“Should I Forgive My Girlfriend for Sexting?”

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I have been with my partner for twenty-three years. We both work hard and have a lovely home. We got engaged two years ago and we’re due to be married. Unfortunately, when the time came to get financing for the wedding, it was refused. Naturally, my girlfriend was really upset and angry. Our sex life has not been great for a long time and we went through a phase when we both decided to really give it go, making our love life a bit more exciting. This lasted for a short while and fizzled out.

She then started staying away quite regularly — once a week and then it became more frequent with her reason always being the excessive traveling her job required. I became more and more concerned and one night decided to check her phone (wrong, I know, but I needed answers). As I scrolled through her messages, I came across one that made me feel physically sick when I read it. She had been sexting with someone from her work; the texts were the most explicit I have ever read, so much so I did not even read them all as I felt physically sick.

I immediately challenged her and she has obviously admitted to them, but says she has not slept with him. I asked how long it had gone on and she said nine months. She said it was always just texts and it was never going to lead to anything else.

I feel emotionally drained by the whole situation and don’t know if I believe her because I feel she is not telling me the entire truth although she says she is. I now find myself wanting to look through her phone, and I keep asking her the same questions, but still she denies she slept with him. I just don’t get it. I’m now torn between forgiving her and trying to rebuild our relationship or just leaving her. Will I ever be able to forgive her? I don’t know. I love her very much, but how can I know if she is being honest with me?

She is away again tonight and all I can think of is that they are in a hotel together. I feel so sad that I just don’t know what to do. Is sexting forgivable if she hasn’t slept with the guy or is it cheating regardless? — Fiancée’s Been Sexting

So . . . you don’t trust her, your sex life sucks, she’s coming up with excuses to stay away from you, she’s been emotionally cheating (if not physically cheating) for at least nine months, and, after twenty-three years together as a couple and two years of being engaged, you still haven’t gotten married because you were refused “financing for the wedding”? I don’t even know what that means. If you really wanted to get married, you could go down to the courthouse, tie the knot, and celebrate over dinner with friends afterwards. But you don’t really want to get married. And you shouldn’t, either.

What you should do is decide together if this relationship is worth trying to save or if, after twenty-three years, it has run its course and it’s time for you two to go your separate ways. If you both legitimately want to try to salvage whatever it is that you once had, you need to seek the help of a couples counselor. There are trust issues, commitment issues, sex issues and who knows what else to deal with and history has proven that you can’t deal with it alone. If you decide to cut your losses and go your own way, there’s no shame in that. Twenty-three years is a very long time to be with someone, so of course it will feel sad to move on. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right choice. What it means is that you love each other and yourselves enough to give the gift of freedom and to stop fighting for something that no longer brings joy.


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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.


  1. Unwanted_Truth says:

    Ouch…I feel bad for you LW. I’m with Wendy here 100%. If it were me, the short answer is, no I wouldn’t forgive, no I wouldn’t believe for one hot second that her affair hasn’t led to sex with this person ( or even maybe someone else..who knows) . I’d cut my losses and move on with my life, sad and heartbroken or not, there are ways of healing. You would most likely feel liberated a few months down the road for taking action and getting out of this mess. Good luck to you.

  2. Oh gosh, I totally missed the 23 years of being together.
    And I suppose financing the wedding = loan? That is insane.

    1. tbrucemom says:

      That’s what I think, they were denied a loan for the wedding. But after 23 years of being together I agree wth Wendy. If you actually want to be married just go to the courthouse and do a small celebration afterward. Getting a loan for someting like this seems ridiculous and obviously just an excuse.

      1. TheRascal says:

        Totally agree.
        Oh god. This was the only thing I wanted to comment on for the LW — no one should go into debt for a wedding. If you can’t afford it, create a wedding fund and save up for it. No no no to loans and no no no to building tons of personal debt.
        Or, do what Wendy suggests. Just go to the courthouse.

      2. I have to wonder why their wedding loan wasn´t approved. I guess LW and GF have a history of shitty financal choices?

      3. Sunshine Brite says:

        I can’t imagine a bank looks favorably in any situation on a wedding loan.

      4. google tells me its an actual thing. That makes me sad

      5. Avatar photo Pamplemousse Rose says:

        A lot of all-inclusive wedding venues will provide financing for your wedding. My husband’s cousin did this. The industrial wedding complex at its finest! I like to think that they reimburse a small amount if you are still married once the wedding is paid off!

  3. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    Nothing says “match made in heaven” like 23 years of unmarried bliss. Oh wait, except the whole “sexting only” relationship she has with a coworker than she stays overnight in hotels with. And the long term sexual dysfunction. And then the trust issues (on both sides now, it appears).
    LW, I am not per se making light of your situation, but realistically… you have overstayed your welcome in this relationship. By a number of years, most likely. Just because you love someone does not mean you are good long term partners. It will be tough, Im sure, and after 23 years there will be a lot of untangling of ties, but it is most likely for the best.

    1. Sunshine Brite says:

      To be fair, I think part of the 23 years being unmarried is that this is a same sex partnership unless I read that wrong. Some couples I know waited for legal recognition before any ceremonies and others who considered themselves married for years prior to the state.

