One Gay Man Says: Sometimes it’s Okay Not to Forgive and Forget Your Ex

Written by | Gay Voices

Unsplash art by Priscilla Du Preez

Should there be a statute of limitations when it comes to forgiving and forgetting with an ex-boyfriend, partner or husband?

One day, I accidentally discovered that my ex had called out from work for the following day without mentioning anything about it. That was unusual, since I drove him to his job every day. While he was in the shower, I checked his text history and discovered that he was actually meeting someone for a day-long hookup.

I took him to work as if nothing was wrong, kissed him on the cheek as he got out of the car and watched him stroll in. I then drove around the block and sent him a text full of rage and filthy words.

We were in an open relationship. Why lie?

When he finally showed up back home, I expected him to be embarrassed and contrite. What I got instead was a lecture about how his correspondence was personal. When I told him that people who cannot be trusted forfeit their privacy, he screamed at me, “Okay, I’m a sex addict! There! Happy now!?!”

Meet and Cheat

It should have been impossible to cheat, since we were open. But time after time, he’d announce he was “going to the gym” but then I’d spot him returning from the opposite direction — the same direction as the closest bathhouse. My flings took place while he was at work — which made him more jealous of my free time than of my dalliances.

I never understood the need to lie. Some elemental part of him didn’t see anything wrong in keeping secrets from a partner of more than a dozen years. Because we had very specific safe sex agreements in place, what he did with whom shouldn’t have made a big difference. But as I later found out, he also ignored those without telling me he was doing so.

Although I am now exclusively a top, I was versatile in that relationship. And – after getting through a brief bout of what he self-diagnosed as “mono” – my partner wanted us to get busy. It was a decision that, in retrospect, put me in danger of seroconverting.

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I asked where the condoms were, as they were part of our ritual. He was temporarily out, he said. When I expressed concern “about those bumps on your neck” he replied, “Oh, that’s just the end of the mono. Trust me.” Two weeks later he called to tell me he had tested positive for HIV. It was a minor medical miracle he didn’t infect me.

“What happened to our safe sex agreement?” I wanted to know.

“I was too young to make that,” he said with a wave of the hand, and blowing by the fact that he’d been an adult for almost a decade when we made our pact.

While I no longer dwell on his unkept promises, there were moments that stung. When he discovered the amount he was legally obligated to pay in settlement as part of our divorce terms, he flew into a fury. “I could have gotten a maid to do what you did around here,” he said. “And it would have cost me pennies on the dollar.”

Lessons Learned

I don’t believe in living life in a perpetual grudge. There’s wisdom in the old saying that it’s “like swallowing poison that you hope kills the other person.” Truth is, these days, I don’t think much of him at all.

But there is a value in holding onto experiences and the memories. They challenge me not to be bitter — and most days I win that battle.

They also remind me not to be shark bait. You forgive and forget at your own peril, I believe. I don’t forgive him because I don’t forgive people who are unrepentant. And I don’t forget because I plan to be a better judge of character next time.

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Last modified: February 12, 2019

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