Q: Hi Meredith,
I am 55, a widow dating a handsome guy (age 59) who is divorced, and after several years of being alone, this is not the first but the most serious relationship I have been in. We have been dating for 8 months and agreed to be exclusive after a couple of months. We have both said we love each other and things were going great, having fun times and serious times, lots in common, borderline living together (3/7 nights each week) and discussing forever. My family likes him and I recently traveled out of the country with him to meet his family.
Last weekend while using his computer, he left an open tab and I clicked on it -- only to close it. (I am not a nosy person). What I saw was an email answering a personal ad! It was already sent. It said, "Hi, I am 59, etc." !!!!
I was in shock. I confronted him immediately. He said he was sorry, that he didn't want to hurt me, that he really did love me, and that he didn't know why he had done that. He admitted doing it a few times since we started dating. We have since talked about it and he said had no interest in doing it again and would not.
He begged me to stay with him and for us to re-commit. I agreed to continue but cautiously, I like everything else about him and I want this to work out. I must admit that early in our dating I still looked at the old dating sites a couple of times myself, out of curiosity -- but I never emailed anyone. I guess I thought we had advanced to a different level.
What do you think?
– Widowed in Massachusetts
A: This stinks, WIM. I'm not stressed out about the browsing, but he went as far as messaging someone. Awful.
He's either lining up another girlfriend or he's addicted to internet attention. My guess is that it's the attention. Or boredom. Or he just wants to know that he's still got it. The question is: Does it matter why he was doing it? Can you go back to feeling safe in this relationship?
You say that you're going to have to proceed with caution. I want you to figure out what that means. Will you force yourself to spend less time with him? Or will you spend more time with him to make sure that he's not on his own and on the computer?
I fear that you're going to exhaust yourself by trying to make this right on his behalf. If it were up to me, you'd walk away from this. I know it's easier said than done because there's a lot of good here, but you need to be able to relax in a relationship, especially at eight months. He's made this so fragile.
If you're going to continue on with him -- and I assume you will for now -- please be honest with yourself about whether you can just enjoy this man without doubting him. Pay attention to what's going on in your head and your gut. If you can't relax, it's not worth it.
Readers? Should she proceed with caution or bail? Is her age relevant? Would you give her the same advice that you'd give to a 25-year-old? What do you think he was doing? 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.