My boyfriend of two years and I were having a casual conversation when he told me that he cheated his way through university.
He crammed hard to pass important exams, but for labs and assignments, he got copies from students who did them the previous year.
Now, a decade after graduating, he has a prosperous career in his field of study.
However, since he revealed his sneaky tactics, I've been wrestling with my feelings about him.
Am I right to perceive that his integrity is compromised by cheating in school?
Or is it common to cheat a little in life, and it was so long ago that it shouldn't matter that much?
Character always matters, especially over the long-term in a relationship.
Yet many people have been involved in “minor” incidents of student cheating when young.
But once in University, the effort of gathering others’ papers to cheat is more involved than peeking over a desk to see your friend’s answer.
It takes intentional planning. And the students are adults.
Ten years later, you’re wise to now consider his overall character before you react.
How he treats people, his attitude towards paying bills, his business ethics (including his attitude towards employees, etc.) all reveal something of his integrity.
Also, how he told his story of past cheating.
You refer to his “sneaky” tactics, apparently finding them distasteful. But how did he now feel about it – matter-of-fact, or ashamed?
If, by looking at who he is today, you can feel reassured about his character, tell him so.
And say how important it is to you that he agrees it was wrong.
I’m an 18-year-old student at a college. In February, I was on a mission trip in Guatemala working on a retirement home.
One day, I was carrying a shovel to the front of the home, which necessitates walking through the home.
On my way, a man with schizophrenia almost attacked me.
Thankfully, there was a nurse present to pin him down.
Normally, a person would forget it and move on, but since my return home, it seemed to affect my everyday life.
My counsellor says that it's possible that it's a case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but could it just be that I can't let it go?
Your counsellor has talked to you extensively, while I only have this brief window into what happened.
Ask the counsellor what he/she means by raising this possibility of PTSD – i.e., does it require therapy to find ways to get past it, what strategies are recommended.
And does it mean you’re now in an anxious state in general?
Even if this is a case of PTSD, your reaction seems pretty normal.
According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, PTSD develops in some people who’ve experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
“It’s natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it…
“Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD.”
Caught by surprise, made aware that something much worse could’ve happened, it may’ve been the most dangerous moment you’ve faced when on your own away from family.
But fortunately, you were physically unharmed. Continue with the counselling, and see your doctor, too, if the anxiety continues, and you’ll undoubtedly heal emotionally soon, too.
FEEDBACK Regarding the person whose business partner is suddenly suspicious of everything (March 25):
Reader – “It's not uncommon for someone who’s doing something wrong to turn the behaviour around and accuse the partner of the same behaviour.
“This happens with couples when one person cheats, and could happen when one business partner is doing something shady.
“Fed Up” should be looking out for red flags as well, that something might be amiss in the business.
“The writer also has the right to ask questions, and if met with stonewalling or defensiveness, that should immediately raise an alert, enough to start asking the business's accountant and legal representatives for some answers.”
Ellie – Good point, and you’re quite right that this kind of “transference” sometimes happens when a spouse cheats or has done.
In this business situation, the writer’s being given a message of distrust, and needs to find out why.
Tip of the day:
Deep character flaws in a partner can erode even strong love.