Every Sunday, Danielle Paradis and Alyssa Royse will answer one question from the Reddit Relationship Advice Board. (And this week we are late and running on Tuesday. Oops!)
This week we have a 28-year-old male dating a 25-year-old male who found some evidence of online flirtations and he’s pretty upset about it.
I’m a wreck right now and I need some advice.
Back story: started dating a friend of 4 years for almost 2 months now. We were friends for years before this, never close enough to be intimate, but enough that we have many memories and the same social-group of friends. As far as all of my/her friends are concerned, everyone has generally given an “about time; this is so awesome; we knew it” approval to it.
Important part of the back story: I’m moving 2 states away for a job very soon. Both of us originally started seeing each other with that in mind and a “this probably won’t get too serious” mindset and decided to have fun. 3 weeks into it, we both agree things are getting serious and want to call it official. One night, I tell her that I have been considering a long distance relationship with her and asked what she thought. She told me she needed some time to think about it, which I thought as completely rational and okay. Keep in mind her and I by this point are texting all day every day, seeing each other about 4-5 days a week (staying over most nights), and spending about all free time outside of work together. All of our friends/family know we are dating by this point.
What I found on Facebook: [This happened today. The Facebook conversation in question took place 3 weeks ago, or 2 days after I originally brought up the idea of LDR.] My GF was was flirting with someone on Facebook and admitting having a crush on this person, telling them she’s seeing someone “but he’s [me] about to leave” and she wants to hang out with him when he’s in town. She sent him a picture of her and I together at a concert, but cropped me out of the photo. While I found out about this today, my GF told me 2 days after the Facebook conversation took place that she thought on it and wants to date me long distance. In the last 2.5 weeks, she has confessed to me how much she loves me and absolutely wants to date long distance. One night she broke into tears about how incredibly special she feels to be dating someone like me. She was so sincere. I never questioned her loyalty in the last 2 weeks…until what I found today.
How I reacted: [This just happened hours ago…] I was crushed 🙁 I called my best friend, who’s dating/engaged to my GF’s sister, and told him everything. I went through every range of emotion, mostly anger and sadness – crying on the phone with my friend, and in front of my GF when we talked. I never yelled at her, but made it clear how upset I was and how betrayed, deceived, and manipulated I felt. I also told her that the only thing stopping me from breaking up with her is the fact that this happened weeks ago during a brief period of time where we both were dating but not agreed to a LDR. Also, I understand that even in only 2 weeks we have a much stronger relationship than before we agreed to do LDR. In the end, I told her that I want to believe there is still a chance and am willing to because I love her and that ending it now would be an easy way out. I essentially finished by saying that while I’m devastated and broken of trust, I haven’t given up entirely and need a couple days to digest what has happened and whether or not I can continue dating her.
How she reacted: At first she didn’t show much emotion, just a blank stare and look of defeat. Confessed she was an asshole and totally understands why I’m so upset, and then proceeds to cry on several occasions throughout our discussion – mainly beating herself up and pointing out how she always fucks great things by doing shit before thinking and not putting herself in other people’s shoes when behaving certain ways. She swears to me she has never cheated on anyone and even though she did flirt she would have never acted on it with this guy. She made a few claims as to why that conversation happened:
- She says at this point in time she still hadn’t fully thought about long distance dating or made the decision to do so
- She used to be overweight and liked this guy, who didn’t show interest. She’s recently lost weight and has ‘image issues’, and that this conversation was the result of wanting attention/approval/etc to her weight loss.
- She tells me how every relationship she’s ever been in is never good, ends up hurting her in some way, and how she has been depressed for several months from the last few relationships (which, is all very accurate – her last 3 BFs were mentally abusive and demeaning, which she told me on several occasions leading up to this). She explains that I treat her so amazing that in the first few weeks she expected our relationship to end by the fact it was too good to be true, how I’m too good for her, etc.
Claims aside, the discussion ended by her telling me how she’s absolutely in love with me and couldn’t now imagine her life without me. She feels awful and told me that she wants me to give her the chance to prove her loyalty and love. She’s basically telling me she’ll do anything to have another chance (e.g. allowing me to monitor her email/Facebook/phone/etc, needing space or none at all, willing to miss Xmas with her family to spend time with me, etc.).
Needed advice: Was my reaction valid, or am I overreacting? Does her reaction seem genuine? Is it worth rebuilding trust with her?
TL;DR: GF of 1.5 month had flirtatious conversations on Facebook with someone a few weeks into dating, which I found just now. I call her out on it and am devastated, tell/show her how upset I am, and tell her I want things to work given the situation but still am not sure I can trust her again. She makes no excuses besides degrading herself, and then confesses love and begs me to give her a chance to redeem herself. We agreed to think on what happened for a few days and to continue talking about it every day, trying to both figure out if there’s anything worth saving. Help…
- Agree on what the boundaries and expectations are in terms of how you treat each other and engage with other people. But you can’t expect each other to be something other than who you are. I, for instance, am a huge flirt, no relationship can change that, it’s who I am. My husband is unbothered by this because he trusts me, I have given him no reason not to.
- You have to agree to trust each other. Trust does not require proof and checking in. Trust.
- You cannot revisit the past all the time, unless there is a clear pattern of behavior that is knowingly hurtful and in violation of the boundaries and expectations that we talked abotu in step 1.
- If you cannot do all 3 of those things, then this relationship is not likely to work.
So in the timeline you created it sounds as though she was talking to another guy around the same time she was unsure if she wanted to pursue a relationship because you both entered into something understanding that you were leaving, and not really expecting things to get serious. You even mention the only reason you continue to date her is because you hadn’t agreed to a long term relationship.
So you girlfriend was talking to someone prior to any commitment being made. You probably need to ease up on her.
As I was reading I kept forgetting that you were 28 because this seems like a more common problem among younger people. Starting out in relationships, you might have trouble negotiating both sovereignty and a relationship.
The thing is, Alyssa is right YOU are raising all kinds of red flags. We can’t control our partners. I was amazed at the level of back story you felt necessary to provide including her weight loss. I understand that you feel really hurt, but you just seem like you’re being really controlling. Rather than examine her past relationships you should reflect on your own a little. You’re right about relationships needing to have trust, so if you are going to continue you need to be more trusting.
Your girlfriend obviously likes you. I actually wish I could talk to her and tell her to definitely not give up the passwords and agree to be monitored to live in a relationship under scrutiny. No one should have to do that.