I need your help. I live with my boyfriend of three years, who is divorced with a child (I am ten years his junior and do not have kids). This has been my most serious relationship and I moved to be with him. There are tricky moments, what with his ex and a kid involved, but most of the time things are great. I love him and he is truly my best friend. For what it's worth, I see a therapist weekly (I know you're always quick to recommend this!).
I think that I make my boyfriend happy and that our relationship is a good one. But ... we have a recurring issue that is admittedly of my own making. I am crippled by self-doubt and insecurity. Sometimes this insecurity is about his ex-wife, and other times it's about a woman my boyfriend dated before he met me. For a number of practical reasons, he still sees her a few times a year. Boyfriend saw Other Woman while he was still married (he was very open with me about his infidelity when we met).
He has told me time and time again that he has no lingering feelings for this woman, and he has given me every reason to believe I am important to him. And yet, I cave to my insecurities constantly and snoop on his phone and computer. He looks at her social media pages regularly, which confuses me. Is that really ever innocent? Is it just curiosity? When he makes innocuous comments (example: I cut my hair recently and he made a comment about liking it longer; long hair is Other Woman's trademark) I die a little inside imagining that he thinks she's more beautiful. When we fight or when things are tough, I tell myself that he wishes he'd ended up with Other Woman instead (she dumped him).
I realize this sounds nuts, and intellectually I know that snooping only leads to and feeds the crazy fire. I just don't know how to feel more confident in my relationship. Therapy hasn't really helped, and I fear that my boyfriend is at a breaking point with me. I'm too old for this childish nonsense, yet I truly feel uncertain about my boyfriend's feelings for me. Any advice?
It might help to accept that your boyfriend does have feelings for this Other Woman (sorry). He has history with her – the kind that changed his life – and that's not something that goes away. He's probably still attracted to her and wonders what life might be like with her as his partner. He checks her social media accounts because he still cares.
But all of that shouldn't make you feel worse. Many people have feelings for exes and manage not to act on them. Sometimes exes become mythical, perfect beings – until we run into them and remember that they're exes for a reason. Isn't it possible that despite these old feelings, your boyfriend wakes up every day and would rather be with you? You have to stop it with the all-or-nothing talk. He can have weird, complicated thoughts about this woman and still be thrilled that he's in your relationship.
Your biggest problem right now – the fuel for this fire – is the snooping. It's making all of this worse, and it's big-time self-sabotage. Please come up with something to do – or someone to call and hold you accountable – whenever you want to snoop. Ask a friend to talk you down when you're feeling weak. Go online and play a game. Sometimes the brain just needs somewhere else to go.
Know that you're looking for answers that can't be answered with a snoop. If you want to know whether this relationship will last, you should focus on what happens when you're together – in real life.
Readers? How can she stop snooping?