Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Is Suddenly Texting His Ex”

text message

I have been with my boyfriend for about six months now and we have practically been living together for four months. We’ve decided to move in together in August once both of our leases are up. A few weeks ago he told me that one of his ex-girlfriends from when he was in the Air Force a few years ago messaged him, and she’s getting a divorce and told him he should “hit her up some time.” It is very clear on Facebook that we are in a relationship, so I’m confused as to why she would do that to begin with. He said he wanted me to know that it happened and that I have nothing to worry about.

Well, here I am a few weeks later and I see that she’s been texting him. To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to read the conversation while he took out our trash, and, low and behold, they are full-on conversing, yet half of it you could tell had been deleted because the part I started with made no sense. Yes, the conversation — at least the part I read — was harmless; however, he never told me he was texting her. Moreover, why is he texting her? She lives in Seattle, we live in Michigan. I’m slightly concerned as to why he didn’t tell me and also why the conversation seems to have been deleted. — Jealous of His Ex

If you pay attention to nothing else I have to say, please heed this: don’t move in with your boyfriend in August. August is just a few short weeks away, and your relationship is not mature or stable enough to weather the storm that would be moving in and creating a life together as co-habitating partners. Stay where you are or move in with someone else or find a place of your own. Wait a year and see where things are. But, whatever you do, don’t move in together now unless you actually like drama and tension and anxiety and not having space or time away from any of the above.

There are several red flags in your letter, not least of which is your snooping. You wonder why your boyfriend is texting his ex, but why are you invading his privacy and snooping through his text conversations? “To satisfy your curiosity” is not a good enough reason. That reason sucks, actually, and points to an alarming lack of respect and regard for your boyfriend and his privacy. Obviously you felt threatened and were suspicious, but why? What has transpired between you and your boyfriend in the past that has made you so wary of his behavior and/or suspicious of his intentions? Figuring out that part is half the battle here.

The other half of the battle, of course, is figuring out the relationship between your boyfriend and his ex. And to do that, you could just ask your boyfriend. What was she to him? Why did they break up? When did he last talk with her? And why did he tell you she’d messaged him about her divorce? Is it typical of you both to alert each other any time you hear from an ex or any time you talk to anyone else other than each other? If there’s no precedence for this kind of thing, maybe you had a gut reaction to his mentioning her, and, if so, what did your gut say? Our guts are pretty intuitive, and chances are it knows something even if you don’t quite have it figured out.

As for why part of the text conversation was deleted, you don’t know for sure that it was. Maybe they were continuing their conversation from a phone call they had, or an email, or an online chat. Maybe your boyfriend’s phone automatically deletes older texts or hides them in a way that they aren’t immediately viewable. Maybe the conversation didn’t make sense to you… because it wasn’t meant for you! Whatever the case, you need to discuss your feelings with your boyfriend. I’d admit to snooping through his phone and seeing the text conversation. Tell him WHY you were suspicious and see if he can say or do anything to give you some peace about the situation (beyond the fact that, you know, this woman lives several states away).

And one more time for good measure: don’t move in together yet. Wait a year or wait until you haven’t been tempted to snoop for at least six months — whichever comes last. Snooping is a sign that the trust level is inadequate, and the last thing you need is to move in with someone you don’t fully trust.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

28 comments… add one
  • bagge72

    bagge72 June 30, 2014, 10:19 am

    I don’t get why you or other people need to rush into things so quickly. Why after two months did you basically start living with a guy you just started dating? Why after only 7 months are you going to be living together permanently with somebody you hardly know. Why don’t people think of these things before they do them? I mean really how do people feel comfortable not having a separate life from somebody they just met. You really should just be getting into the serious dating phase now, not the moving in and snooping stage.

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    • avatar

      Ms. Simba June 30, 2014, 10:21 am

      While I agree this LW moved too fast given her current situation, I think the idea of “should be” is wrong. Every relationship moves at a different pace and no one is “better” than the other. Plenty of people stay together after dating for a short period of time, and plenty of others wait years to move in together or get married and it ultimately doesn’t work out.

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      • avatar

        TheOtherOtherMe June 30, 2014, 10:26 am

        I agree with Simba – I moved in with my BF after only one month of dating and we are happily married three years later. But obviously I don’t recommend it for everyone, especially if you have trust issues like the LW.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 30, 2014, 10:56 am

        There are definitely case like that out there, and it’s great I just personally don’t understand, why somebody would want to just jump into something so big so quick.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana June 30, 2014, 11:01 am

        Yeah I think it is the exception to the rule that couples who move that fast work out in the long run. Personally I completely agree @Bagge72 and will go on to say that a lease or mutual leases ending is never *enough* of a reason to move in with someone, especially after only 7 months. I have heard far more horror stories that end from this line of thinking and acting than positive happily-ever-afters -not that it doesn’t happen and yeah couple-by-couple, but as a general rule this just isn’t a great way to function in a relationship. I just don’t get why people see taking things slow and building a foundation for a relationship are bad things. Now a days it seems like once you hit the 6 month or 1 year mark people expect to be getting engaged, moving in together, etc. and usually because of that arbitrary 1 year mark and leases ending.

