Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Hi! I have had a boyfriend for 11 months and we are really in love with each other, and we promised not to lie to each other. But then I discovered in his other Facebook account that he had sex with girls before, these are escort girls.
That was two years ago though but he told me that he just had one ‘experience’ with an ex and that was okay with me.
And the other thing is, he blocked me in that account and two of my other friends. I know that he’s the one I want to spend my future with. I just don’t want lies and secrets. And I know he’s a good man.
I messaged him that I need to talk to him. What should I do? What should I say to him? Please help.
Thank you so much. I’ll appreciate your reply.
Thank you for your email.
Your brief account of your relationship with your boyfriend (let’s call him Jaime) seems to contain no indication that he has any positive features at all, other than your subjective view that he loves you. He appears to have broken his promise not to lie, he has obfuscated over his previous relationships and dalliances with escort girls, he has multiple Facebook accounts and is selective as to which he will grant you access to.
On the other hand, after only 11 months and despite these obstacles, you declare that you are in love with Jaime, he is a good man and you wish to spend the rest of your life with him.
There appears to be a significant gulf between your desire for a world free of lies and secrecy and the actual reality of your relationship with Jaime. Hiding his social media activities from you is scarcely synonymous with transparency and his story about only one experience with an ex reminds me of the old joke about the 3 greatest lies: the check is in the mail, if you let me I’ll only put it in a little way, I won’t come in your mouth.
Trust is a key ingredient for a relationship that is going to be successful in the long term. You need to consider whether Jaime’s behavior really makes him a suitable candidate to be the person you spend the rest of your life with. And if eschewing lies and secrecy is one of your main requirements, he seems to have failed to make the cut, whatever other positive traits he may display. Wishing you the best of luck.
Thank you very much for your letter. I feel your situation has been more than adequately answered by Mr Baer. I would therefore just like to add the following:
If you truly want to spend your future life with Jaime, then secrets of this sort (affairs, consorting with other women) are perhaps not a very good idea. I say perhaps because, of course, it depends on the kind of relationship you have (more of that later).
I am particularly concerned about Jaime’s blocking both you and your two friends from his other FB account. This is no longer “merely” keeping a secret from you. This is an out and out message that he’s doing something he doesn’t want you to find out about and he doesn’t care that you know that.
It is one thing for Jaime to have secrets (for which one can use the excuse – if only to the gullible – “I didn’t want to lose you”).
It is another to send you – and your friends – the message that yes, I know you’ve discovered my secret FB account, and I don’t care. I will continue what I am doing. It is something you don’t like (and might even lead to our breaking up) otherwise I wouldn’t need this other FB account, would I?
The only difference now is that you know I have these secrets. You don’t know what they are, and I will make sure you continue not to know, by blocking you from said account. Thus, my secrets are still safe, even if you know the way I am keeping them safe from you. What an a–hole.
Even if you convince him that he has to stop, and even if he acts as if he is convinced, he will merely close this account and open another. The only change in his behavior is being even more careful that you will not discover his next secret account.
In the BBC World View episode on Identity: Secret Lives, the host says: “Research supports the idea that there are cultural differences in how much and when we disclose personal info and how sensitive we are to rejection.”
Your partner’s cultural context seems to include this “boys will be boys” mentality with the attitude that having another FB account that a girlfriend knows nothing about is acceptable. Perhaps that is why his reaction was to immediately block you and your friends.
You wrote “I just don’t want lies and secrets.”
Such a relationship seems hopeless with Jaime who sees nothing wrong with what he’s done. Blocking you, instead of apologizing for his betrayal, is a sign of that. Sure, he can come up with all sorts of excuses: “I was upset,” or “I wasn’t thinking” but isn’t it when we are most upset and when we are not thinking about the impression we’re creating when we are most ourselves?
It will be damn difficult for him to change, Andrea. What would help is his changing his barkada, but he has to do that voluntarily and willingly. Somehow I don’t see that…it is much easier for most men to change a girlfriend of 11 months than friends of 10, 12 years.
Other psychologists might say I am too strict, that a good relationship while keeping secrets is very possible.
They may well be right. However, even psychologists who believe that will have to admit that secrets (another word for it in this context is lies) beget other lies. The person with the secret is inevitably guarded, to make sure he doesn’t slip up, if only in several areas in his life.
Perhaps a relationship with one – or usually two – guarded people can be considered a “good relationship” nevertheless.
I daresay that sort of relationship is acceptable only for people who feel they have to settle for second best or have no relationship at all. Surely that is not the sort of relationship you want?
All the best,
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