Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Messaged His Ex Minutes After We Slept Together”

I am engaged to my former high school boyfriend, “Alex.” We reconnected after 30 years, and now, a year later, we are engaged and living together, planning our wedding. My issue is this: When Alex and his ex-wife split up, she had a boyfriend and Alex had a semi-girlfriend – a rebound girlfriend. This rebound was actually living on the property Alex shared with his ex-wife, and was a friend of his wife’s, and the ex-wife actually encouraged it because she already had a new boyfriend. When Alex and I reconnected and became exclusive, I was told he’d had zero contact with the rebound woman for eight months, but that turned out to not be true.

After we got engaged and moved in together, I learned that Alex had actually been contacting the rebound four months into our being exclusive. I felt utterly betrayed. We told each other everything and we had found our soulmates in one another. Yet I learned that he was emailing, texting, and calling the rebound woman who had long ago decided she did not want a relationship with him. She had lived with him for two to three months in what she thought was a crash pad to temporarily use and he thought was the beginning of their relationship. She told him that she had never seen him that way.

Fast forward to Alex and me getting together. We made love for the first time ever and had a perfect, blissful first night as a thrilled and committed couple. What I later learned is, as I took a shower after our “union,” he emailed the rebound only a few feet away from me, telling her he missed her and he wanted to see her as soon as possible. Four months into our relationship he was texting, emailing, and calling her behind my back, and he never mentioned any of this to me. I also learned that he did not ever inform her about me.

She never did meet up with him, but she did call him and text him. He sent her pleading emails for her to unblock him from Messenger so they could message each other. I found this out after we got engaged and after we moved in together. I had no idea. I was crushed. He swears he only loves me and that he was just angry with her and confused. He swears they never did go meet each other. However, I feel like the beautiful beginning to our relationship is forever smeared and that my trust is gone.

He swears he would never cheat on me, but I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if she had agreed to meet with him. What were his intentions? He claims he was confused, which sounds a lot to me like he was hoping something would happen.

I’m not sure if I should call off the wedding. He says nothing happened and he would never do something like this now or in the future. But I feel like I came into this with my whole heart and he came into this with a false premise. — Betrayed By My Soulmate

If you were angry with someone and “confused,” and blissfully in love with someone else, would you maniacally call and text and email the person you were angry at? Would you tell that person how much you missed him, would you plead for him to see you? No, you wouldn’t. No normal person would. This is not normal behavior at all. This is not normal behavior of someone who is happily in love. Alex has never been happily in love with you. He messaged his ex minutes after your “perfect, blissful first night as a thrilled and committed couple.” YOU are the rebound woman. And his behavior says everything you need to know about his character flaws – flaws that keep him from being capable of a loving, healthy relationship. His behavior is not a reflection of you and your character or your lovability. It is all about him and how damaged he is, and I’m sorry you got caught up in it.

The best thing you can do now is move on. Yes, call off the wedding, and move on. There’s no future for you with Alex. He is not your soulmate. He never was. He’s been pining after another woman for the entirety of your relationship – a woman who, let’s be honest, was probably a distraction from the pain of his wife leaving him for another man. Alex was never honest with you. He has likely not been honest with himself, and you cannot build a future on this. You can only find strength in your ability to recognize your self-worth and prioritize your well-being and move on.

About a week before COVID-19’s shutdown, my boyfriend of two years moved back to his hometown. We are both recent college grads and he’d been living in the city where I live, but he had a falling out with his roommates and was unable to afford the city living anymore, so he packed up and moved back in with his parents in Florida (coincidentally, to the same beach town where my parents and grandparents have vacation places). Before leaving, he said that he wants me there so badly and he asked if I’d think about it over quarantine.

Well, now mid-quarantine, I’m overthinking it. I feel so young still (I’m 23) and have yet to find a job/career. I have a huge thirst for adventure and I want to make sure that if I move to Florida, I won’t get stuck in a funk there. Does moving in with someone you love mean you’re settling down?

I’m pretty tightly-knit with my family up here, but sometimes I feel like we need some space so there are so many 50/50s about this decision. He and I are insanely compatible and it’s so hard to just lose him over a career/life I don’t even have right now. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where this decision is going to be my entire future. Is this indeed a decision that would change my life forever? — Lost And Confused Young One

Here’s the thing about making life decisions, especially at 23 years old: They can and DO change the trajectory of your life and that trajectory will often take you to a completely different place than where you started, or deliver you back to where you started as a completely different person. This does NOT mean, however, that every life decision you make “is going to be your entire future.” Nothing – absolutely nothing – about your life right now at 23 years old, regardless of what decisions you do or do not make – will be your entire future. Decisions you make now determine what the next few months or even the next year or two will look like, and that’s it. Decisions will affect the trajectory of your life, yes, but nothing is ever set in stone, no decision is irreversible. Even on a dead-end path, you can turn back around to the fork in the road and try a different way.

