Q: I have been dating my boyfriend "Hank" for a year (this time) after a year of on-and-off dating, preceded by six months of exclusive dating. Needless to say, during the "on and off" time, hurtful things happened. I found his online dating profiles and eventually looked at some of his e-mail messages to find out if he had broken our exclusive sex agreement in the period of non-exclusive dating. He had.
Many fights erupted, and some silence, until we came back around to each other. A few residual hurt feelings remain, and some tenderness where the trust is still new. Despite the old hurts, we are best friends, and I love being with him.
A major point of contention is a girl, "Anna." Anna was a friend of Hank's. Anna flirted with Hank online all the time that we dated. I saw this when he left his Facebook logged into my phone. When I saw the e-mail messages (when a friend finally put me up to snooping for my own sexual well-being), I saw notes in which he said unkind things about me to her. I saw messages about how she stayed over in his bed on a trip during which he told me she had stayed elsewhere. That they had hooked up, and that there were confusing feelings. Despite the fact that Anna didn't even live in the same city, she wanted him to herself. He called their relationship "always and forever complicated" in a conversation with a friend. Yet he tells me they were never more than friends. I can't cite this conversation since I saw it during the lowest point of our inability to trust each other when broken up.
Anna is in the same industry as Hank and I, and he recently gave her some work. She posted about this on Facebook, thanking him for the job and that is how I found out. He admitted to hiding it from me because he knew I would be upset. He has also shared links to her work on Facebook. He had never posted anything about me or my work until I brought this up. He only does it now, I think, as a sort of retroactive bandaid.
I told him it bothers me to be reminded of Anna, and he immediately lashes out. Every time I have brought it up, he calls me childish, telling me to stop policing his wall. He told me he was free to post what he wants. I asked why he did something that he knows brings up bad feelings for me, to which he said I have too many feelings to keep track of.
In our last disagreement this week over his sharing her work yet again, he told me Anna was flying to town to interview for a job at his company, in his department. He told me he did not recommend her but I have a hard time believing him.
Now a problem that was 3,000 miles away is potentially moving into his office. She is in the industry, so some of our groups of friends overlap, and I am afraid that not only will he be seeing her regularly, but that I will have to see her too. I considered asking if I could meet her this weekend when she visits to dispel any jealousy over what he claims is just a friend, but in the past he said I should not meet her because he thinks I will cause a confrontation.
This all sounds so petty due to the medium of Facebook, but the feelings behind the posts, I think, are rooted in some serious concerns.
Am I wrong? What do I do?
– On His Wall
A: This is not about Facebook. Your problems stem from Hank's history with Anna and the fact that you barely trust him after so much on-and-off nonsense.
You doubt Hank's commitment, and he's made it clear that he has no interest in keeping track of your feelings. And the latest version of your relationship is rooted in lies. He doesn't know what you know about Anna. So much is being left unsaid.
Forget about Anna for a second and think about whether you'll ever be able to trust Hank and feel at ease in the relationship. If Anna got married and moved to another planet, would you feel confident that Hank would stick around? Would you still feel the need to check his phone or find meaning in his Facebook posts? Something tells me that you'd still have serious doubts.
My advice is to tell him what you saw back in the day. It might break you up or expose more problems in the relationship, but how else can you carry on?
You say that you and Hank are best friends. If that's true, you should be able to say, "Sorry I overanalyze, but back in the day when things were bad, I snooped and now I'm stuck knowing too much. Can we get over that?"
The whole thing stinks, but there's no way around the truth here. You have to tell him what you know. There is no way around Anna.
Readers? Does she have to come clean? Is Anna a real threat? Is this about Facebook? Help.