Relationship Advice: My Partner Isn’t Who I Thought They Were!

A relationship is built on trust – what do you do when your significant other isn’t who you thought they were in the beginning? Can you save the relationship?

It can feel like total betrayal when you discover that your mate isn’t exactly who you thought they were. Maybe you’re horrified to discover that they’ve had a completely different romantic past than you thought. Maybe you’re just shocked to discover their religious or political beliefs aren’t what you thought they’d be. Regardless, you need to talk things through, unearth other possible secrets, and decide whether or not this is still the right person for you.

When They’re Not Who You Think

Few things are as jarring as discovering that your partner isn’t who you thought him or her to be. Sometimes it’s our own fault, of course. You immediately jump to great conclusions about someone because you want them to be golden thanks to how attracted you feel toward them. Then you get to know them a little better and find out they’re not as perfect as you’d imagined.

On the other hand, sometimes your mate is going to pretty great lengths to make sure that you don’t find out something unsavory about them. So what do you do when a secret about your S.O. comes to light? How can you decide whether or not you should stay together, and, if you want to stay together, how can you move past the bad news? A good long talk or two with your partner can help you begin to rebuild trust.

How Bad Is It Really?

The first thing to do once your mate’s negative secret has been revealed to you is to assess just how bad that secret is. If you find out that your boyfriend has another girlfriend, that’s grounds for immediate breakup. If you’re a bleeding-heart liberal and your new girlfriend casually announces that she’s a conservative Republican, you might be annoyed about it, but that’s not a reason to immediately give up on the relationship.

Decide Whether It’s A Relationship Dealbreaker

You basically have to decide whether the secret is just something unsavory about your S.O., or something that indicates they will not make a good mate. In other words, if your mate tells you before the first time you have sex that he or she got an STD from their ex, that’s a problem that should be worked out. If they tell you they got that STD when they were cheating on their ex with a hooker, or they wait and tell you after you’ve had unprotected sex, that’s grounds for dismissal.

People certainly make mistakes in their life, and we do change as we mature. Finding out that your partner was quite the playboy back in college might make your heart sink a little. If he’s shown in more recent years that he can be in serious relationships, it’s worth looking past his previous mistakes and giving him a chance (though you should certainly insist he gets tested for various STD’s).

People are also allowed their own quirks and opinions. Let’s take the case of our conservative girlfriend and her liberal boyfriend. While he might initially be bothered by the fact that she believes in different political practices than he does, they could ultimately find that their opposing opinions give them something truly interesting to debate about. Additionally, just because she’s a registered Republican doesn’t mean she might not agree with some of the policies that he believes in. Some people truly can’t respect other’s opinions or beliefs, but a lot of people can. How else do people who practice completely different faiths end up together?

Talking To Your Partner About It

Once you get over the initial shock of the big reveal, sit down and have a really detailed discussion with your partner about it. If they were holding out on you about something and you discovered it via another source, you have the right to be angry that they hid something from you. That’s true whether the secret is something you can get over or not.

You need to talk to them about how they’ve damaged your trust in them, and then try to figure out how to work together to rebuild that trust. Open up about any secrets you might be keeping, and get your S.O. to do the same. Make the point to them that hiding things makes them even worse. If your partner is genuinely apologetic about keeping secrets from you, then you will be able to work together to get back to trusting each other again.


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