of many reasons why it's usually important to just be honest about shit that could affect someone else's life, even if the lie seems minor at the time and especially if multiple people and/or life decisions are involved.

That's not what I meant EmmaL. I said the betrayal wasn't the reason for the fight/ falling out between Ivy and the third person, which you implied was the reason.
Feeling like a fool has a few interpretations, could mean feeling stupid or dumb. Like I said, it doesn't necessarily mean feeling humiliated.
@81/EmmaLiz: "The most likely (and most generous) is that the third party had a falling out with Ivy over whether or not to tell the LW about the tryst."

I'm with@LavaGirl, as I don't see this as likely possibility at all. Ivy and her friend had falling out about whether to tell BRIDE? Where was this friend for the past seven years? Why would they be biting their tongue for seven years? Your scenario might be plausible if this wedding was a year after Ivy had sex with Jake, but is far fetched after seven years. Yes, a third party might wish to give Ivy and Jake a bit of time to come clean, but seven years? No, that strains plausibility. If the third party genuinely believed that BRIDE should have been told, she would have thought so for years and stayed silent, when should have spoken up years ago. Why wait until the two months before the wedding? What purpose did this person think they were serving? They were acting in the serve of honesty? Looking out for BRIDES' best interest?

And no, the lie of omission did not grow, what grew were the ramifications for BRIDE and Jake. Of course the third party would have been aware of that too, which makes their silence until now all the less likely to be borne of some virtuous desire.

And if people were gossiping about this over the past seven years, word would have spread back to Jack, Ivy, or BRIDE long before now.
Obviously they wanted to speak up because the LW is getting married- that's what changed. I'm not justifying the action, but I honestly don't see any other interpretation of the sentence. LW is marrying Jake without knowing that Jake fucked Ivy. Third party, who kept mouth shut when they were just dating, thinks LW should know the truth. Has a falling out with Ivy over whether or not to tell the LW, then takes it upon his/her busybody self to tell LW.

Honestly what are you guys saying here? That third party and Ivy had a falling out over a totally separate thing coincidentally at the time that the LW is planning the wedding and decided to tell LW about the tryst in order to get revenge at Ivy over the completely separate falling out? I mean, that's possible, like I said, but I don't see why it would be more likely nor why LW would write the sentence the way she did (that the third party, after falling out with Ivy, told her about it just when she's planning the wedding). That requires a lot of unrelated coincidences: that third party had a falling out with Ivy at exactly the same time that LW was planning a wedding and chose to retaliate against Ivy by telling LW a secret unrelated to the falling out at exactly this moment and then LW chose to include the falling out in her description of events even though it had nothing to do with her or the wedding, etc. I mean,it's most likely that the third party was concerned that LW was getting married without full information of the situation and thought she should say something. The other explanation could be possible, sure, but it would mean the third party is some insane jerk rather than a run-of-the-mill busybody. Both exist in the world of course.

"That's not what I meant EmmaL. I said the betrayal wasn't the reason for the fight/ falling out between Ivy and the third person, which you implied was the reason. "

I didn't say the betrayal was the reason for the falling out. The third party's decision to tell the LW about it before the wedding was the reason for the falling out. The aware third party told the LW about it after falling out with Ivy. This is literally word-for-word what she says in one sentence.

"A third-party was aware of the tryst and, after falling out with Ivy, told me."

It would be really bizarre if the LW said it that way when what she meant was:

"A third-party was aware of the tryst and, after falling out with Ivy five years ago over a stolen pair of shoes, told me about it last week in an unrelated situation."

Even though I'm beyond this letter I'm also pedantic. @78, EmmaL, you wrote
".. when the contents of the letter are literally about how the third party had a fight with Ivy
about this...." you implied the argument between Ivy and the third person was about the betrayal, which doesn't seem to be the case. We have no idea what prompted the falling out between Ivy and the third person. The nasty and vindictive third person.
@84 - You think it's more likely that the third party is a well-meaning individual rather than a vindictive jerk? That they were just so concerned about LW marrying someone who made a mistake seven whole years ago that they waited until practically the last minute to tell her about it? Two months before the wedding date. And how long have they been planning? Don't you think that if this person was oh so kind, they would have spoken up as soon as they had gotten their 'save the date' card? No. Whatever the falling out was actually about, their actions were purely to fuck Ivy over, in hopes of obliterating her relationship with the LW. This was not an altruistic act by any means.
I completely thought the falling out between the third party and Ivy was unrelated (but recent), and telling LW about the tryst was revenge on Ivy. Didn't occur to me that the falling out was about the tryst.
If gossip _was_ going on, yet it took seven years for the first mention of this transgression to get back to Letter Writer, she has a lot more to worry about than just the infidelity, and about a lot more people than just Jake and Ivy. That would imply that the news was being passed around her community and not one of the recipients thought highly enough of her to bring it to her.