So, should you move? I can’t answer that for you. And life right now is so uncertain as it is. Everything is on hold. This is actually a great time to do some soul-searching, to think about different options, to discuss with your boyfriend what your respective expectations are and what you each envision life together in Florida looking like and what you would do if you decide it’s not for you. Please check out my post on what couples should discuss before moving in together (you have plenty of time for this!), as well as what we wish we would have known before moving in together. Being well-prepared doesn’t guarantee you’ll always be happy with every decision you make. But it does mean your decisions will be better ones and the likelihood of regret much more minimal.

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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.

13 comments… add one
  • avatar

    FYI April 16, 2020, 8:36 am

    “He swears he would never cheat on me … ”

    He already did. He was contacting another woman mere MINUTES after your first time having sex together. C’mon, that’s awful.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl April 16, 2020, 9:03 am

    LW1: So by your timeline, you and your fiance have been together one year and for an entire quarter of that time he was actively pursuing his ex despite claiming he was in an exclusive relationship with you. Your fiance is not in a place to make a commitment to you. Unlike the LW who worried her BF of 8 years was pining for something because he suggested she change her hair color, your fiance is actively harassing his ex. She has blocked him on social media, told him she was never interested in a long-term, serious relationship, and refused to meet with him. All of this is stalkery without throwing in your relationship with him.

    LW2: It is completely natural to worry about major life choices and how they will affect your future. It seems like you have a couple of different choices you are grappling with right now. First is your relationship – do you see a long term future with your BF or are you in the relationship because it is comfortable and there hasn’t been a major reason to break up? It is perfectly acceptable to end a relationship that isn’t working even if your BF is a wonderful person. Next issue is your career – What kind of work do you want to do and is it possible to find that job in your BF’s town or maybe a nearby city? Do you need to be in a specific geographic location for your career or do you need to rely on a local network? After you figure out what you want, you need to have a serious conversation with your BF. Ask him if he is interested in travel as well – does he want to stay in Florida long term or is this temporary? If you are turned off by the thought of living in Florida, could the two of you find another city or country that you could both move to rather than moving to Florida? Keep in mind that the economy is going to go through a lot of pain in the coming months and years – so making sure you can find a job which will cover cost of living is imperative. Best of luck!

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  • avatar

    Buttery April 16, 2020, 9:54 am

    Now LW1 – you know better than this. You’re badly hurt, this guy is HORRIBLE.
    So he tried to get with a woman, she rejected him. He got with you. But he’s still pursuing the woman he REALLY wants while with the woman who wants him. You’re being played hard, you are so back-up chick it’s not even funny. Sad…

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    • avatar

      Buttery April 16, 2020, 9:57 am

      Also, you are just not thinking rationally, you need some distance. You keep saying he says this and he says that but he said all kind of things a minute ago (yep, a year, a couple month is just little while ago) that were ALL LIES. So now all of a sudden he’s telling the truth? Girl, please. Again – you know better. Don’t do this to yourself.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse April 16, 2020, 11:22 am

    LW1- please leave this relationship with your eyes wide open. What he did was terrible. There is no trust because he’s deceived you from the very beginning. I’m so sorry.

    LW2-I don’t know what the answer is, but I would highly, highly recommend doing what best fulfills what you want in life. If you have more stability and job prospects where you are, stay where you are. He chose to move away. That doesn’t mean you need to follow him. He’s probably lonely, which is too bad but he chose this move. Please don’t uproot your life because he made a bad choice, or he’s feeling lonely. I don’t think you’re overthinking, but make sure you’re being smart and rational about this, and not just emotional. He chose to move. That’s a big decrease made assuming you’d move, too. Take it from someone who made silly choices and followed ex boyfriends…I wish, in retrospect that I’d made more decisions in my best interests….

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  • avatar

    ron April 16, 2020, 12:48 pm

    LW#1 —
    That has to hurt and I’m sure you’re confused and wondering what to do now. Please leave. Even in a coronavirus lockdown: if it’s his place, search for your own apartment or family you can move in with and leave as fast as you can. If he’s at your place, give him a week to get his ass out of there.

    He’s a totally dishonest louse who’s still fixated on his original rebound woman. The bright side is that you found all of this out before you actually married him. You’ve dodged a bullet. It’s easier to cancel wedding and unwind everything now than it is to divorce (and divorce would be inevitable, because he WILL cheat). Once apart, block him on everything and never look back.

    So sorry this happened to you.

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  • avatar

    mellanthe April 16, 2020, 1:13 pm

    LW1:
    Oh, honey. He’s not been very kind to you.The good news is that his ex clearly neither wanted him, nor encouraged his behaviour. Not that either would be an excuse to cheat – the responsibility for his actions lies with him. At least it sounds like you’ve not been cheated on, but that’s not for lack of his trying, unfortunately.

