Dear Wendy: “Rumor Has It My New Guy’s A Notorious Cheater”

I’ve recently moved to a new town to start graduate school and met a cool guy in my major who I’ve been seeing for a few weeks now. He’s very sweet and there is a strong desire there to keep things moving. However, when talking to another friend, she told me that my guy is known as a serial cheater. I vowed to her that I wouldn’t get too serious about him. I’ve been cheated on once in the past and it ruined me for quite a while. I really don’t know what to do in this situation. If I could keep myself from getting attached to him, I would, but things seem to be going really well between us. So when the time comes when we do get more serious, do I bring up what I know about his past? Do I listen to my friend and not keep him as a serious boyfriend? Or should I run for the hills right now before I get too close to him? I know that I might be jumping the gun with this question since we haven’t been seeing each other for very long, but I’d rather have a plan of action now so I can keep my heart safe later. — CheatSkate

I’d take your friend’s warning with a serious grain of salt. You don’t know the circumstances of your new guy’s past relationships and you don’t even know how much of the truth your friend is dishing (or how much of the real truth she even knows). Sure, she may be just looking out for you, but there’s also a chance she’s jealous. You’re new to town; you don’t know any of these people or their histories very well. For all you know, she’s been harboring a crush of her own on this guy for a long time. Maybe she even dated him once upon a time. Or, maybe she has no interest in him at all and is being completely honest in what she knows, but that doesn’t mean she’s privy to the whole truth, by any means.

Give your guy a fair chance. Consider yourself warned and be alert to any potential red flags he shows you himself, but let the truth about him, his character and his past reveal itself in its own way. If he’s a lying cheat, you’ll figure that out sooner or later. You may not be saved from being hurt, but by now, you must realize that any time you date anyone — regardless of rumors you’ve heard about him — you’re putting your heart on the line. You could get hurt even if this guy never cheated in his life. It’s just part of the dating game. You gotta risk a little to play, but when you’re lucky and it’s right, that risk is so worth it.

My best friend is getting married on Saturday. I’m in her wedding, and I’m super excited and very busy. Friday night is the rehearsal dinner and my live-in boyfriend of five and a half years doesn’t want to go. When I reminded him about the rehearsal dinner he said he had band practice — he and a bunch of friends jam in a church sporadically. This is my best friend since I was eight years old who’s getting married. My boyfriend loves my friends, and he’s close with the groom so when he says he doesn’t understand why this is something important for him to go to, I’m baffled. It’s obvious to me: 1. To support the couple 2. To enjoy their wedding weekend with me — a wedding I’ve been busting my ass for over the past year.

To make matters worse, this is a recurring fight. It’s always over an event or holiday. He’ll say he doesn’t see why he has to go to things like this. Just last week he refused to go see my cousin’s new baby because he didn’t feel like traveling (his words). He’d come if I really wanted him to, but I don’t like persuading him to do things when he doesn’t want to do. It makes him angry that I “forced” him and it makes me angry that he doesn’t see the importance of certain events, and that I want us to share them.

He said as much about the rehearsal dinner. “I’ll go if you really want me to.” I didn’t say anything. Of course I want him to! When I asked if he was mad he said, “Yes. I’m irritated.” Am I crazy to want him to be there for the big things in life? The fact that he doesn’t want to go really really bothers me. We’ve talked about this before (many many times), but he just says he doesn’t understand why he has to be there for things like this or why I need him there. Why doesn’t he want to come?! — Frustrated at Moodiness

You know, I don’t know why he doesn’t want to go. Maybe he has some social anxiety he should get therapy — and perhaps medication — for. Maybe he can’t stand doing anything with you where your attention isn’t solely on him. Is he an only child? Maybe he grew up never having to share attention and just can’t grasp that that’s what adults do. Maybe he comes from a particularly broken home where holidays and special occasions were always cause for anxiety and he hasn’t effectively dealt with those childhood issues.

Regardless what his reasons are, one thing for certain is your boyfriend’s being an immature, selfish clod. But you’re also enabling him. When he says things like, “I’ll go if you really want me to,” and you don’t reply, you’re basically giving him the green light to be a total jerk. And then you go and ask him if he’s mad, giving him reason to believe he has a right to be. Like hell he has a right to be mad! Mad about what? That you have the nerve to want your boyfriend to support you, and be by your side for the big, important things in life instead of blowing them off to go play instruments with a bunch of his music geek friends?

Girl, you’re the one who should be mad. And it’s time you own your madness and tell him you’re not going to stand for his selfishness any longer. Enough with the fighting. Simply tell him that as your boyfriend, there are certain things you expect from him that are pretty much non-negotiable, and attending events like weddings/rehearsal dinners/holiday gatherings/ etc. is one of those things. If he continues to refuse, you need to decide for yourself if it’s a dealbreaker, and if it is, tell him to hit the road. Your boyfriend is going to keep being this way as long as he thinks he can get away with it.

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