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      • Portia

        Portia June 30, 2014, 11:21 am

        I couldn’t agree more with you, muchacha. If you’re moving in together, it has to be for much better reasons than your leases are up or other solely practical reasons. And there is definitely that pressure once leases are up to move in with whoever you’re dating at the moment.
        .
        I have one friend that was dating this guy for 6 months, was planning to move out of her place anyway, and decided to either move in with the guy or break up. If I advise her on nothing else, I am so glad I helped her decide not to move in with him. She didn’t even know the extent of his sleeziness during the relationship until they broke up.

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      • Monkeysmommy

        monkey's mommy June 30, 2014, 10:58 am

        Same here except it’s been 5 years for us.

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      • Lady_Red

        Red_Lady June 30, 2014, 10:50 am

        Of course it works for some coupes, but it seems like situations like yours are more the exception than the rule.

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    • JK

      JK June 30, 2014, 10:32 am

      But Bagge, they´re FACEBOOK OFFICIAL!!!! That is like the most important thing ever, and so means theyre ready to live together! Nevermind that LW doesnt seem to be able to talk to him. Or trust him, for that matter.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 30, 2014, 10:57 am

        Well, unless there is something else above facebook that I don’t know about then I guess it’s time to move in!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 30, 2014, 11:30 am

        I’ve missed snarky JK! and bagge; bagge, where have you been?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 June 30, 2014, 1:09 pm

        I’ve been here dude! There has just been a lot of cut and dry answers that, by the time I log on sometimes, I would just be repeating the same thing for the umpteenth time.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna June 30, 2014, 10:30 am

    I’m more and more convinced that snooping is a warning sign no matter what, as it indicates a breakdown of trust and communication in a relationship. If you felt secure with your bf, you would not hesitate to ask about the ex and he would probably casually mention that he’s conversing with her. With regard to the latter, there can be such a thing as innocent texting with an ex. Maybe she had a specific question about something but that part was deleted. As long as you don’t know the context, it’s hard to assess whether anything suspicious was going on.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra June 30, 2014, 6:42 pm

      Agreed. I once snooped in my ex’s phone when I was really insecure about his friendship with one of his female friends. I had reason to suspect things were going on and I didn’t find anything juicy…but the fact that I had so much insecurity in the relationship tells me now that something wasn’t right for a long while.

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  • avatar

    PFG-SCR June 30, 2014, 10:49 am

    “…maybe you had a gut reaction to his mentioning her, and, if so, what did your gut say?”

    I think her reaction to start snooping his texts shows her gut reaction.

    I’m not sure what she can really do in this situation, except just wait and see. If she asks him if something is going on with the ex and admits to snooping, he’s going to get upset with her and consider her insecure. If there is something inappropriate going on with the ex, he’s never going to admit it, and instead, will cover his tracks better (and will probably get upset and defensive).

    I agree that there might seem to be gaps in texts because she’s not privy to the other aspects of their communication, but no texting app randomly deletes or “hides” certain texts from a text chain.

    It doesn’t make a difference if the woman is half a country away if the boyfriend wants to be involved with her in some way again, so I don’t think the distance itself is a reason to dismiss the ex. Ultimately, the LW needs to decide how happy she is with her boyfriend and where things are going, and if not, address that with her boyfriend. If her boyfriend is truly happy with her, he’s not going to want to get involved in any sexual or romantic way with his ex (unless he’s still in love with her and then there is nothing the LW can do anyway).

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    • avatar

      joanna June 30, 2014, 11:01 am

      My phone has a limited memory and tells me when I’m storing too many texts so I can delete some. It warns when it’s 80% full and when it gets to 100% then it won’t accept more texts.

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    • avatar

      AbbyNormal June 30, 2014, 12:07 pm

      My phone has a limited memory too and I can only send and receive about 300 messages before my memory is full and so I’m constantly deleting chunks of texts from people or just all the texts I’ve sent so all of my older conversations make no sense. I’m not trying to hide anything, I just have to constantly delete messages off my phone. I also thought it was interesting that you jumped immediately to the conclusion that he was using a texting app that couldn’t delete things rather than he was just using his phone to text and had to delete texts because he has a phone with a limited memory. For all we know, he doesn’t even own a smartphone.

