I am a college student currently doing a year abroad, and I cheated on my boyfriend of 3 years who is still in the states. We’ve been together since senior year and he is the love of my life. It only happened a few times and I don’t want to do it again, but I’m feeling really guilty about it. I am suffering from terrible insomnia and stress dreams, I’m not present in social situations and I can’t focus on my studies. Should I tell my boyfriend I cheated, or just leave it at “What happens in Poland stays in Poland?”
Worn Out In Warsaw
Dear Worn Out In Warsaw,
The real issue isn’t whether or not you should tell your boyfriend you cheated. The real issue is: Do you truly want to be in a monogamous relationship right now? If it was just a one-night drunken sexcapade, that would be one thing; but you said it’s happened “a few times”. You’ve been with your boyfriend since you were an awkward suburban teenager. You are now an independent young woman, exploring the world by yourself and realizing your sociosexual power for the first time in your life. It is only natural that you should be eager to explore your sexuality and have romantic adventures with other people.
Ask yourself: “What do I really want for my life right now?” I’m sure it was a painful adjustment for both of you when you left to do a year abroad. Ending or opening the relationship will also be a difficult adjustment; but, if you want the freedom to explore, it’s better to tell him now than spend the rest of the semester being anxious, sleep deprived and unable to focus on your studies because of fearful indecision.
If you think you do want to stay with your boyfriend because you’re actually still in love with him–NOT because you’re afraid of being alone, NOT because the other guy you were sleeping with fucked you over and now you’re feeling vulnerable, and NOT because you’re afraid of hurting your boyfriend–then you must have an open and honest conversation with him about your feelings and focus on the big issue: How do we healthily maintain this long-distance relationship in a way that is satisfying to the both of us?
Understand, I do not condone cheating. But it happens a lot among young people in long-distance relationships, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it. You are both going through major intellectual, emotional, environmental and hormonal changes. Your boyfriend is probably having the same feelings you are, and he may have slept with other people as well. I suggest that unless you truly believe he is going to find out from someone else, you do NOT tell him that you slept with other people, unless he directly asks you. Telling him is not going to make you feel better. I know you think it will, but it won’t. If he wants to know, he will ask.
Figure out what you want. Then have an open and honest conversation with him about what you want. Then do what you want. Life is short. You should not waste one day of your precious time on this planet not living the life you want.
Tomorrow your genitals could turn to dust.