advice on a possible cheating boyfriend

Hey Alex,

So I need advice. I’m currently in a relationship of 4 years. Me and my boyfriend have been “open” with each other and have given each other our phone passcodes. Idk why but I recently saw him messaging an old friend (a girl) on Facebook who I’ve had spoken to him about in the past. Me being somewhat insecure because of the way I grew up….my dad always cheating on my mom. Most recently he cheated on her over a year ago with an old family friend who took care of me when I young. Also, my older brother cheated on his pregnant wife and got the other girl pregnant, and my other brother has also cheated on his girlfriend of 7+ years. So yes I am insecure PLUS he “cheated” on me in the past. (Which he has always denied) I put cheated in quotation marks because he has always denied it and I never found out until a year after when mutual friends told me. (I was mad at my friends too because they never told me sooner) Anyways, so I saw from over his shoulder that he was talking to her on Facebook. He’s a nurse so I’m alone at the house 3 times a week and one night I was able to log into his computer (which he also gave me the password to) and saw his conversation with her. And it was innocent, they were catching up, he kept mentioning me and sharing my recent work accomplishments. And my insecurity left. But just last night he left his phone next to me as he went to take a shower. Curiosity got the best of me and I looked. And I saw that the messages he had with that friend in Facebook was deleted and they started a new conversation with him giving her his phone number again. So then I go to his messages and he said “you deleted the Facebook messages?” She responded “yeah, I don’t want my boyfriend looking and thinking something” my boyfriend responded “even the photos?” She said “yeah I don’t want people looking at our messages ” He then said “I miss you” she was like “well we should hang out and go on a double date. I have a boyfriend and you have a girlfriend. Is she still jealous?” He was like “she went off on me because I liked a bikini picture of you” she said something like “damn toxic” he then said “she’s working on her jealousy” .

They ended the conversation with I’ll talk to you later. 

Again he knows why I’’m so insecure and why I don’t trust him. About the bikini pic. I confronted him about liking her “booty bikini pic” (I still have it on my phone) he knew I was mad and was like “I’m sorry, I understand if you wanna break up with me” and started crying. He then proceeded to take out a Pandora charm he bought with the words “I love you” and explained how he was going to give it to me. (It was the first time he ever said I love you to me) But now we are here. I feel like I should say something to him BUT he knows that I’m jealous and she does too. I just want to know what they were texting each other and why they had to delete it. I was also thinking of texting her and being like I don’t like how your texting my boyfriend these things then deleting them? Idk what to do?! Please help.

Thank you so much for sending this in. This is a tough situation, and I know it can be difficult to share it with others.

Before I address what’s going on with your boyfriend, I want to talk a little bit about your family background and how it has affected you. You have had to watch and experience trauma after trauma of cheating first hand with people you love. The relationships in our family we grew up around will directly impact the way we see relationships. So many factors go into how we treat our relationships as adults, but it’s completely understandable why you don’t feel secure in your relationship given what you’ve had to see. (You may find looking into attachment styles can provide a little clarity and explanation on why that is.)

Now, with your boyfriend… God, I’m so sorry I have to do this, but seriously, fuck him. For him to have “cheated” on you in the past and pretend like it didn’t happen, even given everything you’ve gone through, it’s very clear there’s a lack of respect on his end in this relationship. For him to talk to her behind your back, knowing FULL well how you feel about their relationship, he’s knowingly breaking your trust. 

I notice you use language like “insecure” and “jealous” to describe how you’re acting. I’m not sure if this is language you’ve labeled yourself or if this is something he’s called you, leading you to believe that’s what you are, but please know that there’s absolutely no reason why you should believe you’re any of those things. You wouldn’t be experiencing this overwhelming feeling of jealousy if he wasn’t actively doing something to betray your trust. Both partners in a (monogamous) relationship should be doing everything that can to make the other feel safe and respected. It sounds to me like there’s an imbalance here, and he’s at fault for that.

Best case scenario, he’s having fully platonic conversations with this woman. Even if that’s the case, he’s still going behind your back to talk to her. He’s still talking negatively about you to other people. You still don’t trust him completely, or you wouldn’t feel compelled to look through his phone.

You’re unsure if you should even bring this up to him because “he knows that (you’re) jealous.” But if you’re in the right relationship, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell someone how you’re feeling because you think they’re going to judge you. 

I’m so sorry to be biased but… God, the more I think about this, the more I dislike your boyfriend.

Whatever you do, I wouldn’t recommend messaging her. If you really, really feel compelled to, do so only after talking to your boyfriend. She isn’t the one to blame here. Depending on what their communication ultimately is, she may be partially at fault, but your boyfriend is the one blatantly disrespecting you and your trust.

If I were you, I would ask your boyfriend about it. Use “I” statements, ask him openly to explain the situation, and don’t apologize or let him make you feel bad for what he’s done. 

And, if I were you, I would let this conversation seriously determine whether or not you want to continue a relationship with him.

I can’t tell you what to do, and I only know one or two situations from the entire four years of your relationship together, but I would seriously implore you to decide if you’re truly happy and comfortable with him.

Magazine Psychology Today shared a post on Instagram with six signs it’s better to end a relationship. Sometimes an Instagram post can say it better than I can.

Good luck, and I want you to know I’m thinking of you.

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