You know how sometimes little white lies snowball out of control? It’s usually when you say something dumb, like, “Oh, yeah, I watch “Gossip Girl.”" Then the girl who sits next to you at work gives a play-by-play of each outfit the characters’ wore every Tuesday morning and you just smile politely.
In fact, the guy never graduated from college. When the couple started dating, he said he felt “self-conscious” about not having a degree and told her he gradated from a college that he actually didn’t get into. “Dear Prudence,” of course, suggests that he TELL HER THE TRUTH. Um, yeah. But I’m wondering what the girlfriend is going to think. She probably won’t care that he doesn’t have a college degree, but she probably will care about four year’s worth of deception.
Here’s the letter this poor guy wrote to Prudie:
I have been dating a wonderful woman for four years, and we have been discussing marriage. She is accomplished academically and successful in her career. The mutual friend who introduced us told her I was an engineer. I am in the field, but I don’t have a degree. When we met she asked about my engineering background and where I was educated. I have always been self-conscious about having never finished school and said that I had graduated from a college to which I had applied but was not accepted—and had never even visited. She exclaimed, “What a coincidence—one of my best friends graduated from there!” I eventually met Mr. Best Friend, who was thrilled that we had something in common and has talked about our mutual schooling every time we’ve seen each other since. All these years later, I haven’t had the guts to tell my girlfriend the truth. I am a loyal partner and would not normally lie to my loved one. I consider this the biggest mistake of my life. How can I clear the air? Or should I just let it go?—A Matter Of Degree
Prudence wrote back that he should confess his lies, say when they met he was “intimidated by her accomplishments,” and not to make excuses if she gets angry. She also suggested the girlfriend might actually be “relieved” to find out he hasn’t impregnated a colleague or tested positive for an STD.
That’s true about the relief, I suppose. (At least he didn’t fly to Argentina to see his mistress and tell everyone he was hiking!) But sudden candor won’t bring back all the trust he just lost. Even if he ‘fessed up eventually, I couldn’t stay with a man who had been dishonest to me—and my best friend—for four years. Immediately I’d start to wonder what else he lied about. Maybe nothing! But I might not find out for another four years, would I?
It’s not the lie that bothers me as much as the length of time. When a relationship starts to get serious, that’s the time to drop any potential bombs: I was once engaged, I once had an abortion, my ex is close friends with my mother, etc. It’s just courtesy, I think, to tell your partner about delicate topics before they find out some other way. What clever friends and family this guy has, who didn’t spill the beans before he did!
The best case scenario would be that the girlfriend has a great sense of humor and she laughs this whole thing off. Except for the lying part, I’m sure she love him even without a college degree. [Slate]