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I want to confess

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  December 5, 2011 08:37 AM

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Good morning.


Q: Meredith,

I have never done something like this but I feel lost. I broke up with my boyfriend of a few years a little while ago. We both still love each other but we couldn't manage to make a relationship function. We both have very different personalities and struggled with communication since the very start. It was a mutual break up; we both realized that the relationship was not what we wanted. We want to stay friends in the long run.

I have come to terms with the fact that we were not working as a couple and it was both our faults. The issue is something deeper though. I still have guilt because of my actions in the relationship.

When we first started dating, I cheated on my boyfriend while extremely drunk. My friends had to tell me it happened because I didn't remember a thing. I have never felt so horrible and disgusted with myself. I told my boyfriend, and he forgave me, and I thought we had moved on.

Fast-forward a year and I spent a semester abroad in a different country. I still had problems controlling my drinking, and again I found myself cheating on my boyfriend while drunk. I couldn't believe myself and felt incredibly guilty. I still do. Since then I have gained control of my drinking, and I have been focused on improving myself.

The thing is that I never told my boyfriend (or I guess now ex) that I cheated on him while abroad. I feel like since then I have become a different, more controlled, and more loyal person. I almost feel like it wasn't me who cheated, but my evil twin. I do eventually want to get back together with him once we work out our differences, but I can't handle the guilt that I have for cheating on him. I struggle to sleep at night and I feel like I need to tell him. I don't know if this is the right approach at all or if I should just let it be. HELP!!!

– Cheating Chick, Chicago


A: Leave this alone, CC. Take it to a counselor. Take it to a friend. Please don't call your already-ex boyfriend and say, "By the way, do you want to know some more awful stuff about me?"

Just assume that you both misbehaved during your relationship. Old information is pretty useless at this point.

My guess is that you want to reveal this stuff because you want the chance to say, "I'm loyal! I'm better!" You want to ensure that you'll get back together and you figure that this dramatic confession -- along with tales of your maturity -- will make that happen.

My advice? Show don't tell. Don't call him to read off a list of infidelities followed by a resume of awesome girlfriend traits that you now possess. Instead be his friend. If/when he calls, listen. See him at a party and watch him watch you control your behavior. And while you're acting like a champ, get to know yourself all over again. Because maybe over time you'll realize that you'd actually prefer to date someone new.

Your sleepless nights are about getting over a breakup. Give yourself a fresh start, and if you need to cry it out about what you did in your past life, tell a real friend. That's what they’re for.

Readers? Am I wrong? What's with this need to confess? How can she move on from her bad behavior? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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