My girlfriend lied to me about her ex

As a single 26 year-old man, I was living life to the fullest. One of the nights I was doing so I met a woman 14 years older than I am. We hit it off right away. We started dating and having a blast every time we got together. After 3 months of dating she finally popped the question "where is this going?" I told her she did not want a relationship with me. "Why?" she asked. "Because I am very demanding" I replied. I told her I knew what a serious committed relationship is all about and that I believed she was not ready for it. After asking me for the third time "where is this going?" I yielded and said "OK, let’s try it."

I told her that any relationship IS based on Honesty and Respect. Once we both understand and achieve this Trust and Love will come. I used to tell her how special I felt every time I held her hand and how proud I felt when seen with her. I really felt on top of the world then. After explaining, not putting boundaries or setting rules, to her and she understanding and agreeing with me that I would not accept any of her ex’s in my life because I could not stand being in the same room with a man she had been intimate with. She said it would bother her as well.

Here’s when Respect for my feelings should have been present. She introduced me to a friend of hers. I found out later he was her ex. My trust in her was damaged. After the storm we tried saving the relationship. A couple of months later she introduces me to another guy, her so called "little brother." Another ex. Again no respect for my feelings, trust issues. Her excuses were that she was afraid that I was going to react insane if she had told me the "truth," which was a selfish decision on her part to make because she never gave me the chance to react to the truth. To this point she still doesn’t know how I react to the truth. I gave her the option of choosing to keep her ex’s or get into a relationship with me because it was her decision to make, not mine. I was fine just dating.

What am I supposed to do about this? Am I supposed to trust her when she goes out with her female friends? Am I not allowed to have feelings of distrust and not question her if the guy who was flirting with her at a bar was let known she has a boyfriend? What am I supposed to think when I ask her "Did you tell him you have a boyfriend?" and her response is "He doesn’t need to know that!"? That magic of feeling so special by holding her hand was destroyed. I was angry because it was mine to have. Not hers.

Our "relationship" ended about two months ago. We had been going back and forth about the deceptions she put me through. I went to couples therapy, even though I knew I did not need a guy telling me how MY relationship is supposed to function and that I should tolerate her mistreatment.

What can I do to heal from this? How do I go into another relationship from this experience?


Your question raises two very common issues.

First, partners and spouses generally lie about issues that concern us the most. The more costly you make it for a partner to tell you the truth, the odds increase that your partner is going to lie to you. For example, if you threaten to end a relationship because your boyfriend or girlfriend talks to an ex (very costly punishment—there is a lot to lose), then the odds greatly increase that your boyfriend or girlfriend is going to lie to you about this issue (see when people lie).


When faced with such a decision two options exist: Tell the truth and take a certain loss or mislead a partner and perhaps come out ahead. Studies show that children when placed such situations—play the odds—lying often pays off better than taking a certain punishment. If telling the truth results in an unavoidable and negative outcome—from a rational and logical perspective, it is in one’s best interest to lie. Adults are the same way—we like to avoid losses and people will lie to avoid being punished. Lying in such situations appears to be part of our human nature (see why people lie).

So, if you want a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend to tell you the truth—make it easy for him or her to tell the truth (see get others to be honest). But be prepared to hear things that you do NOT like to hear.

It is helpful to tell partners what you expect in a relationship, but if you tell a partner that the relationship will end if they don’t live up to your expectations, then you are increasing the likelihood that deception will occur.

A better strategy is to tell your partner what you expect, but also tell him or her that you understand that everyone makes mistakes. And convey to your partner that you are willing to talk about issues and work through problems rather than threatening to end the relationship.

Again, the more demanding you are about the more rules that you make—the more people will lie to you (see when people lie). This dynamic plays out everywhere—in the workplace, in families, and in romantic relationships.

Second, a past partner’s betrayal often impacts what happens in future relationships. If you have been betrayed by a partner in the past, it can be difficult to trust the next person that comes along.


People who have been betrayed in the past are naturally more suspicious. And the problem with being suspicious is that it results in people being more negative, inquisitive, and demanding (see dealing with jealousy).

Again, these types of behaviors actually increase the likelihood that that a romantic partner will use deception.

So, suspicious individuals often make their worst fears come true. And suspicious individuals are more likely to snoop, investigate, and double-check stories. As such, suspicious individuals not only increase the odds that a partner will lie, but they are also more likely to catch their partners when it happens.

Being suspicious makes it very difficult for any relationship to work. Relationships are based on trust, even if that trust is, from time to time, somewhat misplaced.

We wish we had more encouraging advice to give.

 control issues | end of relationship | her ex-boyfriend | lying girlfriend | my jealousy | trust issues

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