      1. Avatar photo cleopatra jones says:

        Oh Sunshine Brite, I don’t mean to out you but are you a regular on AaM?

        Ha ha, if so my personal and professional advice blog communities have just collided. 🙂

      2. Sunshine Brite says:

        Haha, I just started over there! My log-in name popped up so I’m like meh, I’ll just use the same name 🙂

      3. Avatar photo cleopatra jones says:

        ooh, wait till you see what Alison just posted over there. It’s a doozy (NSFW though).

      4. Sunshine Brite says:

        I’m just now pulling my chin up off the ground.

      5. Unwanted_Truth says:

        If I may be nosy, what is this you two are talking about :)? AaM? What is that?

      6. Avatar photo cleopatra jones says:

        Ask a Manager. She’s like DW but for professional advice. It’s really good info.

        Sorry Wendy, didn’t mean to plug someone else’s blog.

      7. simonthegrey says:

        I love AAM

      8. Avatar photo cleopatra jones says:

        ikr. That’s crazy.

      9. tbrucemom says:

        I initially thought this was a same sex relationship until I read the person she was sexting was a man. Obviously they could be bisexual but I’m inclined to think they’re straight. If they weren’t it would help explain the whole 23 years together but not married thing but not the “financially unable to” part. I would think if they were denied being married for so long and were actually able to recently they would have done it the day it became legal or at least not wait to have a big wedding that they can’t afford.

      10. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        Yes, my reading of this was that it was not a legality hurdle keeping them from marriage.
        On a similar note- I give the side-eye to a couple together for this amount of time that FINALLY decide it is time to make it official. (Barring the recent legality of same-sex marriage, obviously.)

      11. Why though? Maybe they’re finally getting up there in age and realize that it would be easier to get married than to hire a lawyer and draw up legal documents in case something were to happen to one of them. That’s the first example I could think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a host of reasons why people in a long-term relationship choose not to marry and then eventually change their mind. You stated another.

      12. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        Why???? Ok, maybe I should have been clearer- if a couple is together longer than say, 10 years without marriage, then has an engagement lasting MORE than a hot minute, and then needs financing for a wedding, they get the side-eye from me. Because, in my humble opinion, if you are together as a couple for decades and decide for WHATEVER REASON that you then want to marry , then you go to the courthouse and get yer-d*mn-selves-married-already.

      13. I’ll give you that…. I guess I assumed you were making this as a blanket statement not directed at the LW.
        I agree that the LW’s situation sounds super weird.

      14. I’ll be honest, after 9 years, I kinda just wanted to go the courthouse route.

      15. LisforLeslie says:

        My aunt and her partner (man) were together for 30 years before marriage; they saw no point until she had an accident that put her in the hospital. He was unable to make health care decisions and they wanted the legal standing that marriage provided. They married about a year or so after the accident.

      16. tbrucemom says:

        Five years ago, my 84 year old father finally married his sweetie after they were together for like 15 years because either they were at an age that it wouldn’t effect their social security or they had thought it would and finally realized it wouldn’t make a difference. Either way it was so cute seeing him get married at that age and being so excited! As far as the health care thing, everyone should have a designated health care surrogate and it doesnt have to be a spouse. If you DON’T have one, legally it would be your spouse, so make sure that’s the person you want to make those kind of decisions for you! The reason I say that is I was separated for a year before my divorce and my now ex-husband almost died in a motorcycle accident and I did not feel comfortable making those kind of decisions.

  4. Skyblossom says:

    When women cheat they are much more likely to be exiting the relationship as opposed to men who want their primary relationship and a side relationship. Women are more likely to be fundamentally unhappy with their relationship and they are looking for a replacement relationship when they cheat. You may as well leave because as soon as she finds a guy that she thinks is better than you she’ll leave anyway and if she can’t find someone better than you she’ll keep looking. That’s no way for you to live.

    1. That’s probably true. I think women are also more likely to have an emotional cheating back-burner-guy thing on the side when there’s a huge gaping unmet need in their relationship. They’re trying to get what they need elsewhere.
      Other than that I can’t really comment on this situation because it makes no sense to me. Except to say that in no way is the initial issue resolved; trust has been destroyed; the relationship looks broken; I don’t see how this could be fixed without professional couples’ counseling.

  5. Sorry you are going through this. No one can answer for you if you can get over betrayal or not. If your girlfriend has been dismissive of your feelings and hasn’t gone out of her way to make you feel comfortable in your relationship (i.e. being the person to book the counselling appointment, making an extra effort to contact you when she is away, freely letting you see her phone, cutting off any personal contact with her co-worker) then it doesn’t look good. If there is something left to salvage and both of you are willing to do whatever it takes to salvage it then couples counselling might help but you can’t do it on your own. And if you are feeling alone in this then I’m sorry, but your best bet is to untangle yourself from her and move on to someone else.

