So I was in a relationship for 6 years. I had step-kids I love and I thought everything was going well. At least, until my now ex-fiancé decided to cheat on me with my 2 “best friends” and a girl he knew I didn’t like. I ended up leaving him, getting back with him a few weeks later, leaving again a year later for a year, and then going back for 4 months to leave him again. We are completely over now but I am left with SERIOUS trust issues and major self esteem issues.
Recently I started dating a friend I’ve known for a few years. I moved across country to be with him and we’ve been living together for about 7 months now. Because of the trust issues, I went through his phone and found out that he was on FB Dating. I confronted him and he deleted it. Or so i thought. He was previously in an 8 year long super toxic relationship too, so he has some issues from it.
I looked at his phone again and found him messaging several women on FB Dating AGAIN. I confronted him again and he said he was just “giving me something to find” since I want to be disrespectful and look thru his phone. But here’s the thing… If he never gave me a reason to be suspicious in the 1st place I wouldn’t have done it. And regardless, he’s still actually talking to other women and COMPLETELY disrespecting our relationship and me personally. And he’s doing it to play a game, basically. I don’t respect a liar or a cheater, but I feel like maybe that’s all I’m worth. I’ve always been cheated on so maybe there is something wrong with me… Maybe I’m not good enough to be loyal to.. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am really sad. I’m very confused. I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted, and I could really use some advice. If I leave him, I don’t even have anywhere to go. I have no family here and I’m new here so all of my friends are his friends. Please try to steer me in some direction. Please! I’m so anxious and so lost.
I’m Just Not Worth It
Well, not gonna lie IGNWI, this didn’t go where I thought it was going to.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but honestly I’m not sure you shouldn’t just throw the entire suitcase out.
Before we get into it, I want to point out that my default stance is that snooping is always wrong. While I understand that you have deep-seated trust issues, and I’m entirely sympathetic to that, having trust issues doesn’t justify violating someone else’s privacy. Having trust issues is a “you” problem (that is, the generic “you”, not you, specifically, IGNWI), not a “them” problem; it’s on you to resolve those issues, not for other people to solve them for you or for them to manage them for you. So while your trust issues are entirely understandable… that’s something you should be working on during all of this.
Now, the thing about “snooping is always wrong” is that sometimes — not often, but sometimes — it can be justified in retrospect. Such as, say, when you find out that your partner in a monogamous relationship is messaging people on dating apps. And while there are people who will get on apps just because they like being reminded that hey, they’re sexy and desirable and get a charge from flirting with strangers they have no intent to see, finding that your partner is active on the apps does justify the snooping after the fact.
You caught him, he fessed up and deleted everything. Ok, that’s a start. This is, nominally, where he would need to start re-earning your trust and demonstrating that he’s worthy of it. But shit goes entirely off the rails with what happens next: you caught him again. His excuse is “I’m giving you something to find” is… special. It’s also bullshit. The idea that he’s only flirting with women in order to give you something to find is fucking absurd on its face. What exactly is the logic here: you’re worried he’s betraying your trust and so he’s going to resolve this by… betraying your trust? Potentially blowing up his relationship with you for a goof?
You’re not a bomb-sniffing dog, IJNWI; this isn’t an exercise to help keep your training sharp and get you a treat. This is someone who’s straight up lying to you in hopes of flipping the blame around on you. And quite frankly, even if he is 100% sincere and he really was just leaving something for you to find, then this is a deeply damaged relationship. That’s not the act of a guy who treats his relationship or his partner with respect.
So, frankly, I don’t think there’s really anything to save here. I think you’re going to be better off exiting this relationship at speed.
But before you do, I want to address a couple other things that come up in your letter. If I’m going to be honest, this isn’t a relationship that should’ve started in the first place — certainly not at the “move several states to live with him” level, anyway. You may have known him for years, but you’ve been dating for seven months. Under your circumstances, that was just too soon for moving across country, never mind moving straight in with him. I’m a big believer that if you’re going to move to be with someone, you should get your own place for a while first, if only so you can establish yourself in your new city first. Having your own social network and base of support can be incredibly important, especially if you’re moving to a completely new city.
However, more importantly is the fact that you’ve already been through the ringer with your ex. Several times, even. While I don’t think every bad relationship merits talking to a therapist, the level of hurt your previous partner caused merits putting things on pause while you heal. Having deep trust issues is the sort of thing you should work on resolving before you get back out on the dating market, if only to avoid unnecessary pain and heartbreak.
And that’s part of what’s hitting you so hard right now; you’ve barely had any time for the previous wounds to scab over before your new partner ripped them open again. So I’m not surprised you’re feeling like you’re “not good enough to be loyal to”; you’ve gone from pain to pain with very little time to heal in between. That’s gonna do a number on a person.
But here’s the thing: you’re asking the wrong questions. The question to ask isn’t “why am I not good enough to be loyal to”, it’s “why are you letting toxic people stay in your life?” If you’ve been dating people who have cheated on you consistently, then you should be digging into why you date those particular guys. Not because it’s “your fault” that they cheated — it isn’t and you shouldn’t think that — but because if this happens so consistently, then the odds are that there’s something about them that draws you guys like this.
It may be a particular personality type that you vibe with, a need that’s going unfulfilled, or possibly even some self-sabotage going on. A lot of people — guys, gals and non-binary pals — will date people who are wrong for them or bad for them because they believe on some level that they “deserve” it or that they aren’t “worthy” of being happy. But as the saying goes: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is
enemy action your subconscious sending you a message.
So I think right now, you need a three-fold plan of action.
First: dump the dude. Either he’s cheating (or getting ready to), or he’s playing stupid games, and deserves to win stupid prizes.
