Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Sent Sexy Snapchat Photos to Another Woman”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

Computer_snooping

I just caught my boyfriend of six months exchanging sexy Snapchat photos with another woman after I accidentally saw messages they sent to each other on his computer. (This woman lives across the country now, but she’s someone whom he dated briefly before we met). To me, this is cheating. I confronted him about it and he was extremely remorseful, repeatedly apologizing and, while sobbing, begging me to give him another chance. He said it happened after we had a fight and when he was drunk and sad, which he admitted was not an excuse, but that he wanted to feel desired by someone and had a “moment of weakness.” He even offered to give me all the passwords to his email and phone, but that’s not the sort of weird relationship I want to be in.

I said that I needed some time to think about everything, so we’re currently taking some time apart. I’m so torn because I can’t decide if I can fully trust him after this. What if we have another fight in the future, which, like all couples, we inevitably will, and, instead of discussing his feelings about our relationship with me, he again reaches out to another woman? He swears he won’t and that he’s learned from this one mistake, but how do you know when to believe someone?

It’s also only been six months, so I’m not sure if I should just break up with him and cut my losses. But I do love him and I’m inclined to give him another chance to prove himself and regain my trust. I just don’t want to be one of “those girls” who’s like, “he apologized, so everything is OK now.”

If you or your readers have any advice for me, I would be so, so grateful. — Undecided

I think what you’re asking, essentially, is if giving your boyfriend another chance is worth the risk of a broken heart, and whether a broken heart is more probable now that you know that your boyfriend is flawed and has betrayed your trust once already. I can’t answer that for you, but I can say that every time we let ourselves fall in love with someone, or even let ourselves be open to the possibility of loving someone, we risk a broken heart. I can say that love is worth great risk (not all risk, but great risk). And I can also say that you are already invested. You already love. And you will already be hurt if you end things now. Will the hurt be greater if you give your boyfriend another chance and he betrays you again? Yes, probably. But what if he learned from his mistake — a mistake that maybe wasn’t as damaging as it could have been? What if he learned from it and is genuinely remorseful and the thought of losing you has reminded him how much is at stake? What if, from now on, the mistakes he makes — because he will make mistakes and so will you — are more easily digestible than acts of betrayal? What if trust is restored and you go on to have an amazing, loving relationship in which this incident is a hiccup — one that tested your commitment and brought you closer together and reminded you that you can overcome challenges?

Of course, the opposite could happen, too. You could wind up with a terribly broken heart. It’s a risk. One that only you can decide is worth taking.

If you do decide to take the risk, know that long-lasting love, as wonderful as that would be, isn’t the only possible positive outcome. You could also learn a lot — about life, about yourself, about the power of forgiveness — because each relationship and each broken heart and each disappointment and each person we dare to let into our hearts has the potential to teach us an enormous amount. There’s no guarantee this relationship is going to work out or that you will make the “right” decision, but, if your investments don’t lead to the rewards you desire, that doesn’t mean they’re without value. Some of life’s best lessons come from our biggest disappointments.

That said, if you do decide to continue your relationship, I would enlist a “two-strikes and you’re out” rule. If he betrays your trust on this scale again, you give him the boot and MOA.

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

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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.

100 comments… add one
  • lemongrass

    lemongrass June 5, 2014, 9:21 am

    I could have gone either way until he blamed it on fighting. If he took ownership of what he did then that would change things in my mind but he didn’t. So are you supposed to not speak up, don’t rock the boat in case he acts shitty again? That kills it in my mind.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow June 5, 2014, 9:48 am

      I came to say exactly the same thing. It was manageable until he went with “see what you make me do?”. That’s the shittiest part.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 9:53 am

        I read it differently. According to LW, her bf made sure to emphasize that the fight wasn’t an excuse. For me, what he said is consistent with taking ownership of what he did.

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    • avatar

      joanna June 5, 2014, 9:54 am

      I concur. I think the best decision is to let this guy go and find someone who is not vindictive like that. I mean if your fighting at 6 months in and he turns to other women then it really suggests he’s not in it for the long haul.

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      • avatar

        joanna June 5, 2014, 9:55 am

        *you’re (general you)

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 9:57 am

      Yes, I thought the same thing. I would have hoped the explanation would have been something along the lines of “I was just goofing around and it meant nothing at all and you’re right I was playing with fire and that was stupid and not worth it at all and I will respect you more moving forward and not do that again and blah blah blah.” So, now, what, every time they fight or go through a rough patch, will he need to feel desired by some other woman? Weird. Having said that, I like what Wendy wrote about risk and forgiveness and this seems like a situation they can work through….

