Please do not respond to her even if she's freaking out.
Even if she is REACHING out.
People are so damn 'ethical' these days. It's making humanity insufferable, quite frankly. We're smart apes. Cut us some slack for Christ's sake.
"When I first started dating my girlfriend I asked her about past boyfriends..." was all UGH, then the letter kept getting worse and worse.
Screw this guy but I hope the ex is finding herself in a place where she can make better relationship decisions.
Stay away from your ex girlfriend LW, she much better off without you. You're not only a bad person, you're a emotionally abusive, controlling asshole. You're the prime example for the existence of incels.
"I haven't met the right guy yet" is an evasive answer. The GF did intentionally deceive the BF, and he eventually found out. Finding out you were deceived by someone close to is a valid reason to be upset, this has been affirmed by you (and the snooping that discovered it forgiven) several times in recent SLLOTDs. I don't see why those principles don't apply here.
@6 I think the difference is that snooping is tacitly okay after the fact (while acknowledging it's almost never okay) when it has a real world effect on you and you have enough evidence to think there's a good chance you're right. If your boyfriend has been staying out late and you found a bra in the car that isn't your sand he's evasive and is paranoid about his phone, then yeah, take a look. You've got some evidence and you're potentially being exposed to a disease. But even then there is a condition - you have to be willing to overlook anything else you find (he lied about working to avoid going to your mom's and instead went out with a friend or he talked shit about you to a friend). You're only there for the one thing and if you don't find evidence you have to feel bad.
This guy has none of that. If his GF lied, she had a right to, its her past. It doesn't effect him at all other than his need to control her. He's 100% the a-hole and it's not just for the crazy Puritan sex control stuff - he's also a snooping d-bag.
"I haven't met the right guy yet" is a polite answer.
If he required a virgin, he should have asked more explicit questions - explicit enough that she'd have known the score and dumped his ass.
Nah. People who have affairs are piles of dog shit.
You might be reading the wrong blog, #9.
@9 it's not up to the GF to police her boss's relationship. she is not the one cheating. That's on the boss. So the boss is the pile of dog shit, not her. It had nothing to do with the LW if it didn't happen while they were together.
Grand total of piles of dog shit = 2. The boss for cheating on his wife (presumably... could be an open relationship???) + LW for being a snooping, judgmental ass about something that has nothing to do with him.
She's WAY better off without him. I hope she realizes this.
Fuck yeah, Dan!
Too bad there’s not a way Dan can reach her and tell her to keep on DTMFA.
Hell, let's see, uh...Lumbergh fucked her.
Yeah, I'm going to go against the grain here. I'm normally on board with Dan's stance on cheating being usually but not always wrong, and the LW seems like kind of a jerk. But she lied, and she lied about something pretty big--this wasn't a drunken ONS, this was a three-year relationship. That's...that's far from nothin'.
I don't remember whether it was Dan or some other Agony Aunt, but I recall, years ago, a woman writing in with a story of a new-ish but serious relationship, wherein her boyfriend asked her for her "number," as in how many guys she'd been with. She said she thought about it, and came up with what she considered a credibly conservative number -- "Ummmm ... ten?"
He went nuts, "what a slut! I'm leaving!!" and she was bewildered and bereft. I hope she got over it quickly, I don't recall.
@15, what did she lie about? Nothing in his letter even implies she lied.
How do you get "she lied" from "When I first started dating my girlfriend I asked her about past boyfriends and she said she hadn’t met the right guy yet. After dating for nine years I found out about a past boyfriend and looked through her emails. I found she dated her married boss for three year.'
Did he say, "have you ever, ever had a boyfriend?" We don't know. Did he ask," have you ever had sex with anyone else before?" We don't know. Did he ask, "you never had an affair with your married boss, did you?" If indeed he asked those explicit questions and she said "no," then yes, she lied, but the answer "she hadn't met the right guy yet," could easily have been to the question, "how come you're not married, a wonderful woman like you?" Or "I can't believe no one's grabbed you up."
If she lied, there's plenty of incentive. It was a secret affair, so if the guy is still married, and she is trying to not ruin his life, she's going to continue to keep the secret. Or maybe she correctly sussed out the guy she continued to date for 9 years: he snooped (back through 12 years apparently) and judged her because he found out that prior to being with him, she had a boyfriend or she had sex; he judged her to be a disgusting person. He's still too angry at her to even talk to her. She is well rid of him
This relationship happened before she got together with the lw. She wasn't cheating on him.
I feel sad that the woman is apparently still trying to repair her relationship to this man; there are better people out there.
Nah. People that have affairs with their married bosses are dog shit. Married bosses that fuck their employees are dog shit. There’s no excuses for dog shit people. And clearly there are a lot of dog shit people in this thread desperately attempting to justify their dog shit-ness.
@19, "Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
And she didn't lie, regardless.
