Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have been dating a guy for five years, we live together and plan to get married.
I just found out from a former girlfriend of his that on their first date they went to a really expensive restaurant (one I have expressed an interest in, but that he always said cost too much). On our first date we went to a mediocre but OK restaurant.
For some reason I feel like crap ever since I found this out, like he thought she was better and really wanted to impress her. If I knew this after our first date I would not have seen him again. I mean, I am just as good as any other girl.
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How can I get over this? I feel like I am putting my self-worth on this fact and hate myself for it. You are probably thinking I should just ask him, but I feel he will just give me some BS answer to make me feel better. For what it’s worth, he and this girl did not last very long.
Seems we all have some unpacking to do.
You would have dumped him after the first date, not bothering to find out why he chose a different restaurant?
You automatically assume it’s a commentary on your worth — but maybe it’s a commentary on this restaurant. Or on expensive restaurants in general.
Or, he was in better financial shape back then, or dumber about how he spent his money.
Or, OK, he didn’t take you seriously when scheduling that first date — but changed his mind by the time the appetizers landed.
Why aren’t these or a dozen other possibilities even up for consideration?
You’ve been with this person for five years and you haven’t gathered the kind of crucial information – on him, on your relationship, on his feelings about you and the relationship – that would either explain this new bit of information, or overwhelm it into irrelevance.
And why do you need a fancy restaurant to feel good about yourself?
Meanwhile: You’re living with and planning to marry someone you don’t trust to tell you the truth, and instead expect to lie to you out of expediency?
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Please learn how to talk to your boyfriend before you marry him.
The first step is to tell the truth. The second step is not to freak out on a person when he or she tells you a truth you don’t want to hear. Just listen and give yourself time to figure out what it means.
It sounds as if both of you are tailoring what you say to what you predict the other person’s response will be – and that’s not only an intimacy killer. It’s also a way to postpone actually getting to know each other until you’re so invested in your relationship that correcting the record, even in a small way, has a huge impact on both of you.
So say what you have to say, and let the other person respond, then see what you have.
If you’re not even sure where to start toward communicating honestly, then consider some form of couple’s counseling — premarital or otherwise. Actually, consider it regardless, please.
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