Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by columnist and blogger, Billie Criswell.
I’m 42 and six months ago I met a man who’s 47. We’ve both been married once and are looking to settle down with someone. He’s been single for 15 years and has had a number of girlfriends while I’ve only had a few since I divorced two years ago. Everything has been completely wonderful in this first phase of our relationship. We both know what we want in a relationship and are open and honest about our expectations. He is extremely good to me and I, in return, am good to him. The problem is he hangs with a much younger crowd and I hear him say things to female friends on the phone that I find offensive and disrespectful to me, as his girlfriend and partner. I am certain he would be upset if the shoe were on the other foot.
Most recently, some things happened in our lives that made me wonder if he was cheating on me. After talking to my girlfriend at work, she said I “MUST” look at his text messages. She said if he’s cheating, it will be in his phone. Well, I went home and looked on his phone and there was no text messages that looked suspicious. He leaves his phone lying around in the open which I always felt a cheating person would NOT do. Fast forward a week later: I had resigned myself to the fact that he wasn’t cheating and that it was all in my head. Then, one night on a whim while he was in the shower, I decided to peek at his text messages again. I DID find one that was very sketchy to me and it upset me a lot. This woman was calling him “baby” and concluded her text with “I need some loving. Xoxoxo.”
Now, I note in his “friends” circle, he calls everyone “baby,” which does bother me, but it’s something I am willing to overlook. In his defense, I also can see a friend of his saying “I need some loving” meaning a big hug or whatever, even though I find this inappropriate for her to be saying to him. His friends are very affectionate with one another. However, this woman is nearly 50, I do NOT know her at all, and she is NOT in our circle of friends. She lives in an area where he is currently working doing a home remodeling project.
A few nights ago, I approached him about some of his suspicious activity. However, I could not bring myself to tell him I had looked at his text messages. So, I did not bring up this woman. I flat-out asked if he were seeing someone else. He told me he wasn’t, that he wouldn’t do that to me, that he is faithful to me, that he loves me, etc… He didn’t try to smother me with affection as in a guilty way of trying to make me believe his innocence. In fact, he pulled away from me and seemed to be hurt that I had such little trust in him. I felt terrible after confronting him, yet the following day he said he would’ve done the same thing if the tables were turned.
So, my question is this: do I choose to trust him, quit looking on his phone, and take an attitude that ignorance is bliss, OR do I keep looking at his phone and if I find anything concrete, approach him about it? This is the first serious relationship I’ve had since my divorce and I really want it to work. I do love him and he says he loves me and wants to spend his life with me. But I feel I HAVE to be able to trust him completely before moving forward. — Crazy in Love
I like that you point out that your decision to trust him is a choice. You do have a choice here, and it sounds like you are saying you want one thing, but you’re doing another — you need to allow those two concepts to match up and fast. Some prophecies are self-fulfilling, and you are on a path of self-destruction if you keep going at this rate.
First of all, shame on your girlfriend for telling you to look through his text messages! That was horrible advice, but you took it anyway, and then when you didn’t find what you were looking for, you went back again! It sounds like you found something not because there was something to find, but because you wanted to find it.
Maybe she was trying to get “some lovin’” from someone else… maybe they have some type of inside joke. This totally isn’t a situation of “ignorance is bliss” — it doesn’t sound like there is anything to be jealous or angry about. Your suspicions seem a little misplaced and it makes me wonder if you have trust issues in general, or if you have been hurt so terribly in past relationships that you are gun-shy of something good coming your way. Keep in mind, you have to be able to feel worthy of love to accept it.
His reaction to your question of whether or not he was seeing other people also reads as genuine; his feelings were hurt, but then he tried to put himself in your shoes and said that he would feel the same way. Every relationship comes with challenges; if you are with his friends, and he displays this behavior in front of you, it doesn’t seem like he has anything to hide… he isn’t keeping his cell phone a secret, and he seems like an open and honest guy.
In the end, you have to learn to accept people for who and what they are. He’s a guy who is affectionate with his younger group of friends, and that includes kisses and hugs and apparently some strange texts. Either you accept that and have confidence that he is going home with you at the end of the day, or you don’t. It’s your choice.
If it were me, I would choose to trust him and have a little faith. Don’t make drama where it doesn’t exist. Having been through a divorce, are you more likely to be a little jaded when it comes to the dating world? Sure. But don’t let a checkered past color what sounds like an otherwise great relationship.
* Billie Criswell is a columnist and blogger from the “Delaware Seashore.” She loves zumba, bloody marys, and cooking. You can follow her shenanigans at Bossyitalianwife.com.