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      • katie

        katie June 5, 2014, 10:04 am

        yea i think this is a really great point- and that is a very, very big character flaw in my opinion, the need to be “desired” when you are feeling down, to the point that one would seek out the attention. to me that points to other character flaws too.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow June 5, 2014, 10:12 am

        Like being awfully narcissistic and unable to control his temper when under stress. Run for the hills.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 10:44 am

        Right. So, it’s funny because the issue LW wrote in about is the sexy snapshots. That’s the mistake that I think he could learn from and not do again and that could have been just an innocent dumb move that meant nothing. But the more I think of the follow up to it – that he blamed it on their fight, that he said he needed to feel desired by another woman, and that he’d offer up his passwords and phone as proof — all of THAT to me are the bigger issues. If the LW gives him a second chance – which I’d probably still do – I’d watch out more for these things – blaming her, needing to feel desired by others, offering the control instead of earning trust (as Sas distinguished articulately below), etc.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 10:53 am

        Also — sorry, I’m not sure why I”m so commenty today but I can’t stop — this LW seems smart and has self respect and my guess is that her gut feelings are more about the guy’s follow up and less the sexy snapshots at this point. And I get in the heat of the moment when he’s caught he may just throw out a bunch of stuff like “here, take my passwords” or “oh sorry I dunno the fight had me down.” I’d recommend LW sit down with him again and have a talk about these bigger issues and if he’s still all “well I was mad at you!” or “well I said you could have my password, gawd, what’s the big deal” etc. then LW will get a good idea about whether the boyfriend is able to get the bigger picture and learn from this.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie June 5, 2014, 11:01 am

        Yes absolutely this.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow June 5, 2014, 11:02 am

        Yeah she seems like a really reasonable person. And having the conversation again a couple of times will be a good indicator of where they stand. Specially if the dude goes like “THAT WAS LIKE A WEEK AGO I’M A NEW MAN HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO PUNISH ME FOR THIS” too soon – that’s where my money’s at.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 11:08 am

        100% agree. As I mentioned in one my comments, I had a fight with my bf half a year into our relationship. And it was definitely the conversation afterwards that convinced me that we were on the right track.

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      • avatar

        sally* August 7, 2014, 10:09 am

        @addiepray I keep seeing this or variations of it in various threads
        “offering control instead of earning trust”

        How do you believe people earn back trust?
        I figured someone giving you access to their stuff is a way of showing that they aren’t hiding anything, but maybe not?

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      • avatar

        Catatonic June 5, 2014, 1:52 pm

        Huh. My ex did this. Every time we had a fight he needed to “feel validated” by another woman. So he cheated on me repeatedly, usually emotionally. To me, a fight was just a fight. To him, it was insurmountable.. I credit that to his pathological insecurity, but I digress. IMO, there are people who are capable of this sort of indiscretion and there are people who are flabbergasted by it. These two kinds of people would not last long in a romantic relationship. It’s a fundamental difference of moral codes.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna June 5, 2014, 9:25 am

    This is a tough one, and like Wendy I think it can go either way. You ultimately have to listen to your gut and decide whether he seems sincere and appears to have learned something from this, and if your own feelings about him have changed or not. Just to tell a story, my boyfriend and I had our biggest fight about 6 months into our relationship. It was on a completely different issue (nothing to do with cheating), and we both kind of f**ked up. I was scared for the relationship for a bit & it definitely tested my feelings, but in the end I learned a lot from it and was able to adjust my behavior (and so was he). Since then, the issue has sometimes reappeared, but we can now recognize it when it’s happening and we haven’t fought about it anymore. So I definitely believe that it’s possible to get over early relationship hickups and be happy afterwards.

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  • avatar

    bethany June 5, 2014, 9:33 am

    Ooh, I love snapchat! But no one sends me sexy pics!

    But seriously, LW, if you really like this guy and think he’s worth it, then sure, give it another try. BUT– if he pulls any more of this crap, MOA.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 9:40 am

      I thought snapchat pictures disappeared after a few seconds, no?

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      • avatar

        bethany June 5, 2014, 9:56 am

        They do.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 10:07 am

        So how did the LW find out about them?

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      • katie

        katie June 5, 2014, 10:11 am

        and isnt snapchat an app for phones? she saw this on his computer?

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh June 5, 2014, 10:20 am

        if i’m reading it correctly i believe they referenced the snap chats in an email? or some other form of messaging on the computer?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 10:21 am

        Smartypants!

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      • avatar

        Morgan June 5, 2014, 10:27 am

        Oh, that makes sense.

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      • avatar

        Morgan June 5, 2014, 10:26 am

        I wondered about this as well. It is possible to take a screenshot of a snapchat, which he could then save to his computer, where she could then see them. That seems like a little more than just exchanging snap chats if he’s then saving them and uploading them to his computer, though. That’s more effort than one time drunk after a fight. Or there was exchanging of pictures on multiple mediums and she just simplified it to snapchat. Which is also suggests a more ongoing thing than drunk one time after a fight.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki June 5, 2014, 9:42 am

      Add me and I’ll send you sexy pictures 😛 Probably of my dog laying on the couch, but whatever.

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  • hyggelig

    hyggelig June 5, 2014, 9:33 am

    LW, something very similar happened to me at around the 7-8 month mark. I felt like you do, I didn’t want to be stupid and just let it go if it was a red flag, but I remember that his apology was very sincere, and he talked honestly about it, and seemed genuinely upset at himself. We also talked about the need for him to communicate with me when he was upset.
    .
    When I wrote into DW, the commenters all suggested it was a huge red flag, and I should move on. Ultimately, I was able to forgive him, slowly over the course of several months, and we are still together several years later. So I would suggest you think about if you have a gut feeling that this is a sign or a pattern, or rather just a one time mistake. If, like me, you don’t know whether to trust yourself, just move slowly and see how you feel. Like Wendy said, personally I decided the relationship we already had was worth the risk of believing it was a singular mistake.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ June 5, 2014, 9:35 am

    I think Wendy’s advice is excellent and don’t disagree at all, but I will say that under the circumstances presented here – only together for 6 months; he blamed you (or you fighting with him) for his cheating; you don’t trust him; you’re not interested in having to keep tabs on what he’s doing to verify he’s not cheating; and you’re really questioning yourself about whether you want to stay with this guy – I’d probably move on. Relationships can survive cheating, but it’s hard work and you have to really, really want to both survive it and to rebuild absolute trust. I don’t get the impression this guy is worth it to you, LW, so I’d let this one go. There are other guys out there who won’t run to someone else at the first sign of difficulty.

