He deleted her … then texted her

Posting early and then getting second vaccine. [insert some happy emoji]

This is a great time to tell me your love/relationship/dating question. Send your own letter to [email protected] or fill out this form.

Dear Mere,

I'm 22 and my boyfriend's 26. We've been together for almost nine months. I accepted the first date and my first impression was: wow. He's smart, hardworking, fun, and I really liked him. We’ve already talked about a future together and I'm happy about that.

However, after the typical honeymoon phase, my (often very sharp) sixth sense can't seem to let go of an issue: other women. He has a past of being a player and cheated on his girlfriends when he was younger. He admitted this to me directly even before officially dating, without me asking, as a way to say, "Hey, I was that guy, but I'm not anymore. I'm past my college days." However, the combination of me being extremely curious (often distrustful), plus his past, and him being direct about wanting a future with me, have led me to something I'm not proud of – checking his phone. I know. I shouldn't.

But that's not the point. I would have stopped the first time if I didn't spot mini red flags. One day this month, out of nowhere, I decided to ask him if he had been talking to other girls, he said he wasn't and that he just casually Snapchatted this girl, someone I know. He said they only talked through Snapchat about sports and friends in common. Something in me, however, felt something was wrong. So I walked away for a few minutes and when I came back he (by himself) was like "OK, I'll delete her," and he did. Last week, still not recovering from my hunch, I checked his phone and typed in her name and a text message pops up of him saying, "Hey, I feel so *ashamed* for this, but my girlfriend checked my phone and got all jealous and made a show out of us talking, and told me to delete you from Snapchat." Plus, a voice note saying, ”I tried explaining to her you had a boyfriend and all, she just didn't get it and got all crazy jealous, I'm very sorry,” and some emojis. I froze. Her response was: "OMG, I'm sorry for that, hope you guys can fix it."

She's my age, they are not friends, never have been, and only have a few friends in common. Yes, she has a "boyfriend," but they are on and off. And yes, that was the only text they ever had, the rest was in Snapchat. Regarding our relationship, it's been some rough weeks and I'm handling a bunch of personal issues, so this was not great timing. What I read/listened to triggered many insecurities and doubts. Why did he feel the need to apologize if nothing had been going on between them? Why did he text her when he hadn't texted her before, just to say sorry for deleting her, if he had no ulterior motives?

How much should they have been talking for him to say sorry? Why did he feel the need to give her a "good" impression if she "isn't relevant?” I feel he did this because he's interested in her. Otherwise, why would he talk badly about me to another girl, making her feel/know he goes behind my back and trusts HER enough to do so? We are supposed to handle these issues in private just the two of us as a team, and I would never create a divide in the relationship by talking badly about him to another man. I feel disrespected. After I confronted him for this (I was VERY mad), he deleted and blocked her on everything (his own doing), as now he's trying to "win me over.” I expressed how mad I was, and he, crying, asked for forgiveness. That day I was so over it that I just complied. I decided not to see him this week at all, but we are talking regularly. When I do see him, I want us to sit down and talk. I want to take advantage of how now I have the power in my hands as he knows he screwed up. What should I say for him to realize that staying together implies that I can forgive but not forget? Thanks for the help.

– Disrespected

I ... hmm. Is he is allowed to have friends? Acquaintances who are women?

Maybe the Snapchat messages sounded flirty to you (did they?), but if they were just about sports and friends, I guess I don't see the big deal. People, especially in a pandemic, are trying to socialize. To connect. I don't want to be naive here, but ... the issue isn't him talking to some woman about the Red Sox (guessing content here), it's about him keeping a secret.

But maybe it just didn't even warrant a discussion. It doesn't sound like the conversations were very important.

I assume he texted her because one moment they were talking, and the next she was deleted. Maybe he thought she'd be confused, upset, or would reach out in other ways. I read his message as an imperfect way of saying, "My girlfriend doesn't like this, and I'm trying to figure out our boundaries, so we need to stop talking." I read her response as, "I'll back off!"

I understand why you feel disrespected – that you saw the exchange as them having emotional intimacy at your expense. But I do think there’s a missing conversation here. No matter what happens, the two of you are going to continue to build your communities online and in real life. What requires disclosure? Can you trust each other to know what's friendship vs. flirtation?

Talk as a team. Be honest about how you both use social media (is it a way to keep in touch with friends? A way to deal with boredom? Are you "friends" with strangers?). Think about what kind of private life you both need to remain coupled, because everyone needs their own personal experiences, and it doesn't have to mean infidelity.

Find out whether he deleted her because he was trying to calm you down, or because he agreed that his conversation with her was inappropriate. That's my big question. There's no point in him following a bunch of rules if they don't make sense to him.

– Meredith

Readers? How should the LW talk/think about all of this?