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Feeling Guilt & Shame

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  • #405179
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi everyone. I’ve been dealing with some guilt and shame over something that happened recently.

    For context, I’ve currently been with my current partner for 4 years and love him very much. I’ve only ever been in one other serious relationship and we were on and off for four years. When that relationship ended, it was very hard on me.

    In my current relationship, I’m so much happier than I was in my previous relationship because my current partner fulfills me and vice versa. Sometimes I would occasionally reminisce on my past relationship but these feelings would subside.

    I haven’t seen or spoken to my ex in over four years until recently when we ran into each other at a mutual friend’s wedding. We spent almost the entire time catching up and drinking.

    I had one too many drinks and got really inebriated and told him I missed him and some parts of our relationship. He told me he felt the same and then I left and went home.

    Once at home, I made the stupid and drunken mistake of keeping our conversation going over text. We mainly just talked about things we missed about each other (i.e. the sex). Very little to virtually nothing was said about the actual relationship and instead we just talked about how good our sex life was and how it was hard to replicate with someone else (it’s true). It was very childish and almost horny.

    Ultimately, I ended it by telling him that I would never compromise my current relationship but that I did miss him in that sexual way sometimes and that I wished him the best.

    He told me he was glad I was happy and also wished me the best. The next morning, I woke feeling incredibly guilty and wanting to tell my partner. Although I have no feelings towards my ex at all and wouldn’t want him back (we’re completely incompatible hence the breakup), I feel ashamed for the things I said when I was drunk, especially because some of it was true.

    I just feel very ashamed and guilty for having messed up in this way. I feel if I tell my partner it’ll only hurt him and nothing good will come from it since it was a one-time thing.

    Do you think I’m a terrible person and deserve to be left? I’m not even sure, I know I technically didn’t “cheat” but I feel just as bad.

    Can someone please help? Thanks for reading.

     

     

    #405180
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Also important to note, in his replies, he said he would’ve wanted to get back together at some point after we broke up, but knows that it’s futile now. I feel like his feelings towards me might’ve been more romantic than mine ever were towards him. I don’t miss him as a person or as a boyfriend, I honestly only miss him sometimes as a lover.

    The source of my guilt doesn’t stem from that because I’ve made peace with that fact. It stems from entertaining a conversation with him at all and now feeling like I’m unconsciously hurting my current partner.

    #405186
    anita
    Participant

    Dear arabella:

    I had one too many drinks and got really inebriated and told him I missed… the sex… we just talked about how good our sex life was and how it was hard to replicate with someone else (it’s true)… I feel ashamed for the things I said when I was drunk, especially because some of it was true… Do you think I’m a terrible person and deserve to be left? I’m not even sure. I know I technically didn’t ‘cheat’ but I feel just as bad. Can someone help?“-

    – I think that it is safe to say that your behavior with your ex was not honorable, and that it was cheating, although not technically. I think that if your boyfriend knew anything regarding the sex talk with your ex (or otherwise, about you enjoying sex more with the ex than with him), he would probably be devastated and likely, troubled for years to come, maybe for the rest of his life. I highly recommend that you don’t tell him, no matter how you feel and what happens in the future.

    I don’t think that what happened indicates that you are a terrible person. I think that it indicates what alcohol does to people: inhibitions severely lessened, the person is not aware of the severity of what is happening. I think that you should accept that it was indeed shameful behavior on your part, and that it does not mean that you are a terrible person: not if you take precautions so that such a thing does not happen in the future.

    Some people are so shame-resistant: denying that they did anything wrong, rationalize it, finding excuses, blaming others, etc., and in the future, they repeat the same kind of behavior because they never took responsibility for it. So, take responsibility and decide how to not repeat this kind of behavior.

    Is your sex life with your new boyfriend… unsatisfactory?

    anita

    #405187
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you so much for replying. My conversation with my ex was ABOUT our past sex life, but it wasn’t like we were “sexting” if that make sense. He also mentioned that he’s moving very far soon so I think this also maybe triggered my overly honest confession.

    My sex life with my current partner is not by any means unsatisfactory but rather it’s just not AS good as the old one with my ex. I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of feeling with anyone else again and I’m okay with that. I thought I could see him and these things wouldn’t surface but I was so terribly wrong.

    Like I previously mentioned, he was a good person and still is but he wasn’t the best boyfriend (like my current partner is) so I don’t miss the emotional aspect of our relationship.

    Mainly, I just feel so guilty for giving in to my drunken selfish thoughts and continuing the conversation when I know it was wrong, it just felt good in the moment. I feel shameful and like my current partner deserves better.

    I’ve never done anything like this and I consider myself a loyal and truthful person. I hate to think I might’ve damaged our beautiful relationship in some way.

    I agree with you that not telling him is the correct path because it will only hurt him, especially because it didn’t mean anything in the grand scheme. I’m just not sure how to forgive myself and move on.