I've been out of the loop on dating for a couple of decades, but dudes... if you must ask a woman about her sexual history (and generally, probably don't) then be sure to ask in a way that allows for non specific answers. It's a really loaded question, and the woman generally doesn't know what it's loaded with because when you're asking that question, it's usually early in the relationship and she doesn't know you well yet. Don't put her in that position. Don't put your budding relationship in that position.
@19 - "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." I wonder what you're hiding.
I've never cheated and I never had an affair with anyone who was taken, so there's nothing I'm trying to justify. I just don't see why an outsider has to police someone else's relationship.
@20 Nope. That's reality. I mean. Maybe there are a few cheaters out there that are just marvelous people. I sure have never met them.
For fuck sake there is reason why people feel betrayed by cheaters. There is reason divorces happen when people cheat. There is reason why lives are ruined when people cheat. Because cheater are vampires of trust. They get OFF on knowing they are secretly betraying. And cheaters generally keep being cheaters. And that shit is sociopathic.
Someone who can justify fucking their married boss for three years? Are you kidding me? Probably after sitting across a table from the spouse of the person they've been fucking at company events knowing full well what the knowledge of that affair could do to that person and that family? Nah. Those people? Dog shit. And the chances of that dog shit cheating again and again are very, very high.
No. This guy might be a shit for being snoopy. But HE'S the lucky one to be out of that dog shit realtionship.
There's facts and there's opinions. Your disdain is an opinion. That's a fact.
Glad we could clear that up.
And it would remain an opinion even if I shared it.
Of course, it doesn't matter whether I share it, because it's none of my business, either.
@22 I have never cheated on my spouse. Nor would I. I have never slept with a married person. Nor would I.
And for fuck sake. She's not an outsider. She's fucking a married guy for three years! It wasn't some one night hook up. After three years she is IN their relationship. There is no way she hasn't met this mans wife. At company functions or what have you. This man's wife is not anonymous. This man's wife is a human being for fuck sake. There is no way she hasn't lied about the affair to her co-workers or used subterfuge and participated in his deception and all the other bullshit cheater have to do.
It takes a special sociopathic cognitive dissonance to conclude she has no roll in endangering a marriage after three years fucking a married dude. So don't be absurd. Don't be so naive. Does the lion share of moral obligation belong to him? Sure. But she has a healthy share after three years.
Christ almighty. People here are so desperate to not be responsible for their own actions.
@19 Because never, ever in the history of the world has a boss said to an employee, sleep with me or your fired. And never ever in the history of the world has a woman NEEDED a job in order to put food on the table and keep a roof over her head.
My ex cheated on me. I blame him 100% The other woman never made a promise to me. I have no idea what story my ex told her. I know that she was suffering from a deep depression (or so he told me) so she was vulnerable. My ex was also having mental health issues and claimed that was why they got together. Again it was all on HIM. I hold no ill will towards her.
And before you get all judgey, yes it was a three year affair, but things and people are complicated. In any case, the GF didn't lie to the LW. She said she hadn't found the right guy. She didn't marry the boss and they eventually broke up. He WASN'T the right guy. Neither is the LW.
Why do we have to choose a side? I don’t like ANY of them (LW, girlfriend, boss).
@28 So your position is she was raped for three years?
@29 Exactly. It's like people need a Hero.
But if I HAD to pick a side it wouldn't be with the dog shit who fucked her married boss for three years or the boss who fucked his employee for three years.
@21, I completely agree with how loaded this could be early on. Although if I really thought I was being heavily judged by my dating past by someone who doesn’t know me well it would be a red flag I I would not continue to see that person.
But I asked my BF about past girlfriends it would be to just get a general sense of what sort of experiences he has had and how I fit into that. I would not be asking for a very specific accounting. And if I used the term “girlfriend” and he omitted certain relationships I would take it to mean he did not consider those women to be “girlfriends” (to know how someone defines relationships is useful in itself), not that he was hiding something. I probably would not consider a boss with whom I was having an affair a “boyfriend” per se for any number of reasons. Maybe other folks would. And a thousand times in agreement: if you have something very specific you want to know, ask clearly and specifically about it. This is a worthwhile relationship and life skill.
@24 Nope. Fact and experience.
Here some fun reading for you:
Archives of Sexual Behavior.
November 2017, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 2301–2311
"Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater? Serial Infidelity Across Subsequent Relationships"
From the Abstract
"...Findings from logistic regressions showed that those who reported engaging in extra-dyadic sexual involvement (ESI - i.e.: cheating) in the first relationship were three times more likely to report engaging in ESI in their next relationship compared to those who did not report engaging in ESI in the first relationship."
Cheaters are dogshit.
@30 Jeeeeezus... This was a 9 year relationship. Even if she was a POS over 9 years ago, that doesn't mean she's a POS now. People fuck up, grow, and stop doing certain things they would in the past. While, yes, I'd be a little annoyed that it took 9 years to get the information out of her, it sure as hell isn't worth having a tissy fit over.
