One man wonders how he can broach a difficult moment from his past with his girlfriend.
Dear Sexes: So about 1 year before I met my incredible, very feminist GF of 1+ year, I had sex with a prostitute in Asia. Having 2 sisters, needless to say I was (am) pretty disgusted with myself for too many reasons to list here. Looking back, my actions reflected a deep insecurity about myself at the time (that i’m still dealing with). My GF and I have an amazing, equitable relationship, but i dunno how to tell her about this; i’m just so afraid of her reaction.
She Said: First, I assume you’ve read our blog entry answering a similar question from the female’s perspective, called Difficult Past. To me, the biggest issue both there and here is that a secret was kept from her (because you both saw the inherent “wrongness” that prostitution in Asia presents). But that doesn’t mean you should keep your secret any longer. In fact, the sooner you tell her, the better.
Feminist or not, we all make mistakes, and feminist or not we should all try to find a way to be forgiving when real repentance and growth is shown.
As far as approaching the subject, I would start by having an open dialogue in which you explain that time in your life: your insecurities, the problems in your life, and the ways in which you worked through them. Then I would say, “my biggest regret is that before I met you, I _________, and I’ve done a lot of work to figure out why I did it and I feel terrible because of…” and just hope she’s receptive to that. You can be honest and still try to shine a light on what good came out of the situation. Be clear that you have a lot of empathy for the women who live that life, and that you understand now the imbalance of power in that situation. Express your regret without making excuses or blaming others.
Last, don’t do a lot of lead-in like, “I hope you don’t hate me for this” or “I’m so worried about what you’ll think of me”. Always, in life, present yourself the way you want to be seen, not the way you hope you’re not seen. Approach it with confidence and reassure her of your growth into the man you are now.
He Said: Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to say something difficult, especially if you’re still disappointed in yourself (and worried about how the news will effect your girlfriend). There’s also no way to predict the future (at least not here at She Said He Said), so… just take the plunge—spit out the truth.
You can beat around the bush, if you like, but the truth is the truth, and it can’t be changed. If you’re choosing to be honest, all you can do is hope your girlfriend will accept you for who you are (presently, as well as in the past). You can give her a better chance to understand where you’re coming from by discussing those insecurities that you’re still dealing with, and those that may have led you to your choice in Asia.
And before you have any conversation with your girlfriend about this, make sure you are first clear with yourself about what you want to get out of the interaction. Then prepare for anything! Anger, hurt, betrayal, acceptance, love, etc … Any, or all, of these feelings could come out of your conversation—there’s no way to know for sure. Most importantly, it is a conversation… a dialogue… a beginning. Keep talking!
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Originally published at SheSaidHeSaid.
—Photo kyle simourd/Flickr