Please be PG with your comments today. I don’t want to get in trouble.
But I probably don’t have to tell you that.
Q: Hey Meredith,
I'm only writing out of extreme exasperation, since I really have no idea where to turn for good advice.
My story is a pretty simple one. About a year ago, a friend introduced me to his wife's friend, and we hit it off. I'm 29 now, and she's 26. We dated, things went extremely well, and things have continually progressed since then to the point where we are both extremely happy and have been considering moving in together this summer when our leases end. All in all, a very normal, healthy, mutually respectful relationship that makes us both very happy.
A few weeks ago, however, she dropped a bomb on me. She told me that when she was in college she was pretty casual about relationships. When I asked what that meant, she told me that there had probably been with about 35 guys. 35! I was floored. I had always assumed she had a typical dating past, and that she was a nice girl. She assured me that she had completely changed after college, but I still have no idea how to process this information. I'm pretty sure that if I knew this from the start, I never would have given her a chance. I was in a frat in college and played hockey and knew girls that slept around, but I don't even think I know anyone who did it to that extent. Needless to say, I'm really weirded out. It's so extreme.
This is a woman who, until two weeks ago, I could easily have seen myself marrying. She's been so incredibly great to me, but now I don't know who I'm dating. I would love to get past this and go back to feeling the way I used to, but I don't know if that's possible. I'm also afraid that if I end it over this, it'll be the biggest regret of my life. I just don't know what to do. She makes me so happy and it's probably the best relationship of my life, but I'm now seeing her as damaged goods. I try to rationalize why her number isn't that crazy or out of whack, but then I snap back into it and remember that I don't know a single woman who did anything remotely like that in college. This is just foreign to me.
– Conflicted, Boston
A: C, it's tough love time.
“I'm pretty sure that if I knew this from the start, I never would have given her a chance.”
Aren’t you glad you didn’t know? Had you vetoed her based on a number, you wouldn’t be in an amazing, happy relationship.
I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’d have similar judgments about a man who’d been with 35 people. But here’s my question – how many would have been OK? Five? Twenty? Thirty-four? What’s your cutoff for damaged goods?
Your girlfriend seems like she knows herself very well. She had a good time in college, grew up, and now wants a real partner. She chose you, trusted you enough to disclose her past, and now she’s being called damaged goods. Might I suggest that a woman who slept with only three people but didn’t understand her own motives might be more damaged – less capable of an adult relationship?
My point is, if she doesn’t feel damaged, she’s not. Please don’t label her that way. Nothing has changed about her. She’s the same woman you fell for. If anything, you should be flattered. She has experienced a variety of men and you’re the guy she wants to cohabitate with.
Her experiences turned her into the woman you chose. For that reason, be thankful that she lived the life she did.
Get weirded out. Shake it off. Understand how important it is that she trusted you with this information. Don’t punish her. Don’t ruin this – for her or yourself.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.