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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5960
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I have been with my long term boyfriend 2 years.

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I have been with my long term boyfriend for about 2 years. I know he can be a bit of of a flirt but i have generally tried to trust him. He does not have a lot of friends so i know he spends time online chatting to people. I have sometimes felt during the course of the relationship that he has been speaking to other women but i had no proof and i tried to trust him and never looked at his phone. Recently about two weeks ago we went away on a break and on the final day of the holiday, i went up to the hotel room and saw his phone on charge. i was tempted but resisted, but then i couldnt help it so i looed at the phone. I saw messages between him and a woman going back to about May. The recent messages from him to her told her that he was in the south of france with friends and that he was sat by the pool and that is where she came in and wished she was there. There were no other friends with us it was just me and him.He walked in on me and saw me on the phone and because I was hurt i had seen the messages i started shouting at him and asked him who she was. he said she was a friend and i had taken the messages out of context. he stayed really calm and just showed disapproval with me looking at his phone. he said that i was always trying to find proof that he was cheating. i asked him why he didnt tell her he was on holiday with me. he said that he is a private person and doesnt tell his friends. i told him that was rubbish. as we were due to leave that day the journey back wasnt very nice we were barely talking to each other. he asked me to get in the car with his parents as they were picking us up from the airport. I refused as i didnt want to be any where near him. he just walked off in a mood and no doubt told his parents what had happened and i havent heard from his mum who normally speaks to me. His mum knew that I had trust issues with him before and she wasnt happy with me anyway but was still talking to me. since getting back I have tried to talk to him but he says that he has nothing more to say to me about it. H e said it was none of my business who he spoke to on his phone as we were not married. I disagreed with this. I dont know whether he is still speaking to this woman or not. I have her number but have not contacted her as yet. I just need some advice as I want to try and salvage the relationship. we have been recently meeting and he says he wants to enjoy time with me again as he doesnt know who i am anymore and doesnt trust me. I should say that amongst all of this I am also going through a tough journey as my mum has cancer and this has taken its toll on me and all the family. I have let myself go to a certain extent - i have put on some weight since he first met me but i do try and make an effoirt when i see him but i know he is quite shallow like that and would like me to make more effort. the woman he has been talking to looks like a model. very pretty and thin and very tall. this has really affected my self esteem and my confidence. i cooked dinner for him ths week and it seemed to go well but he was making small digs at me about the meal. at the end of the night we kissed and went our separate ways. we have not slept toegther since the incident and he seems to be keeping his distance and i am not sure whether that it because of the woman or because he just doesnt want to be with me. I have suggested meeting after work and he keeps saying he will see what time he finishes his swim. I appreciate he has recently started a new job and it is his second week but we always use to see each other often during the week. it is difficult to give you as much detail as possible as there are so many issues in our relationship but i do want to try and salvage it. Thank you helen

Hello Helen, I'd like to help you with your problem.
It sounds like you felt you had reason to suspect your boyfriend of cheating. You mentioned that you wanted to trust him, but that you had to always fight it. However, you can have this feeling about your boyfriend cheating for more reasons than just having trust issues. And it sounds like he gave you reasons to suspect him.
For one, you mentioned he was a flirt. Flirting is a social sign that someone is available for a relationship. And unless your boyfriend made it perfectly clear before hand that he is in a serious relationship, he was basically saying he was available when he was flirting. That also shows that he lacks boundaries with other women, which can lead to phone conversations like the one you found and inappropriate behavior when you are not around.
When you found solid evidence that your boyfriend was inappropriate with another woman, he seemed to turn that around on you. Instead of addressing what he did directly and owning up to it (it was inappropriate for him to be talking to any woman like he was on his phone, you are not wrong), he turned it around and made it seem you were the one with trust issues. Then he proceeded to include his family in on his interpretation of the situation, making it seem like you were the one with the problem, not him. I know you want to try to save this relationship, but it is not a good sign in any relationship when someone blames the other person for their own behavior and makes them look bad.
The fact that he is making you earn back his good graces after what he did also shows that he feels he did nothing wrong. And he is using this to make you grovel so he will come back. Someone who loves you is not going to make you feel terrible about yourself and make you convince them to come back. He is holding a grudge and making you pay. Instead of blaming you for being hurt, if he knows you have trust issues, he should be explaining why he was talking to another woman, who you don't know, and saying he wishes she could be with him.
Overall, it sounds like continuing this relationship may get you very hurt in the future. But if you still feel you want to try with him, then make counseling a non negotiable. Go with him and explain the situation to the therapist. The therapist is a neutral third party, unlike your boyfriend's parents, and can help you both get to the root of this issues between you.
And you may benefit from working on improving your self esteem. You are worth more than how you are being treated by your boyfriend. And no matter what you feel about how you look, you deserve to be loved. Looks should never matter. Increasing your self esteem will help you see your worth and improve your relationships so you can be treated like you deserve. Here are some resources to help you get started:
Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay Ph.D. and Patrick Fanning
The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn R. Schiraldi
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field by Nathaniel Branden
I hope this has helped you,
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much Kate for your answer which is very helpful. I just wanted to ask you a couple of things.

Do you think I should contact the woman and ask her what is going on?

To be fairish to him he hasnt given me reason to suspect he is cheating and maybe its his way that he isnt too affectionate. how should i approach him if i want to try and salvage the relationship. should i give him space?

thank you

You are very welcome! Sorry I could not answer sooner, I had an appointment.
Contacting the woman he was talking with is not going to help you. She may not even know you exist or she may know and not care since she is willing to talk to your boyfriend. And the issue here is not her but him. She would not even be in the picture if he had not let her in. And if she doesn't know you exist, he lied to her. So the issue is with him. It is very tempting to contact the other woman in hopes of helping your relationship. But that only means your boyfriend will find someone else to cheat with if that is his intent.
He may not be affectionate as a person and that is ok. But if he truly cares about you, he would address his issues, not make things worse by talking to other women behind your back.
Anytime you have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex like he did with this woman, your partner has a right to know. The fact that your boyfriend hid this relationship and then acted offended when caught says that his intentions were not good. That is a warning sign.
If you want to salvage the relationship, then therapy is the best way to do that. He needs to see what he did as a threat to your relationship. He also needs to curtail the flirting. And be supportive of your feelings as well. If he won't do that, then you may want to go to therapy on your own to decide what your next step will be. In the meanwhile, maybe continue to see him but avoid intimacy and working on this issue until you can see a therapist. If that means not seeing him as often, that can help. Until he treats you better and is willing to see his part in this, then keeping your distance prevents you from getting hurt more.
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