Do I Come Clean About My Ex-Turned-Buddy?

Ask Demetria: If you're engaged, the best bet is to tell your fiance about your platonic pal.


(The Root) —

“Should I tell my fiance that my friend is really my ex of 10 years? If I do, how should I approach it? He and I don’t hang out, but my fiance knows about him because he calls from time to time. We’re completely platonic, and I don’t look at him as my ex. I’m sure my fiance has friends he’s had sex with, but for some reason this feels different to me. Please help me decide what to do.” –C.T.

What you’re essentially asking is should you be entirely honest with the man you are planning to spend the rest of your life with. Yes, you should. My grandmother had a saying — “Everything done in the dark will come to the light” — and it has proved, sometimes unfortunately, to be true.

It’s a small world, and the truth will eventually come out. Your omission is a big issue now, and it has the potential to become monumental if your fiance ever discovers the whole story from anyone but you, which could easily happen if you don’t speak up.  

Understand that the biggest problem here is not that your now-platonic friend is a long-ago flame. Plenty of people get into relationships, break up for whatever reason and down the line become genuine friends. Most mature people can understand that this happens. And while it can be uncomfortable, especially in the beginning, they have an easier time accepting it when they’re told the backstory up front.

You’ve compounded the situation by, in some sense, lying to your fiance about the nature of your friendship with the old dude. It doesn’t matter how long ago the relationship was. It does matter that when the ex called “from time to time,” your fiance perhaps asked, “Who’s that?” and you likely said, “Oh, him? Just a friend.”

That answer omitted the whole truth. I’ll guess that you recognized there could be a potential conflict, and you wanted to avoid the issue at the time, and so you did. But you may have made matters worse in the long run.

Come clean with your fiance as soon as possible. Leave out the part about, “I’m sure you’ve done it, too.” That’s irrelevant — you didn’t say you had any concrete examples, and playing tit for tat in relationships is a recipe for disaster.

Set the tone of the conversation by telling him that you’ve been thinking about your future together, and you feel it’s important to begin your marriage with a clean slate. Then tell him what you’ve done: not been entirely up front about the full nature of the relationship with the man he thinks is just your friend. Also say why you didn’t tell him the whole truth, whatever your reasons are, and then apologize.