There is one thorn. His ex-girlfriend and her child (over 18) do not know about me, as my boyfriend confirmed when I broached the subject recently. I know the ex and my boyfriend text each other occasionally, maybe every few weeks or months. They never lived together, and they saw each other only on weekends because of distance (she lives over two hours away from us). I have never read their texts and don’t believe in snooping. My boyfriend did tell me, when we were first dating, that he was still friends with his ex and that she had a boyfriend then.
I know my boyfriend is not interested in getting back together with her. But what concerns me is that things have not worked out with her boyfriend, and I think she is interested in getting back together with my boyfriend. I wouldn’t mind his texting them to check in occasionally, but when I found out they don’t know about me — my boyfriend is not on any social media sites so there is no way for his ex to know about us that way — my whole perspective changed. Especially if she wants him back.
He says it’s my insecurities and jealousy that are the problem, but I said it is disrespectful and cruel to all three of us to hide our relationship. He says he is here every day for me, comes home to me, loves me, and cares for me. I am his only one. However, I can’t help but wonder, when he is sending a text, if it is to her. Is he sending to her that pic I took or meme joke I shared? It’s all consuming to me now. Am I wrong to feel this way? I would hate for this one thing to otherwise ruin a great relationship. How do I handle this? I hate confrontation. I hate drama. But this is eating away at me.— The Secret Girlfriend
You may hate drama, but you’re embroiled in some, sister. What could be a really minor issue — especially if your boyfriend only texts the ex every few months (and which is it — every few weeks or every few months–because that’s a big difference) — has become “all consuming” to you and that’s a major red flag. WHY has it become all-consuming? I suspect your gut is telling you there’s a reason to be concerned, and your boyfriend’s being shady doesn’t help. He’s keeping you a secret from his ex to preserve the relationship he has with her. He wants to keep her on the back burner and he knows she’ll take off when she realizes he is no longer emotionally and physically available in the way she believes him to be. He is getting something from her that he is afraid he won’t get in the same way if she knew about you. He is not being honest. Not with her, not with you. Maybe even not with himself, though that’s his own problem if that’s the case.
What concerns me most is the gaslighting. You are right to question him on his reluctance to be open about you to his ex, and, rather than listen to your worries, calm your concerns, share his justifications for keeping you a secret, and either try to get you to understand his perspective or change his behavior to better meet your needs (really basic needs here, let me add — we’re talking about your boyfriend showing you a modicum of respect), he’s turning things around and blaming your rightful concerns on “jealousy,” and “insecurity.” He points out that he comes home to you every day as if that cancels any concerning behavior. What a crock of shit! Could you imagine using that excuse? Like, if your boyfriend expressed worry that you were, say, sleeping with a co-worker, and you said, “But I come home to you every day, baby!” So fucking what? You can still sleep with someone on your lunch break and go home to someone else. Just like you can still keep an ex on the back burner, getting whatever it is you’re getting from her — attention, ego-stroking, the hope for a second chance — and come home to your current girlfriend every night. These are not mutually exclusive things, and your boyfriend is a manipulative jerk for pretending they are.
I don’t know, it’s one thing to be in contact with an ex every few months. That seems like no big deal at all. To be in touch with that ex every few months — and potentially every few weeks (which, again, is a lot different than “every few months”) and never mention that you have a girlfriend you’ve moved in with? Weird. To tell your girlfriend, when she expresses concern about that, that she’s being jealous and insecure? Shady. And when there’s shade in a relationship, there is something not in the light. The ex is not the only one your boyfriend is keeping something from. He is not being truthful with you, and, if I were you, I’d get the hell out. A year and a half isn’t too much of your life. You can get out now and move on relatively quickly. Invest much more of your time and energy and heart and I’m afraid you’re looking at potentially a lot of heartache coming your way.
We’ve been together for about seven months now and I’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem to like PDA really. He’ll kiss me and stuff if I initiate it, but he won’t initiate it. Something else that’s got me a little worried is that in these months we’ve been together we’ve gone on trips and taken lots of pictures together, but he hasn’t posted anything about me on any of his social media even though he posts stuff all the time. He’s tagged me in pictures of his before but doesn’t post any pictures at all of the two of us together. I’ve met most of his friends and family, minus his parents, and the people he introduces me to all know I’m his girlfriend, so I’m not really too worried about his keeping me a secret…but then again, you never know, right?
Since I’m a lot younger than he is, I feel insecure a lot of the time and I worry about not being able to offer him things like stability and stuff that other women his age could give him. With his not really being a PDA guy and not posting stuff about me, I’m not quite sure if he’s actual into building a relationship with me or if he thinks that I’m just a young girl he can fool around with for the time being. I’ve talked to him a couple times about us and he always says he really likes me, but how can I believe it if he doesn’t show it? – Young Wild and Worried
If you’ve been dating a guy for seven months and don’t know if he likes you because he’s done nothing to show you that he does, that’s a serious problem. If you feel insecure a lot of the time and worried that you can’t offer your boyfriend things that other women could, that’s a serious problem. If you’re afraid you’re too young for him and that he’s just into fooling around with you and not building a relationship with you, and you’ve expressed those concerns and he’s done nothing to show you that he truly is interested in building a relationship with you, what he’s telling you is that you’re right: You are too young for him and he really is just interested in banging a hot 21-year-old and that’s it. The reason he isn’t making your relationship “social media official,” so to speak, is because this is as far as you two go. There’s no step forward. There’s no future. There’s no “building this relationship.” You’re his good-time girl for now. And the reason a 21-year-old girl may appeal to an older man — besides the obvious, of course — is that she still believes Mr. Perfect exists. He doesn’t. Not in a bar, not anywhere.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.