Dear Harlan: My boyfriend and I have been together for six months. We met through our church youth group and have grown close very fast. He is committed to remaining a virgin until he gets married. He made this clear early in the relationship. I have a similar outlook on life. The problem is that I had a sexual experience with someone in the past. It wasn’t intercourse, but it was more than should have happened. I know he would be upset to know about the past. He asked me what I’ve done with other guys, and I lied about my past because I know he would break up with me. I have this guilt and want to tell him, but I know he will be upset. I don’t want to lose him over a stupid mistake. What do you think I should do?
— Hiding the Truth
Dear Hiding the Truth: Your past hookup isn’t the problem; it’s why you couldn’t talk to him about it. You easily could have explained that your one sexual experience taught you a lesson. You’ve learned from your past and resolved to stay true to your values. You are grateful for this, but you couldn’t tell him about it. Which makes me wonder what you will do the next time an uncomfortable topic comes up. If you want this relationship to grow, you need to be willing to share truths that test the foundation of the relationship. If you’re always scared of losing him, you will lose yourself. Instead of confessing something you did in the past, practice being honest in the moment. Express yourself, even when it’s dangerous. Be willing to upset him. Be willing to have him break up with you. You need to ALWAYS be willing to speak your mind and set boundaries. This takes practice. This is how you will establish a lasting, loving and committed relationship. No more lies. If you need help facing your truths, use the clergy, a counselor or a therapist.