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I have been dating my boyfriend for two and a half years. We have lived together officially for one and a half years, and he pretty much lived at my old place before that. He has a wonderful son, and for the most part we are happy.
About seven months in, he emotionally cheated on me with his ex. We will call her Ex #1. They started texting and calling while he was at work. When I found out and expressed my discomfort about their two-hour phone calls, he offered to let me talk to her to ease my mind. Silly me, I chose to trust him.
Fast forward to the weekend before Christmas 2018, and I find out he visited her home. The only reason I knew nothing happened was because she sent him texts detailing what she wished would happen next time. He had already blocked her. I chose to stay and forgive; he never made an excuse.
Since then, I’ve struggled to trust his phone usage. We share a phone plan and I pay all the bills. (We split the cost, I just physically press pay). I am the one who looks at the bills and I know he hasn’t talked to her. However, there is the issue of Snapchat. Fast forward to Christmas 2019, and I had stolen his phone to take pictures of us at a party. I discovered that he was besties with his high school ex, the person he was fooling around with before we started dating (Ex #2). He assured me it was just friendship. Then, as I was looking at some of the saved messages, I saw that she had told him that she wished they had never broken up, and that she still loves him. His response was that she should have said something back in high school. He said he told her before we met that he wasn't interested, yet he continues to message her via Snapchat pretty much on the daily.
Today at a family party, he opened her Snapchat thread and there was a picture of her that he responded to with the flirty eye emojis ... or at least that is how I interpreted it. Im confused and hurt. I feel like I have expressed myself enough for him to understand that what he's doing hurts me. I also don’t know why he would keep talking to someone who clearly loves him and isn't me.
We have built a life together and I don't want to leave. I love him and his son. I'm struggling because I don't have "proof" that he is cheating, but he also keeps messaging someone he knows has feelings for him. Both women have to know he and I are together. He doesn't post much, but there are pictures of us together, and he posted a recent video of us all at home laughing. Am I overreacting due to past traumas? Or should I really be worried?
I don't know if he’ll ever take the step from online flirting to in-person cheating. A few pics and eye emojis might be all he's looking for.
But you're uncomfortable with that kind of communication, and I understand why. It's one thing to stay friends with an ex, but it's another to continue to message people from your past who are quite clear about the fact that they actively want you now. He seems to thrive on this kind of attention – or to seek it out, at the very least. It would be helpful to figure out why he needs this.
We've received a handful of letters recently from people whose partners are testing boundaries, looking at pictures of others, and using messages for some kind of stimulation. Those partners say, "Hey, I was never going to meet up with that person," and I think we all believe that in many cases, that might be true.
But you can't be happy with someone who's having this kind of Snapchat life. You also need help talking about it; it sounds like your discussions involve an accusation, a mediocre explanation, and then it ends there, without anyone getting to the heart of why he keeps in touch with these women at all.
My advice is to get the couples counseling you need because there are so many ways to get remote help these days. I'll leave a link in the comments section again; the list is Massachusetts-based, but it should give you ideas for how to find a therapist elsewhere, too. Let your boyfriend know that this is what you need to stay happy in this relationship. Because you're not, at the moment. Make that clear.
Readers? Again with the messages and snooping. What's the right move?