Second: hie thyself to the therapist’s couch. You’re carrying around a lot of pain and some pretty hefty scars, and you need to heal. Between your trust issues and the way this is making you feel, talking to a counselor or therapist should be a top priority. Your next serious relationship should be with yourself, while you heal and recover and get yourself to a place where you’re able to trust and to date someone with integrity and who treats you with respect. it’s much easier to find guys like that when you aren’t carrying around the burden of what previous, shitty exes did to you. You deserve to be treated better — by future partners and by yourself.
This will also help you figure out what it is about these shitty guys that drew you to them and either address it, or find ways to fulfill that need with guys who are actually worth your time and trust.
Third: if you’re going to stay in your new city, build yourself a life that’s entirely separate from your ex — or any future partners. Go out and make new connections, make friends and find things that speak to your soul. Find the things in your new city that make it your city, rather than the place where you got mistreated by your ex. Living well and leaving him in the dirt is the best revenge; it means that you’re not just leaving him behind but rising above. Thriving and having an amazing life where you never waste any more brain cycles on him is the best way to move forward.
And if you decide you’d rather move back, then hey! That’s completely valid too! But just keep in mind: this doesn’t mean that you “lost” or “failed” or “weren’t good enough”. You, like so many others, loved not wisely but too well, and you were hurt by someone who took advantage of your desire to trust again. You took a chance in good faith and your faith was misplaced. That’s not failure, that’s just another Crouching Good Guy, Hidden Douchcanoe, and they’re distressingly common.
I know things suck now, but they will get better. Get out of this relationship, get yourself a support crew of friends and take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Everything will feel better in time and you’ll realize that your feelings of “not being worthy of being loyal to” are bullshit that they’ve dumped on you. Guys cheating or treating you like shit is about them, not you. And when you can learn this and internalize it, you’ll be in a better position to kick them to the curb where they belong.
So, there’re a couple of things here, TFS.
The first is that if you’re consistently having conversations dry up, then the odds are good that part of the problem is that you’re taking too long to get to the dating part of “dating apps”. The point of talking to someone on a dating app is get the conversation off the app. Conversations and interactions have their own momentum, and NerdLove’s First Law is that emotional momentum fades… unless it’s acted on by an external force. That means that the longer you are chit-chatting on the app and not moving towards meeting in person, the greater the odds that the momentum and interest are going to bleed away. Especially if they’re also talking to other people on the app — folks who do ask them out on dates.
Your matches can’t go out on dates with you that you don’t invite them on TFS, so you have to make your move.
If you and your match are getting along well and having good conversations, then I highly recommend moving things along. The first — and possibly easier — step is to just move the conversation off the app. This, at the very least, moves things up the intimacy ladder; it carries the implication that you’re moving towards actually meeting up in person and possibly going on a date.
The easiest way to make this happen is to say “hey, I’m really enjoying talking to you, but I find messaging on here to be frustrating/annoying/gets lost in the churn. Do you have Kik/WhatsApp/iMessage/whatever?” or “Hey, I’m probably deleting the app soon but I really like talking to you and I’d like to keep this going; I’d loveto move this to text. My number is 555-55555…”
Similarly, you can also propose a pre-date date: that is, a brief meet up in person for coffee or ice cream or something. Again, theprocedure for this is very simple: “Hey, I really like tlakingto you and I’d love to see if we’ve got chemistry in person too. I’ve got some free time between appointments/meetings/whatever; would you like to meet up for 15 minutes for coffee at the Starbucks of your choice and see if we get along?” This tends to be a relatively easy lift; in a worst case scenario, if you just don’t vibe or they aren’t who they presented themselves as, you’re out 15 minutes and the price of a grande coffee.
Now, the second thing is that yes, people just leave you hanging. It’s annoying, and it’s a pet-peeve for a lot of folks, but that’s life these days. While you can and should model the behavior you’d like to see or experience to others, ultimately, you have to to just roll with it. There really aren’t other options unfortunately; all you can do is just shake your head at it and roll on.
It’s also not worth taking personally; it happens to everyone, and it’s just part of the culture of online dating. If that’s something that drives you nuts… well, then maybe online dating isn’t for you. And hey, that’s valid!
Now as for your second question: yes, folks go to bars alone all the time. Nobody is going to notice that you’re rolling solo unless you call attention to it; people just aren’t paying that close attention to you or who you’re talking to.
However most people don’t meet their partners at bars or clubs. Most folks meet their partners either through shared activities like classes or hobbies, or through friends. And while your friends may be partnered up or married, that doesn’t mean that they can’t help you out.
First: your friends can still come hit the bars with you, even if they’re not on the hunt themselves. They can provide moral support or wing for you as needed, even if they’re not trying to get some themselves. But again: most folks don’t meet their partners at bars.
That’s why there’s a second, superior option: ask them if they’ve got any single friends that you’d get along with. Tell them that dating apps aren’t proving to be your thing and you’re looking to meet awesome folks, so if they know someone they think you’d vibe with, you’d appreciate an introduction. You can even host events — a barbecue, a house party, a backyard NERF war — that they can bring single friends to, so that it feels more organic and less “set-up-y”.
But again: you have to be willing to take the initiative here. Your friends may know you’re single, but unless you ask for what you need — in this case, help in meeting some sexy singles — they aren’t going to know that this is something you want.
Oh, and one more thing: your friends weren’t ganging up on you. They were just trying to tell you that conversations die on the vine and that’s just how folks roll these days. I get that you find it rude or kind of insulting… but it’s just how things are these days. Railing against it isn’t going to do anything other than get you worked up and more upset; theonly thing you can do is accept it and try to be the change you want to see. So lead by example, TFS; maybe you can cause a new trend.