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  • avatar

    emily85 June 5, 2014, 9:43 am

    Trust your gut. Only you know if he is truthful and actually remorseful. I was over 2 years into a relationship when I caught my ex-bf doing that and I worked on forgiving him, but ultimately I could never trust him again (in his case it was because he wasn’t trustworthy). I knew after it happened that I should leave, but wanted to give him another chance. In my case, it wasn’t worth it. He broke up with me on my birthday a year later.

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    • Bon Vivant

      Bon Vivant June 5, 2014, 10:43 am

      I had a similar situation as well. His “promise to not ever to do that again” lasted a grand total of 4 days. What a colossal waste of my time, this was.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow June 5, 2014, 10:51 am

        Yeah, that’s how I suspect this will go is she stays.

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        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 11:09 am

        At least you only wasted 4 days? Or did you only find out later?

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      • Bon Vivant

        Bon Vivant June 5, 2014, 11:29 am

        I found out right away, this guy wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer (why I went out with him I’ll never know). That was the end of that!

        LW, obviously I don’t know this guy and as others have noted, people can mess up and learn their lesson. I, being skeptical, would have a hard time getting past this and would always be suspicious and wondering if he was just being more careful about covering his tracks.

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      • Boobs Magee

        Boobs Magee June 5, 2014, 11:22 am

        Been there, done that……..
        Three times with the same guy.

        I look back and just want to kick my own ass.

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  • avatar

    ktfran June 5, 2014, 9:50 am

    To be fair to this guy and contrary to what others are saying, I actually do think he took ownership of his indiscretion. Yes, he said he was sad and drunk after a fight and that it was no excuse, but nowhere in this letter she say he blamed the fight on her. From the way she described, it really sounds like he just effed up and he was sincere in his apology.

    So, WWS, LW! See if you can forgive this ONCE, but if it happens again, I would MOA, because that means he really didn’t learn from his mistake. Hopefully it was just that though, a mistake. They happen.

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    • lemongrass

      lemongrass June 5, 2014, 9:54 am

      I know that when I am truly sorry for my behaviour to another person I say “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” By adding that they had a fight, he was drunk and sad and he wanted to feel desired by someone else he is trying to justify his behaviour, if not to her but to himself. That is a huge red flag to me. He may truly be sorry but he shouldn’t be trying to justify why he did it.

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      • avatar

        ktfran June 5, 2014, 10:03 am

        IDK, if I really fucked up, I would probably try to explain why. I actually think I would. But then again, if it were me, I would want an explanation, so I would offer the same to the other person, unless they said they didn’t want it. We don’t know if this LW asked for one or not.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 10:07 am

        I find it difficult to judge whether he was trying to shift some of the blame or not, but the way I picture it was that he came up with a litany of explanations as he was sobbing. I could see that happening if he was afraid of being dumped, which he probably was. If he kept repeating these aspects after he calmed down it would be more worrisome to me.

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      • lemongrass

        lemongrass June 5, 2014, 10:45 am

        An explanation is one thing. It would be different if he said “it didn’t mean anything, i was just fooling around and it went too far. I crossed the line.” But he didn’t, he said that since they fought he went to his ex-lover and wanted to feel desired by her.

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      • avatar

        Tax Geek June 5, 2014, 10:05 am

        I think there is a difference between giving a reason for doing something and making an excuse.

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      • Miss MJ

        Miss MJ June 5, 2014, 10:06 am

        I think, even giving him credit here, that this kind of thought process: “She fought with me. I don’t feel loved. I have to seek that attention and validation elsewhere.” shows that this guy probably isn’t ready for a committed relationship. Fights happen. They make people feel bad. But people who are emotionally mature enough to be in relationships (a) understand that they’re still loved, even in a fight; (b) maintain their commitment to their relationship even while hurt or upset and (c) ultimately reach out to their partners, not turn to someone else. If the LW decides to stay with him, this issue needs to be addressed.

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      • hyggelig

        hyggelig June 5, 2014, 10:21 am

        I agree that it is impossible to know exactly how much he may have been blame shifting. But I think it is likely that she wanted to know why at some point, and then he told her. also in her words after telling her he “admitted it was not an excuse”.

