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Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 20 plus years of experience in the field.
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I have been dating my boyfriend for three years. Two months

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I have been dating my boyfriend for three years. Two months ago I caught him on an online dating site. On previous occasions when I caught him on the site, he referred to it as his porn site. However, the last time I saw the site, it was apparent that it was a dating site. He closed the account at that point. He had started on the site 14 months into our relationship when we were having issues precipitated by his newly discovered manic depression which was extremely explosive (but no physical violence) and my reduced physical interest him.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that he was texting a woman from work. He works night shifts and she provides online support from several states away. While they can communicate using work IM, they were texting using personal cell phones. I saw a text on his phone that was sexually provocative. I checked his cell phone bill and found that they were texting 50-100 texts when he worked overnight. However, he deleted the texts each session. They had been texting for a month before I confronted him. He promised to stop. He has been texting another woman but he refuses to explain any other texts. Now however I believe he has just switched to texting using iMessage so that it does not appear on his phone bill.

Our most recent conflict has been over his contact with his ex-wife on topics other than their three teenage children. It bothers me that he considers her to be a confidante. I have asked him not to share intimate details of our relationship with her. He never had shared custody and sees his kids primarily at her house. Now that they are older, they do not want to stay with him and will occasionally visit when their Mom is visiting her boyfriend. His divorce was finalized a year go though he left her ten years ago. His ex used the kids against him and told them that he left them. He feels tremendously guilty as a result.

He tells me that he loves me and that I'm the only woman for him. He is very generous and is attracted to me. We love each other. However, it is clear that he is insecure and seeks affirmation from other women. If I were to have male friendships he would not like it. He claims that the only acceptable male friendship for me would be with my daughter's father. However, if I were to choose a male confidante it would be with my ex-fiancé because we were long-time friends before we were in a relationship. But my boyfriend is jealous of that person so I do not contact him. I feel like there is a double standard. And I feel like I don't have anyone to talk to.

I'm 50 (never married) and he is 52. If I were younger, I would have ended the relationship long ago. At my age, I'm not sure where to draw the line. I believe him when he tells me he loves me. However, I value actions rather than words and the recent discoveries have diminished my trust. Am I being excessively naive?

20pluscounts :

Hello, I am available to assist you. Welcome! Thank you for your post.

20pluscounts :

It's much easier for those on the outside to see clearly that in what you describe their is a double standard and he's rationalizing his behavior with a variety of excuses. You are 50, you are a "young enough" woman- I just so happen to be a 50 year old female myself :), midlife in your life, when it's natural for you to evaluate your life. I get a strong sense that your intuition is telling you this is not right, that you are not comfortable with this.

20pluscounts :

Even if those relationships are not sexual/physical in nature it is still a relationship, making him less available to you- being occupied with other women.

20pluscounts :

He may be using this contact with other woman as a numbing or high of sorts. He may be seeking ways to self medicate, especially if he struggles with the up and downs of manic depression.

20pluscounts :

He may be genuine when he tells you he stopped, or has a desire to stop, but if this is compulsive in nature, as it sounds like it may be, it maybe difficult for him to control these impulses. A symptom of manic depression/bipolar disorder is being reckless in relationships, taking risks that may have damaging consequences. Is he treated for the mood disorder?

20pluscounts :

If he has to delete texts he's hiding something- a clear indication of deceit.

20pluscounts :

Hello- can you join me for a live chat?

Customer: Yes I am available to chat.
20pluscounts :

Thank you for joining me!

20pluscounts :

I'm sorry for this struggle in your life- sounds very difficult- confusing- hurtful etc.

20pluscounts :

Love is a verb- like you said, you value actions vs. just words.

Customer: He is being treated for his mood disorder and has taken ownership of past behaviors.
Customer: I believe that when one door closes (ie, he is found out) he finds another outlet.
20pluscounts :

This can be all consuming for you- so much time, energy, and focus goes into wondering what he's up to and if you can trust him. One can lose them self in a situation like this. Do you know what I mean? You start feeling "crazy", and question yourself, especially if he's so "convincing". You love him, but worry frequently about what he's up to, especially with this recent contact with the girl from work.

20pluscounts :

Yes- it sounds like he finds another way- somehow. It's sort of like an addiction- and the internet, text, etc. is so accessible to people- easy to get carried away.

Customer: Do I just look at the behavior as a symptom of his disorder and not take it personally?
20pluscounts :

You start feeling like you are playing a "detective", and must be consumed with worry and fear about this. If it is compulsive and addictive in nature, like I mentioned, he may have a desire or intention to stop, but he's losing that self control. Similar to an addiction he will need to recognize it as a problem- surrender that he has lost control. How can you not take it personally when it hurts you so much?

Customer: He is an alcoholic who has been sober for ten years. He overcame that addiction. He promised to stop smoking as penance for texting the woman from work but has yet to stop smoking. He may not be able to control his behavior. I'm not sure what to do.
20pluscounts :

He tells you one thing- and again- a true desire to "stop", but repeats this over and over again- compulsive. If it's become addictive it will progress, he will have more and more trouble "hiding" this. Sometimes a person has to hit bottom before they admit it as a problem- a bottom can be the behavior causing a relationship to end, trouble at work, going in debt on a dating or porn website- some sort of significant consequence for his behavior. In his case he's risking the relationship with you. Right now it sounds like he's "playing" but the concern is- this can progress. It's slippery territory where something more can happen. He's working hard to convince you it's "nothing". If it's a true and real problem it will become obvious to you over time. I think you realize you deserve more in a relationship. It's important for you to have support, someone you can talk to. Try really hard to focus on your life, finding things that make you happy.

Customer: It sounds like you are saying it will get worse. I told him it was over when I confronted him about the texts. He blocked the door and begged me to stay in the relationship. He is acting as if all is well. I just think he is hiding what he is doing.
20pluscounts :

Sounds like he qualifies for an addictive personality. This can be all consuming for you. If you intend to remain in this relationship- find a way to live your life- get some sort of support. Have you considered counseling for yourself? It's difficult simply to leave, and having someone to talk to can help you sort through this. Yes, it's a classic symptom of addiction, dishonesty, even to those they love.

Customer: I will need counseling to help me leave the relationship...or if i stay in it. Thanks for our help and advice.
20pluscounts :

Alanon may be a support for you- it's for those who love the alcoholic/addicted person. Are you familiar with Alanon? Those in Alanon work their own healing steps. I know it is not as simple as "walking away".

20pluscounts :

You are welcome. The best to you!

20pluscounts :

Would you be so kind to rate my answer ok or higher so I can get credit- much appreciated! Let me know if I can help again. You can request me in the future if you have other questions- start question with "for 20pluscounts" and I will get it.

20pluscounts :

Thank you for your post tonight.

20pluscounts :

Did you have any other comments?

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