Fessing up to cheating in previous relationships – yes or no? If you had an affair during a past relationship, the inevitable question when you start a relationship with a new person is whether you should reveal your history of cheating.
On one hand, it can feel dishonest to keep that information from a new romantic partner. On the other hand, you may worry that you are unnecessarily jeopardising your new relationship by calling your own trustworthiness into question.
There is a strong argument to be made that you are not obligated to share any details about your past relationships with a new partner. What occurred between you and another person in an intimate relationship is a private matter between you and that person. Furthermore, there are some details that would be considered a genuine breach of privacy were you to reveal them to a new partner.
What You Are Obligated To Tell A New Partner
Things that you are obligated to tell a new partner include those that have the potential to directly affect that new person; for example, the fact that you acquired herpes or any other STD. The information that you cheated in the past might be directly relevant to your new partner if you consider yourself likely to cheat again, but in that scenario your own intentions are a much greater threat to the relationship that whether you hide or reveal your cheating past.
Keeping Your History Of Infidelity To Yourself May Be Unfair
However, there are situations during which the question of whether or not to talk about a past affair becomes much more complicated. For example, a new partner might say that they consider past or present cheating to be a deal-breaker. In this case, you might feel that you really are keeping a relevant and important piece of information secret if you don’t share your past infidelity with them.
Another complicated scenario might be a new partner who comes clean about their past infidelity. Even if you feel that your own history of cheating is firmly in the past, you may worry that you are not being as honest with your new partner as they are with you by not honouring the full disclosure attitude that they have chosen to adopt. It may also cause an unfair balance of power in the relationship if your new partner believes that they are the only one with a history of being unfaithful.
Don’t Try To Save Face By Lying
Finally, of course, there is the question of what to do if a new partner asks you directly whether you have cheated in the past. Keeping certain information private from a significant other is very different than lying about it if the subject comes up.
There is not necessarily any one correct answer for all couples, but a certain degree of honesty is probably the best policy if the topic of cheating comes up between you and a new partner. Otherwise, the past issue of your infidelity becomes a current issue of dishonesty in your relationship. This does not mean that you are obligated to reveal all of the details of the situation; in fact, it may be best not to in order to respect your former partner’s privacy, particularly if you and your former partner’s lives intersect in such a way that your revelations could have negative repercussions for your ex.
Another consideration is how likely your new partner is to find out about your history of cheating from someone else. Such a risk may be essentially non-existent, but if it seems at all possible, you may decide that you would prefer your partner hear about your past affair from you.