Q: Hi Meredith,
I've been dating this guy for 2.5 years. I love him. We're long distance (he's in NY), but we see each other pretty regularly and talk every day. He's never been great at communicating about the big things, but he makes an effort when he knows that something is important to me. He deployed to Afghanistan in the winter and we did a lot of Skype, phone calls, and e-mails.
Our biggest problem before he left was the distance. He had said he would move to Boston but hadn't taken any steps toward doing it. We put the issue "on hold" until he came back.
He will be back very soon. We had a week of fun Boston activities planned along with lots of down time to just be together at my place. But recently I was looking for an email address (he had given me his password) for a friend of his to see if we could set up a party for him in NY when I saw a bunch of emails between him and someone I didn't recognize. I opened the most recent one and I've been a mess since. These emails were recent (the last one being 5 days ago) and very sexually explicit. He was telling her that he wished that he could be there so they could spend a day in bed together. He said he wanted to admire her body and see if they were sexually compatible.
I didn't see this coming at all. I dug around and figured out that she was in a wedding he was in back in August (I couldn't attend). Their emails were infrequent and normal at first. She mentioned her 4" heels and it exploded from there. From what I can tell (and I feel pretty sure), there hasn't been anything physical yet. She is supposed to go out with him and a group of friends in NY shortly after he is back.
Although there hasn't been any physical cheating, the fact that he would even send these emails has me clearly not trusting him at all. He has no idea I know. I feel so dumb for not seeing this, but I still don't see any of the warning signs. We have a lot of fun when we're together and he's great about letting me know I'm on his mind and talking to me frequently. We see each other about every other weekend and have had some great vacations together. I don't understand why this happened.
I don't know what my next steps should be. I need to confront him, so I will be picking him up at the airport, but we will not be coming back to my house. I booked a hotel room near the airport for one night and we will be going there so I can leave if I need to. I want to be strong on this one and leave him, but I love him. He just told me yesterday how much I'm a light in his life and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.
Is this something we can recover from? How can the trust be built back up? I feel like the only way is if he moves here immediately and I have access to his emails/accounts/no guys' nights, etc. and that seems extreme to me and not the person I want to be. Is there a healthy way to recover with him living in NY? Is it worth it? Should I just let this go?
– Want To Be Strong, Boston Boston
A: If monitoring his life is the only way that you can feel safe after this betrayal, this isn't going to work, WTBS. You can't become that person. What's the point?
Your guy is pursuing a sexual relationship with someone who knows his mutual friends. He has plans to see her. He's been intimate with her in emails. It's a cheat. A big one. I'm frightened by his ability to compartmentalize. I'm glad you feel the same way.
You know what you have to do. Just be prepared, because when you confront him he's going to have a million excuses. He's going to say many perfect things. It's going to be difficult to stay strong. Just imagine him admiring someone else's body. Then walk out the door and go straight to a friend's house. Keep yourself surrounded. You're going to need a lot of support.
Please know that this is not your fault. You didn't miss warning signs. This guy made a commitment to you before he was ready. He wanted the benefits of a serious partnership without the rules that come with it. He lied. That's his issue, not yours.
Readers? Any hope for these two? What was he doing? Should she hear him out? How can she stay strong when he shows up? Is the whole Afghanistan thing relevant? Did he want to get caught? Help.
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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 new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.