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Ask Mom & Spawn: I Went through My Bf’s Phone … and Found Things I Didn’t Like

Anonymous wrote in because she just moved in with her boyfriend of 3 years. Recently, she ended up going through his phone one day and found some texts, pictures, and DMs she wasn’t happy about.

“Hi Mom & Spawn! I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend of almost 3 years. Long story short, we were in a really bad place and he broke up with me back in September and we got back together Dec/Jan. I know for certain this who I want to be with for the rest of my life (with or without a ring). He left his phone at home the other day and honestly it started out as me trying to figuring out what errand he was running first so I could just bring it to him, but I ended up down the snooping rabbit hole. I wholeheartedly regret this decision mostly because 1.} I invaded his privacy big time and 2.)  because of what I found. I saw texts to his friends about me and some of it was really hurtful. I saw texts and DMs to other girls when we weren’t together and some really not great photos he had from his previous relationship that are way old. Honestly I was hurt and felt sick to my stomach for days. Ultimately, I confronted him about some of the messages and pictures I saw and he’s the kind of guy that never deletes anything ever and he’s stayed friends with all but 1 ex. He’s had very few serious relationships and he’s been completely honest about everything. But I saw some things said between him and a friend via text that are still REALLY bothering me about someone he was “talking” to while we weren’t together and it sounded like he had really strong feelings for her. He insists he wasn’t with anyone else while we were apart and I want to believe him, but I don’t think he’s being completely honest. I’m afraid that he came back to me because she wouldn’t be with him. It sort of put me into a spiral of emotions and now I’m freaking out. I really love him, but I can’t be a second choice. What should I do!” – Anonymous

@CrazyJewishMom: You need to wake up, smell the neurosis filled coffee, and get over it. Tell him to delete the sexts from his ex, and just be happy with him.

@KateFriedmanSiegel: Well, I disagree that this is all your own neurosis. It objectively sucks to read messages from the guy you’re in love with feeling excited about a person who isn’t you.

@CrazyJewishMom: But the messages are from a time when they weren’t dating! The guy didn’t cheat!

@KateFriedmanSiegel: No, I completely agree – the guy didn’t violate her trust or really do anything wrong in sending the messages or seeing someone else while they were broken up. I’m just saying it doesn’t make it any easier to see something like that. I also want to make the point, that you (Anonymous) didn’t do anything wrong. I firmly believe that trust is the most important thing in a relationship, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about reading his phone because there shouldn’t be anything negative to find.

@CrazyJewishMom: Well, everyone is entitled to a little privacy.

@KateFriedmanSiegel: Sure, but the idea that there might be relationship ending stuff to find is the part that seems like the problem to me. For example, if Jon were to go through my phone he would find a lot of cat pictures and MAYBE a conversation with my best friend complaining that he forgot to scoop the cat litter one morning – hardly something that would end our relationship. We’re getting off topic – I’m just saying that in a trusting relationship, I think both people should be open books.

@CrazyJewishMom:  I agree with that.

@KateFriedmanSiegel: So, back to the overall picture – it seems like you’re going down a little bit of a stress rabbit hole, so I’ll tell you where I think it’s reasonable for you to have concerns, where I think you’re overblowing the situation,  and some ideas about a possible way forward. While I don’t think you can’t really be mad at him for trying to move on when you guys were officially not together, I do think It’s a bit weird that he still has “sexy” photos of his ex on his phone. Let’s assume, as you suggest, he’s just careless and it’s an oversight, it should be no problem for him to delete the images and you guys can move on from that issue. Now, to this idea that you’re worried he only came back to you because he got rejected by another woman he was talking excitedly about to his friends: THIS IS NOT REAL. The two of you have been together for three years – that level of seriousness and intimacy cannot credibly be compared to the emotional depth reached after a week or two of flirting. Of course he was gushing excitedly to his friends about this other woman! The first part of a relationship is pure sunshine, and lust, and fun. But while he might have been be all wrapped up in this new woman, he also probably never saw her poop with the door open, or had her stay up in the emergency room with him all night after he broke an arm, or gone to bed angry at her, or had her surprise him with a thoughtful gift from an inside joke, or any of the other million things that build intimate bonds in a relationship. This other woman you’re freaking out is a stick figure, and you’re a Picasso.

@CrazyJewishMom: Picasso?! That’s a horrible example. What, you’re saying she’s got a tit for an earlobe?

@KateFriedmanSiegel: Okay, that was admittedly not an ideal example, but you get what I mean. I just think you cannot compare a flirtation with a three year relationship. Finally, it sounds like you guys might benefit from trying couples therapy! I think you suggested that he said some negative things about you to his friends while you were broken up, and I think processing your feelings about that and also where those feelings came from on his end might be most productive in therapy. Plus, it might also help with working through any remaining tensions from what lead to you breaking up in the first place.

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