  6. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    What a crappy situation. I’m really sorry that you’re dealing with this LW. Truth be told, it sounds like your fiancee has one foot out the door, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if your suspicions of it being more than sexting are correct, if she’s been spending more time away from home. Aside from denying it being more, has she done anything to attempt to earn back your trust? To show that she is, in fact, committed to the relationship?
    Honestly, it sounds like she’s not happy in the relationship and is slamming her hand down on the self-destruct button because she’s too comfortable or too much of a coward or both to actually end things. Save yourself the pain of dragging things out and end it. You’ll be happier, and probably so will she.

  7. I too thought it was a same sex relationship at first. The second half of the letter makes me think it’s a straight couple. I agree with what was said about having one foot out the door, that does indeed seem to be the case. And as Wendy said if you both wanted to get married, you’d be married. Nothing would stand in your way. Sexting is a dangerous slope and I find it hard to believe after 9 months of buildup these two haven’t acted on these illicit sexts.

  8. LW, at this point, she should be working hard to regain your trust. It shouldn’t just be you trying to forget about what happened. A relationship requires the work of both people. If both of you are working to make things better and get over this, you have a chance. If you are the only one working on it, the relationship is effectively over and she is just waiting for you to end it.

  9. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    From the LW:

    See below. [edited because I copied and pasted the wrong email].

    1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      I’m confused. Isn’t that the same letter?

    2. Yeah, was there another update?

    3. Sunshine Brite says:

      Looks like an unedited version or else he’s just spinning his wheels and replaying everything in his head. If you don’t believe she travels weekly for work then it’s natural to conclude she’s physically cheating or avoiding you. It doesn’t sound like she’s renewing herself to the relationship. Her actions now are speaking volumes, more to me than the sexting itself.

    4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Oops, my bad! Sorry, I traveled all day and copied and pasted the wrong email. Here’s his update:

      “Thankyou for your reply , before I update you I just wanted to clear a few questions for you readers.
      Regarding why we haven’t married for 23 years, it is because that’s how we both wanted it, it suited us living together , we co own our house , we both have very busy work schedules and Whilst we knew we would like to get married, it was something we planned for the future. I know your readers may think that’s crazy but it was our choice and ours alone, no disrespect to any of your readers and I hope they don’t get offended by my response.
      Regarding finance for the wedding , we had agreed to get married in a wonderful castle, and have that wow wedding, as we are both financially secure to be able to afford that, however we felt that a part loan was needed to have the wedding we wanted. Something that is quite common in the Uk. Also a financial risk that we both felt comfortable with. The problem occurred not because we can’t get finance due to poor credit ratings but because my partner would only use our bank and no where else. In this day and age there seems to be more caution to loan.
      So I hope that addresses both those questions.
      So getting back to how things are ; we have talked and talked and talked. She still maintains that she hadn’t slept with the guy , and whilst her texts were more 50 shades of grey , she still says it never went any further. Do I believe her , not sure, which is quite sad. She is making an effort to make sure she doesn’t stay away , and has given me full access to her phone if I want to look, and whilst that option is there I have chosen to decline to , as I feel that’s a rocky path to go down .You have to start building trust somewhere right ?
      She has explained that we lost that magic we first had , and I agree we had. But I felt that should never be a reason to cheat. She said the texts whilst inexplicably explicit, they were a fantasy that she said would not have gone further. She said he did want to have a affair but said it was never going to go any further , without going into detail some of his request were quite screwed up. My view was if I desired someone that much and we were in the same hotel but in different rooms I would most certainately do everything to progress it to the next level . But she said he never did. I know no matter what I might think may have happened, I’m never going to actually know what happened .
      So we are left with continuing to talk about what happened , try and understand if we still have a future and make the right decision for both of us.
      23 years is a long time to just walk away , I guess I just need to feel is it the right decision and if not then be brave and hope that I find love again.”

  10. laturcamasgrande says:

    Hi boddy, I am so sorry to read this happened to you back in 2015 . I am going thought the same situation right now with my wife, we have been together for 18 years now and she says she was only looking for attention, she is a housewife and did all that using her phone from home. I was wondering if you were able to resolve your differences after all these years or you just decided to break up..

  11. I just recently found out a few days ago from checking my gf’s phone which I have never done. But just had feeling and had to know. And was just crushed and broken to see pics and read the context. Some of which we were together buying a tv for super bowl and this happening right under my nose. And apparently their are frequent facetime sessions when possible. Those read are you alone? Ft me. This happens with 2 of her old coworkers from another town I know for sure the txt she was sleeping with one of them. I finally did confront her while we both drinking. And much to my amazement she didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was just how they talked…. WTF EVER… really how is it not wrong. We talked it out I voiced my hurt as it was obvious on my face. I just cant get my head right. I don’t know how see her rationale. Especially since the last txt read from the guy I didn’t bring up was him: how are you her: fu!ked him: why what’s up her:I love my man I truly do and need be right with him. I cant talk dirty to men anymore….. What do I do with that? Just driving myself crazy wanting to put out all I know. Am I an idiot. I have love for this woman like I have had for no other. And I am 50 years old by the we both are.

  12. Jesus, of course she knows it’s wrong. She’s lying when she says she didn’t see any problem with it. Go to chumplady.com to find out what to do.

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