Upset after reading my boyfriends emails

Hi. I recently went through my boyfriend of 2.5 years emails from when we first got together, and found some things that disturbed me.

I confronted him about it, and he denied all allegations adamantly. In fact, whenever I find anything having to do with the past or when we met, he denies it and makes excuses about how other people wrote or did those things.

For example, he met a pretty girl, and hit on her online. No problem, because we weren’t going steady, but he said his friend did it and he had no recollection. I find that hard to believe.

Also, I found a note to his friend saying he wants a skinny b*tch with a nice *ss and t*ts blond hair and blue eyes. This was years ago, and I know guys talk to each other like that, but it made me angry he would speak of women that way.

I know for a fact he has only slept with one or maybe 2 people at very most in his life, and he is very inexperienced in any of those fields. I want to forgive and forget, but now I wish I hadn’t dug into his things.

All he had to do was tell the truth, but he sticks to his guns that it was not him.

I found so many things that are inconsistent, it’s almost as if he forgot his past.

What do I do?/say?

Response:

Let me start by asking a question. Did you and your boyfriend have a discussion about the types of information that you would share with each other?

Romantic relationships are voluntary. That means they involve choices. The choice to be together as well many other decisions—including the decision about the amount and type of information to share with each other.

In other words, to what extent did you agree to discuss things outside of your relationship? Did he agree to share every conversation with you that he has had with other people, including conversations he had before you were a couple? And is he allowed to access every conversation you have outside of his presence?

Mutual respect is important in an intimate relationship. It is important to discuss your expectations with your boyfriend about how he should behave and what he needs to share with you. He also needs to be upfront about his expectations about your behavior.

When couples do not set clear and mutually shared expectations about what is appropriate, it often leads to a pattern of betrayal. You probably feel betrayed by what your boyfriend has said to other people, and he may feel betrayed because you (may have) invaded his privacy.

And while setting mutual expectations is important, it is just as important to set realistic expectations. People, even in the most healthy of relationships, need to have a sense that they are individuals with some degree of autonomy. Sharing everything is not realistic or healthy (see for a full discussion on this Parks, Bochner, Solomon or paradox of intimacy).

So, if you invaded your boyfriend’s privacy by reading his emails, it is normal for him to feel betrayed. And if you confronted him with what you discovered, rather than shared your feelings, it is little wonder that he lied to you. When people feel betrayed and are confronted—they will lie. Not only will they lie, they will stick to their lies (see getting others to be honest and confronting a partner).

Our best advice is to apologize to your boyfriend about what happened. Share your feelings with him and try to reach some mutual understanding of how you are going to share information with each other (see talk about problems).

Hopefully, you’ll be able to save your relationship, but if not, next time around you will probably have a better understanding of the importance of establishing boundaries in a romantic relationship.

 confront lying | denies lying | emails | lying boyfriend | snooping

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