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    • avatar

      Painted_lady June 5, 2014, 11:51 am

      I dunno, for me it’s like a non-apology apology, the non-excuse excuse. Because now the LW even went so far as to say, what happens if we fight again? Maybe it isn’t intentional, but what he’s effectively done is ensure that she’s always going to think twice about arguing with him. I think you can explain, and you can even use the fight as a jumping off point, but in terms of, “Here’s how I didn’t handle this well,” or “Let’s talk about the insecurities the fight brought out so I can manage my feelings better when we fight next time.” It’s not the fight but rather how he handled it.
      *
      Also, maybe this is me, but I feel like it takes an awful lot of effort and a lot of decisions to send naked photos. You either decide to take the picture or pull photos from your stash of naked selfies (also, what?!), you have to go to snapchat and find your ex, and you gotta send it. These aren’t complicated decisions, but they’re definitely conscious ones. That, to me, isn’t enough of an impulse thing to forgive. Maybe that’s my own perception of everything, but I don’t know that I could write that off so easily.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay June 5, 2014, 5:09 pm

      I think it’s hard to say. What’s taking ownership for one person can be making excuses or lying or blaming for another. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I think this falls along the lines of something kind of cliche that any old Joe could use to cause the least damage possible. Not that he necessarily made it up, but what’s really going to determine how sincere he was is what happens next, like you said.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie June 5, 2014, 10:00 am

    I say MOA. What kills it for me is that he went back to an old lover. He must still have interest, and her too, for this to even happen. It was cheating and there is no excuse for that. Coping with a fight with drinking or complaining to a friend is one thing, sexy photos with an old lover is re-initiating an intimate relationship. I think there is more going on with his feelings and he is using the fight as a convenient excuse.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 10:04 am

      I don’t think this necessarily means he still has feelings for the ex. He probably just wanted affectionate attention and knew he’d get it from her. Could be wrong obviously, but I don’t think its for sure saying he’s still got feelings for her.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna June 5, 2014, 10:04 am

      Good point about the old lover. I hadn’t really considered that angle, but yeah, if I were LW that would make it worse for me.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh June 5, 2014, 10:05 am

    Accepting an apology doesn’t have to mean that you are glossing over anything. As in he has to earn back your trust. But, only you can decide if it’s worth it. I would discuss this with him one more time, let him know that the fact that he blamed it on fighting concerns you, and that you feel like you might be able to trust him again but he’s going to have to put the effort in. And then you have to put the effort in of actually forgiving. Doesn’t have to be right away, but it has to happen. Don’t let it be something that you hold over his head. And that doesn’t mean you have to forget it or not make him earn his trust back. You just have to be willing to try as well.

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  • avatar

    peachy June 5, 2014, 10:09 am

    Six months in seems a bit soon for the bloom to be so far off the rose that sexy chatting with an ex is the first thing someone does. Talk about getting dumped off Cloud 9 in a hurry!
    LW, I think you have to really look at the whole and see if there has been a pattern of similar behaviors. Immaturity is obvious, but blaming you for his actions is low and the actions themselves rather passive-aggressive in my book. There would have to a whole lot of awesome to go along with these unattractive traits to make another go at it worthwhile.

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  • Nookie

    Nookie June 5, 2014, 10:16 am

    Do you think people in the olden days had this problem? ‘I found my husband looking at etchings of the neighbour’s milk maiden!!!’

    Anyway, I would walk away but I have trust issues in the best relationships. I know you love him, examine if you can forgive and forget as these other people have done… if you can, then give a shot – no relationship is perfect. But really think about how much of a big deal this is for YOU, nobody else.

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    • avatar

      joanna June 5, 2014, 10:26 am

      Hehe Nookie, I love your first couple lines!

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      • Nookie

        Nookie June 5, 2014, 10:31 am

        Thank you! I was just thinking of the nature of snapchat… it’s an interesting social phenomena to me.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. June 5, 2014, 10:19 am

    As others have said, you have to decide if this relationship is worth it to you. I applaud you for knowing that you don’t want the kind of relationship where you have to check his email and phone all the time. I think you should move on.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna June 5, 2014, 10:23 am

      I agree about the passwords to email and phone thing. I would hate that.

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    • avatar

      joanna June 5, 2014, 10:28 am

      I feel like offering passwords and whatnot is not proof that he didn’t do anything. It could just mean he covered his tracks well.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 10:34 am

        This is probably just my personal preference, but I would really be turned off if I was offered access to email and phone as a trust-building method. First, there is the problem that he could still be using another email address etc. Second, I just think that control is no substitute for trust. Of all the things he said, this would have been the thing that would have made me groan the most. But again, most likely a personal preference.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 10:36 am

        Ha, I posted below at the same time; you said it much better than me.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 5, 2014, 10:42 am

        I thought your “monitor yourself” formulation was pretty spot-on. haha.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. June 5, 2014, 12:54 pm

        Exactly. know I would go crazy having to check up on him all the time. I should be able to trust him. I just don’t want to live like that.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 10:35 am

        Yeah, and I think his offering up his passwords is pretty … cheap? That’s not the right word. Trashy? No. … Hold on. … Silly? Juvenile? I dunno what the word is. Untrustworthy? He’s basically saying, “here, monitor me.” No, monitor yourself!!! I’m not feeling very articulate today. There’s just something off about it, to me – something off about couples requiring passwords and stuff to keep tabs on each other.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 10:41 am

        I feel when he’s in desperation to get her to be ok with this, I get why he would say that. Like, Here! I’ll do this! And this! And this! And you can even check my emails! But yea, great point. Monitor yourself.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana June 5, 2014, 10:43 am

        Yeah it is like almost an admission of guilt or like that he can’t actually be trusted to not do it again. I would hate to ever have to monitor someone else’s shit, you are an adult you should know what is right and wrong and not appropriate in a relationship.

