It’s the first week of an amazing courtship. This day finds you and Mr. Wonderful sipping margaritas at an outside café. There are so many things you have in common: your love of food, long walks, conversation, music, books… The fact that he is one of the sexiest guys you’ve ever seen is just frosting on top of a chocolate cake. You want to say that fate brought you two to the same club on a night that neither of you wanted to go out, but you know better than letting your mind race to a point in the future where you’re already trying on his last name. This nugget of wisdom came after enduring months of boot camp therapy with super shrink Carole La Bar. Though you’ve said it before in the past, this time you’re going to take things slow…er.

With the liquor giving you both the freedom to open up, you share that you’re looking for something that can lead to marriage and a family and he reveals that he’s cheated on every girlfriend he’s ever had, but is ready to make a change. You shift in your seat, trying to act as if his statement isn’t equivalent to confessing to murder. As he continues to talk (his lips moving in slow motion), all you can think is, if he cheated on them, why wouldn’t he do the same to me? Did he just kill his chances of getting with you?

You finish the date and decide to walk home because the fresh air will do you good, and you need to speak to someone immediately who can help you figure out your next move. Your best friend Lee is the first person you dial because he is male and usually pretty good at giving advice. He claims to be right 99 percent of the time, but that is a whole nother story. He picks up the phone on the first ring and tells you that he is still at work, so you have only five minutes. You spit out your story in two, leaving the remaining three minutes for him to let loose. When you finish, he says matter-of-factly, “I wouldn’t get rid of him, but definitely keep your eyes open.” Damn, that’s really helpful. It’s like saying, ‘date the ex-convict, but hide your credit cards.’ Sensing, perhaps, that he’d gypped you out of at least two minutes, he adds, “Some men use honesty as a way to let you know up front who they are, so if they cheat you can’t act like it was a surprise.” Now, that’s really helpful.

Of course, what were you thinking?! Obviously, this situation needs a female perspective. T’s perfect because she knows you like the back of her hand and she’s as level headed as they come. Think Oprah sans the money and the dogs. First, she tells you that your guy’s confession is nothing compared to the dude she once dated who admitted to having erotic fantasies about his mom. Okay…then she points out that Mr. Wonderful took a really big risk by being honest, so he deserves some credit, and then she reminds you of your own track record: for the past decade you have avoided anything that even slightlyresembles an intimate relationship; and just like him, you are trying to turn over a new leaf. Urgh! Why does she always have to make everything about you? Why couldn’t she just tell you to stop seeing him? As she begins to detail how you’ve ruined your last few relationships, your phone beeps, making you instantly grateful to speak to anyone who is not T. Even him.
“Hello.”
“How’s it going?”
“Fine.”
“Really? Cause you ran away from me like there was a fire. Was it our conversation?”
Pause
“Talk to me.”
“Alright…how am I supposed to trust you?”
“Because I was just being honest with you. If I wasn’t serious about you, and all I wanted was to play around and have sex, I would have kept my mouth shut. Look, I’m aware that my past is scary, but I feel like there’s a lot of potential here, which is why I’m laying everything on the line. I’m telling you that I won’t cheat on you. Please, just relax and give me a chance to show you who I am.”

Eight months earlier…
“Let me show you who I am,” you say to Theo, the guy you’d been dating for about three weeks. It was your forth date and the relationship had potential. One of the many things you liked about him was that he shared your desire to have a serious relationship. While most of the guys you’d dated were players, self-absorbed, and immature, he was stable, attentive and open-minded. Certainly, the type of guy that Carole would approve of…well, sort of. There was one problem. Theo constantly questioned your desire to have a long-term relationship with him, when you hadn’t had one in ten years. Granted, you know that ten years was not sexy- some people had been married, divorced and remarried again-but it seemed silly that he couldn’t just get over it and trust you. Jeez, what did he want? It’s not like you weren’t upfront with him about recently finishing months of therapy, which was instrumental in helping you figure out why you’d spent years dating complete losers, sabotaging any real chance at love, and blaming your father for everything from the sky being blue to your addiction to chocolate. In fact, this was your first attempt at complete honesty with a guy and all it seemed to do was blow up in your face. (Thanks Carole!)

Present…
With your hand still clutching the phone, you grab a seat on a bench and start to think about your life and how you’re ready for something different. It’s an opportunity that never came to fruition with Theo because he refused to separate you from your past. After six weeks he dumped you and went back to his ex-girlfriend, saying that she wasn’t perfect, but at least he trusted that she would stay with him. It made you wonder if honesty was the real relationship killer because Theo was a good man, but he definitely couldn’t handle the truth. At least this guy can be commended for being ballsy enough to give it to you straight, even if it meant that you might run far away. Maybe there’s something to be learned from this recovering cheater. With nothing left to do but break him off some highlights from your own messy past (what harm can it do now that honesty has become the soup du jour?), it feels refreshing when he says that it’s not a big deal. That he looks forward to getting to know you and vice versa. It makes you feel certain that everyone deserves a second chance-even cheaters and the relationship phobic. Of course, there are no guarantees that he won’t cheat, just like you can’t guarantee that you’ll stick this relationship out for the long term, but you can choose to stand by your commitment and take it one day at a time. That’s all anyone can do.

WHAT’S TMI WHEN YOU’RE GETTING TO KNOW SOMEONE?

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