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Should you tell your partner about your past in the Family?

from chocolat - Tuesday, November 25, 2003
accessed 2022 times

Since leaving the cult, I met a wonderful guy who is in every way my ideal. Before moving in together, I felt it is only fair to tell him a little bit about my past so I explained that my childhood was rather unusual. In short, that I had grown up in a "religious cult."

He didn't mind at all and said that he loved me for who I am, not because of past experiences.

So it's been a few months now since we've moved in together and one day, out of the blue he asks me, "Was the cult you were in called 'The Family'?"

What would you do in this situation?

My boyfriend is extremely well educated, intelligent and successful. He's agnostic not because he has anything against religion but he believes in critical thinking and science, which means he only believes in things that can be proven (I suppose a lot of educated people are like this).

Everything in me tells me I shouldn't tell him and so far I have said that that's not the name of the cult. But he has brought it up a few times and I know that he knows I am simply lying.

He said he saw some kids singing on the street and passing out religious material, and because he knows I have 10 siblings and this is highly unusual in Japan, of all countries, this is why he made the connection. He also says that one of his colleagues is dating a Japanese girl who speaks English perfectly (also very rare in Japan), and also has 7 or 8 siblings, and she grew up in a cult called "The Family."

What do you recommend I do?

I'm sure there are others in similar situations. What do you do? I know that if I confess he'll immediately look up the Family and find out about all of the negative horrible things it has done in the past (and is still doing).

Please help!

Thanks for hearing me out!


Reader's comments on this article

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from Vessel
Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 19:23

Yes, absolutely yes. But tell him in private, in confidence. Tell him the truth. Tell him that you're sorry that you lied about the cult that you were involved in but tell him the reason that you did. That it's a very controversal organization & that there is so much negativity out there regarding this cult. Tell him that its been hard for you since you've been out. You've had a hard time fitting in, etc & that you're just trying to move on without looking back & you didn't want to create a distance between the two of you. But yes, you should tell him. What if things get more serious & you end up with this man for years or possibly forever? Wouldn't you want to know that he knew? Shouldn't you be able to speak to him. It's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth, but if he's really intelectual then maybe he'll find it interesting. I'm also living with a man & I've told him from the beginning the truth about my past, my experiences, etc. I think that it makes me unique & it certainly makes me who I am. It makes me a whole person & anyone that I personally want this close to my heart I want to know about me. How can you be close if he doesn't? If he cares about you he will do his best to understand & to trust your view...after're the one that was there, isn't your opinion the most important? Take care & good luck.
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from chocolat
Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - 06:19

Thank you for your comments. Well now I have been together with this man for over a year-and-a-half and our relationship has only gotten stronger.

And he has not brought it (the name of the cult) up in recent months.

I would like to forget I ever spent time in that cult, but of course, he and I both know the past can't be changed and naturally the topic crops up in conversation sometimes (why I don't have class reunions, why almost all my friends are my age [25] and already have several kids, why I don't know anything about Evolution, etc.).

Life sucks but there are some moments that make it beautiful. :)
(reply to this comment)
from Sonderval
Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 07:02


Hrm, as this was posted in November and it's now January I imagine that your situation has now changed somewhat, these things are never static, but just in general terms in this scenario I would have told him yes, that you did come from the group, by keeping it a secret you will only make him more curious about it and it will become a big deal whereas otherwise it wouldn't be.

So what if the group has done bad things, you chose to leave that group as soon as you were old enough to make that decision for yourself for all the reasons he'll find if he decides to look into the cult, he won't blame you for what they've done (or if he does then tbh my next advice is get out of that relationship fast, he's a psycho), if he keeps pushing for information and you're not ready to talk about it then simply tell him that, what you've gone through has affected you deeply and it would hurt you to go over them, in time you'll feel more comfortable both with your past and with your relationship and you'll go over it then, for now he'll simply have to accept you for who you are now, and all that rubbish about the cult is what's behind you and you can't face reopening those wounds just yet.