LW needs to seek counciling and so do you.
@32 From your comments, it's clear that you and the LW are of the same mindset. You really should get together with him, it sounds like you'd be happy together.
And yes, the LW is a bad person. Disgusting behavior, disgusting assumptions.
@23 & 27 - what don't you get about the fact that she wasn't the cheater? I mean seriously... She's not the one that made a commitment to his wife. That makes her the outsider whether you like it or not. I'm not saying she's a saint. It was poor judgment that could have backfired at the office. But if LW is going to fly off the handle for something that doesn't involve him, and she never lied to him, she's good to be out of that kind of a controlling relationship.
And I've been married for 12 years and my husband has literally never met a single coworker of mine. So why does she have to have met the wife?
I was cheated on in a former relationship. I knew the woman passingly, not well. I never blamed her one bit because she had virtually no connection with me. I blamed him because he had, and he's the one who let me down.
"People here are so desperate to not be responsible for their own actions." I literally told you I've never cheated nor have I been the other woman. I don't know why you repeatedly claim I'm trying to justify my own poor behavior when I've told you I'm not. But I guess that's on you.
@33 Nine years is a long time, true. But she dumped him after he found out. Not the other way around. So, she lasted for nine years with LW, right? Sounds like she had the tissy fit.
Still. Cheaters are dogshit. It's a basic lesson of life. Why that seems like some sort of controversial revelation amazes me. We all know it's true.
Even cheaters. Nobody likes to think of themselves as dogshit. You either admit you are dogshit and change, or you make up bullshit justifications why it's all okay.
There's no "it's complicated." Thats what dogshit people say to make themselves feel better.
Anyway. As for counseling? Well, at least we agree on something (Most people in here could also use some).
@32 But she wasn't cheating... She wasn't cheating on her boss's wife, her boss was cheating on her boss's wife.
Now, you're a man of science so you know, as well as I, that "three times" is relatively meaningless unless we understand the percent threshold of cheating. For example, people who have a baseline chance of cheating at 10% in any given relationship. Now, if that baseline and threefold chances were true, those that cheated on their first partner (whatever that means) would have a 30% chance of cheating in any later relationship. So, using these numbers that I've pulled out my ass, it's unlikely that the former cheater that you are currently dating will cheat on you on the future. Of course, Idk what the actual percentages are but you've really provided very little in the way of any significant evidence.
To take from the study, "those who knew that their partners in the first relationships had engaged in ESI were twice as likely to report the same behavior from their next relationship".
Now, I'm not making a judgement call on the percentage of the population that reacts in such a manner but I will posit that you, in all likelihood, belong in this cohort; rationally or otherwise.
So we're clear: he's.pissed about something that happened at least 9 years ago?
Dude is looking for an excuse. Dollars to donuts, he met someone he wanted to pursue and now, 5 months later, it's become clear he hedged his bets wrong and he is looking for a way to undo his fuckup without admitting he was a shithead.
@36 "She broke up with me for looking and judging her about it."
Notice how vague this statement is. Notice that half of the reason being told to us is that he was "judging" her? Now, again, this is a 9 year relationship. I can extrapolate that it was, in all likelihood, him judging her relentlessly. In my opinion, it might even be that LW was trying to find something to sabotage the relationship over.
And as an aside, no, you really, really need someone to talk to on this subject. Perhaps you were recently cheated on which would mean your feelings are understandable. Or you were cheated on a while back and, well, that makes these emotions more worrying than anything else.
Or you've been cheated on by multiple women which would mean there's something happening with you rather than them.
"Now, I'm not making a judgement call on the percentage of the population that reacts in such a manner but I will posit that you, in all likelihood, belong in this cohort; rationally or otherwise."
I'm not sure what your saying here. But I've never been cheated on to my knowledge. Nor have I ever accused by spouse of it. Nor have I cheated on my spouse. I've been happily married for 26 years.
But my father was serial cheater. And my mother committed suicide and it ruined my family. So there is that.
@39 Christ, get back to r/braincels, already.
@42 I don't know what that is.
@41 Well, I'm sorry about that. But you have to understand that your parent's situation is an outlier and not at all representative of the population as a whole. We know that there are a shit ton of couples where one partner cheated and the both of them were still able to move on.
Your dad was a POS, that's the only real, true value statement you can state about this letter.
@29: Whoa, whoa, whoa there. First of all the LW wasn't cheated on. His girlfriend ended the relationship with her boss long before she even met the LW, and indeed this relationship that absolutely nothing to do with the LW ended over a decade ago. And we have no information about that relationship. For all we know they may have been in love. My first marriage ended because my husband fell in love with someone else and they've been married for like ten years now. I was devastated, of course I was, but they didn't do it to hurt me. They didn't get off on my not knowing. They did it because he wasn't happy and she made him happy. They made each other happy.
