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May 19, 2012

Confessing Indiscretions - Always a Good Thing?

(Can you play Footsie on Facebook?)
I was reading one of my favourite blogs last night, Instapundit. (Seriously, even if you're not of the conservative bent, there are often lots of interesting links there that aren't necessarily political).

One of the links that I saw was to an online advice columnist with an interesting dilemma. Dear Wendy is a blog and advice column where people can ask about relationships. This particular one, Wendy was going to let the readers have a go at it instead.

I'm not going to quote the letter she posted for her readers (that would be stealing, and thus another indiscretion I'd have to confess), but I'll give you the gist of it.

Basically, the question is "should you confess to Facebook flirting?" This particular case, the woman had been in an up and down relationship for three years. One particularly nasty patch of their relationship, she found an ex-coworker on Facebook and they exchanged a few flirts. She says she struck up "a little Internet flirting," but she doesn't go into detail. She never met the guy, and nothing physical ever happened.

Now her and the boyfriend are moving in together, and she feels guilty. She's wondering whether she should confess the flirting to her boyfriend, even though she has not talked to the guy since she and her boyfriend's relationship stabilized (though she didn't unfriend him either).

What do you think? Should every transgression, no matter how minor, be confessed to your significant other? Is this even a transgression at all, since they were not exactly together at the time this happened?

Here's how I would have answered it.

I would have to agree with basically every comment that's on that post. This is really nothing to feel guilty about. First, some people are just natural flirts anyway. One commenter mentions the possibility of flirting with the bartender when you're out at the bar with your girlfriends. Should *that* be confessed? No, of course not. It's just a night out, neither one of you thought it meant anything, and it's not like you went home with him.

I don't know if I'd go as far as some commenters did and say that she's looking for a way to sabotage her relationship with her boyfriend, and telling him about this would be one way to do that. That's a bit harsh. However, I do believe that, in this case, confessing would be an inherently selfish act that would not make the situation any better. She may be doing it to assuage her (in my opinion, misguided) guilt, but the only result this can have is to hurt him. A quite possible reaction from him would be "this shouldn't be that big of a deal, but since she's telling me about it, it must be more important to her than it needs to be. I wonder what's up." And then the suspicion would flow.

Did she really want to meet up with this guy but it just never happened? How serious was this flirting? Why is she telling me this?

If you had an affair, it would be a whole other ball of wax. Even a fling, there are conflicting views on whether a one-time occurrence really needs to be confessed. I think, for the most part, it should be, but I think that depends on your relationship.

But harmless flirting?

Seriously, no good can come of this type of confession. If you have to get rid of some misguided sense of guilt over this, talk to your priest or a counselor.

Oh, and definitely unfriend the guy too. Just in case he decides to come calling again.


  1. Whew, this one is a loaded topic! A touchy one. There are people who have a predator type of personality who live for this type of thing online, establishing emotional ties that lead to emotional cheating. I'm very leery of flirting online, and if you're in a relationship, I don't think flirting outside that relationship can ever be labeled as "harmless". I may be in the minority w/ that thought, though.

    As far as confessing a flirtation, equally touchy! I guess it depends on how solid your relationship is. But that also begs the question of, if you have a solid relationship, why do you feel the need to flirt outside that relationship in the first place???

    Yeah, maybe I'm not the best person to weigh in on this one. It's a good topic of conversation, though. :)

    - Dawnie

  2. Yep, definitely a touchy topic, that's for sure. :)

    I don't know if you're in the minority with that feeling or not, Dawnie. It's not something I totally share, though I do think the level of it and what it consists of depends on whether or not you're in a relationship.

    In this particular case, the flirting happened while the relationship was "on a break" (to choose a Friends reference), so that's why she did it. Whether she would have been doing it if the relationship had been healthy at that time, who knows?

    And your opinion is always valuable. Never doubt that. :)


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