In other words, I think she can let go of worrying about that angle, because frankly it strains credulity.
There is no evidence that the third party did it to be hurtful. Only Dan's assumptions. It's seems more likely that the third party told BRIDE out of some, however misplaced, sense that she should know and not to get revenge on Ivy. That's thoroughly toxic behavior and not stuff that happens much off the screen.
How do so many people think friends are sharp tongues harpies and cheating and lying are fine?
Is it necessary to attempt to unravel this one? Assuming the proper course of action for these players involved. What good does it do? Let them figured out themselves and find something better to do.
If Third Party was truly all about caring for Letter Writer, she would have outed Jake way back when her own sense of outrage was freshest -- let alone letting Letter Writer blithely invest seven more years of her life into the villain she was dating. Similarly if this was about protecting Letter Writer from a bad marriage she wouldn't have waited until two months before the ceremony, after there are deposits to forfeit and all of the social consequences that come with cancelling a wedding. She would have blown the whistle on Jake and Ivy as soon as the engagement went public.

The idea of someone who was outraged about the infidelity but chose to keep it in reserve for seven years, and then blows the wedding all to shit in the last two months when it's going to be maximally expensive and painful, says nothing good about their character.

She is not doing this out of any concern for Letter Writer. She did it purely to hurt Ivy, and does not give a shit about collateral damage.
To be clear, I'm not defending third party's actions here. Why wait seven years to tell indeed. Because the thing that changed is LW is getting married without knowledge that 3rd party has. Have any of you really never had a busy body in your life? They do all sorts of handwringing about how they should involve themselves in others' affairs for the good of other people. Being a well-meaning individual and a vindictive jerk are not mutually exclusive as most vindictive jerks aren't laughing villainously about their cruelty but are instead working under the impression that their asshole actions are perfectly justified. One reason there are two sides to every story is that most assholes think they are well meaning. Though like I said, it's possible that the two incidents are unrelated, the wording of LW's sentence implies that they are. And Lava, I love pedantry obviously, and to add on to our misunderstanding, yes you are correct I was referring to the falling out being about the betrayal, but I meant the fight about whether to reveal it before the marriage takes place which is what the third party did.

But the larger point is that regardless of the third party's intentions/justifications, the fact that the lover and the friend withheld info from the LW enabled the drama in the first place. The whole damn thing could've been prevented by them coming clean about it at any opportune moment in the past seven years and moreover if my interpretation is correct and Ivy and the third party had a falling out over whether or not to tell the LW, then Ivy clearly should've come clean right off.
ReeRee @43: Thanks for your moralising, it's very helpful to the situation.
Sure, people can be drunk and still say no to sex they don't want. But what about being drunk and saying no to sex you do want? Much more difficult, and probably the case for Ivy and Jake. This was the guy she fell in love with and her best friend; it's not surprising they hit it off.

There is a lot of nuance here. I think the best thing to do to punish the nosey third party (both for not telling at the time, if they really were "concerned" about LW, and for telling now with such an obvious ulterior motive) would be to go ahead with the wedding as planned. But I appreciate that LW has a really short timescale for LW to work through all her feelings. Postponing does sound wise, but Nocute makes a good point that that would raise questions, and even a postponement may be the victory Third Party craves.

Perhaps LW should ask herself, is there anything Jake and Ivy could do to make it up to her? She should ask them to do that. Perhaps once the score has been evened in her mind, she'll feel better about proceeding with the wedding.
@84/EmmaLiz: "[M]oreover if my interpretation is correct and Ivy and the third party had a falling out over whether or not to tell the LW, then Ivy clearly should've come clean right off."

You I really believe you have provided the best argument for why your own reading is incorrect. Is it at all plausible that Ivy (BRIDES' best friend and maid of honor) knew the third party was determined to tell BRIDE about her one night of sex with Jake seven years ago, and even then didn't say anything, but allowed this third party to do so? I really think not. In your view Ivy and the third party had a complete rupture over this issue, meaning Ivy and Jake had forewarning that BRIDE was going to find out and there was not way to stop that from happening. In that scenario I do not believe they would have sat idly by waiting for BRIDE to confront them after learning from this third party. To me, it seems that BRIDE, Jake, and Ivy were all caught off guard by this disclosure.