The point is we know nothing about the girlfriend's past relationship, and what EVER it was it has nothing to do with the relationship she was in with the LW over a decade later.
@43 It's a subreddit for incels. But it's really not relevant now that we all understand better where you're coming from.
@40 You make a great number of assumptions and judgments for somebody so concerned with other people being so judgmental.
Your profile of me is woefully inaccurate. I just hold to a very typical, uncontroversial and common opinion: that cheaters are dogshit. Why does this upset you so much?
Judging by your emotional and overwrought attempts to shame or gaslight me MY assumption of you is that you are a cheater — therefore dogshit — and in a desperate need of rationalization or forgiveness or something. Is that accurate? If so you should go to the people you cheated on and ask them for forgiveness not me.
Right on, Dan. Who cares if she slept with her boss (married or single). It was years ago. Dude snooped and found something he didn't want to find (in theory). If you snoop, it's on you in my opinion. She deserves better (married or single).
@47 Lol, I'm a cuck, brah. What gets me off is me not fucking other people.
I assumed that you were deeply hurt by a cheater. I threw out a couple wide nets thinking you'd be somewhere in the usual, generic relationship group. I wouldn't have guessed that you had to deal with something truly horrific, which you did, but that doesn't mean that the events that have occurred in your life haven't colored your reality in a way that just isn't accurate. You're holding onto something and seeking out sources, experiences, or whatever that will allow you to hold onto that something even harder.
Ultimately, you're lashing out right now because LW hit a nerve. But just know the diaspora that is human existence is so wide ranging that it is foolish to be so determinalistic.
@44 Funny how comfortable you are calling my father a POS. Why is that? Why can't it be "complicated" with him? Outlier? No. No it isn't. I've become quite an expert on this topic. And No. It's not. Suicide might be the outlier. But the pain and damage to families is not an outlier. It happens every god damned day.
Do you want to know more? The last two women he was having affair with were BOTH married. With children. The ALL knew my mother. They were "friends." Though they did not about each other. That was the funny thing. It was when they found out about each other that the shit hit the fan.
Those affairs were probably about four of five years. When the cat got out of the bag it was one the other women who told my mother because she was angry SHE was cheated on. Because that is how cheater think (It is. It's been studied to death). So, this pile of shit thought "why not blow up three families?" And she did. Tore three families up.
Yup. They were dog shit. All of them. My dad included.
And whenever the topic comes up and people act so casually blasé about it - like it's victimless - I'm a living reminder that it isn't.
@49 "that doesn't mean that the events that have occurred in your life haven't colored your reality in a way that just isn't accurate"
And that can't be true for you? The "cuck." C'mon. My opinion is not an outlier opinion. Yours is.
Well isn't this a clusterfuck? @ProfessorHistory is newly here, being all judgey and accusing folks of being cheaters. Get a therapist, dude. Srsly. Tell the therapist you're an asshat, and would like help with that. As @11 said, wrong blog.
SAAD is also an asshat. My guess is that @ProfessorHistory is SAAD, butt sore from having been reamed first by Dan and then the commentariat.
Are we all putting aside that chastity might be a more important value to this couple than for most of us? For an observant Christian, Muslim, or Mormon, their partner eliding past sexual history would be more than just a white lie; that'd be important for anyone from most insular communities, religious or otherwise. That would explain the initial deception and the feelings this brings up now.
FWIW - Yes, I think this union is struggling - LW wasn't snooping in his ex's phone because everything was hunky dory. Nine years, and their age (if she cheated on her boss for 3 years, it probably wasn't her first job out of HS; I'd say their probably mid-30s at the youngest now), a severe lull in sexual activity would not be abnormal, and LW is looking for "reasons" [other than the obvious] that sex is down.
@50 Sigh... Did anyone say there weren't victims in the affair? Do we have enough information to say anything, really, about it? You're projecting your own experiences onto the letter writer without having sufficient knowledge of what happened or is happening. Hell, for all we know, the gf could've been some pawn of a cuckqueen and her husband.
What are you even getting out of this? You just told a story about a lot of flawed human being making mistakes. The only person I could even begin to consider a monster is your father for orchestrating the events. Everyone else are just people reacting to the actions set by him.
But it's not my place to try to act as your psychiatrist. It's your psychiatrist's place to act as your psychiatrist. I hope you're able to be in a good place.
@51 Funny story, I've never actually been cheated on. This fetish developed when I had my first gf who had gotten around a lot before I came along. That said, cuck or not, cheating isn't consensual non-monogomy. But somebody who has cheated on a partner isn't perpetually a cheater.
Also, again, gf didn't cheat on anyone in this relationship.
Maybe SAAD, like @ProfessorHistory, has some raw, unproceseed, personal trauma that was triggered by learning of his ex-girlfriend's involvement in an affair, a decade prior to their meeting.
