After the unanticipated first-time question on a recent first date - “have you ever cheated on anyone?” - came the equally unanticipated follow-up: “so did you tell him?”.
I’ve had some interesting first date conversations in my time (although the one about the perfect Malachite bathroom tile wasn’t one of them. And the one about the hypoallergenic kittens was far beyond the realms of merely interesting). But this was definitely a first.
One might argue that it’s actually a clever discussion to instigate on a first date: your date’s behaviour when answering the question will probably tell you as much as the answer itself. And so, I stirred my mojito (they were meant to be Martinis. Ah, deaf barmen) and hoped that my answer- to some, quite controversial - wouldn’t scare off my date.
“No. I didn’t see any point.”
And I didn’t.
My relationship with The Voice, such as it was, was deeply casual; a classic case of expiration dating in the last couple of months of my degree. The slip-up with Speckled Lad happened after a night in our favourite Edinburgh bar: gins led to whisky led to… well. Quite. It was only once I’d packed him off to the library for Finals revision the following lunchtime and left the shower that a text on my phone from The Voice reminded me that I had, in fact, turned into a big, cheating hussy.
Taking it as a great big reiteration that whatever TV and I were doing had no future, I broke up with him in extremely civilised manner a couple of days later. But I had no intention of telling him what had really happened to end things, other than pointing to the fact that we were about to be living 400 miles apart. And given the casual nature of our relationship, I decided that in this particular break-up situation, honesty wasn’t the best policy.
Contrary to received wisdom, I don’t necessarily think that honesty is de facto the right course of action where an infidelity is concerned. Because, examined more closely, when it comes down to it the reasons for disclosing an infidelity aren’t generally in the spirit of keeping no secrets from one’s partner.
They’re about disclosure for disclosure’s sake; about assuaging the guilt that you feel you can’t shoulder by yourself. If it’s a one-off incident, inconsequential, not leading to anything more then you’re only going to hurt them by telling them - and however you look at it, that can’t ever be the kindest thing to do.
But if the reason for telling your partner is that you genuinely believe they deserve to know; that it’s a symptom of an underlying problem in the relationship that needs sorting, rather than a one-off misdemeanour; that you believe they deserve to know the facts in order to make their own mind up about whether the relationship has a future, then fair enough.
In my case, it would definitely have been the former, for which there was no need.
Quite whether I articulated all that effectively mid-mojito, I have no idea. But I imagine he regretted asking.