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Should you reveal what you did in the past?

Tagged as: Cheating<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (2 November 2013) 19 Answers - (Newest, 9 November 2013)
A female United Kingdom age 41-50, anonymous writes:

What does everyone think about revealing a shameful episode of cheating on a previous partner to a future partner?

If cheating took place in a long , supposedly committed relationship, and went on for a few months then is this something that needs, or should be told to a future partner, so there's no secrets and they can see who they're with? Or is it best to keep it in the past and move forwards as a wiser person?

And what about if the topic of cheating comes into conversation? Or maybe in a truth / dare game they ask about your past and the truth is you had cheated? Is it best to keep it from them?

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A female reader, KC12 United States +, writes (9 November 2013):

KC12 agony auntJust be honest.

Express yourself properly that you've made mistakes in the past when you were young; and explain that you learned your lesson and would never do it again then you'll at least be respected by your partner.

Don't tell them in a "truth or dare" type game. That's dangerous ground, and the person will always fear that you wouldn't have been honest with them outside of the game.

Relationships should have a strong foundation of trust and honesty.

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A male reader, dougbcoll United States +, writes (5 November 2013):

dougbcoll agony aunt i believe that in a relationship one of the foundations is honesty. that includes not hiding things from the one you love. and that allows for a clear conscience also.

sure the past is in the past, and can't be changed. its good to move forward as a wiser person if a lesson has been learned. the thing is you will have to wonder who, when and if your man will run into someone that knows your secrets?

so if he would ask you have a choice of side stepping the subject, lying about it, or telling him the truth. hiding the truth or lying about the truth will only cause damage to the relationship, and mistrust from him.

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A female reader, delightful84 United Kingdom +, writes (4 November 2013):

I will be surprised if you`re not paranoid about being cheated on yourself. A lot who cheat, have a fear that they themself may get cheated on.

Cheating is not clever, anyone can do it if they want.

It`s not really worth it is it? You`re not even in a relationship yet, and it`s causing you problems already.

Tell anyone you meet the truth. There is nothing wrong with honesty.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (4 November 2013):

Throughout history a man could cheat without threatening the maternity of his children with his wife. But a woman could not cheat without threatening the paternity of her children with her husband. (In fact there is biological evidence that women are DESIGNED to be more likely to get pregnant by secret affairs than their regular man.)

So there is more negative reinforcement against female cheating because it has traditionally had far higher negative consequences for her spouse than male cheating. Its not just being unfair to women, there is very clear logic underlying it.

Until paternity testing becomes mandatory for all live births, and until paternity fraud gets punished like any other type of fraud, the reasoning for greater bias against female infidelity remains entirely logical & relevant today.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (4 November 2013):

Do not beat yourself up over your past unless the person or persons involved in your past life present themselves to the man you are now seeing. If that happens be prepared for the worst consequences. You can google the subject and realize that a woman cheating is still not openly accepted because they are the primary care givers people and society believe they must possess a better moral compass than a man no matter how much you disagree with what i am saying.If i was dating you and you revealed your cheating past to me i would give you a long stare and get up from the couch or the kitchen table pack my bags and walk out the door. I just text ed your question to about 25 of my fellow male friends. All except for one would not hold your cheating past against you. And excuse me all of my friends have Doctorate degrees like myself and are not male chauvinistic pigs. You do not have to say a word but realize there is somebody out there that has a pic of you in your past life actions and your man could easily have it text ed to him. You cheated for a reason why should this man in your life take the chance that you might get that itch again and blind side him. That is what i would ask you before i walked out the door with my bags packed. What honest answer can you give if any? The past does not have to equal the future but who is to say it wont happen again? If you cant provide answers to these hard questions which you might get you might want to get counselling for your cheating heart.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (3 November 2013):

Umm this is a difficult one.

Your past is your past, but partners obviously want to know whether or not you have 'form' when it comes to cheating. People will ask (some, anyway).