He learned a name, went sleuthing, and discovered an ancient affair. Now he's experiencing "anger and disgust".
Dan is usually good at recommending therapy. It's needed here, for both SAAD and @ProfessorHistory.
Sportlandia @53: Religious people who are offended by errant human behaviour should seek affirmation from their religious counsellors, not from sex-positive advice columnists.
@50: Your father was a terrible person and I am so sorry for what he put you and your mother through and am so sorry that it ended in her death. I can see why you have such a strong reaction to this letter. But not everyone is your dad and not every infidelity is like what your family suffered. Your feelings are entirely valid, and your dad was probably dog shit, but my ex? And his current wife? Aren't. They were two people who fell in love. And that may also be true of the LW's girlfriend. We don't know.
Again I am so, so sorry for what you dealt with growing up.
@50: Also I don't know why think not meeting your partner's coworkers means you have either a shitty job or relationship. A lot of people don't socialize with their coworkers, I certainly don't.
LW never says how long the gap was between her ending it with the Boss, and them starting their relationship. He's mad about something that happened between 12 and 25 years ago. A relationship that has NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. He sounds like a real asshole. Wish you could contact the gf to say DTMFA, or rather D(on't-get-back-together-with-)TMFA!!!
But the snooping!
@41 Ah, so who you're REALLY mad at is your father, as you blame him for breaking apart your family and driving your mother to suicide, but you're blaming anyone involved in an affair. Basically... you really need some therapy. I really am sorry for what's happened to you but you're projecting blame where it doesn't belong. What's more, the anger that you're feeling (don't even try to deny you're angry, every comment you've made makes it crystal clear) is going to continue to rot and fester, and that really isn't good for anyone's mental health. Get some help.
Lots of unpleasantness on all sides in the letter, in Dan’s response, and the comment thread. Not sure why sleeping with someone’s spouse for three years is “being human”, but the LW’s reaction isn’t. There are a lot of decent people for whom this info would be a legitimate dealbreaker. It would be a dealbreaker for a lot of assholes too, and it sounds like LW is probably in that category. Clearly they are better off apart.
I’m sorry to read about your mother PH, and your father sounds like he was a cruel and selfish man. However, you know nothing about why the LW’s ex and her ex boss had an affair. His wife might have been very ill, or locked in a tower somewhere quite mad, and he stayed with her still.
LW, if you feel so morally outraged by your ex gf’s behaviour, then why the letter to Dan. Move on and leave these wretched women who cheat to their karmas. We are true sinners, and even the Lord almighty will forever turn his back on us. May we have to scratch for every morsel of food and love. May the word SINNER be tattooed across our foreheads.
Yeah, the letter, as it stands, doesn't look good for the LW.
I'd probably be way more sympathetic to his plight if his girlfriend was ~still~ working for the married boss she had had an affair with, and just hadn't bothered to mention this for the entire 9 years her and the LW had been together. In this scenario, I would consider the omission a serious and deliberate deception, and wonder if her and the boss still had feelings for each other, etc. But the LW doesn't mention anything like that. His problem is literally "I can’t get over the fact that she was someone's mistress before she met me".
Sportlandia @53, I find it hard to imagine that an observant Christian, Muslin or Mormon would not only seek relationship advice from DAN SAVAGE, but also completely fail to mention his religious background. Wouldn't that be a rather crucial piece of information? Also - nine years of Christian/Muslim/Mormon dating and no talk of marriage and family? Seems unlikely.
"Nine years, and their age (if she cheated on her boss for 3 years, it probably wasn't her first job out of HS; I'd say their probably mid-30s at the youngest now)"
My take on the possible ages was completely the opposite. The LW comes off as really sheltered and inexperienced, and there's no mention of cohabitation, marriage, kids, life plans, or any other adult stuff that coupled-up people in their 30s, 40s and 50s tend to think about. My hunch is that the LW and his girlfriend got together when they were in their early 20s. His previous sexual experience was probably limited, and when he asked about hers, she decided to spare his insecurities with a vague non-answer. So it then came as a big shock to him that she's not only had a "past boyfriend", but a 3 year affair with a married man. Which, yeah, could've easily happened when she was really young - and if it did, adds an extra layer of shittiness to this whole situation.
Not that there's good reason to compare the two things, since this affair has little to do with LW (might have been poor judgment, but she wasn't cheating on someone, so it likely can't predict if she would cheat on LW/figure partners), but what is worse?
1) being the other person that someone is cheating on their S.O. with
2) violating someone's privacy and digging through 10 years of email to find out about someone doing (1)
(2) certainly got more of a rise out of Dan and a lot of commenters (with one unhinged exception, who's not wrong, but still off base).
Being the cheater is often compared to snooping in this column, so it seems pretty clear that the lesser evil would be snooping, at least in a case where a partner is behaving suspiciously (provided they turn out to be actually cheating, snooping is literally justified by finding it out).
