In our technology-filled lives, most couples have agreements about what is okay and what isn’t okay when it comes to social media, texting, and emailing. What happens when one person crosses the line and breaks an agreement? Read on as Felicity gives advice to a reader.
Hi Felicity, I’m so angry and hurt right now I don’t know what to do. I’m hoping you can help. My husband and I have a strict policy of not deleting private messages on social media. This is due to some questionable behavior on his part in the past. Before we got married, he had been exchanging inappropriate messages with a female co-worker and deleting them once sent. After that all came to light, he promised to never do it again. Anyhow, I just discovered that he has been privately messaging with his friend’s girlfriend. He was logged in on the computer but must have been messaging on his phone. I saw the notification popup but when I looked in his messages, nothing was there. I’m guessing that means he sent them but deleted them. I then reached out to her myself and she promptly unfriended me. I’m scared that something is going on. Even though I didn’t see what they messaged about, I feel like he’s broken my trust again. Would this be a red flag to you? Any advice?
Oooh, girl. I can understand why you are upset. It’s really easy to jump to conclusions but I do think you have cause for concern. So let’s break this down a few different ways.
Concern #1: Is There Something Inappropriate Going On?
Possibly. The answer is you don’t know until you either ask him, ask her, or you find proof.
Now, it is within the realm of possibility that they were discussing something totally innocent, like planning a surprise party for his friend/her boyfriend. Which would explain the need to chat privately and then delete the conversation. Possible…but not likely.
I bring that up so that you don’t absolutely convince yourself that some manner of hanky panky is going on before you know the whole story.
However, given that she abruptly unfriended you tells me their chats are likely to not be of the innocent variety. I’m suspicious that guilt has gotten the best of her and she clicked unfriend to ease her conscience.
We can speculate all day. It doesn’t look good but you won’t know unless you ask or confirmation falls in your lap.
Concern #2: He Has Broken an Agreement He Has With You
This is the much bigger issue. When you say you have a “strict policy of not deleting private messages” I’m assuming that means you have discussed this and come to an agreement. You both said you won’t delete messages.
And it looks like he went ahead and did it anyway, despite this agreed upon policy.
It really doesn’t matter what this agreement was. The agreement may have been about discretionary spending. It might have been about not going out for happy hour after work without checking in first. It could have been that you don’t wear purple socks on Wednesdays (if you are highly offended by purple socks, this could be a thing).
The point I’m making is that you had an agreement and he willingly broke it. That’s a problem.
It’s absolutely a breach of trust and you have every reason to be upset about it.
Now again, just because he deleted the emails doesn’t mean he was having inappropriate conversation. The two things don’t automatically go hand in hand. And in his mind, it’s possible that he really doesn’t see anything wrong with deleting the emails, especially if nothing untoward was said.
But the reality is that in relationships we have to take our partner’s feelings into consideration. And sometimes we won’t see eye to eye on what is a big deal…and what’s a not-so-big-deal. However, if something IS a big deal to our partner and because it’s a big deal, we agree to not do that big deal thing, we must honor that agreement.
It’s a matter of integrity and trust…which is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Without it, you are in trouble.
Concern #3: The Elephant in the Room of Your Relationship
I am going to say this. If you are in a relationship where trust is shaky and you feel like you need to check up on what he’s doing online, that’s another red flag. It’s emotionally taxing and toxic to your relationship if you are spying on him.
I understand that he may have “accidentally” left his account logged in and you may have inadvertently seen the notifications of these messages. I want you to be honest with yourself though, are you checking in on him? Do you monitor his account, or his inbox, or his phone? If the answer is yes, the issue runs much deeper than his conversation with this particular woman.
Where Do You Go From Here…
Right now you are rightfully angry and upset. You could try to stuff these feelings down and pretend things are okay. And I understand the reason why that’s tempting…sometimes the idea of the truth can be scary.
But when anger like this doesn’t get addressed, it seeps out in all sorts of toxic ways. Which will only harm you and your relationship more in the end.
My advice is to take a deep breath, gather up your courage, and in a calm moment ask him what’s going on. Without accusing (which is incredibly hard) let him know what you’ve seen and give him the chance to come clean with you.
The truth may hurt. And it will take vulnerable and real conversation plus time to move through this and hopefully, past it. But honesty is the only way you can regain some trust. It can be done.
Sending you a big virtual hug!