In less than two months, if all goes according to plan, I will marry my long-term boyfriend “Jake.” My best friend “Ivy” will be my maid of honor. The two of them are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters. They see me, with all of my flaws, and still believe I’m a brilliant human being. Everyone should be so lucky as to have people like them in their lives.
Seven years ago, not long after I began dating Jake, I was out of town for Ivy’s annual birthday bacchanalia. I suggested Jake go on his own to get to know my friends better. He did, and he and Ivy got so drunk that they ended up sleeping together. I found out last week. A third-party was aware of the tryst and, after falling out with Ivy, told me. Neither Jake nor Ivy remembers much about the encounter. Both were horrified when they awoke the next morning and swore never to speak of it again. They have told me it was the biggest mistake either of them has ever made. I believe them.
I like to think that I’m realistic about monogamy. It’s what I want in a relationship, but it’s a struggle, and one affair doesn’t outweigh years of monogamy. So I’m surprised at how sad this revelation makes me. Sometimes I’m inexplicably angry; most of the time though, I’m just really, really sad.
When I look at my relationships with Jake and with Ivy, years of acceptance and love and support, it’s obvious that one instance of drunk sex is the anomaly. I don’t blame them for keeping it a secret. I’d have been happier if it remained that way. Why can’t I stop being sad then? Why do I feel like a fool? Why can’t I shake this off as something that happened in the past and has had little bearing on my life until now?
I don’t want to lose these relationships (I think). But these insidious thoughts are dragging me down in. I’d be eternally grateful for any advice or insight you can offer. Am I being an idiot?
Bitter Reality Incites Dreadful Emotions
Would a threesome fix things? Guessing not. (Forgive me, it’s Friday.)
Off the top of my head…
This wasn’t an affair—it was a one-off, a drunken mistake. And it came at the start of your relationship with Jake. You’d just started seeing each other, BRIDE, and while there may have been an understanding about exclusivity, you weren’t as committed or as much in love as you are today. So try not to view Jake and Ivy’s drunken hookup then as the massive/monumental betrayal it would be now. A betrayal can be kept in perspective—this one must be, if you want your relationship to survive.
It’s alright that you feel sad. That feeling is legitimate—most feelings are—and your feelings of sadness will diminish over time. It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll be totally over/past/through it before the wedding. Be honest with Jake and Ivy about how you feel. And go ahead and let yourself be angry—and express your anger to them if you haven’t already—but don’t burn everything to the ground. Feel and express your anger, accept their sincere apologies, and then get on with what truly matters: who you are and what you mean to each other now (all three of you), your upcoming wedding, and the rest of your life.
You say Jake and Ivy see you with all your flaws and love and support you anyway. Well, Jake and Ivy are flawed too. They made a mistake and they made the right choice when they decided to keep it from you. Sometimes it’s better not to know, sometimes honesty is not the best policy, sometimes protecting a partner from the awful truth—by stuffing that truth
down the nearest memory hole—is the most loving thing a person can do. This isn’t meant to give cover to serial adulterers or cheating pieces of shit. This is about a person that made a mistake they’re never, ever going to make again. Jake and Ivy’s mistake qualifies.
Which is not to say Jake and Ivy didn’t do something terribly wrong. They did. But they tried to the right thing about that wrong thing. They tried to protect you from something you didn’t want to know about and never needed to know about would’ve preferred never to find out about. The villain in this piece—the turd in your wedding punch bowl—is this “third-party” asshole. To get back at Ivy this asshole shoved a knife through your heart. If you’re friends with this asshole, dump them. If this asshole is invited to your wedding, un-invite them. If you pass this asshole on street one day on they’re on fire, refuse to piss on them.
You are not a fool. You are in love with someone who made a mistake and you’re going to have to forgive him, BRIDE, if you still want to share your life with him. A marriages can’t last if the two people in it are incapable of forgiving each other. I hope you don’t mind if I quote myself…
A successful marriage is an endless cycle of wrongs committed, apologies offered, and forgiveness granted, STH, all leavened by the occasional orgasm.
You will have to forgive Jake in the years to come for other wrongs—hopefully lesser ones—just as he will have to forgive you. If you can find it in your heart to forgive him now, and forgive him for this, it will be good practice and a good sign.