@84/EmmaLiz: "That requires a lot of unrelated coincidences: that third party had a falling out with Ivy at exactly the same time that LW was planning a wedding and chose to retaliate against Ivy by telling LW a secret unrelated to the falling out at exactly this moment and then LW chose to include the falling out in her description of events even though it had nothing to do with her or the wedding, etc."

BRIDE choosing to include this information isn't a coincidence by any means, and it's fundamental to the story about how she learned of Jake and Ivy's night of sex seven years ago, and so a not unexpected fact to read in describing this scenario. There was only one issue of timing: Ivy and third party had a falling out in the time period during preceding the wedding.

I hadn't even thought about the point made by @92/avast2006, which is that the third party waited until the point at which there would be the maximal financial costs for BRIDE and her family. Sure there are busybodies, but this third party couldn't have waited until longer to cause the maximal fall out.
Emma @93:
> The whole damn thing could've been prevented by them coming
> clean about it at any opportune moment in the past seven years

Well, maybe! But they might also have busted their relationships with her. It's hard to know what the potential negative consequences are to any action. Seven years ago they made this mistake, and certainly knew that by lying about it there might be a chance LW would find out later and be doubly hurt--the sex and the lie. But they probably also knew that telling her then would have potential negative consequences, including both LW being hurt by the sex *and* possibly ending her relationship and friendship. For reasons which were certainly part selfish--but that doesn't make them bad--they thought that would be worse. And it seems, since the relationship and friendship both survived and flourished in the last seven years, that they had reason to think those relationships were worth preserving. So I don't think one can just say, "Look, the truth came out, they should have just come clean before" as if all positive aspects of this situation would now remain the same if they had.

People say that secrets always come out, but of course that's not true. Plenty of secrets are kept secret. Jake and Ivy obviously thought they could keep this secret--and they did!--and by keeping it, also keep their relationships with LW, and avoid hurting her. Personally I can't fault them for giving it a go.

And although now that you've brought it up, I can see that maybe the third party did the reveal because of the marriage, it still seems to me a dick move to do it so close to the wedding. A two-month engagement isn't that common--the third couldn't have told LW, "for her own good," six months ago (or whenever) when the engagement was announced?
If only Jake and Ivy had had the benefit of a crystal ball seven years ago. But none of us do, do we? They made a decision at the time about what course of action they felt would hurt BRIDE the least. And even after it has now come out, it seems they made the right decision. BRIDE understands, based on the past seven years of friendship and love, that it was indeed a mistake that was never repeated, and therefore wants to forgive them. Would she have understood that, and been inclined to forgive, at the time? Possibly not, and seven years of love and friendship would have been ruined. Should they have told at some later point -- perhaps when they decided to get engaged? Perhaps, but again, perhaps not. BRIDE herself seems to wish she had never found out about this. I think this situation is potentially one exception to the general rule that honesty is always best.
If one person knows about the cheating, other people know. Intellectually, I would probably be able to forgive this in time, but emotionally, I don't think there's any way I could process this and fully enjoy standing up in front of unknown numbers of friends who are thinking about this drama...I know it would be expensive, but personally, I would need to postpone the wedding. Also that "(I think)" aside of LW's stands out. She's not totally sure she's going to be able to move past this. Don't get married with those kinds of doubts.
A possible alternative to the third party being merely a busybody - I wondered if the third party was an ex of Ivy's after a nasty break-up. It sounded like the kind of thing a vindictive ex would do. If that's the case, I think it's also quite possible that the third party is the only other person who knows. She may have told him (or her) at some point to explain something, like "that's why I don't drink around Jake any more," and he simply didn't think anything of it until he needed ammunition he could use to hurt Ivy. Sometimes when people have a specific goal in mind (in this case, cause trouble for Ivy), they don't really think about the collateral damage they might cause.

I'd also join the side advocating that BRIDE postpone the wedding. She needs time to sort through her feelings and figure out if this is something she'll be able to get over and put behind her. I think forcing herself to go through with the wedding will just breed resentment down the line, even if she realizes she wants to marry Jake anyways, since she'll always wonder if she wholeheartedly wanted this marriage or was just pressured into it by the wedding arrangements.
Sorry for your sticky mess. Good of you to ask advice, but it really comes down to your decision. Whatever that is, be confident first. I told my wife earlier this year that I cheated twice earlier in our marriage. No excuses, it was wrong. I held that secret for over five years. But, I was honest and told her. I think you should consider that you had to learn of this from a third party and evaluate the trustworthiness of your fiance. Forgiveness will make you a better person, hopefully you two can get past this in time. I have to rebuild trust and that is difficult. Perhaps you'll need more than a week to evaluate your options before walking the aisle, you decide.