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      • katie

        katie June 5, 2014, 10:47 am

        “monitor yourself” should be put in the book of DWisms i think.

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      • avatar

        Aurora June 5, 2014, 11:57 am

        I agree, especially with “juvenile” – that’s how it strikes me too. Like, really? It’s not the LW’s job to make sure he isn’t doing stupid shit — it’s his job to not do stupid shit in the first place. And I love “monitor yourself”, that’s a great one. Though now I’m just picturing it said in the voice of that little girl in the viral video where her dad was helping her buckle her car seat and she was all “WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF!”

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 5, 2014, 12:11 pm

        Haha I had to Google that video; it’s priceless.

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      • Copa

        Copa June 5, 2014, 12:16 pm

        My most recent ex offered up his passwords to me like 3 weeks into knowing him. We hadn’t fought or anything — we weren’t even exclusive yet — so it wasn’t prompted by trust issues. I don’t really remember how it came up because that was like a year and a half ago — I think maybe in context of me asking if he was sure he was ready to date again post-divorce? Maaaybe??? But I do remember it was weird in the moment, and I was all, “Erm, no thanks? I don’t need your passwords…?” and didn’t think much of it as our stupid romance plopped along.
        .
        He turned out to be a HUGE liar. He lied about big things, trivial things, and incredibly dumb things. And he also had a lot of other issues aside from lying. Like, tons of insecurities (that prompted the lying) and then SUPER strange behavior post-breakup (started with sending me puppy pics in the initial weeks and escalated to checking up on me like 7x/day despite already dating someone else, to whom he got engaged to after like 3? months).
        .
        So I’m now of the “someone who offers up passwords so someone else can monitor their behavior is weird” camp based on one dumb relationship/anecdotal experience. It’s not how trust is earned.
        .
        DW is apparently all about me today.

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      • Copa

        Copa June 5, 2014, 12:27 pm

        Oh, and in an attempt to make this less about me and more about LW: my ex ^^^ also had issue taking responsibility for his actions. I knew this early on about him in context of his marriage to his ex-wife. I learned it the hard way when a TON of weird stuff came out in the open after we broke up.
        .
        I don’t know how old you & your boyfriend are, LW, but I just remember thinking to myself about my ex during a closure talk we had a few months ago during which he proceeded to do nothing but blame bad behavior on other things, “Maybe if we were 19, I’d feel differently about this. But his refusal to take responsibility for his actions at 32 both irritate me and make me pity him.”
        .
        Just something to think about.

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  • avatar

    Kate June 5, 2014, 10:30 am

    I think it really could go either way. I think Wendy’s “Two strikes” advice is solid, because it’s too tough to decide what to do based on this one instance. Obviously it was poor judgment on his part, and COULD indicate either chronic poor judgment or shadiness, but it could also be a one-time thing that he learned from.

    From experience, I’d say 1) Yes, this was a shady thing that he did, and 2) It’s fairly likely he’ll do something similarly shady in the future. That said, from reading your letter I think you probably want and need to give it more time to find out.

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  • rainbow

    rainbow June 5, 2014, 10:34 am

    Cheating because you’re bored can be easier to stop than this, IMO. I was the other woman in a situation like this for a couple of years before I realized what the douche was doing (I was younger and admired him, it sort of clouded everything) and it’s awful how strong his need for validation was.
    Even when I had already understood everything and told him what he was doing as he did it he would deny it vehemently. I told him “You’re doing this because you’re panicking because your GF questioned you and you feel unloved. You’ll be embarrassed tomorrow, stop it, dude!” IN THOSE WORDS and he kept going on about how I was the only woman who ever understood and he wanted to move in with me.
    He could never stop. Like he couldn’t stop drinking and yelling when he’s mad. He’s just too desperate. A GF later I had to block him on FB because even though I wasn’t even talking to him anymore he would reach for the likes-and-flirty-comments cannon as soon as the poor thing had an opinion different than his. It was very painful and a bit disgusting to see someone so desperate to be admired and approved of that they would lose sight of the situation like that, in the end that’s what helped me move on.

    TL,DR: I’ve seen this, it points to bigger and nastier problems. Run.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra June 5, 2014, 10:38 am

    i definitely agree to trust your gut. That will give you the answer that is right for you.
    .
    Personally I couldn’t/wouldn’t take him back. In my opinion at 6 months things should still be smooth sailing. After a fight instead of trying to resolve it, he sent pictures to another woman. To me that would not be ok. I’m not saying that it *couldn’t* work; obviously you’re the only one who can make that decision. I’m saying I would be super hesitant to give a guy like this a second chance. I’m glad he acknowledged that drinking isn’t an excuse, but he still did it you know?

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson June 5, 2014, 11:15 am

    Interesting this letter just made me learn something about myself. When I was reading through it I was thinking that *logically* sending a sexy snap chat with someone you used to date isn’t that big of a deal. Logically. But it gave me the grossest feeling in the pit of my stomach. To reach out to an ex because of a fight, and have it continue, and have her continue to think that our relationship obviously doesn’t mean that much because you’re sexting her – just no. I wouldn’t forgive it.
    .
    Man it’s like everyday I learn something new I’m not willing to forgive. It’s probably really stressful dating me.

