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Ryan LCSW
Ryan LCSW, Relationships
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Experience:  Professional therapist
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Should I break up with him?

Customer Question

A while back, my boyfriend was sleeping over and we got into a fight and I went to sleep and he stayed up on his phone in bed with me. Then next morning when his alarm was going off  he wasn't waking up to answer it so after the second time it went off, I went to go shut it off. There were flirty texts from another girl. I know I shouldn't have looked and that it was wrong, but I felt like I needed to see what the rest of that conversation was about. they talked about her upcoming visit and how he would pick her up from the airport with flowers. How he liked her a lot and missed her. how he couldn't express how you really felt about her when she was here (she now lives far away) but he could now. he also said that she turned him on more than anyone else, ever. The more I read, the more crushed I was and the more I wished I didn't know any of it, but I couldn't stop reading. It hurt me even more that he would say these kinds of things to another girl while literally still in my bed. That's some seriously heavy flirting (with actual plans to see each other and follow up on it I might add) when he was supposed to be in an exclusive relationship with me. After that, he brought her up to me on his own and told me she was ugly and how he wasn't attracted to her at all, I knew he was lying. It drove me a little crazy and I didn't want to be played for a fool so I checked his phone a couple more times after that. I always found something that hurt me. He flirted with more girls and it was clear that he wasn't telling anyone that we were a real couple or that he cared about me at all. I hated what I found out and I hated myself for looking. I knew it was wrong, I regret it, and I feel horrible about it but I did it for what I rationalized to myself as self-protection. It doesn't excuse my behavior. I was wrong.

Even knowing what I knew, I didn't want to lose him so I decided that he would either leave me or just stop eventually, so I just let it go.

I told him today that I had snooped and he freaked out. I have said sorry in every possible way under the sun but he doesn't think that flirting that way was wrong since "nothing came from it" and that I hurt myself by snooping and making a big deal out of nothing. He also said that he wasn't attracted to that girl when I asked if he meant the things he said to her. I know that I should never have snooped but I don't think its okay for him to do that. It undermines our relationship and tells those girls that he doesn't respect me and that he's open to being tempted (at the very least). I know he has grounds to break up with me for breaking his trust and invading his privacy but his excuse for flirting is that he "didn't know what I was saying to other guys" (which was NOTHING) I would never cheat (despite my questionable morals in the realm of snooping). He's cheated on every other girl he's been with so I thought I was justified in my suspicion but he said I just didn't trust him and I never will. But should I? He was flirting behind my back and didn't seem to feel bad when he got caught. He also said I was just like all other girls since I've proven myself to be a psycho girlfriend. I know what i did was "crazy" behavior but I would never cheat.

He says he needs time to think and re-evaluate things and I completely understand that but I'm thinking I should be doing the same. Our relationship is SO SO wonderful in every other way. We're together all the time and we get along so well and we're so compatible but I'm not sure if I can be with someone who won't accept responsibility for his part of our problems or admit when he's wrong. I owned up to my bad behavior and I truly feel horrible for betraying his trust, but I still should be allowed to stand up for myself without him telling me that he did nothing and that I "hurt myself." I was not the one who flirted. I did wrong by snooping but I was not the one who hurt me by flirting with other girls. he did that part himself.

Do I have a right to be upset too? What would you do if you were me? If I break up with him what should I say?

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have over 10 years of experience helping people with relationship problems.

I certainly respect your willingness to own up to your mistakes. After seeing those texts I can see how it would be hard to avoid continuing to snoop despite it being a breach of trust. Most people would consider his behavior to be inexcusable, especially in a committed relationship, and regardless of how you found out about it. If he is flirting with other people and making arrangements to see them, then it doesn't matter if 'nothing came of it,' because he knows that he is hiding it from you and that you would be upset by his behavior if he was honest with you about it.

You absolutely have a right to be upset, and if you decide to break up with him I would assume that it is because he has violated your trust. He could make the argument that you have done the same thing, and he may be correct, although looking at someone's phone would usually not be considered as significant as flirting and trying to meet up with other girls while in a committed relationship. Relationships have to be based on trust in order to stay healthy, and if this incident has caused you to be unable to trust him or vice versa, then you may have to consider ending it.

Overall it also sounds like you had some legitimate reasons to be suspicious and snoop in the first place. That may not justify it, but since you have actually found evidence of what you were afraid of in the first place, he needs to hold himself accountable for his actions too. I agree with your statement about his behavior undermining your relationship, and if he continues to hold you responsible for his behavior that would also seem like a fair reason to end the relationship unless he is also willing to take some responsibility for his part. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there's anything else I can do to help just let me know.

Ryan
Ryan LCSW, Relationships
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience: Professional therapist
Ryan LCSW and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

He straight up refuses to "be questioned by me" about anything that I found because to him, the way that I found it somehow cancels out his wrongdoing. I can't get him to own up to any misdeeds or even acknowlege that this was wrong, let alone that it was emotional cheating with plans for physical cheating that just happened to fall through. Is this just an impass where he will never see reason? or even listen to my opinion on it? I feel like if he thinks he won't like what I have to say, he just shuts down and refuses to listen. He wouldn't even come over to talk to me about it because he didn't want to be "bitched at." His terms are basically, forget about it or we're done. I had forgotten about it before I confessed my snooping to him and we were doing great but his new increased security on his phone (which is understandable) combined with the fact that if I look for assurance that he's no longer saying these kinds of things to other women he responds with anger and shuts down saying that I'm "unbelievable" for daring to ask makes me think that we are just stuck. If I try to detach emotionally and look at this analytically, I'm dealing with an ex-serial cheater (hopefully still past tense) who refuses to be held accountable to anyone but himself and will not tolerate being "questioned" because that reveals that I don't trust him. Trust needs to be earned and constantly proven so I have a very hard time just taking his word for it. What can I do/say to try to make him understand that in a relationship, we are accountable to each other and that that goes both ways. Last time we got in a fight where he was refusing to even hear my side of it, one of his oldest friends had to step in on my behalf and tell him he was being a jerk and told him to apologize. Is there any way I can get him to listen or is this just a lost cause?

Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 1 year ago.
If he's refusing to own up to his side of it and acknowledge any wrong doing then that does leave you in a tough position. That also makes it even more understandable that you would have problems trusting him because he isn't acting like he did anything wrong in the first place, so how are you to know that it wouldn't happen again? Unfortunately there's no way to make someone listen, especially if he is refusing to and isn't concerned about your relationship going both ways. Unless he is willing to start taking some personal responsibility and it willing to work with you it may be a lost cause if you have found yourself to be the only one willing to work on these problems. Hang in there and all the best,
Ryan
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Is there any kind of approach you would reccommend for trying to discuss this with him that wouldn't make him defensive? I'm looking for a practical solution here. Any way to phrase it or work my way into it? If we were in counseling, how would the therapist have us approach this topic so that it's still comfortable for both of us?


 

Expert:  Ryan LCSW replied 1 year ago.
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