Don't tell him nothing, it will cause most people to get paranoid, just tell him that's where you came from and say you can't talk about it more than that right now.
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from Beth
Thursday, January 08, 2004 - 06:49

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Honey, we don't live in that world anymore. You can say, "I'd rather not talk about it right now" and that should suffice. You won't get in trouble for not "opening up". He already knows, (I'm sure you see that) and you shouldn't lie in the first place. If your situation were different, and you were aching to tell him, and you brought it on; well, that's different. Just try not to spill anything someone can use against you if tables turn or things change, if you don't have to. For right now, it looks like you should keep your replies to a minimum until you want to share your past further.
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from Someone
Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 23:54

I recently met a wonderful man who told me he had been in COG as a child and left at 18. He doesn't talk to me much about it, but he did show me this site and told me I could read about it here if I wanted to. I really love this guy, and I don't want to push him for information about COG, but if I can help him in anyway I would. Does anyone have some advice about being the girlfriend of an ex-COG? I know everyone is different, but some general suggestions would be nice. Thanks.
(reply to this comment)
From Big Sister
Monday, December 29, 2003, 05:00

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

I think this is a terrific place to read and learn about the world your friend grew up in. Although I have never been in TF, my sister is a long time member who has many children and various husbands. Some of the children and some of the husbands are still in the cult, others have left. Reading here helped me understand and help some of my family members as they left the cult. And it helps me now in communicating with my sister, still in the cult.

What I learned that surprised me most was that culture of TF is more than just a little different than 'the system'. There is an extensive insider language, a communal living structure and different values. That is why you read here about the culture shock that people experience when they come out of TF. Oh, and their economic system is a facinating piece of work!

If you are in a serious relationship that may lead to marriage and a family then I think it is important to understand the culture your future husband has come from as well as his own personal reaction to it. Obviously, being raised in a cult and being victimized by it is not his identity. It is just what happened a long time ago.(reply to this comment

From itsxena2u
Sunday, December 28, 2003, 23:40


I was raised in TF most of my life (29 yrs) I have a boyfriend that I have been dating for the last year. He is a wonderful man. I am not ashamed to tell people that I was a missionary's daughter and I lived in different countries. Even thought I had many unpleasant experiences in the past, I try very hard to talk about all my good experiences in TF as a missionary and helping others. I have always benefited from telling people I was a missionary helping other people than a poor victim of emotional, sexual and physical abuse.

Let me tell you something. I hate pity!!!! The last thing I want is for the person I love to feel sorry for me because I was abused or a victim of a cult. If he ever asks me about my past I will honestly tell him everything he wants to know. But on a need to know basis. Not because I'm trying to hide something from him but I simply don't want to dwell on negative experiences or make him feel like he needs to treat me any differently because of what I suffered in the past.

We all want to feel accepted and part of society. I don't want to be treated any differently. I have known some people who were never a part of TF and have grown up in very abusive families, but have grown up to be very productive members of society. They don't go around sharing their past horror stories either, because in a way it makes a person look bad, even if they are the victims. The simple fact that you were abused as a child or raised in a weird cult puts you in a group all of its own.

So my advice to you dear Someone is this: just love him for who he is and don't make him feel like he's any different than other people except for the fact that he is the most special person in your life. If he wants to talk about it then fine, if not then let it be. You fell in love with him because of the person he is now, not because of who are what he was in the past. We all want to put it behind us and get on with our lives. Stick to the positive, that is the best. God bless and take care!(reply to this comment

from Ne Oublie
Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 12:48

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

You're better off telling him - that way you can be sure that whatever information he gets about your past will be from you and on your terms. He's less likely to go researching TF (or anything else) if he doesn't think that you're 'hiding' anything from him, so I would say that the best way would be for you to tell him about it without making a big deal of it.

Then, as time goes on, you can always tell him more of the 'nasty details', without it seeming that you'd lied to him before. Also, in the event that you do break up with him, he's less likely to 'spread rumours' about it if it wasn't a big deal to you.
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from silver
Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 12:16

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

In my experience, you can't hide smth like this forever. So if you're planning on being with this guy for a while you should tell him. Not only for his sake, but also for yours. I went a long time without telling any of my friends about my past and dodged the endless "why do speak english?" questions (I live in Norway). Eventually I decided to divulge some bits and pieces of my past and it feels really good to not always have to watch what I say around them. I also hang out with quite a few ex-fams up here and it felt really strange always having to keep my two groups of friends separate.

However I would definitely use some discretion about how much I tell (One friend actually threw up after I told her some of the nastier details).