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    • Pamplemousse Rose

      Pamplemousse Rose June 30, 2014, 12:15 pm

      My phone only keeps a set number of messages per person I’m texting – the default is 150, which doesn’t take long to reach, when sometimes one thought is broken up into multiple texts.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray June 30, 2014, 11:23 am

    The question presented: “why is he texting her? She lives in Seattle, we live in Michigan. I’m slightly concerned as to why he didn’t tell me and also why the conversation seems to have been deleted.”
    *
    My guess is he’s texting her just to catch up? I have exes that I’m friendly with; others that I would prefer to never see again. Obviously it’s not to, like, see her during his lunch break, considering the distance.
    *
    As for why he didn’t tell you? He did. (Didn’t he?) Wasn’t that the point of telling you about how an ex had just reached out?
    *
    As for the conversation that seems to have been deleted: I highly doubt he edited the texts to avoid your snooping eyes seeing something racy (because wouldn’t he have just deleted the entire thread)? My guess is (a) conversation continued from phone to text and/or (b) maybe there are multiple text threads and you just read one of them. (On my phone iMessages and texts get different threads.)
    *
    There, I answered all the questions – next! I’m on fire today. I’ve already billed like 3 hours, too.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie June 30, 2014, 10:40 am

    The LW is most certainly moving fast, but too fast? My wife and I moved in together in less then a week, but we’d known each other for more the 10 years at the time. It totally depends on the people involved, how long have they known each other before they got together, their past relationship history, ages, financial status, etc. The snooping is just that. She should look closely at herself about why she “snooped”. He and his EX live over 1,000 miles apart so meeting up is difficult in the extreme. If it’s just conversation I don’t see a problem. Everybody has a history and associations outside their partner and is completely normal. This reeks of immaturity and being self centered.

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  • avatar

    LS June 30, 2014, 12:31 pm

    This sounds like it could be a pattern for the LW and her BF. Everyone is excusing the missing text messages because maybe he needed the memory etc… but what if he really did delete them?
    .
    Maybe LW is a chronic snooper and he has learned that he needs to hide things from her (even innocuous things in case she snoops and takes it the wrong way)?
    .
    Maybe he has a habit of hiding things from her or a history of cheating (it is possible to carry on an emotional affair over text, or just use it as an outlet away from relationship issues), which has driven LW to feel the need to snoop?
    .
    Either way–not healthy and they need to figure out whether they can trust each other not to hide things, not to snoop.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties June 30, 2014, 12:45 pm

    I personally think moving in together is a great idea, you don’t trust him, neither of you are open or honest, sign at least a year long lease together, heck make it two, and send an update letter weekly? Alright that might be really snarky, but seriously, don’t move in with this dude and have a conversation about honesty.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee June 30, 2014, 1:02 pm

    Yes, Wendy (and everyone else) is right in saying that you should not move in with your boyfriend. There are of course relationships out there that move fast and work out just fine, but relationships like that require the kind of open, honest communication that isn’t just present here. Your boyfriend told you about an ex reaching out and that was a perfect time to discuss any kind of feelings you had about that (jealousy, uncomfortableness, etc) even if they were completely unfounded. Instead, you let it fester to the point you snooped in his phone and found what seems like an innocent text message. If that’s when you are in your relationship, then I think you both have some work to do as a couple before you take a big step like living together.
    .
    All you can do at this point, is have the extremely uncomfortable conversation where you confess that you snooped and air out all your feelings on the subject and hope that your boyfriend is okay with the fact that you trusted snooping through his phone more than speaking to him personally, especially if he’s never given you any other reason to distrust him up to this point.

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  • SixtyFour

    SixtyFour June 30, 2014, 1:58 pm

    Sort of related, but I was wondering if you all ever thought if snooping could be justified? If you find something incriminating, do the ends justify the means? Or if you’re really at the point in a relationship where you feel so compelled to snoop because you are convinced that you are being lied to at every turn, should you just break up anyway?
    I’m sure this answer depends on a lot of things… How long is the relationship? How long was good and how recent is the weird behavior? Are you trying to convince your partner to work on the relationship or do you just want an excuse out? Are there kids involved?

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 30, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Break up with him. IMMEDIATELY. People who snoop don’t deserve romantic partners. Period. End. Of. Story. You want to own somebody so completely that their privacy means nothing? Buy a fucking cat.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 30, 2014, 3:27 pm

      Or a puppy – and in particular a havanese. They love you unconditionally. I don’t have to snoop; I know I am Moose’s Numero Uno.

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    • avatar

      MsMisery July 1, 2014, 12:32 pm

      Well that’s just good advice, period. EVERYONE::: get out there and adopt something stat!!!

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  • Lyra

    Lyra June 30, 2014, 6:54 pm

    Oh boy.
    .
    It’s been 6 months. Slow the heck down already. Yikes. I have the rule for myself that I have to date someone through all 4 seasons without making a major life change — moving in, getting engaged, whatever. Not to mention the fact that you’ve found the need to snoop already? It’s only been 6 months! There’s not nearly enough trust there.

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