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    • lemongrass

      lemongrass June 5, 2014, 11:25 am

      It’s probably not really stressful if you’re a decent human being who respects boundaries.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 5, 2014, 11:34 am

        Unfortunately, we know none of that is true for Iwanna 🙁

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      • lemongrass

        lemongrass June 5, 2014, 12:16 pm

        I was talking about iwanna’s bf not her. I could have made that more clear.

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      Painted_lady June 5, 2014, 11:35 am

      I don’t know, I think knowing your limits and being clear about them is actually less stressful, even if there are a lot of limits. If someone can’t work within your limits, they know. No surprises. It’s also probably less stressful for you, too, because there’s not any question of whether or not you should forgive. I wish I could be so clear, but for me so many things just seem like a gray area. Fortunately, with the exception of sometimes not having a lot of direction, Walter hasn’t ever done anything that made me have to question that gray area.

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      • Kate B.

        Kate B. June 5, 2014, 12:58 pm

        I like knowing my boundaries because it does take a lot of the stress off me. I think it comes from knowing yourself well and what makes you happy and what doesn’t, what you’re willing to put up with, etc. The hard part is sticking to your guns sometimes.

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  • avatar

    Teri Anne June 5, 2014, 11:18 am

    Sending sexy photos to a former girlfriend is a huge boundary violation, but the real red flag is that the boyfriend is not accepting responsibility for his mistake. Being drunk is no excuse for bad behavior. What concerns me the most is that the boyfriend is blaming the LW for his bad behavior, saying that she made him feel inadequate.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. June 5, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Yeah. Being drunk doesn’t cause bad behavior. It lowers your inhibitions so you’re more likely to act on those impulses.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 5, 2014, 11:40 am

    Something similar happened with my ex. About the first 6 months of our relationship, he was texting very inappropriately with a former hookup (no pictures) and I found out about and was really torn on what to do. I tried to explain it away to myself by saying our relationship was hard with him going away on business every other week. I did give him another chance because he was genuinely apologetic about it and I believed it wouldn’t happen again. We dated for 2 years and I do believe nothing else ever happened. But, while I trusted him, sometimes I would get irrational anxiety over the fact that he could have done something and I would have no idea simply because it happened before. I wouldn’t say it was the major reason we broke up, but it was definitely there 2 years later. I honestly couldn’t see myself with someone long term/for life who has betrayed my trust in that way, even if it happened a long time ago. My relationship with my husband feels like a fresh start. There has been no cheating or major trust breaking events. And for me, since I struggle with so much anxiety, it had been a huge difference in how I feel in the relationship. It’s your choice to do what you want but think how you will feel in the future if you stay. Will you will be able to forgive and move on without getting any resentment? Once you forgive this, it’s easier to forgive other transgressions. Go with the two strike rule Wendy mentioned if you stay.

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady June 5, 2014, 12:13 pm

    Maybe this is me, but Snapchat photos don’t strike me as “stuff you stupidly do in an attempt at self-care when you’re drunk.” Going and making out with someone, getting someone’s number, leaving a really needy voicemail or text, those seem like impulse things. This feels, I dunno, too deliberate to excuse it away. Maybe I’m old, but I don’t drink and Snapchat. I don’t drink and naked selfie. I certainly don’t do both, plus seek out an ex – even if they’re on your recently contacted list, you have to find that person – to send naked selfies to. I don’t know, it’s like that line from West Wing: “I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night.” “……….Did you trip?” If you do this kind of thing, I don’t feel like you do it because you’re drunk and sad. I think you do it because you’re drunk and you’ve misjudged how likely it is that you’ll get caught.
    *
    LW, maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe it’s totally possible to do this sort of thing just because you’re drunk and sad, and yet learn your lesson and never do it again. But what’s going to give you your answer – aside from the answer that you decide for yourself, that you won’t forgive him even if what he says is totally true – is how contrite he continues to be. If he accepts that you don’t trust him in the same way you did, if he does everything possible to re-establish that trust, and if he does it for as (reasonably) long as you need, then yes, likely lesson learned. And I retract my previous paragraph. However, if he gets tired of being “punished” for this before, say, a few months, RUN. Anyone who decides that forgiveness of their fuckups must be on their timetable, is not really sorry. They don’t see that consequences are a result of their actions. And they don’t own, not really, that the mistake was theirs.

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  • avatar

    Breezy AM June 5, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Maybe I’m still too raw…