    But the bad news is that he was chasing her for a significant proportion of your relationship. The beginning of a love affair should be a heady, exciting time – when you’re practically intoxicated by being with your beloved. You know when you’re ready to be exclusive – when you’re falling in love, because you no longer want to date other people, and exes don’t feel like they matter at all. It doesn’t sound like he was giving you the mind space that you and your relationship deserved, and it’s easy to see why you’re feeling hurt about it. You were focused on him, but he I can’t imagine how painful it is to find out that after the first time you made love together, he was desperately contacting his ex. It’s not surprising that this colours how you see the start of your relationship – all that time you were focused on him, but he had one eye on his ex, who didn’t even want him back. As others have said, he was rejected by her but carried on pining after her whilst using you as a backup. Any of us would be gutted to find that out. It’s not your fault, and it in no way means you’re an inadequate partner. It means that you need a man for who absolutely truly puts you first. If you don’t think he can (and you’d be justified in thinking this, given that he had your entire elationship to put you first but was mooning after her), then what you may need is space and time to find someone who can.

    If you do stay with him, don’t rush to get married. Postpone the engagement and consider couples therapy – you will have a lot of issues and concerns about his behaviour, and he will need to prove he is well and trruly over his ex and that you now 100% come first.

    He should have been honest if he wasn’t ready to start a relationship, and he definitely should have been honest (and not started an ‘exclusive’ relaitonship with you) if he was still pining over his ex – that was not very kind of him.

    LW2:
    It’s hard being apart from your love. Many of us are in that position. What is key here is that sudden, rushed decisions can be risky. So it’s good that you’re taking your time.

    It sounds like you’re not keen on settling down and you want to do a lot of exploring – you’re young and that’s entirely understandable. You don’t have to rush to move in together, and Wendy has given p lenty of advice on when that is right, and what should be discussed. But you do need to think about how ready he and you are to embark on a long distance relationship if you don’t want to move closer to each other. It’s one thing to live separately and quite another to be half a country apart – what would that mean for both of you? Would you ever feel happy to move closer together? If your desires lie in completely different areas, and neither of you plan to compromise, that could leave you both long distance for an indeterminate time – is that something you’d be prepared to accept? People have posed lots of sensible questions to think about if you do move closer to him – what will it mean for you? Is it a life you’d be happy to try? Has he considered you as well as him? What’s his plan for the future, and is it compatible with yours? there’s a lot to think about, and the right decision might be different for different people.

    I mean beyond the lockdown, of course. Right now is a time of flux, with lots of hard decisions and unsatisfactory compromises. Now is not a time for rash decisions.

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  • avatar

    Bittergaymark April 16, 2020, 1:33 pm

    LW1). He’s just not that OVER her.

    LW2). There is no rush to do anything. Take this time to think.

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  • avatar

    brise April 16, 2020, 2:17 pm

    LW1: why would you get married after only one year of dating? Plus many months of lies? A man who just got divorced? Just don’t. And I don’t like the brand “the rebound” to describe his ex-girlfriend. This guy can’t be by himself for a minute. He fills a void. Don’t marry him, especially not on such a poor basis.
    LW2: Focus on your job and career prospects. You can see him during your vacation this summer, especially if your family has a place there. But he wants you to join him in Florida simply because his family lives there? That is not such a strong argument in favor of a move. You both had better think about your professional orientations.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros April 16, 2020, 2:31 pm

    LW 1: Don’t marry someone based on what you hope they do. Marry them based on what they do. What he does is lie and contact women behind your back.

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  • avatar

    Essie April 16, 2020, 2:35 pm

    LW1: Oh, no, no, no. I know it’s a sad and awful thing to call off a wedding, but if you marry this guy, you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking about how he married you because she didn’t want him.

    Think about it. Do you think he would have stayed with you if she’d said “yes?”

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  • avatar

    000 April 16, 2020, 7:38 pm

    LW#1, you never mentioned how you found out about any of this. You just keep saying “I learned.” How?

    My guess is that he didn’t tell you himself, which is yet another reason not to believe a word he says now. Either way, however, you’re getting a resounding and unanimous message here. Do not marry or even continue to see this guy.

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  • avatar

    CinderALLIE April 20, 2020, 12:50 am

    LW1) he has cheated on you though, maybe not physically but emotionally. And given the chance it would have been physical…if he is to be believed…but based on history of lies and contact he is not. Do not waste any more time on this gaslighter.

    My ex BF and I were together for roughly 4 miserable years. He used to tell me he’d never cheat on me, he’d been cheated on and would never do that to someone (ha!! see below). After we broke up, I learned that he had at least twice and tried to multiple other times and spread rumours about me. Also found out that he actually had a GF when we got together which I wish I knew then cause I’d never give him chance of day. Once a cheat, always a cheat.

    LW2) He chose to move, don’t follow him. Only move if you actually wanted to live in Fl and would make the move if he wasn’t there. At 23 and not being engaged or married, no need to follow…and even then this is a decision a healthy couple makes together not one the other person has to blindly agree to and follow. You are your own person.

    BTW: I’d move to Florida but that’s more to be close to WDW.

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