    #405188
    anita
    Participant

    Dear arabella:

    You are welcome. If your boyfriend knew of the conversation you had with your ex, I would imagine that he wouldn’t feel better knowing that it was about your past sex life with your ex vs sexting. I imagine that his male ego will hurt very much simply because of being considered “not AS good as the old one with (your) ex“.

    I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of feeling with anyone else again“- it may be that even if you had sex with your ex again, you wouldn’t have that kind of feeling either. That would not be surprising to me: I remember how much I enjoyed living in New York City at one time, in my mid-twenties. It was magical. Some years later, visiting, it had a very different feeling to it, the magic was all gone. I figure that the magic was a product of me being young, and it being the first time I was in NYC. It was new and magical, but it couldn’t be magical when it was no longer a first time, when it was no longer new.

    I agree with you that not telling him is the correct path because it will only hurt him“- good thing that you agree.

    I’m just not sure how to forgive myself and move on“-the motivation behind the painful feeling of shame is to lead us to improve ourselves, to learn something from the past behavior which we regret, and come out a better person for it. This is how I deal with behaviors that I regret. Being a good person is about changing for the better.

    anita

    #405189
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Anita,

    I think you’re right. I don’t think if we had sex now that it would be even a fraction of what it used to be. I don’t miss that part of our relationship often, only sometimes when I’m alone.

    Something I’m struggling with is that I’m ashamed it happened and that it would hurt my partner. But I don’t particularly regret it in a way. I feel like after our relationship ended (he left me), I had all these things I wanted to say. I think I kept hoping one day to run into him and have the courage to say then and now I have and it’s like I feel free of them. I never thought about there being someone else in the picture when I did and the casualty of my boyfriend being in the middle is not one I was prepared for, hence this overwhelming guilt I feel.

    Do you think it’s possible that I can feel both? I can feel ashamed because I know it was wrong and dishonorable and I would NEVER want to put my partner in this situation again even if he is unconscious of it. But I can also feel freedom that I spoke my truth in things I’ve been carrying around for too long?

    #405190
    anita
    Participant

    Dear arabella:

    “Do you think it’s possible that I can feel both?”- of course, you are proof of it: you feel both.

    I can feel ashamed because I know it was wrong and dishonorable and I would NEVER want to put my partner in this situation again even if he is unconscious of it. But I can also feel freedom that I spoke my truth in things I’ve been carrying around for too long?“- good thing you feel a freedom that you needed to feel for so long. Next, you need freedom from the shame and guilt that you are feeling, and the way to gain this freedom is to be the best person you can be to yourself and to your boyfriend.

    This experience can lead you to be more forgiving when your boyfriend makes a mistake, or part mistake, and you know he will. I mean, everyone makes mistakes. More forgiving means being a better person.

    anita

    #405191
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Arabella

    Personally, I don’t think it’s quite cheating since there was no sexting and no emotional element. However, it’s not great either. On the plus side, despite being drunk you maintained a level of propriety making sure not to cross that boundary into sexting.

    I think it entirely depends on the nature of your partner and culture whether talking about the issue is appropriate. If your partner has stable mental health and is a reasonable individual it would be an uncomfortable or even a difficult conversation but likely it would be possible to move past it without causing harm. However, if your partner already has difficulties they could struggle and be hurt by this.

    If your partner is stable, then personally I value honesty over hiding it to avoid a difficult conversation. I think being honest shows that there is nothing worth hiding.

    That being said, we don’t know the contents of the text exchange so it is hard to gauge accurately.

    How do you think that your partner would react?

    When it comes to forgiving yourself. Generally, how I approach it is acknowledging what I have done and apologising while committing to not making the same mistake again.

    Whilst you believe that you are loyal and honest, it sounds like there are some challenges with that. The question is why? Is there anything underlying?

    #405192
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Anita,

    Thank you for your advice. Do you have any tips on how I can let go of this shame and guilt and start the journey to heal myself?

    I’m scared I’ve done a permanent damage to my relationship in some way and I’m not sure how to move past it. I love my boyfriend and he loves me, and we want to spend the rest of our lives together.

    I don’t think telling him would bring anything good. I guess I just want to know if I’ll ever be able to be okay again.

    #405193
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Helcat,

    Thank you for your response. I think I agree that I also wouldn’t label it as “cheating.” With that being said, I don’t think it would be a good idea to tell my partner and I don’t think he would react in a positive way.

    I think it would breed insecurity and problems that could’ve been avoided between us. I never would’ve done something like this with a complete stranger or even an acquaintance.

    I don’t want to hurt him for the sole reason of relieving my guilt, I don’t think it’s worth it. I also don’t think I have a challenge with trust and loyalty because I’ve never put myself in a position to harm my relationship or hurt my significant other before this.

    I feel like it was a combination of alcohol and the fact that it’d been four years and this was someone who meant a lot to me once upon a time. I messed up, it was completely wrong. But telling him won’t change it and he might even think it meant more than it actually did and that would breed entirely new problems.