But I'm not sure how to rank the wrongness of being party to someone else's cheating vs what LW did. I suppose it's case by case and we don't have enough context to judge the ethics of the LW's ex being in this heretofore affair.
It's definitely not as terrible as actually being the cheater though, that much is clear to me.
@64 the thing is, it wasn't a deal breaker for him, though - at least not to where he took action. He snooped through her super old emails (doesn't mention any reason whatsoever for doing it like suspicious behavior or unexplained relationship issues), found out about something he never asked about that happened before they were together, and then was super judgey and his judgeyness combined with snooping led to the gf breaking up with him. If it was such a big deal to him, he should've asked about it explicitly. Since he didn't, once he found out he should've just broken up with her rather than acting like she did something wrong - for something at least 9 years ago, before they we're together that he never asked about and she never lied about. He's basically asking Dan to tell him...what? That he's right to judge her? If he wanted the relationship to continue he should've been apologizing to her for snooping. If this information does overwhelm everything else he knows about her and her character, what's the point of sticking around to judge her? He should let both of them move on.
Did I get it?
Yes, sounds right to me.
"She broke up with me for looking and judging her about it."
I guarantee that he was passive-aggressive about this for weeks before she broke up with him. I don't understand how anyone can be surprised that someone tried to put a spin on their past when they first got together. I have definitely had partners who lied about their "number" early on, or about cheating on past partners and coming clean later. It is frustrating, and MAYBE something like that would warrant a little snooping.
The thing is, that is not what happened here. She gave a vague answer that she "hadn't found the right guy", which is a perfectly acceptable answer that DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LYING of any kind. Nor did she cheat on her partner, or give him reason to believe that she did. What she did do is have a relationship years before him, that had nothing to do with him, that is somehow still bothering him NINE years into the relationship. It definitely seems like he was snooping for anything to be angry about, and then he punished her for it until he broke up with her.
LW, if you read the comments, yes you are a bad person. You are not irredeemable, but you should not ask questions that you do not want answers to, nor should you punish someone for having a past that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
On a separate note, @ProfessorHistory, you most definitely should seek out therapy. You have clearly experienced substantial trauma that is still affecting you many years later. I have never cheated, but I have dated people who cheated in the past and whom did not cheat on me. Someone who has cheated in the past may have acted in a "shitty" manner, but it does not make them "dog shit". That title only applies if they are serial cheaters and/or if they use their non-monogamy with malicious intent. For all we know the wife was a willing participant in this relationship in her own way. We don't have the information to make that determination.
Frankly, I don't know why you would read this column or these comments unless you are either:
A. Trying to find a new perspective with which to view the world and having trouble accepting it.
B. You are looking for things that will make you angry for some reason.
The LW is at fault here, not the ex-girlfriend. The people that write in to Savage Love are normally good people trying to find the best and most ethical means to move forward in their lives. Sometimes those people have cheated, but "ethical non-monogamy" is a term here for a reason.
@66 yeah, my read also was she was quite young and/or sheltered when they got together nine years ago. Given that it was plausible she'd never had a "boyfriend".
If that boss was her first relationship, I'm betting it was a fairly fucked up situation.
Nine years? Jesus.
Man, fuck this guy.
I’m uncomfortable with how blithe everyone seems to be about snooping. Let’s not forget for a moment that this guy’s entire ridiculous reaction has its origins in a violation.
Barring serious cause, snooping is never okay — never retrospectively justified. That is absurd, and it makes all snooping seem okay (because it allows snoopers to absolve themselves in advance by the prospect of what might be discovered — and then after the fact, by what could have been.) It’s just that, in rare circumstances, violating people winds up being the trivial part of the story.
Suppose I break into a house to steal jewelry and a TV, but I find that a woman is being held against her will. Would people go around describing my crime as “burglary justified after the fact”? I don’t think so. In that case, the commission of a serious felony would have uncovered a far more serious one, and maybe my crime isn’t even worth prosecuting in that one particular case.
My personal conduct (as opposed to politics!) is pretty conservative, but that doesn’t mean I want a partner reading 15+ years worth of emails. There’s nothing bad, but who I was a decade ago is not who I am now, it’s not just my thoughts being trespassed but also those of the people who wrote me, and just like the d-bag LW, the reader is not going to be in a position to understand the context in which those emails were written.
Finally, back to LW: I don’t think he’s irredeemable — few are. I hope he takes this as an opportunity to grow, and gets his ass into counseling to work through his serious jealousy, control, and boundary issues.
Kind of wondering why, after nine years of dating this guy, who is clearly awesome/s, she had paraphernalia from a previous relationship sitting around in her email/twitser/argle-bargle? Either he was digging deep to find something wrong with her, or she was having trouble seeing something right in him.
Indeed, Lava @61. This guy deserves what he got for snooping. Ex-Ms SAAD still hasn't met the right guy.