One very liberating up-side to the "tell all" method is that I can tell stories about my childhood and laugh about it all. It's just not right to have to "forget" about 15 yrs. of my life...probably the 15 yrs that have been a very important part of who I am today.

Anyway, hope all goes well, whatever you decide.
(reply to this comment)

from Systemite Boss
Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 09:13


I am coming at this from the other side. I fell in love with my partner when she was still in 'the family'. (though i didn't know that at the time)

She told me that she was in 'the family' as a means of explaining why we couldn't be in a relationship together. Obviously this could be seen as a novel way of turning someone down but it turned out to be true.

I had been friends with her and the people in her small home for a while and was intrigued to hear about this. Suffice to say i did what most people would in this situation and went online to find out more about it. The wealth of negative material i found online shocked me as i could not equate it with the group of friends i knew so we started talking about it. They explained many things to me and though there were times when they felt defensive and i felt disturbed, we came to a point of mutual understanding whereby we both talked openly about a number of things.

Now it is four years later and all except one of the people in that home have left 'the family' including my partner who is now living with me. Since leaving, a number of other issues have come to light from her time in 'the family' that she wasn't comfortable addressing at the time but as time has passed she has felt able to talk about them.

We would never have got to this point if she hadn't told me about being in the family in the first place and i feel that we trust each other more because she was able to share it with me. Knowing that she was a part of 'the family' explains so much of who she is and how she has developed as a person that i think i wouldn't really know her at all if she hadn't told me.

I hope that you are able to trust your partner and share your past with him, no matter how difficult it may be. I am sure you will be able to reach a point of understanding over time.
(reply to this comment)

from chocolat
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 23:45


Thank you for all of your supportive and resourceful comments!
It's nice to be able to talk about it to people who understand my predicament and really *know* what I mean and am going through.

I suppose it's only fair to be honest with him and tell him the truth, but I have several concerns.

For instance, he's met some of my friends who are still in the cult, as well as my family, all of whom left a couple of years ago. I can't help but worry about all the things that will go through his mind when he finds out.

I personally was never horribly sexually abused, although I was subject to the normal abuse that we all were (being locked up in closets, beatings, being exposed to live sex and pornography at an early age, going witnessing, busking, staying at "ove hotels" while on the "road," eating expired foods that I helped to "provision," being spoonfed BS for hours, brainwashing, some molestation, etc.,) but he is going to wonder if my mother engaged in FFing, if all of my 10 siblings are really my full brothers and sisters, whether I've been abused, etc., and I'd hate for him to feel that way about me, my family or friends.

Of course, I had no choice in where I was born (who does?) and made the intelligent, common-sense decision of leaving once I found out the true nature of the cult, so in that sense I am not responsible.

But though it won't change his feelings for me, it will change his perception of me, my family and friends, if only at a subconscious level.

Also, we are not married and have been together for a little over a year now, so there's no guarantee that we will always be together, either. While he's still in love with me, it will pose if at all, a small problem, but after a break-up, it could potentially cause lots of harm to me.

I do agree that I would never tell anyone I work with, that's for sure!
(reply to this comment)

From chocolat
Sunday, November 30, 2003, 23:48


Also, he knows I grew up in a cult; I just haven't told him *which one* it is, although he already suspects it.

Do you think that as he already knows various things about my past, I may as well tell him?

In some ways, I feel like it's none of his business and don't see what harm would come from not telling him, whereas I can think of a hundred things that could go wrong if I do tell him.

Then again, it may not make a difference as he already suspects it...

(reply to this comment

from Bella
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 20:32

How serious are you about this guy? When my husband (then boyfriend) suspected that something was "different" about my past, I straight up told him. He too is highly educated, and it didn't take him too long before he could figure out that something was going on (or had gone wrong). I simply told him that I had grown up in a cult and that I wasn't educated, and blah blah blah. He respected me for it all the more because he knew that I was being honest with him about a huge part of my life. Since then he has told me that had I not been honest with him, he probably wouldn't have stuck around. I took a huge chance telling him, and I do not believe I would have told him anything if I wasn't extremely serious about him. If you are not ready to tell him the name of the cult you grew up in, you could start by telling him that you grew up in a cult but that you are not comfortable telling him every last detail about it yet, but with time, you will. That way, you have time to figure out your feelings for him/his for you and you can figure out if you trust him enough with a huge but personal part of your life.

