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Like every other young gay trying to stumble through the dating world, I’m making a horrible mess of a situation that is probably easily solved. My girlfriend and I have been together for just over a year and love each other to bits, but communication as of late leads to arguments and fighting. Before we started dating, I’d tried to woo a girl I was ultimately turned down by, and it turns out that my present girlfriend slept with that girl before we got together. I get that I have no right to be upset by it, but she lied to me all year about it and hid it from me, which hurts, and there isn’t much trust where this girl is concerned. They have a “bromance” of sorts; talking about personal topics, meeting up together and hanging out, and they hide it from me because they think it’s the right thing to do, in terms of not hurting me. All it’s making me feel like is that there is something to hide, which they assure me nothing would ever happen.
I believe them, but there wasn’t much time to get over the girl when my current GF and I started dating. That, combined with how often they talk and stuff, makes me paranoid, particularly when they don’t tell me. It’s not as if they should say something, but by omission it feels like they’re hiding something. When I try and tell my girlfriend, she responds, “OK well I just won’t talk to her anymore if it’ll make you happy.” But I don’t want her to stop talking to the girl because of me, it’s not fair, I get that. How can I tell her to let me heal, repair the trust that keeps breaking between us and keep her happy with her ‘bro’? I feel so angry with them both, but I can’t let this girl go, she means everything to me.
Oh, Agnes! Is it okay if I call you Agnes? Good, ’cause I’m calling you Agnes. I was gonna call you Lenore, but then I changed my mind and decided that I’m gonna call you Agnes, and I’m gonna call your girlfriend Lenore, and I’m gonna call your girlfriend’s bromantic gal pal Millicent.
Okay, great, now that we’ve got that squared away.
Agnes, it’s true that you don’t have a right to be upset at Lenore for hooking up with Millicent before the two of you got together, or for hanging out with Millicent now. However, did you tell Lenore not to tell you when she hangs out with or talks to Millicent? If not, I’m curious where she got the idea that lying to you about it is “the right thing to do, in terms of not hurting me.” Because it sounds like you’re pretty hurt and that you don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
If you ask your girlfriend “what did you do today?” and she intentionally leaves big chunks out of that description on the regular, and those chunks didn’t involve her planning a secret birthday party for your cat or undertaking an undercover spy mission for the Canadian government, then she is lying. Lies of omission are still lies and you have a right to be upset about them — given, that is, that she isn’t just following your instructions. If she’s been lying to you about this repeatedly for a long time, I’m not surprised that you’re losing your mind a little bit, that shit is hard to handle!
Look, I’m totally for “having separate lives” and I think it’s important, in relationships, to have the freedom to disappear sometimes and to not always feel like you have to “check in.” I also understand that sometimes a person might do a thing that they know will be interpreted by their partner as having some ridiculously overblown significance even though it wasn’t a big deal at all, and therefore will leave it out of her daily recap. That’s sometimes okay. Sometimes. In general when it comes to an isolated lie of omission like that, though, I tend to go by the rule that if whatever that person is doing with their time has a genuine impact on your relationship and your feelings for her and about her, then you’ll feel that impact regardless of whether or not she discloses her whereabouts that one afternoon. If something is up, something is up. You don’t need to read her diary or check her phone messages or drive around town looking for her car to know that something is up when something is up. That’s when you sit down for a conversation about “what’s up,” not a conversation about some texts you snooped on or some sex romp you imagined.
So there are three possibilities here:
1. Something is up — and you do say that lately all your conversations have devolved into fighting, which is troubling.
2. She’s lying to you out of emotional laziness, in which case you both need to get way better at communicating with each other because avoidance and lies of omission are not mature relationship communication strategies.
3. She’s lying to you because you’ve become very difficult to tell the truth to.
So where do you go from here? Well, for starters, you’ve got to weed out all of the feelings Lenore should care about from the ones she shouldn’t care about. Lenore has no obligation to care that you once liked Millicent, or that there wasn’t much time to “move on” between liking Millicent and falling for Lenore. I’d keep that feeling to yourself, it’s not Lenore’s problem and is probably very hurtful to her. If you’re still carrying a torch for Millicent, you need to either put out that flame or promise to never talk about it again.
But if Lenore has been deliberately keeping secrets from you because she has something to hide or because she prefers emotional shortcuts to hashing things out and this makes you feel shitty and paranoid, then she should care about those feelings. Irrational paranoia is the #1 cause of Passive-Aggressiveness, which is a deadly flesh-eating virus that attacks rocky lesbian relationships and consumes them from the inside like Hep V. Convenient lies of omission are not a very solid foundation for a trusting relationship. I mean, we’re lesbians: we’re friends with people we’ve had sex with and sometimes our girlfriends have complicated relationships with people we have complicated relationships with. This is the way that we live.
Furthermore, unless you actually said “I would be happier if you never spoke to her again,” her saying “OK well I just won’t talk to her anymore if it’ll make you happy” is also stupid. It’s derailing, immature and overdramatic. Stick to the topic at hand — you’re having a hard time trusting her because she’s lied to you in the past, and you wanna be sure that doesn’t happen again. Your previous feelings for Millicent aren’t the issue, nor is her hanging out with other girls.
The issue here is one thing: trust. That goes both ways: she agrees to stop lying to you about where she is, and you agree to react fairly and evenly when she does tell you the truth. Call her out for lies of omission directly but calmly, maybe even teasingly, and give her the freedom to do the same if you get a little overdramatic. Consensual teasing is often a great argument dissipation strategy. There are so many moments of relationship failure that can be salvaged by both people taking a step back and laughing at themselves.
If open communication and honesty don’t get your love back on track, then you can cross that bridge when you come to it. But for now, try communication and assumptions of good faith. Or scissoring? Or a threesome. JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE THREESOME DON’T DO THAT.
Okay weirdos, what do y’all think about this situation?