I dated a guy, was mad about him, but when he told me he'd cheated on his wife (and it was more than once, with more than one woman) I freaked and that was that. I didn't even stay around to find out the context. Whether it was 'reasonable' (not excusable). I had been cheated on before and was devastated, so the idea of it happening again - and being in such pain again - floored me. And I ran.

In my case I'm sure he regrets being quite so honest with me, and I sort of regret my reaction. Mind you, there were other problems, not just his past cheating. But sometimes I wish he either hadn't told me, or we'd discussed it properly.

What I'm getting at is that you should be honest but also try to put it in context. It sounds like you're remorseful and want to change yourself for the better - which is great. Maybe take your time getting to know a prospective partner, let them get to know you, and explain your past when you feel comfortable (preferably before intimacy).

I'm no angel myself and there are some things about my past that are strictly private (not cheating, but things I'm not proud of). Like you I'm taking time out to assess myself before dating anyone.

Don't beat yourself up about your past. The important thing is that you're not shying away from addressing your past issues. Hopefully you'll meet someone who understands.

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A male reader, somewhere_between United Kingdom +, writes (3 November 2013):

somewhere_between agony auntIt`s brave of you to ask for advice on here and admit being a cheat, given the hostility most cheats get when asking for advice.

I wont need to tell you how this serves you right blah blah blah, because you have been very straight about what you have done, and your honesty about it is respected.

In your situation, I would be honest about it. Get it out of the way, then you have had a honest start, and stay honest.

How do you know whether your future partner has ever cheated? You dont. If you found out he had what would you do?

At least you will have told the truth.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (3 November 2013):

chigirl agony auntI don't think you have messed up your future at all. Yes, people would be skeptical of a cheater up front, which is why you probably are better off keeping it to yourself.

But, if it is revealed later on by them finding out in some way or another, they have no right to be angry. So don't apologize if they find out. You really do not have any obligation to tell about this. Like I said, if it is important to them they will make sure to ask themselves. If they didn't ask, then you aren't obligated to inform them either. That's life, that's how it works.

If they find out by someone telling them, then that reflects negatively on them. They'd be the ones who listen to gossip. As long as you stay calm and gathered about it, they can't attack you or "pin you down" on anything. As long as you own your actions and don't lie if confronted, and keep your calm, then they can't hold it against you. And if they do, let them go.

Work through why you did it. Don't enter another relationship if you don't think you can be faithful. As long as you enter a relationship with good intentions and intention to be faithful, then all is good. Also, once you've thought it through, if you are asked about it you will have a better answer to give. And I think that would be acceptable to most. You'd be surprised how many declare that they will never date a person they know have cheated, who actually end up being fine with it as long as the person owes up to it, has worked through it, doesn't do it again.

I think your love life will be fine, as long as you figure out what you want and if the relationship isn't a good one you end it, rather than cheating. It really boils down to you knowing what you want and knowing when to end a relationship that isn't what you want.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 November 2013):

Hi , i am the OP. Thank you everyone for your views.

I'm not in a relationship at all, I have recently broken up with my partner where the cheating was taking place.

I want to get over this and work out why I did what I did. It has given me a lot to think about.

It was just a general question for the future incase I ever met anybody else, I feel like I messed up not only my past but also my future.

Thanks again.

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A male reader, bronzed adonis United Kingdom +, writes (3 November 2013):

bronzed adonis agony auntSorry, when you say future partner, are you in the early stages with a guy, or is it just a general question.

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A male reader, bronzed adonis United Kingdom +, writes (3 November 2013):

bronzed adonis agony auntYou are kind of in a no win situation. You tell him, and he may not trust you. You dont tell him, and you run the risk of him finding out and then trusting you even less. The worst case is, he ends it with you.

When it comes up in a conversation; if you are definitely sure you dont want to cheat on him, then tell him about your past (before someone else does, or he finds out in some other way), and mention that you would never dream of cheating on him, and this why you know you are into him so much.