Sporty @6: Snooping to find out about an affair that's currently happening is different from snooping to learn about ancient history. She was evasive for a reason. He didn't have the right to know. Sure, it's a good thing if partners can be completely open with each other about their pasts. But only partners who won't judge and punish people for those pasts are entitled to that. Shame she wasted nine years with this guy.
Yes Kitten W, you got @69. Use your good luck well.
Well... devil's advocate: Suppose LW had made it clear to GF at the outset that he viewed adultery as a dealbreaker (i.e., she knew he was a religious prig and lied to him by omission in order to keep him).
If that's the case, then, yes, GF is at fault here, and LW is good to be rid of her.
Of course, this doesn't make LW a good person (see: invasive prig).
I certainly cannot blame Ms. SAAD for breaking up with SAAD. This couple had been dating for nine years, which is a long time for Ms. SAAD to demonstrate her character and whether she is a generally a good and trustworthy partner. We can believe this even if we believe that Ms. SAAD behaved in a way that was reproachable by participating in a three-year long affair with her boss.
That dichotomy seems to be entirely lost in @Dan’s response who both twists SAAD’s concerns - he was not writing in because Ms. SAAD fucked her boss, he wrote in because she had an affair with a married man for three year, which SAAD reasonably believes is wrong - but also seeks to explain away Ms. SAAD’s behavior by providing justifications that he cannot possible support.
What @Dan should have focused on is the fact that Ms. SAAD may have behaved poorly at a time when she was fairly young, but she never owed an apology to SAAD for this affair, even if her behavior violates conventional moral codes, and at some point people must be allowed to leave their bad behavior in the past if they demonstrate good behavior in their present relationships.
@MartyVega, then LW has to divulge all of the sins he has committed, within his heart, against every woman he has ever fantasized about, because if this is about purity, ultimately, of body and soul, than they must both be accountable. God measures these things equally, after all.
@sportlandia Don't you realize that it is a d-bag move to ask your SO about their sexual history. It was none of the LW's business who she slept with, how long she slept with them and how many men she's slept with. The answer she gave was the perfect response to his question. It was not a lie. She has a right to privacy that this controlling d-bag did not respect as evidenced by his snooping!
Anti @74: I've changed e-mail addresses a few times since, but all my old e-mails get re-imported each time so that my current e-mailbox goes all the way back to 2001. She may not have wanted to relive the experience by deleting each e-mail, and she surely wouldn't have suspected her current boyfriend to go dredging through them after all this time. I'm wondering what spurred the discovery of this relationship.
Professor, I third the calls for you to get some therapy. I am sorry about your dad's cheating and your mother's suicide. But has it occurred to you that your mother had mental health issues to begin with? Most people who are cheated on, even by serial cheaters, don't kill themselves. Most either work it out or DTMFsA. People, even good people, make mistakes. It doesn't make them dog shit any more than your judgmental attitude makes you dog shit, which it did at first glance, until the background facts were revealed. See what I did there? The world is a grey place. Please work this out with a professional.
One other point. A few people have described SAAD as “controlling” and/or “abusive.” No where in his letter did he state that he demanded Ms. SAAD do anything. Whatever SAAD’s faults he has not been controlling.
I would also note, people are rather exorcised about SAAD’s snooping, orders of magnitude more than they were with the LW whose computer just happened to start copying her boyfriends photos or who later looked backed through hundreds of photos to search for images of her boyfriends homemade porn. Ms. SAAD appears to have retained e-mail of her past relationship with her ex-lover - I guess everyone who thinks it is wrong to retain images thinks words are different.
@83 BiDanFan, you're right, these emails, or whatever evidence he thinks he's secured could be very derelict. I was mildly suggesting she could have some fondness for a few of her decade old exchanges, while he had a very intensive search through her forlorn past.
@84 I would consider reading somebody‘s email correspondence without their permission and then trying to shame a partner over their decade-old sexual experiences to be extraordinarily controlling behavior.
Dan's "affair for all the right reasons" crap is well, crap. Lying to and betraying your spouse is wrong, no matter what self-justification you pull.
While the affair partner is not as morally wrong as the betraying spouse, the affair partner is still a shitty person for what they're doing.
We all have been shitty at one time or another. What matter is whether we grow from it.
Snooping on someone's emails is wrong. Also, we don't owe current partners complete and total disclosure of everything in our past.
So, LW, you were wrong to snoop. That being said, assuming that your girlfriend still thinks that banging her married boss was ok, you're within your rights to think that she's dishonest and immoral and that you don't want to be with her - same if she was like "yeah, I worked for a shady telemarketing company that preyed on the elderly, and I don't regret it - it was good money, not technically illegal, and really, it was our bosses who were the real crooks - hey, it's not like I scammed my own mom." However, if she owns to the fact that yeah, 10 years ago, when she was younger and dumber she did some shitty things, I think you're being a little harsh.