    But if I could go back, knowing what I know now, I’d run like hell. My husband was like that. He was sorry. I forgave. Not because I was stupid but because I was a nice person who believed everyone fucks up and is redeemable. He said all the right words. We got married. Found out it was bullshit. He went to therapy. He said he had a “problem” (yeah, he didn’t want to grow the fuck up). He even did weeks of inpatient treatment. Years went by. I believed we had some “issues” but thought he was truly done with that phase of his life.
    .
    Spent the last two years with him basically hating me and resenting me for breathing. Nothing I did was right. I even told him “this is like when you were in an Emo Affair with That Bitch.” He said I was a crazy paranoid bitch ruining our relationship with my anger and insecurity.
    .
    In January, I found out I was right. In March, after two months of claiming to be working on the marriage, while constantly seething at me more than ever, he moved out. In May, I found out he only stopped talking to That Bitch at the beginning of May, despite telling me they’d ended things in January (oh and he wasn’t banging her, no, he was banging a few sex workers tho. She was just the emo affair).
    .
    The last decade of my life was a complete waste and an entire lie. My husband brings new meaning to the joke “women fake orgasms, men fake entire relationships.”
    .
    I am slowly rebuilding my life, my soul. I’ve only today reached the Phil Collins level of “I don’t care anymore.”
    .
    I have two preschoolers with this fucking dirtball. I will never, ever be free of him. It’s like being in prison.
    .
    Now maybe your guy isn’t that much of a sociopath as Mr AM. But… do you really want to wait around to find out? Because believe me, my husband has a rep of being the most wonderful, kind, decent, generous man on earth. HE DOES PRO BONO WORK FOR A FUCKING BATTERED WOMEN’S SHELTER. He cries when animals die. He plays baseball and is sweet to old ladies.
    .
    He’s also a lying bastard incapable of a real relationship and just threw away his family because he couldn’t stop banging sex workers, or bother being honest about it.
    .
    Don’t be me, playing Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right” on repeat all day long so I don’t cry. Dump that mother fucker. So not worth waiting to find out.

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    • avatar

      Kate June 5, 2014, 1:21 pm

      Breezy, I’m glad you’re rebuilding. And do you ever watch the video to “It’s Not Right (But it’s Ok)?” It’s really good. I love it! Watch it now!

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  • avatar

    Lucy June 5, 2014, 1:27 pm

    DTMFA. Sorry, but it’s only been 6 months. That’s still the honeymoon period. And if his first instinct when you have a fight is to get drunk and solicit attention from other women, that’s pretty pathetic. Find a grown up to date.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay June 5, 2014, 5:04 pm

    A fight is an odd excuse. At six months, I doubt you were having some kind of earth-shattering fight that might push a person into some weird, dark place. I would personally either not believe him or be concerned about his ability to be in a relationship if that’s how he responds to a fight.

    I probably wouldn’t continue seeing him. Wendy weighs risks of love versus hurt or the benefits of learning about yourself. Personally, I think it’s less abstract. Six months is still within the time where you figure out if someone is right for you. At that point, I think it’s hard to know if this is who he is or is just a mistake. Moving on is less about not wanting to take a risk of getting hurt and about making an educated choice about who you want to be with. That’s not the kinda guy I’d choose. As for learning, I’ve learned much more from walking away than sticking it out with someone I don’t trust.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark June 5, 2014, 6:00 pm

    Honestly? This is what happens when you frantically (six months?) rush headlong in the dreary arms of monotony. Oh, wait, oops. Typo. I meant, monogamy. Although, frankly more and more I realize they are one and the same as I am surrounded by ghost couples who are about as sexual with one another as a pair of dead fish.

    I do LOVE all the projection going on here though. Many are bagging on the guy for making excuses. Truth? We have no idea why the guy gave excuses. Although the most obvious reason is he was immediately confronted by a whole lot of whining: “Why-yyyyyyyy?! How-owwwwwww! C-c-c-ould You-ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu Dooo-ooooooooooo This?!”

    Yeah, in my experience people are most prone to make excuses when they are demanded to do so.

    My take? Eh, the guy’s crying is what put me off. What a frigging wimp.

    That said, I am so tired of snooping people stumbling upon shit. It’s all just so fucking boring. And frankly, everybody should have fucking privacy. End of story.

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    • avatar

      SummerRose June 5, 2014, 6:15 pm

      It sounds like the LW WAS snooping, yeah. But presumably, they both agreed to be monogamous. If he didn’t want to be committed to anyone and if he wanted to date around or hook up with various people (and there is nothing wrong with that at all), he should not have agreed to a committed relationship in the first place. (And I’m assuming the LW and her boyfriend are exclusive, unless I’ve missed something).

      He agreed to a commitment, so he should have honored it. If he no longer wanted to be committed to her or anyone else(nothing wrong with that either), he should have broken up with the LW instead of sneakily going behind her back.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 5, 2014, 6:20 pm

        Honestly? Sending a vaguely naughty picture to somebody thousands of miles away is just NOT cheating in my book. It’s called having a fucking life.

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        SummerRose June 5, 2014, 6:23 pm

        To you it may be fine. But it doesn’t matter what you or I think. What matters is how the two of them define cheating.

        Though I’d say most couples, straight AND gay, would not be cool with their SOs sending naked pictures to other people behind their backs. Unless it was previously discussed and okay’d

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    • avatar

      SummerRose June 5, 2014, 6:21 pm

      Basically, agree to be monogamous, or don’t. But if you tell someone you’re going to be exclusive with them, you don’t get to go behind their back.

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    • veracityb

      veracityb June 5, 2014, 7:13 pm

      With you on the crying thing. Somehow I imagined it all snotty and whiny (somewhat Bieber-ish), and that alone would have done it for me.