    In this case, would you still suggest that? Or do you think I’m making the right decision in not telling him?

    #405195
    anita
    Participant

    Dear arabella:

    You are welcome. “I don’t think telling him would bring anything good“- all that telling him about this one-time event can do is hurt him deeply. I can’t think of a deeper hurt to a man’s sense of worth-as-a-man, than to be told that the woman he loves was never turned on by him the way she was by another man.

    I will reply to you further in an hour or so.

    anita

    #405201
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Arabella

    I don’t think anyone would react in a positive way but the question is would the response be reasonable and proportinate?

    You were drunk which lowers inhibitions. You made a mistake, it’s not a huge problem.

    I’m not suggesting that you divulge everything. There is no need to mention painful details that would only hurt him. He is your partner, not a priest. The purpose of discussing the issue would be to treat him with respect.

    There’s a good chance that he could be insecure for a time because you breached your partners  trust. Perhaps you would have to earn that trust back, being a loyal partner this should not pose an issue as you have nothing to hide.

    Previously, you had never been disloyal or dishonest. But dishonesty is very much what you are considering now and flirting with an ex isn’t being loyal.

    Do you think that it is better to flirt with an ex or a stranger / an acquaintance? For me, I would consider flirting with an ex worse because it means that there are some underlying feelings.

    It’s not about relieving guilt, it is about being honest, treating your partner with respect and accepting that actions have consequences.

    Telling him wouldn’t change what happened, but it would mean that you keep your honesty and you would be breaching his trust once as opposed to twice. The second breach of trust being hiding the issue. There is a difference between a drunk breach of trust and a sober one.

    I think the only good reason not to divulge this is if your partner isn’t emotionally stable or if he could react in an unreasonable way. What kind of problems would you imagine could occur? Could this issue significantly damage the relationship? If so, it seems like there could be some issues with the relationship.

    #405202
    Helcat
    Participant

    If not telling him would save the relationship from pre-existing issues. It is understandable not to want your relationship to end over something like this.

    #405203
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Helcat,

    I see your point and understand where you’re coming from. Ultimately, I don’t want our relationship to end and while I don’t think he would end it, I feel like it would hurt our relationship more than it could ever strengthen it. It’s so out of character for me that I fear he might never look at me the same.

    And the conversation with my ex really isn’t worth losing this relationship. It was a one-off idiotic mistake that I made that now I have to live with forever. I’m trying to make my peace with that.

    I try to put myself in his shoes and I can’t say I would genuinely want to know had it been the other way around.

    If it meant nothing, I think I would prefer for him to let sleeping dogs lie. I would never put myself in this situation again, I just want to overcome these feelings of guilt and shame.

    #405204
    anita
    Participant

    Dear arabella:

    I re-read your posts and I have a few comments/ questions:

    I haven’t seen or spoken to my ex in over four years until recently when we ran into each other at a mutual friend’s wedding. We spent almost the entire time catching up and drinking… I thought I could see him and these things wouldn’t surface but I was so terribly wrong”-

    -(1) Not having seen your ex for over 4 years and hoping to run into him for a long time, when you were finally invited to a mutual friend’s wedding, you expected that your ex would be there, and … you thought that you could see him and things wouldn’t surface,

    (2) You did not attend the wedding with your current boyfriend of four years,

    (3) There were many people at the wedding, were there not, and they saw you “almost the entire time catching up and drinking” with your ex. Aren’t any of the wedding guests friends with your current boyfriend, on Facebook or irl,  and aren’t you afraid that they will tell him (or that he will find out on Facebook through photos) about you catching up and drinking with a different man almost the entire time of the wedding?

    “I had all these things I wanted to say. I think I kept hoping one day to run into him and have the courage to saywe just talked about how good our sex life was and how it was hard to replicate with someone else (it’s true)… I can also feel freedom that I spoke my truth in things I’ve been carrying around for too long?“- so all those years of you waiting to say things to your ex, to speak your truth.. the truth that you wanted to tell him was that your sex life with him was irreplaceable? And telling him that made you feel free?

    I have no feelings towards my ex at all ..I don’t miss him as a person or as a boyfriend, I honestly only miss him sometimes as a lover… I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of feeling with anyone else again.. I don’t miss the emotional aspect of our relationship… this was someone who meant a lot to me once upon a time“- (1) At first, you wrote that you have no feelings toward your ex and then you contradicted yourself,  (2) you are trying to place feelings in separate categories: feelings for the ex as a person, feelings for him as a boyfriend, feelings for him as  lover- as if he is three people. He is all three in one and you have special feelings for him, feelings you didn’t experience with your current boyfriend.

    I would like to try to answer the question you asked me in the recent post that you addressed to me. I hope that I will be able to answer after you clarify the above, if you do.

    anita

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