Just my two cents.
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from EP
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 18:24


Lying only makes you look like you feel guilty and you AREN'T GUILTY OF ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I personally wouldn't volunteer information to anyone, simply because I really shouldn't have to answer for anyone but myself. However in your case you're being asked directly and it may ruin a good thing if he finds out you aren't telling him the truth. I would tell him now rather than wait for him to find out some other way. It seems that eventually he will find out and it will be soo much harder to explain why you didn't trust him. Good luck in whatever you decide!
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from neez
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 18:12


Well, like you said, he obviously already knows.

btw.. what are the odds that his 'freind' also has a ex-fam girlfriend!? I know Japan's a small place.. but thats ridiculous.

You telling him that obviously effected him or he wouldn't have said anything else about it.

I suggest you test him out & do yourself a favour at the same time.. Ask him to leave fucken Japan & take you with him.
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from tegan
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 17:10


Your boyfriend sounds very intelligent and capable of handling the truth. Lies always end up coming back to bite us so I'd say tell him. From what you've said it sounds like you are great together and he doesn't sound like he'll judge you by your past.

Personally, I lost some friends by telling them about my weird background - they just couldn't handle it and were always wary around me incase I tried to witness to them etc. They eventually just stopped coming round and that hurt.

Now I have a boyfriend who I've been with for 3 years, he is absolutely wonderful and I've told him pretty much everything. I broke it to him bit by bit though because he gets really upset at the thought of people hurting me. It has made things better for me because when I'm feeling down or affected by stuff that happened to me I can talk to him about it and he does whatever he can to help.

All that to say I think you should tell your boyfriend the truth. Good luck. x
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from mikio
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 16:17


I have always felt that that side should be covered up, not spoken about, and denied. The reason is it will almost always come back to bite you (my experience). I had some friends, stupidly told them, and then when we weren't friends anymore, it became common knowledge amongst her new friends (thankfully, they've graduated college and are gone, so no new stuff). But friends/GFs/BFs aren't usually forever, much as maybe we'd like them to be, and I really don't think it's worth it -- getting known as a terrible kisser/small dick/loose down there, whatever, is common "get-back" at the ex-GF, but you don't need that cult-stuff going around -- believe me.

With this guy though, IF he knows yr lying, it might be better to tell all (so he doesn't assume the worst), tell why U couldn't tell him before, cuz if he wanted to tell all yr new friends and employer (this is exactly what U never want to happen) he prob wouldv'e already done it so if he knows already, might as well be honest -- but do explain that U'd rather it not be told to anyone, and denied if asked.

And, IMO, no matter what ANYONE tells you, do not let on, tell, or admit to anything close to TF when at work -- that's yr bread-and-butter
(reply to this comment)

from Blondie_B78
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 14:20


My husband was only in TF for a few years. There was a lot he discovered (about TFs past) when he left that he was totally clueless about while in tbe group. Recently I told him some details about abuse in my past which really shocked him. While very supportive, he told me he felt like I had lied to him because he'd asked me a while back if I'd been abused or if there was anything I wasn't telling him and I'd said, "No, of course not." My reason for not telling him was that it was personal. I'd buried it and didn't want it brought up. I also didn't want to be pushed for details etc. In the end, he understood and it actually made us closer.

Just my two cents, but I think you should tell your partner. He will probably find out eventually anyway and it would be best for him to hear it from you. You'll be able to answer his questions and put the matter to rest. If he really loves you (and is worth your time and affection) he will make an effort to understand and, like he said, love you for you, not because of your background.

My brother-in-law is from the middle-east. My sister, after being with him for three years, told him that she grew up in a cult etc. He was really good about it, wanted to "find the bastards" and wondered if people would "give him money" if he announced that he was a prophet etc. :-)
(reply to this comment)

from Dani
Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 10:21


From personal experience, you right if you do tell him he'll look up everything and assume the worst, (my favorite ones are; that we have the power to brain-wash and have had sex with our parents).

I don't think anyone can understand something unless they've been through it. Our past, so to speak is not really something you want thrown in your face every time you have an argument.
(reply to this comment)

From Dani
Sunday, November 30, 2003, 10:24

*you're(reply to this comment

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