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    • lemongrass

      lemongrass June 5, 2014, 10:51 pm

      Personally in my marriage we are as sexual as live fish.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay June 5, 2014, 11:14 pm

      You tend to blame the other person for an individual’s reactions a lot. Sure, a person may feel driven to lie or make excuses when someone else is pressuring them or confronting them, but it’s still their choice to do so. If a person crumbles under being asked simple questions, then that’s their own fault.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle June 5, 2014, 6:30 pm

    I’m late to this but I think there are two minds here–like, some people sext a lot. If I was juuuust starting to date someone, I might expect them to have some sexting partners? So I don’t think it’s totally out there that a dude 6 months into the relationship defaulted to sexting some nudes after a fight. It’s a boundary violation, and probably a sign the relationship shouldn’t continue, though. Also kudos to the lw for know she doesn’t want to be in a weird open password relationship.

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    • avatar

      Breezy AM June 5, 2014, 8:40 pm

      The passwords thing is kind of a red flag for me, and I forgot to mention why… see, that’s one of the first crucial steps almost any reputable therapist in infidelity recovery will suggest as part of the recovery process. It’s not something the betrayed partner IMPOSES on the other. No, it’s something the straying partner is supposed to offer up openly and freely, as a demonstration of how open they are, how they don’t mind their partner having the ability to check up on them, because they aren’t hiding things. “Transparency.” I know, I know, everyone here is going to “omg that’s so creepy and weird boundaries OMG” but…. for those of us who have cheated (in my past life I was a very, very prolific cheater) and don’t wish to ever go there again, being transparent this way helps keep us accountable. It’s VERY easy to fall back on cheating when it’s a tool you’ve used in past relationships to cope and is already in the box so to speak.

      So to see him choke that up all of a sudden right on being caught… makes me suspect he’s been down this road before. That just seems a weird thing to cough up so quickly for a first time rodeo rider.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark June 5, 2014, 6:30 pm

    Monogamy is one of those charming fantasies it’s so easy to believe in when you’re twenty. Much like the idea that hard work is always rewarded. Or the idea that you can do anything you set your mind to… That there ARE good politicians who aren’t fucking liars and cheats. Oh, yeah, and that good will vanquish evil and that we can stop all the pointless wars and get people to save the fucking planet.

    Then one day you wake up and find that you’re not only forty fucking three but that in the end it was just fucking bullshit. Oh, yeah, and the planet is dead. But everybody is too fucking busy following Kim Kartrashian’s latest cuntfest — er, wedding — to even notice. I’d weep for the future, but fuck it. Fuck it all.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle June 5, 2014, 6:32 pm

    That^ was a jumble but that’s whar you get from me when I’m mobile on 5 percent battery after 5 o clock :-/

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  • avatar

    SummerRose June 5, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Hang on…I’m assuming this couple agreed to be monogamous, right? She did call this guy her boyfriend after all…I don’t call a guy my boyfriend if I’m just casually dating him, and if we’re casually dating we can do whatever we want with other people.

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  • Stonegypsy

    stonegypsy June 5, 2014, 10:36 pm

    So… I’m not really sure what to think of this. I mean on the one hand, the sobbing “We were fighting! I wanted attention!” excuse is pretty lame, and offering up passwords is just creepy.
    On the other hand… it’s not like he went out and picked someone up and made out or slept with them. They’re just naked pictures to someone on the other side of the country. It’s basically just like sort-of-interactive porn.
    But I also can’t stand when a person can’t just tell me what’s wrong, and passive aggressive is my biggest pet peeve and he sort of reeks of it in this letter.
    So, I dunno. I’d give it some more time and see if he continues exhibiting defensive and/or passive aggressive behavior, if you’re really into him. Breakups hurt either way, and a few months in the long run isn’t that long, so you don’t have that much to lose.

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  • avatar

    TheTruth June 6, 2014, 6:09 am

    Absolute bullshit that men send sexy messages because of a fight. After a fight the last thing I would do would be to flirt with some other chick. He did it because he is bored and because he could.

    He will do it again. I would.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow June 6, 2014, 8:50 am

    Oh, geez. This reminds me of myself in a few ways. First, yeah – sometimes I drunk sext when I might not necessarily do it sober. The other night I was drunk, sad, and horny and started sexting my ex. Of course, I’m single, but yeah – I can see it as a drunk impulse thing.
    .
    Second, I did something similar once and I don’t think I ever admitted it on DW because I was too ashamed (or maybe I did? I’m an over-sharer). I was fighting with my ex – not just “a” fight but really considering breaking up with him but hadn’t pulled the plug yet – went out of town, got shitfaced, and drunkenly called him and broke up with him over the phone. I then proceeded to spend the night with a former hook-up. In my weak defense, I obviously couldn’t drive so I needed a place to stay, and we didn’t *do* anything because I was too drunk and he recognized that (and in my drunk head, we were broken up so it was totally fine according to drunk me). But I still woke up in another man’s bed. I called my ex from the guy’s PORCH crying and was like, “Did i break up with you last night? I didn’t meeeean it I loooove you,” and that was that. Of course, I did end up breaking up with him a couple weeks later, because duh.
    .
    THEN, after my ex moved he got a girlfriend and continued sexting me. I participated because I guess I thought they weren’t serious or exclusive? But when I found out they WERE, i told him i wasn’t comfortable with it and that if I was his girlfriend I would be PISSED. He was like “Oh god you are right, I’m such a douche, I guess I’m not ready for a relationship” and then broke up with her.
    .
    So on one hand, I “get’ the drunk impulse thing, but on the other hand, I really think cheating, or semi-cheating, only happens when there are already problems in a relationship.

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