Is His Past Really Behind Him?
One of the challenges that can come during the dating process is concern about a man’s questionable past. No matter how wonderful he may be and insistent that his past actions are behind him, it can still be difficult to let go of any lingering feelings of doubt you may have. Through such uncertainty it is important to remember that someone’s past is more than just a reference in time, it is also about learning from past choices.
Although using “the past” as a reference in time can ease some uncertainty, it is important not to be completely wrapped around the notion. Something that took place a few weeks, months, and even years ago, may not be enough to establish that the habit or temptation is definitely in the past.
Recently I came across a question a woman posed to others about her current boyfriend who had just left an “open marriage.” Although he did not particularly agree with his “wife’s idea” of an open marriage, he did not leave the marriage until after he had met this new girlfriend. Though the boyfriend had not given her any indication that she could not trust him, her question to readers was “how could she know for sure?”
To my surprise, the overwhelming response from readers was that she should not be concerned about his past since her description of him otherwise made him sound like a great guy and he did indeed finally leave the marriage to be with her.
Were the readers missing a critical point?
Though I do believe “the past is the past”, as one responder rationalized in support of the boyfriend’s favor, there did not seem to be much of one here. The only thing that is now in his past is his ex-wife and marriage— there is more to the story.
The mere fact that this new girlfriend had a relationship with this man during his open marriage indicates that she accepted the arrangement and in so doing, she too became a part of the open arrangement.
Even if the boyfriend has no interest in an open relationship with this woman, she will always struggle with having complete trust in him because the bottom-line is… he was with another woman when they began their relationship. When it comes to faithfulness he has proven nothing.
Women want more than just words to establish that something is in the past… we want proof. And if we accept anything less than that, not only will we struggle with feelings of uncertainty but we also become the testing ground for proving the truth. Both are uncomfortable so we can either accept the risk and uneasiness or conclude that he is not worth it.
While people do change and learn from their mistakes, if we choose to give someone the benefit of the doubt and let the past be the past then we should be wise in our conclusion. Let’s not just take his word for it but rather discuss what he learned from the past and make sure there are no signs that he is interested in anything that resembles the habit or behavior in question.
There are many people that know that a particular choice is wrong but some do not have the will power to control their actions. An adulterer knows his actions are immoral but still continues the affair.
Unfortunately, just because someone does not agree with a certain lifestyle does not always mean they are not guilty of it. Their belief is only in word, not action. The boyfriend in the open marriage scenario did not agree with his wife’s idea but he still went along with it.
If you know a boyfriend has a questionable past do not be afraid to ask questions! Especially about why he wanted to change and would never make that choice again.
How many times have we heard a woman say “I should have asked more questions” only after she has felt betrayed and the relationship is on the brink of disaster? If he doesn’t give an answer that suffices then don’t be afraid to ask more questions.
If he no longer wants anything to do with his past he should also make choices that keep him distant from those things that resemble it. Whether that includes friends and/or activities, he should steer clear of anything that might draw him back into a wrong choice.
If a man’s past includes cheating, it would make little sense to trust that person if they view pornography or attend adult clubs. If he considers infidelity a mistake, then it would be wise for him not to feed the sexual appetite. Otherwise, he could be a ticking time bomb displaying little ability to completely control his sexual desires.
A great example of someone taking the right steps to overcome the past is a recovering alcoholic. Not only does a recovering alcoholic stop buying alcohol but they also stay away from those places that could lead to temptation. Likewise, the same efforts apply to anyone trying to overcome a bad habit or choice.
The critical point about evaluating a man’s past is that he needs to have resolved it and stay firm in his resolution. If he can sincerely explain why he believes his choice was wrong and why he will not do it again, that is a good indication that he understands the consequences of his choice. When someone fully understands the repercussions they would be more likely to remain resolute in their conviction to avoid the same mistake.
In addition, when a man surrounds himself in a better environment and avoids the temptation all together he is showing great determination, discipline, and most importantly, a lack of interest in the wrong choice.
Read a man’s actions and activities and discuss why he has changed. Referring to one’s “past” is more than a place in time; it is also a matter of learning from it. The revealing answer to his past is demonstrated through his current perspective and behavior.
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