You are not in an enviable situation.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 November 2013):

Unfortunately the past has a habit of raising it`s head, when you least expect it. Tell him, before he gets to find out about it in some other way.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (3 November 2013):

Honeypie agony auntPersonally, if I was dating a guy who told me about his past cheating, I would most likely end it. Because I don't believe in people stopping a habit like that.

And I would DUMP the person if they didn't tell me and I still found out.

So it's really up to you.

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A female reader, Brokenv Canada +, writes (3 November 2013):

Don't tell him. It is in your past. Somethings are best not to be spoken about.

I think it is a lesson you have learned not to do again.

Move on and don't look back!

Good Luck!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 November 2013):

If he asks, then you must tell the truth, otherwise you are building a relationship based on lies. You'll be making him fall in love with an idealised version of you, not the real you.

But when you do tell him he will probably trust you less. But alas, you have proved yourself untrustworthy so you shouldn't feel it like an injustice. You will just have an extra hurdle in making the relationship work.

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A male reader, M Proops United Kingdom +, writes (3 November 2013):

You should not reveal what you did in the past to a future partner otherwise you're informing him you have "form" when it comes to infidelity.You will plant a seed of doubt in his mind and you won't be trusted fully.

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A female reader, Intrigued3000 Canada +, writes (3 November 2013):

Intrigued3000 agony auntI also have a secret from my past and felt morally obligated to reveal it, but my therapist advised me not to, unless I am asked directly about it. In other words, don't lie if your current partner asks. Now if you're in a truth or dare game, do not feel obligated to reveal it in a setting like that either. That's only for your partner to know and those you trust. Take the dare or give them your sweetest smile and say, "No".

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A reader, anonymous, writes (2 November 2013):

Once, I was dating a bloke and he admitted to me that he cheated in every single relationship he was in, even a long term relationship he was in.

I carried on seeing him, but I could not stop thinking about his confession. I thought was he cheating on me, or would he cheat on me, and I suddenly became this jealous paranoid woman that I wasn't before.

I wished he hadn't told me, because it became an issue.

Now, I feel that the past is the past, everyone has baggage. And everyone deserves a chance.

However, I don't think anyone should lie about their past if they have been confronted....it would just make things 10 times worse, if the lie got found out.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway +, writes (2 November 2013):

chigirl agony auntI say it is best to keep it to yourself, but be honest if asked about it. Everyone has done things they are ashamed of. But your story, and your past, belongs to you. It's private. Just because someone is in a relationship with you doesn't mean they are entitled to your life story, all your secrets, and leave you no privacy.

Some couples want to share everything and be as one as much as they can, keeping no secrets (at least that's what they say anyway) and sharing absolutely everything, from that good to the bad. But they are in a minority, and that's extreme sports for mosts. Most people are happy not knowing, most people don't want to know everything about their partner, and most people don't want their partner to know everything either.

The cheating happened with someone else, in another relationship. Not with this man. So, it is none of his business. As long as no cheating happens in this relationship, and as long as you are honest with him at all times, and never hide anything, then it's all good. As long as you don't drag the past with you into the new relationship, the past will not be part of the new relationship, and hence does not need to be brought up.

I've had the same dilemma as you, about whether to tell or not to tell something I did before, in past relationships, that I am ashamed of. Things I regret. Things that were bad. The advice I got was that I can tell if I want to, but not if it is just to feel better about myself. And, I should also keep in mind the consequences. What am I hoping to achieve? Will anything good come out of it? There is little point in telling, just to tell. And there's no such rule that certain things should be told.

If he wants to know, if it is crucial for him to know, then he will ask. And you will answer. If he doesn't ask, don't tell.

I haven't told my current boyfriend about things I did in past relationships. And honestly, I don't think he cares to know. He's never asked me even the tiniest thing about my past relationships, it's just generally uninteresting to him. What he pays attention to is how I treat him, not how I treated my exes. How I treat him is what matters, it's actually the only thing that matters.

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