Good morning. 1 p.m. chat.
Q: I'm going to get this out fast before I lose the nerve to send my emotional distress out into the universe for judgment. I've been with my boyfriend for three years and we've lived together for half that time. I'm in my late 20s and he is in his late 30s, divorced with kids.
Our relationship progressed pretty quickly -- we fell in love and experienced all of the wonderful things about a new romance. Overall, everything has been really good between us. We laugh together, travel together, and have planned our future together. My only concern throughout our relationship surrounds his divorce. Boyfriend does not like talking about it, didn't willingly share information about it, and doesn't like to answer my questions about it. From the beginning I assumed that his divorce was final (he never said otherwise), but I recently found out that the divorce wasn't legally finalized until last year (around the time we moved in together). I had a feeling this was the case because certain things did not add up but he kept denying it. I didn't want to press the subject because it would always end up in a fight and I wanted to believe him. He finally confessed.
I have no doubts about his feelings toward me and his dreams of being with me forever. The ex-wife is a non-issue for us as they have been separated for years. The delay with the divorce was simply technical difficulties with paperwork. My question to you and the readers is -- will I be able to trust him now that I know he has withheld information? He admits that he made a mistake and assures me that he was trying to protect me because I didn't deserve to go through it and he was afraid he would lose me. I understand that divorce is just an official legal date but I feel misled. Does his fear of loss -- and his attempt to protect me from the mess of his past relationship -- justify his long-lasting lie? I have been told by people who have gone through divorce how devastating and embarrassing it can be, so does this qualify him for a second chance? My heart wants to be with him but my head tells me this is a deal breaker. Boyfriend tells me he has never been happier in his life now that he is with me, but I'm not feeling too happy at the moment.
– Follow My Heart or Throw In The Towel?, Boston
A: "Does his fear of loss and his attempt to protect me from the mess of his past relationship justify his long-lasting lie?" No way, FMHOTITT. He caused you more pain by lying to you. But the lie only a deal-breaker if you want it to be. And really, it's only a deal-breaker if he doesn't understand why lying to you was wrong.
Did he apologize for the cover-up because he made you feel bad -- or because he truly understands that disclosure is necessary from now on? If you're going to stay together, 99.9 percent of his life is going to be your business. He has to be on board for that.
My advice is to ask. Ask as many questions as you want about the marriage and divorce. Ask about the kids. Ask about everything. If you get the sense that he's being closed off about anything, there's your red flag. "Boyfriend does not like talking about it, didn't willingly share information about it, and doesn't like to answer my questions about it." That just doesn't work. What if he was that way about money? Or his health? Protecting you means telling the truth. He either understands that or he doesn't.
Talk to him. Find out if this was really a learning experience for him. If not, consider that while your heart is important, your head (which is somehow attached to your gut) has a point.
Readers? Would you leave someone after three years if they lied to you about their divorce? Is this mistake more forgivable after three years than it would have been after one? Has he learned a real lesson? Does the pain and embarrassment of the divorce justify the lie? Get to it.
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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.