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Should I tell her that I snooped?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  November 10, 2011 08:25 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

Does my girlfriend still like her ex?

My girlfriend and I have been together for 18 months. Not only is this is longest relationship of my life (I'm in my mid-20s), but it is also the most fulfilling. We get along incredibly well, have tremendous chemistry, and our sex life is great.

One thing that concerned me early on in our relationship was the connection she maintained with her ex-boyfriend. They were living together for a year and then had a very emotional breakup (he cheated on her and she kicked him out). We started our relationship shortly after, so I'm not sure if she was able to get full closure on that relationship.

After a few months of dating, she was very honest with me about meeting up with her ex occasionally for coffee in order to "catch up." I tried being supportive and never voiced my concerns, but one night I looked at her cell phone and noticed that they were having open conversations about their relationship and where it all went wrong. This obviously made me very upset but I never said anything. I was worried that she would not forgive me for looking at her phone. I told her that I didn't want her meeting with him anymore for coffee and she obliged.

I thought this was the end of it, figured she just needed to lay her cards on the table and get closure, but it was not. Recently she left her email open on my computer and I ran a search for any dialogue between her and her ex. Needless to say, I found a lot of correspondence.

She has never written anything to him along the lines of "I still like you, I still have feelings for you, I think we should get back together, etc." But she does bring up a lot of nostalgic memories like "remember that timeā€¦" or "I heard this song and it made me think of you, etc." Also, I noticed that she is always the one reaching out to him or messaging him, not the other way around. It appears they have a conversation at least once a month and there is usually some reference to their previous relationship.

I love this girl with all of my heart and she expresses the same feelings toward me, but I just don't know what to make of this. Am I being a chump? Is it all innocent post-relationship behavior? Will she forgive me for invading her privacy? We are set to move in together in a few months so I need to figure out what to do as soon as possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

– Concerned Boyfriend, Boston


A: You're not a chump, CB. I believe that she's emailing her ex to figure out why he cheated, something she should have done before meeting you. But ... you can't control timing.

I don't always advocate that people disclose their snoops because sometimes, it's just not productive. But in your case, I want you to tell. If you don't tell her, you're going to keep looking at her personal messages whenever you get the chance. And you're going to move in with her with your fingers crossed for good luck -- instead of being confident about why she's chosen to live with you.

Sit her down and tell her that you saw some of her messages to her ex and that you're ashamed for looking. Explain that while you didn't see anything more than nostalgia and two people processing the loss of their relationship, it made you insecure -- and concerned about her. Apologize for crossing a boundary, and then tell her that you're so in love with her that you just want to make sure that she wants this, too. This isn't about not trusting her with the ex; it's about being sure that she's as excited about the move-in as you are.

Maybe she'll freak out and decide not to forgive you (for the record, that would be rather telling), but my hope is that she'll be empathetic. You won't be demanding that she stop the communication, you'll just be asking her whether she's moving in with you for the right reasons.

If you don't have this conversation, you're going to drive yourself crazy, so just get it over with. Remember: Don't accuse, stay positive, and remind her that you're disclosing all of this because you never want to snoop again -- and because you want to make sure that you're both excited about the next step.

Readers? Am I wrong here? Should he keep the snoop a secret? Are these harmless closure emails or is this ex a real threat? What's happening here and what should he do? Help.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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