HELP ME, HARLAN! Engaged Catholic coed struggles with fiance’s initial betrayal

Harlan Cohen

Dear Harlan,

I recently got engaged to the most amazing man. He’s kind, loving and Catholic. Our religion is a central part of our lives, but there is a situation with my fiance that I can’t seem to get over. When we first got together, we talked about eventually being intimate. I was a virgin when we started dating, and I am still waiting for marriage. He told me he also was a virgin. This conversation took place a year and half ago. About six months into the relationship, he confessed the truth: He had been in a previous relationship, and it was sexual. I was devastated to hear this, but I was already in love with him. He assured me that this was the only time he lied to me; he was scared to tell me the truth. While it’s been months, I find myself obsessing about his past. I can’t stand the thought of him being with someone else. I don’t know why this is running through my mind. What can I do to change these thoughts? I want to marry him, but I can’t stop thinking about this. Help!

Betrayed But In Love

Dear Betrayed But In Love,

I don’t care if he has had sex with one woman or a thousand women – thinking about your partner having sex with other women will never make the relationship stronger. Constantly thinking about his past is the best way to end this engagement. There is only one question that matters: Do you trust him? That’s all you need to think about. You have over a year of history with this man. If this guy has told you the truth, with the exception of this lie, let that guide you. Talk to your spiritual leader about his initial betrayal and get a second opinion. It sounds like you might be nervous about getting married, and this issue from the past is the only thing you can find wrong. Call it a mistake, and love him anyway.


Dear Harlan,

Two of your articles have played a key part in me finally moving forward: “Get Comfortable With the Uncomfortable” and “Make 2016 the Best Transition Ever.” The common themes of these two articles are choosing the right people to be in your corner (I call them my “fab five”), finding the right places (for me, they’re my church and the gym) and having patience (the process took a year). Thanks for your special words and wisdom as I transition to a better future. After a very long marriage, where I was shamed, blamed, criticized and put down, I believe that things will only get better – and they’re already starting to. Thank you.


Dear Rob,

Thanks for sharing. I’m thrilled for you and grateful that I played a small role in your success. Life is constant change. The fact that you’ve been able to go from being in a terribly uncomfortable marriage to being in a better place in only one year is inspiring. For those looking to make changes, here’s a quick

step-by-step guide:

(1) Decide what you want to change.

(2) Discover what makes you uncomfortable about the change.

(3) Find the five people and places that can help you.

(4) Ask yourself how long it will take you to get what you want (give it nine to 12 months).

(5) Take action.

(6) Celebrate, reflect and repeat. This is how you create change.


Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at harlan(at) or visit online: All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.

© Harlan Cohen 2017

Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.