That being said, romance is not a court of law, and if you just plain don't want to be with her because of this - then don't. You don't owe someone a fair and equitable chance to date you.
Huh, those were meant to be a numbered list. Let's try again:
A.) Dan's "affair for all the right reasons" crap is well, crap. Lying to and betraying your spouse is wrong, no matter what self-justification you pull.
B.) While the affair partner is not as morally wrong as the betraying spouse, the affair partner is still a shitty person for what they're doing.
C.) We all have been shitty at one time or another. What matter is whether we grow from it.
D.) Snooping on someone's emails is wrong. Also, we don't owe current partners complete and total disclosure of everything in our past
Please let her go LW, you sound like hard work and she deserves better.
Well played by Mr Savage in coping with LW and giving him what he deserved.
It appears he would rather let a hundred bad cheaters or accomplices go unscolded than scold one good one. I suppose Rumpole might approve of that attitude.
While I agree that no one is obligated to disclose their sexual history, I would argue that it's unethical to not disclose something (eg, a 3-year affair with a married person) that you know or suspect your partner would consider a deal breaker.
@88, traffic, It sounds like you have a personal axe to grind with this issue. I would agree that both parties in an affair are culpable when both are aware of their transgressions, but I allow for Dan’s discretionary, and very situational allotment s, when they are the best of worst circumstances.
antiserumite @92: it's kinda sociopathic of you to think that people can't have opinions on wrongdoing unless it personally affects them. It is possible to just objectively think something is bad, even if if hasn't directly harmed you yet, you know.
@90 Were Rumpole to have taken your attitude, I doubt it have lasted a full seven series, what is that in the UK, like 30 episodes.
Nah, people can have feelings about whatever wherever, regardless of whether they have experienced something first hand, or vicariously, or even through their own machinations, people are allowed to judge something as good or bad or whatever, I only ask that people have a perspective that is reasonable to a functioning society.
Correction: I only beg that people will have reasonable and rational perspectives, and that all humanity will be more empathetic.
Wow, this thread blew up fast! Short, short letter, few facts in evidence. A jot of judgey commenters who are making assumptions not knowing ANY details about said "affair" other than what LW said and he broke off a long relationship over something thet happened 10 or more years in the past. People are complicated, and there could be a lot of reasons behind this affair from the distant past, youth, open marriage, abusive wife or cheating as well wife, POS husband/boyfriend WHO KNOWS? All we know is its been over for years and we have to ASSUME LW's current relationship was a good one (it lasted for 9 years). My reaction is to side with the dumped girlfriend who should say about SAAD, "Good riddance to bad rubbish! The last nine years didn't tell you ANYTHING about me? One long past relationship and I'm kicked to the curb? Chuck you, Farley!".
If SAAD's expectation is that he will date virgins who haven't yet 'met the right guy yet', why didn't he marry his partner in the nine years he was with her?
I half-agree with the LW.
The snooping was dumb, and she should break up with him for it.
Fucking your boss is worse, and he should have broken up with her for it (it sounds like he did). It shows a bad set of professional judgment. Would LW have been fooling enough to marry her and she pulled that shit again, he'd be setting himself up to be supporting her when she shredded her professional credibility, got fired, maybe had to change careers entirely, etc. Maybe her boss was totally hot, not cheating on his wife, and was an awesome lay. If so, she needed to quit the job, and date him with none of the baggage of the power differential / entrapment.
Yes, people are allowed to make mistakes, and people are allowed to admit them. The time to do that is very early in a relationship. It sounds like they were together a while when he went snooping for whatever his reasons were. Maybe his reasons got edited out.
@98 Harriet! exactly, 9 years is a definitely long enough for a person to claim they have not been inside or had a person inside of them for enough time to qualify as completely 70 years old.
@12 9 is full of crap but you kind of are too. It's not our job to police someone else's relationship but to say that the Other Person has no culpability rings a bit false. You know that you're potentially doing someone harm and that doesn't make you the best person.
I say this with the caveat that we have no idea about this specific case. Her boss may have had a Don't Ask, Don't Tell arrangement with his wife or she may have cut off sex once they were married or any number of things. So I'm not going to say that she was morally wrong without more info - but I'm also not giving her a free pass. Three years is a long time to enable cheating if it's not an acceptable version of it. She wouldn't be the devil but she isn't blameless.
SAAD, you are one sad in every sense of the word.
Ms. SAAD, stay away from this hot mess.
I'll say that it is an interesting when someone asks you about your past. My wife and I were relatively close friends for five or six years before we got together eight years ago. During that time I had my share of one-night stands with people in our ancillary worlds - my high school buddies sister, a roommates friend from college, a friend from study abroad etc. My wife is incredibly jealous but has never directly asked about these and so I've never told. I guess on a certain level I've lied or omitted the truth but I also feel like she's never asked for a full accounting because she doesn't want to know. She knows the people I dated and that's about it. I think it's relatively healthy?
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