Can I trust her after she lied to me?

-- Question for John --

I am engaged to be married to a woman that has started to concern me. She has an extensive past and I am finding out more daily. She has repeatedly had unprotected casual sex with many partners. She and her last boyfriend had a fight and the next week (while broken up), she became intoxicated and slept with someone else. Then she and her boyfriend made up.

The problem we are having is that we have been together a little over a year and she has lied to me at least five times now. The most recent concerned a weekend trip with her married friend. Her friend called up a guy she knew and invited him out. They all drank and the friend said the male should stay with them in their room, concerned about him driving drunk. The two girls slept in one bed and he in the other. After about fifteen minutes, the married friend climbed in bed with the male and they had sex. My fiance never said a word to her married friend, not even expressing disdain about her doing this in the same room. Then she came home and lied to me about all of this.

Her past troubles me greatly. I place high emphasis on sex and emotion, she obviously does not. I do love her and understand that I must accept her past. However, with this rash of lying to me, I am beginning to question whether or not I can trust her. Do you have any advice for me?

-- Answer from John --

I would advise that you have a mutual conversation with her about the importance to you of honesty and authenticity in a longterm relationship. I would recommend that you time this conversation so that it occurs not when either of you is feeling upset or judgmental or defensive, because there will be no positive point to having it then.

I would do it when you can arrange a neutral, perhaps even safe-feeling time, when you are not angry or upset, when you know in your heart that you can explore this topic with her and not become angry, accusing, blaming, attacking, judgmental, or even be thinking you are right and she is wrong. You each need to be able to get beyond those things in order to establish the truthful and authentic love you truly want.

Know that fear is quite common in love, and it often moves people to be less than honest on the one hand, or judgmental, on the other. Each of you probably has your own fears that have become engaged by these circumstances. If you want to move forward in a positive direction with this very real challenge, you will need to find a way to establish a way of doing this in the spirit of safety and mutual respect, even as you attempt to deal with the underlying negative emotions that have now come up.

That’s the general task you are facing if you want to turn this situation around and build a more solid sense of real trust with one another.

The most important thing now is not the events themselves that led you to this challenging situation. It is what you do with the situation, and whether you use it as an opportunity to make your relationship healthy and more deeply authentic.